SALT LAKE CITY, March 18, 2021 / PRNewswire / – The COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on the importance of disability insurance, a social benefit that often goes unnoticed. Jeff Brunken, a disability industry veteran and chairman of senior national insurance program manager MGIS, believes disability insurance will have more than a moment in 2021.
“The possibility of becoming disabled and unable to work is not a priority for most people. They generally view disability as something resulting from an accident,” explained Brunken. However, more people become disabled from illness than accidents. COVID-19 has drawn attention to the fact that people can get sick and be absent from work for weeks or months. The loss resulting income, if not protected by disability insurance, can have adverse consequences on their lives in addition to illness. “
As the importance of disability insurance reaches new levels of awareness among American workers, here are Brunken’s industry forecasts for the coming year.
- Disability insurance will be an important part of the conversations that benefit brokers and advisors have with their clients this year.
COVID-19 may have drawn more attention to disability insurance, but the need exists for this benefit even in the absence of a pandemic. A Social Security Administration study found that one in four people could expect miss at least one year of work due to a disability before reaching the normal retirement age. As brokers discuss benefits with their clients this year, disability benefits will likely occupy a higher place in the conversation. Brokers need to focus early and often on quality group disability plans.
- More employers will add or update long term disability benefits.
While most patients with COVID-19 have been shown to suffer for only a few weeks, some have become very ill, spend weeks or months in the hospital, and suffer long-term or persistent effects. These patients are eligible for normal group LTD benefits after 90 or 180 days. Currently, no US law requires employers to provide LTD coverage. Most employers offer a short-term sick or disability leave policy, and about half of all companies offer long-term coverage. LTD coverage is a significant employee benefit that will likely be further emphasized by brokers in 2021 due to the impacts of the pandemic in 2020.
- There will be more interest in LTD coverage for stress-related disabilities.
The pandemic has drawn attention to how LTD policies address stress-related disability, particularly among healthcare workers. Virtually all LTD policies limit the duration of nerve / mental claims, generally to a maximum of 24 months for the lifetime of the claimant. A more useful LTD policy for COVID would not use this “lifetime max”. To be more useful to their healthcare clients in 2021, brokers need to understand mental health issues or stress-induced diagnoses that various disability insurance companies might cover.
- A priority for brokers with health care clients will be making sure their income protection disability policies are up to date.
No one may have felt more pressure from the pandemic than healthcare professionals. In addition to ensuring that healthcare clients have adequate disability coverage for any type of stress or mental health claim related to COVID-19, brokers should ensure that these policies provide coverage. “own occupation” coverage that pays benefits based on CPT or CDT codes for the procedures they perform. Without this close protection, healthcare professionals may have their benefits denied or reduced at the time of claim.
Brunken believes this year will be a pivotal year for the disability insurance industry. “Disability insurance shouldn’t be about ‘settle and forget.’ Either way, it’s crucial to assess coverage periodically, but it’s even more important now that the pandemic has drawn attention to the disease. need to review disability policies, “he said. said. “Armed with the right disability insurance options, brokers can help our frontline health heroes get the protection they really need. Brunken further predicts that once the pandemic has slowed, there will be more emphasis on disability insurance and other high-quality benefits for healthcare professionals for recruitment and retention due to the shortage. continues to doctors.
MGIS is a leading national insurance program manager that designs and manages specialized insurance programs for healthcare professionals. MGIS partners with top rated insurers to focus on group disability and life for physician practices of all sizes, types and specialties. For more information visit www.mgis.com.