By itself, unemployment is not covered. The nature of disability insurance is to help protect the income of those that are unable to work solely due to injury or illness. And in the case of many today, stay at home or shelter in place orders are not a form of injury or illness.
Many policies, however, do include features that can help during periods of unemployment—including times such as these. These features typically come in two forms: Waiver of Premium and Suspension of Policy.
Waiver of Premium is generally a low-cost feature that waives premiums during periods of unemployment while keeping the policy in force. This means that even if you can’t work, you’ll maintain your coverage without the need to pay premiums. Most policies require that you’re eligible and receiving state or federal unemployment benefits to utilize the Waiver of Premium feature, though this typically helps streamline the process as the eligibility of unemployment benefits act as the proof you need to provide.
The other feature is known as a Suspension of Benefit. This type of feature will also waive your policy premiums and is typically built into the policy at no cost; however, the policy is suspended until you return to work or the suspension period terminates (generally, at the end of 12 months). The benefit of this is that you keep your locked-in rates and continue your coverage hassle-free once you’re able to do so. Again, you’re typically required to be eligible and receiving state or federal unemployment benefits, but this simply helps streamline the process.
Coverage to help those hit the hardest
For those that have been stricken with COVID-19, it’s important to know that many disability insurance policies will cover this particular illness (each provider, including Guardian, will have a series of conditions that must be satisfied in order for benefit eligibility to be established). In this case, you should contact your financial representative or insurance carrier as soon as possible.
The average policy has a 90-day elimination period—the time needed to wait before benefits begin to accrue. Many will thankfully recover before such a period has elapsed, but for some, the illness can continue for an extended period. And following recovery, if you’re able to work but in a partial capacity only, many policies provide Partial Disability benefits. This is another reason to talk to your financial representative or claims department as soon as you can.
If you have suffered a disability during the COVID-19 pandemic that keeps you from working, remember that your insurer is there to help you with the claims process. With so many people unable to leave their homes, there can be a lot of confusion on how to complete the claims process. Make sure to reach out to your carrier and they will guide you and provide next steps. Keep in mind that claims are always evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
For important updates, view Guardian’s COVID-19 resource center.
If you are a Guardian individual disability policyholder and have questions, contact us.