How long could you afford to live without a paycheck?

You rely on your income to fund every aspect of your life. If you are like one of the millions of Americans who unexpectedly becomes unable to work each year due to illness or injury, the last thing you want to worry about is how to continue paying your bills without an income.

A common misconception about disability income insurance is that its sole purpose is to cover against catastrophic events resulting from accidents.

In fact, illnesses like cancer, depression, and multiple sclerosis far more often impact your ability to work and support yourself and your family.  Individual disability income insurance is designed to protect your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury. 

Did you know?

  • 90% of disabilities are caused by illness 1
  • 10% of disabilities are due to injuries 1
  • 1 in 4 of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled before retiring 2

Buying your own individual disability insurance

Individual vs. supplemental disability income insurance

Individual disability insurance can be ideal for anyone who doesn’t receive disability insurance through work. It’s also an option for high earners looking for extra coverage. Not only can you buy this policy on your own, it also stays with you even if you change jobs.

If you want more protection, you may want to add extra coverage on top of your long term or individual disability plan. Supplemental disability insurance can be a great add-on for employees and individuals who want to protect a greater percentage of their income, bonuses or commissions. You may even be able to get a policy through your work.

Factors that affect cost

There are several factors will impact how much you pay. Hazardous occupations, such as working with heavy equipment, might pay more than someone who sits at a desk all day. Your health also affects cost, as people with a history of disabling conditions such as back injuries, arthritis, and asthma could potentially pay higher premiums. Other factors include the elimination period, or the amount of time you must be disabled before a benefit is payable, and the benefit period, or the amount of time an insurance company will pay for a benefit.

Learn more about cost with our disability income insurance quote tool.

Why you need disability income protection before you’re sick or injured

  • Apply while you’re healthy. You get the most favorable terms by buying individual disability income insurance before you need it. Once you’re too sick or injured to work, you usually can’t get the protection you need.
  • Lock in pricing. Once you have your non-cancellable and guaranteed renewable policy, the amount you pay each month is guaranteed, and the insurance company can never cancel your coverage as long as you make your payments on time.  
  • Secure coverage while on the path to your career. If you’re studying to become a professional such as a doctor, dentist, or a lawyer, you can apply for insurance before you graduate, with options to increase coverage as your income grows.
  • Customize your coverage. You can select options to customize your protection. These options can let you increase coverage as your income grows and help keep pace with the cost of living. You can even buy coverage to help you replace your retirement plan contributions or protect your ability to repay student loans during a period that you can’t work due to sickness or injury.

Keep student loan payments on track

You can protect from $250 to $2,500 per month in student loan payments. Download the PDF to learn more about this option.

Dealing with the unexpected

Unexpected medical problems can get in the way of working and earning an income. See how these families relied on their financial representatives and individual disability income insurance from Guardian to make sure they had the coverage they need to continue living their lives.

Protecting what matters

Forward-looking financial planning helped Dr. Tullos and his family focus on the things that really matter.

There when you need us

Learn how disability income insurance helped Dr. Kardani secure his family’s financial future and allowed him to focus on maintaining his own health

Are you an employee? Employees, contact your employer.

Are you an employer? Employers, talk to your broker.

Are you a broker? Offer your clients a disability insurance program.



Council for Disability Awareness, 2014 Long-Term Disability Claim Review.

Individual disability income products underwritten and issued by Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, Pittsfield, MA, a wholly owned stock subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, or provided by Guardian. Product provisions and availability may vary by state. Optional riders are available for an additional premium. 

This website is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered tax or legal advice. Please contact your tax or legal advisor regarding the tax treatment of the policy and policy benefits. You should consult with your own independent tax and legal advisors regarding your particular set of facts and circumstances. The information provided is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be relied upon, to avoid penalties imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or state and local tax law provisions.

This material is intended for general public use. By providing this material, Guardian is not undertaking to provide investment advice for any specific individual or situation, or to otherwise act in a fiduciary capacity. Please contact a financial professional for guidance and information specific to your individual situation.