When applying for disability insurance, do I have to disclose a previous illness?

By Insurance.com Posted : 01/01/2011

It depends on what the insurer asks on the disability insurance application. You may or may not be required to report illnesses that occurred many years ago, and you're under no obligation to disclose information that the insurer does not request.

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But make sure you are upfront with information that is requested. Don't be tempted to omit applicable details related to the application questions. An effort to fudge the truth now to increase chances of approval or lower insurance rates will backfire later. The insurer could deny your disability claim if it finds out you lied on the application.

The big question is how much disability insurance to purchase.

Employer-sponsored disability insurance

Most people who have disability insurance get the coverage through an employer as an employee benefit, but it often makes sense to purchase additional coverage through an individual disability insurance policy. Why?

An employer-sponsored plan typically pays 60 percent of your income, but certain factors can erode that figure. Only base income, not bonuses and commissions, is counted in the equation, and if the employer pays the disability insurance premium, the disability benefits are taxable. In addition, employer-sponsored disability benefits generally are capped, typically at $5,000 a month, which could be less than 60 percent of income for high earners.

You also have less control with an employer-sponsored plan than with an individual policy. An employer can decide to stop offering the coverage to cut costs, or the employer's insurer could cancel the policy if there are too many expensive claims.

For more, see "5 group disability insurance myths."

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