After hearing from a fellow reporter who lost work to a brain aneurysm, I was happy to pay $25 a month for disability insurance to protect myself and my family

By Choncé Maddox

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As the current breadwinner in my house and an independent contractor, the thought of getting disability insurance has crossed my mind.

Last year I attended a conference where the main theme is usually hustling, working hard, and really pushing yourself to be successful. I was surprised when the closing keynote came from a former news reporter who thought she was totally healthy until suffering from a brain aneurysm. She encouraged a lot of us attendees to slow down and take the time to get our financial affairs in order — including becoming properly insured.

She had to take a year off from work to recover from the aneurysm, but mentioned how grateful she was to have had disability insurance. The insurance benefit helped replace a portion of her income while unable to work for 12 months.

I know that no one's health or wellness is guaranteed regardless of age, so this past year I've been committed to exploring disability insurance options for myself. As it turns out, disability insurance is cheaper than I thought, and it's easy to obtain. 

A bit of background on disability insurance

The word insurance often means extra money coming out of my pocket. But most times it's money well spent to protect an important asset in the event of the unexpected. Homeowners and renters insurance protect your house. Auto insurance protects your car. Life insurance protects your loved ones. And disability insurance protects your income in the event that you can't work for an extended period of time.

According to the CDC, one in four American adults is living with a disability. Still, at least 51% of Americans are without disability coverage, which creates the stressful situation of figuring out how to make ends meet. If I were unable to pay bills and put food on the table, my initial reaction would be to look for work or pick up a side hustle. However, when you're disabled or unwell, it's not that easy since you may not even be allowed to work.

Disability insurance, both long-term and short-term, protects your source of income if injury or illness limits your ability to work. 

Comparing disability insurance costs 

Getting quotes and comparing costs was most important for me because I am already paying for many different types of insurance. At first, I thought disability insurance would be expensive, but it's actually something I can fit into my budget without issue.

I heard about Breeze, which is an insuretech company that allows you to get a free and quick quote for disability insurance, then apply completely online. A common rule of thumb is to expect to pay 1% to 3% of your gross annual income on disability insurance per year. This means if you make $50,000, you could be paying $500 to $1,500 per year. 

I like that Breeze gives you options based on how much income coverage you'd like. It took just two minutes to fill out the quote form to get these options.

disability insurance options

While $1,500 per month of income protection would not cover all my bills, it would cover most of my mortgage, which is helpful. Since my husband works too, I'm not looking for full income replacement. However, I know that losing my income would still result in a major financial hardship. Breeze's quotes seem pretty reasonable, and they even allow you to choose which coverage term you'd prefer.

To obtain $3,630 per month of disability insurance for five years, I'd pay around $47 per month. If I wanted to lock in this coverage until the age of 65, I could do so for around $74 per month.

breeze insurance options

There are other riders I could add, too, like the Automatic Benefit Increase rider. This means for an extra $1 per month (on average), my monthly benefit will increase by 5% each year. I chose to go with a five-year disability insurance coverage term for just $25 per month, and by the end of my term, my benefits will have increased by 20% thanks to this rider.

Does disability insurance replace an emergency fund?

Not in most cases. Remember, disability insurance only covers people with disabilities. Your emergency fund can be used to cover expenses due to any life change.

I'm actually most interested in long-term disability insurance, which would provide a lot of financial relief if I ever did become disabled in any way. I wouldn't want my family to have to struggle, take out loans, or even lose our home if I couldn't work.

My emergency fund can handle our short-term needs for a few months, but long-term disability insurance provides me with more peace of mind. Plus, at only $25 per month or $300 per year, it's not really breaking the bank.

I can think of a lot of much less important things I spend $300 per year on, whether it's dining out, buying home decor, or purchasing clothes. Cutting out any of these things during the month or even just buying a few less cups of coffee at Starbucks each month can easily help me afford this much-needed expense.

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