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does-individual-disability-insurance-cover-COVID-19-disabilityAs people go back to work, many of them are worried about catching COVID-19. Your clients may be asking you if their IDI policy will provide benefits if they get sick are unable to work.

The answer to this question depends on a few things, including the details of the IDI policy and the severity of a person’s illness. Use the information below to provide your clients with a clear perspective.

Waiting and Benefit Periods

To understand whether COVID-19 could trigger a disability claim, it’s important to understand how waiting periods and benefit periods work in disability insurance policies.

The waiting period, also called the elimination period, determines how long you have to wait before you qualify for benefits. The benefit period determines how long you can receive benefits.

Short-term disability insurance policies have shorter elimination periods and shorter benefit periods, while long-term disability insurance policies have longer elimination periods and longer benefit periods. The exact lengths will depend on the individual policies.

  • A short-term disability insurance policy might have an elimination period of a week or two and a benefit period of three to six months. Some policies may have a shorter elimination period, or even no elimination period.
  • A long-term disability insurance policy might have an elimination period of 90 days – although some are significantly shorter or longer – and a benefit period of multiple years. Some long-term disability insurance policies provide benefits until retirement age.

So the critical question is, how long does COVID-19 illness last?

According to Harvard Health Publishing, people with mild cases may recover in one to two weeks, while severe cases may take six weeks or longer.

Based on these numbers, many mild cases of COVID-19 likely won’t qualify for disability insurance benefits simply because recovery will occur before the elimination period ends. However, some COVID-19 cases may outlast the elimination period, especially for short-term disability insurance policies or severe cases of illness.

If the elimination period ends and you’re still sick, the next question becomes whether your illness meets your policy’s disability definition.

Disability Definitions  

Disability insurance typically pays out if a disability prevents you from working. The exact definition of disability varies from policy to policy, and some are stricter than others. However, it typically includes both injuries and illnesses.

If you contract COVID-19 and the illness makes you unable to work, you may qualify for benefits once the elimination period ends. It may also be possible to qualify for disability benefits based on longer-term COVID-19 complications that persist after recovery from the virus itself.

Because COVID-19 is a new illness, researchers are still learning about the disease. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, COVID-19 may cause damage to the heart, lungs or brain. The illness may also cause blood clots and blood vessel problems, as well as problems with mood and fatigue.

It’s always important to understand the details of an individual policy. However, if a person contracts COVID-19, as long as the policy’s elimination period and disability definition are met, coverage should apply.

If you have any questions, we are here to help. Contact your closest Regional Brokerage Manager. Also be sure to download our IDI infographics to help prospects understand the true risk of disability.