Disability Insurance and Pregnancy

Disability income insurance before and after pregnancy is a frequent topic we're asked about. Advisors and clients have questions if pregnancy is covered by disability insurance and when benefits might be payable. Sarah A. from Team dibrokerWest recently sat down with Jed Poland, Regional Director of Sales to answer many common questions.

Disability Insurance and Pregnancy Video Transcript

00:00:21 Sarah A.
OK, so we are here to discuss disability insurance for pregnancy. Thank you for being here, Jed, to answer these questions today.

00:00:31 Sarah A.
So, my first question would be, how would DI Benefit someone who is planning on becoming pregnant in the future?

00:00:41 Jed P.
Good question. It could benefit you insurmountably if something goes wrong or if there are any complications from that pregnancy. Most importantly, it's going to cover all the other things that you're not thinking about if you're buying a policy specifically for pregnancy coverage.

00:01:04 Jed P.
One of the most important pieces of information to keep in mind and for Advisors and Producers to educate their clients on is that an individual DI policy – whether it's a short-term policy or long-term policy – is not going to cover normal pregnancy.

00:01:22 Jed P.
And so, we get calls all the time from folks asking that specific question saying: “hey, I'm planning on getting pregnant or I'm currently pregnant, what should I buy in order to cover this pregnancy or maternity leave?”

00:01:40 Jed P.
And the unfortunate answer is, there's nothing out there that's specific that's going to help with that on an individual basis. But the bigger concern usually, or at least the concern that can have a much larger impact on that individual and their family and even you know their children and other generations to come because those things can have a ripple effect through time.

00:02:07 Jed P.
What if, what about the long-term impacts? What if something happens that you think is going to be minor? What if the next time you go see a doctor is the last time you’re eligible to buy disability insurance?

00:02:29 Jed P.
So, disability insurance isn't going to cover a normal pregnancy, but it will cover complications thereof.

00:02:36 Sarah A.

00:02:36 Jed P.
So, what I mean by that is, I had somebody last year who bought a policy a year before and got pregnant. Had the baby, a normal pregnancy, but wasn't cleared to go back to work after the baby was delivered because she had high blood pressure and so she was off work for I think six or seven months.

00:03:00 Jed P.
That was a payable claim.

00:03:02 Sarah A.

00:03:03 Jed P.
Because it was complication of a normal pregnancy, they paid the claim.

00:03:09 Sarah A.
Right, right, OK?

00:03:11 Jed P.
Another important thing though is C-section is the most common type of pregnancy complication that would be payable as far as the carrier goes. The caveat being the typical recovery time for a C-section is only six weeks, so while it it's a payable reason for a claim, most people have a 90-day elimination period and so they're just typically they've recovered and gone back to work before they've hit the end of their elimination period even though they were off for something that would have been payable if they were off for a longer period of time.

00:03:51 Sarah A.
Right, right? So, one of my questions was going to be does DI also cover postpartum depression?

00:04:04 Jed P.
Yes, yeah, it does with a couple of caveats, right? With the underwriting review, they're going to pull your records, and they're going to exclude anything that is, you know, notable health concerns. So, if you have any mental health history, right, if there's any history of depression or anxiety or stress or fatigue or anything like that, they'll most likely issue a policy with a mental health or mental nervous exclusion or limitation, just depending on the details of it.

00:04:38 Jed P.
To simplify that, if you have a mental health history, it's not going to pay for any future mental health claims, most likely.

00:04:44 Sarah A.
That makes sense.

00:04:45 Jed P.
Even if they're caused by, you know, if it's postpartum depression specifically. If you don't have any mental health history and you don't have a mental health or mental nervous exclusion on your policy at time of issue and then you in the future become pregnant and suffer from postpartum depression, yeah it would most likely pay for that.

00:05:09 Jed P.
One other important thing that all your clients should be aware of, especially if you think that this is a motivation for buying a policy or if they ask you specifically, you know, even though in the year 2022, modern medicine has made incredible advances in the world of childbirth and child delivery. It's still a very risky thing for a woman to go through, right.

00:05:38 Jed P.
We live in a developed country and in our infant mortality rate is much lower and the risk to the mother is much lower than it was, say, 100 years ago, for example, but there's still an inherent risk in there, and so when an underwriter reviews somebody who's currently pregnant and submits an application for a policy, they're going to err on the side of caution and they're going to exclude pregnancy.

00:06:03 Sarah A.

00:06:04 Jed P. 
Meaning, if the client approaches you to purchase a policy and they're currently pregnant, it's not even going to cover complications thereof, because that underwriter will see this as a soon to be question mark of potential risk, that's going to come due in six months, five months, whenever the baby comes and they're just going to exclude that risk altogether.

00:06:29 Sarah A.
So that kind of relates to my next question, which would be when would this person ideally want to purchase DI like when would be the best time – and it sounds like the earlier the better. Is that right?

00:06:41 Jed P.
Yep, you’re spot on. There’s an old saying “what's the best time to plant a tree?” Ten years ago. “What’s the second-best time to plant a tree?” Today.

00:06:53 Jed P.
You're never younger or healthier than you are right now. Obviously, you want to encourage your clients to purchase it sooner as opposed to later, because absolutely some people get to a point where they're not currently disabled, but they've had certain medical history come up that would prevent them from being able to buy a policy, even though they're still actively working.

00:07:22 Jed P.
So, the best time to buy it is when you're young when you're healthy. But don't let that prevent you from bringing it up to people who maybe aren't in their 20s and have no medical records. Everybody should still at least have this conversation presented to them and let the carriers decide if they're not eligible for it. Because even though specifically, as this pertains to the topic of discussion of pregnancy even that's not going to cover normal childbirth and the typical you know, four to six weeks that you're off on maternity leave. That's one grain of sand in the, you know, a shoreline of reasons that you could potentially use your policy for. 

00:08:15 Jed P.
One particular reason out tens of thousands of other possibilities that could potentially disable you and it's important to bring this conversation up to somebody who is not pregnant, looking to get pregnant, currently pregnant even though they would like to have an exclusion on it, everybody, everybody deserves to have this conversation and this opportunity to present it to them and be educated on it because most people just don't know what they don't know until it's too late. And at that point there's not a lot you can do for them.

00:08:49 Sarah A.
So, if individual disability insurance isn't going to cover pregnancy specifically, what is another option for someone looking for coverage?

00:09:03 Jed P.
Good question. Really, if you're sole motivation for looking into this type of protection is to cover you for pregnancy or to pay you during maternity leave, the best option is whatever you have through your employer and not every employer has a good solution for that or has or any solution for that, for that matter?

00:09:35 Jed P.
Short term disability that's offered through your group, through your employer is really going to be your best bet for taking care of pregnancy or and in conjunction with that the maternity leave that your employer offers is going to be the best way to pay you out during a normal, regular traditional childbirth where you're back to work within six weeks – four to six weeks.

00:10:01 Jed P.
Having said that, though I can't emphasize this enough that there are tens of thousands of other ways that you could become disabled and pregnancy, complications of pregnancy being one of them, and that's what individual long-term and short-term disability is there to help with.

00:10:22 Jed P.
Thank you for everything. I appreciate all this and I’m looking forward to seeing you.

00:10:27 Sarah A.
Yeah, all right. See you soon. Thank you Jed!

If you have additional questions about disability income insurance, please contact your local dibrokerWest Sales Representative. If you’re not currently working with a Sales Rep, please give our office a call via our Contact Us page.