Best Disability Insurance Companies for Attorneys

Disability Insurance

When you think of someone who needs a disability income insurance policy, you may think of someone with a physically demanding job or someone who needs help making ends meet. You probably don’t think of a lawyer. But lawyers need disability insurance just as much as — if not more than — other professions because of their investment in their education and a higher than average earning potential.

Why lawyers need disability insurance

Attorneys earn a lot of money but there’s a sizeable upfront investment. You need a college degree and then a law degree and then you need to find a good job to pay all of that schooling off. A U.S. News and World Report article reports the average tuition for a public in-state law school in 2019-2020 was more than $28,264 per year. If your client opted for a pricier private law school, the average price-tag jumps to $49,548. That’s just tuition; there are living expenses and other costs law students must cover. Lawyers rack up quite a bit of debt before they ever take their first case. Luckily, the same U.S. News and World Report study shows the median starting salaries for lawyers graduating from the pricier schools, who landed a job in the private sector, could anticipate a median starting salary around $180,000. That’s a lot of cash but it’ll still take time to pay that off that student debt, but that’s only possible if the attorney is working.

Fortunately, disability income protection insurance could cover attorneys if they became unable to work due to an illness or injury. With higher than average starting salaries, new lawyers can usually afford disability coverage – especially if they buy it when they’re younger when coverage is cheaper. New lawyers can usually find a great deal on a policy that will protect their income throughout their entire career. There’s no excuse for not buying.

Even though being a lawyer is a white-collar profession, lawyers are still at risk of becoming disabled. According to The Council for Disability Awareness,90% of disabilities are due to illness, not injury. Even if law books are the heaviest thing an attorney will be lifting during their careers, they can still benefit from having a disability insurance policy.

Best disability insurance companies for lawyers

So which disability insurance companies are best for attorneys? Many insurance companies offer DI coverage. We always encourage lawyers to work with a licensed agent to help find the best company and policy to suit their needs. An agent should be able to explain the different features for the products from each carrier, which riders are important, how to tweak the coverage to best suit the clients’ needs, etc. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about disability income insurance with your clients, give your local dibrokerWest Sales Rep or one of our diCoaches a call and we’ll give you some pointers!

Below are sample rates from three carriers we typically quote for lawyers.

The sample rates above are based on $5,000 monthly benefit amount for non-smoking males and females in the state of Oregon. The maximum benefit amount would be determined by the attorney’s gross income and any other group or individual plans they have in place. For comparison, each sample policy has a 90-day elimination period and benefit coverage to age 65. Changing the elimination period and/or benefit period will increase or decrease the monthly premium accordingly.

Although there are similarities, policies from each carrier have different riders available – some free and some at an additional cost – that can be added to the policy. For example, all the sample proposals above include a future purchase option that allows the policyholder to add more coverage later. We highly recommend riders such as this for white-collar professionals because their salaries will increase greatly as they progress in their careers. Another benefit to adding this rider when first purchasing the policy is because the policyholder can exercise the purchase option in the future without having to go through underwriting again. Going through underwriting is much smoother for a 28-year-old attorney who hasn’t developed any medical issues that all of us experience as we get older.

Note that the premium amounts in the sample quotes above are competitive from one carrier to the next. Price shouldn’t be the most important factor when your client considers disability income insurance. The plan design, the riders and additional perks a carrier may offer could make one product stand out over another. Also, benefit amounts, elimination/waiting periods and other features can be tweaked to change the premium. For example, if you love the Family Care Benefit rider offered by The Standard, but it’s more expensive than the competitor, you could adjust the plan design to lower the premium. The tradeoff of a longer elimination period to receive benefits while taking care of a family member with a health condition may be worth it.

What lawyer clients need to know about disability insurance

So, what should your attorney clients be aware of when they’re shopping for a disability insurance policy? First, know the plan’s definition of own occupation. The lawyer may still get benefits if they’re unable to work in their own job — being an attorney — even if they’re still able to work in another capacity. Knowing what your policy considers your occupation can mean a huge difference in the benefits you receive.

Your attorney client should also know if they already have disability income insurance through their employer. While many firms don't have group plans, larger ones might. The monthly benefit amount an insured can receive has a cap – usually around 60% of gross annual income – and any existing coverage should be considered when applying for additional coverage. If their employer provided coverage doesn’t reach this cap – or if their income has increased since the current policy was issued – a supplemental policy is a great way to fill the gaps.

You should encourage clients to purchase their own policy, in addition to any employer-provided coverage they may have. This gives attorneys the flexibility to switch firms or start a private practice without worrying about disability coverage being tied to their current employer.

A student loan rider could help pay student loan bills most lawyers accrue during college. The student loan rider adds a little to the monthly benefit amount, usually around $2,000 per month, to help pay for student loans. The student loan rider goes directly to the loan provider so it can also eliminate some stress if the policyholder ever goes on claim.
If your attorney client works based on billable hours, a residual or partial disability plan is especially important. This means that if the attorney can continue working after an illness or injury but has reduced hours or income, they can still receive limited benefits.

Lawyers put too much time and money into their profession to leave their income exposed to risk. A disability income insurance policy is the perfect way to ensure your client will protect their financial future and have a successful career no matter what happens along the way.