What is the waiting period for short-term disability insurance? That is a very important question with many different possible correct answers.

The best response depends on upon what you mean by the question.

Many site visitors start thinking about insurance only after suffering an accident or learning about a serious illness from their doctor. Learn about the waiting times associated with buying a new policy.

Other site visitors may think ahead and seek to buy short-term disability insurance in advance of their need. The elimination period in part determines your monthly premium. It also defines how quickly claim payments begin in the event of lost income.

Waiting Period to Buy Short Term Disability

Three different waiting periods may apply when attempting to purchase short-term disability insurance. Many people start looking for a new policy only after lost income looms on the horizon. You should learn about the three important clauses that may exclude you from participating.

 You cannot buy a short-term disability policy with no waiting period before benefits begin for a pre-existing or known condition. 

Request a personal loan to obtain the funding you need if you have a preexisting condition. Do not borrow money unless you are certain that the absence from work is temporary, and that your employer will hold your job open. You must repay the lender with interest.

Preexisting Conditions

Most short-term disability policies will contain a twelve-month waiting period for any pre-existing health condition. A preexisting condition means having an illness or injury for which you received medical advice, treatment, or took prescription drugs within the twelve months preceding the effective date.

The policy will not cover preexisting conditions until twelve months after the effective date, provided you pass other qualifying underwriting criteria. You must also be healthy enough to pass medical underwriting in order to begin coverage.

The carrier will deny your application for coverage if any of these circumstances apply to you.

  • You are not currently working
  • You missed five consecutive workdays in the last year.
  • You were treated for cancer, diabetes, or cirrhosis in the last 12 months
  • You were treated for a major illness or joint disorder in the last 5 years

Open Enrollment

Individual policies purchased outside of work do not have open enrollment restrictions. However, those that employees buy at work often do.

Your employer may impose an open enrollment restriction, which acts like a waiting period for purchasing short-term disability insurance. Since most people buy coverage at their worksite, your employer’s rules become very important.

These rules may limit when you can begin coverage through your employer. Existing employees must hold off until the annual cycle. New employees often must delay until satisfying a probationary requirement.

Normal Pregnancy

Short-term disability covering normal pregnancy typically comes with a nine or ten month waiting period. The legal language varies by state and carrier. Expect the outline of coverage to include a paragraph in the exclusions section. It may read something like one of these variations found below.

We will not pay benefits for losses caused by your giving birth because of a normal pregnancy:

  • When conception occurs prior to the 30th day after the effective date
  • 9 or 10 months after the effective date

Plan accordingly. Many babies deliver early. Purchase you coverage several months prior to conception. This way you avoid delivering inside the exclusion timeframe and missing a valuable claim opportunity.

Elimination Period When Filing Short Term Disability Claim

You determine the elimination period when initially purchasing private short-term disability insurance. This describes the length of time during which the policy will not pay claims after you suffer a covered loss. It comes into play when you apply for income benefits, and when initially pricing the contract.

Request a short-term disability quote. Policies that pay claims more quickly, come with relatively higher premium costs. Have an agent help you decide which option fits your needs and budgets best. You can make different choices for accidents and illnesses.

Accident Elimination Period

You can purchase up to a zero-day accident elimination period short-term disability policy. This option has two important implications when filing your claim after suffering a covered accident.

  • The coverage begins immediately. The carrier may honor the claim, even if the accident occurs on the first day of the coverage effective date.
  • Claims begin immediately. The zero-day option means that the carrier starts making claims payments from the date of the accident.

You can also purchase plans that take longer before paying for accidents. The monthly premiums will be lower, as will any claims payments.

Illness Elimination Period

You can purchase up to a seven-day illness elimination period short-term disability insurance policy. The plans do not address many common and mild conditions such as colds, flu, etc. If you return to work within the seven days, do not bother filing a claim.

You also have options that pay illness claims after more time such as 14 days, 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. Your monthly premiums are most sensitive to this feature, as serious sicknesses such as cancer, heart disease, and joint disorders are among the leading causes of lost income.

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