Long-term disability insurance or LTD insurance provides wage replacement benefits in the event that you become injured or ill and can no longer work. It is usually provided by employers as part of a comprehensive workplace benefits package. However, increasingly employers are reducing coverage levels or eliminating employee benefits altogether, so it is important to understand just what coverage is and is not being provided. When LTD benefits are not provided, or coverage is insufficient to meet the employee’s needs, additional coverage is available through insurance brokers.
Most LTD insurance policies commence payment of benefits after short-term disability insurance (or sometimes employment insurance benefits) expires, usually at the three or six month mark. LTD benefits usually pay a percentage of the employee’s salary at the time of onset of the disability, for a prescribed period of time. Many policies only provide coverage for 2 years, unless the employee is unable to return not only to their own job, but to any job for which they are reasonably suited, or could be re-trained to perform. This is known in the insurance industry as the “any occupation” phase of the LTD policy.
Frequently, the transition to the “any occupation” phase results in termination of benefits, with the insurance company suggesting that the employee is able to return either to his or her own job, or to another job. The termination of LTD benefits can be very stressful for the employee, who may disagree with the insurance company’s decision. To avoid this potential problem, LTD insurance policies can be purchased which pay benefits for as long as the person is unable to engage in their own occupation.
It is important to understand what LTD insurance coverage is available to you, and whether or not your financial needs will be met in the event of illness or injury resulting in disability. You should review your benefits package to determine what is offered by your employer.
Oatley Vigmond is Ontario’s Personal Injury Law Firm. If you or someone you know has a dispute with an LTD insurer, we may be able to help.