The type of disability contract: A “non-cancelable” disability contract guarantees that a company cannot cancel a policy or change the rates, as long as you continue to pay the premiums on time. A “guaranteed renewable” disability policy guarantees that the terms of your policy can’t be changed, however premiums may be changed after a certain period (generally 2 to 3 years) and only if the change applies to all policies with similar benefits in your risk class. A third type of contract, often called an “optionally renewable” disability policy, is one that can be canceled by the company at renewal time, and may require you to have periodic physical exams. The contract that guarantees the most generally demands a higher premium.
The waiting period: You select the amount of time you will wait before you receive your first disability payment. Generally, the longer the waiting period, the lower the premiums. Typical waiting periods are 30, 60, 90, 180, 365, 730 days.
The benefit amount: The amount of monthly benefit you apply for directly relates to your premium. Generally, the higher the benefit, the higher the premium.
The benefit period: The maximum length of time benefits will be paid. Your choices are typically 2 years, 5 years or to your normal retirement age. Generally, the longer the benefit period, the higher the premium.
Your current health status and medical history: If you have a current health issue or previous injury, you may still qualify. An underwriter looks at each individual application and determines the risk factor. Some pre-existing conditions may be accepted with an exclusion amendment added to your policy (i.e.- a previous knee injury).