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“Own Occupation” Is Not So Simple In Disability Income Insurance

Gavel rests on a law book

“Own occupation” has been discussed so much over the years that lately it has taken on a generic appearance. Sort of “one-size-fits-all”. As experienced and knowledgeable disability insurance attorneys in New Jersey and New York, Uscher, Quiat, Uscher & Russo, P.C., knows that nothing could be further from the truth.

“Own occupation” or “regular occupation” are words of art in disability insurance policies. Yet, many times, the “own occupation” insurance coverage the policyholder actually has is not nearly what he or she thought they had. The insured may believe the insurance policy covers loss of income under certain conditions and for a certain period of time, but the insurance contract may not be written the way it was described by the agent or broker when the policy was sold to the insured. Actual coverage may be quite different from what the policyholder thinks it is.

The words “own occupation” or “regular occupation” in a disability insurance policy are vital to doctors, dentists and other high earners who own such policies. They buy disability income policies to protect these high incomes in the event a disabling illness or injury should strike.

Most people have neither the time nor the desire to read the lengthy and complex language of insurance contracts. This is especially true for those who are busy earning high incomes and have little time for anything else. Such a situation has all of the makings of a financial debacle should a disabling health disaster strike.

Many policyholders feel comfortable when discussing their insurance portfolio because they assert that they have “own occupation” coverage, in the event of disabling illness or injury, and believe they have done their duty to protect themselves and their families.

But, when asked what type of “own occupation” coverage they have, they really don’t know. They seem completely unaware of the variety and limits that ordinarily come with this type of insurance:

  • Limits on the length of disability payments
  • Precluding the insured from working at any other occupation
  • Capping the total amount of benefits over the life of the policy
  • Defining the covered occupation to cover a broader spectrum of employment than the insured thinks it does

Some policies have definitions of disability which will change from “own occupation” to “any occupation” at a certain point in time, which can mean that if the insured is able do any type of work, their benefits payments may stop.

If an insured feels comfortable with the disability insurance provisions in his or her policy, that’s fine, so long as the policy has been carefully read and fully understood. If not, it may be a ticking time bomb waiting to go off at the worst possible time, when a disabling illness or injury cuts off income.

So, those who own a disability insurance policy should read it carefully. They should be certain they know what it says. A disability insurance policy is the “Bible” if you can’t work. If you are not sure of whether you actually have the “own occupation” coverage you think you have, now is the time to find out.

Seek Advice From An Experienced New Jersey Disability Insurance Attorney

Give Uscher, Quiat, Uscher & Russo, P.C., a call at 201-781-5645 or email us while you are thinking of it. We have dealt with “own occupation” in battling insurance companies for policyholders for more than three decades. We will be happy to talk with you.

Avoid such a mistake after a disabling illness or injury strikes. If you are not sure what type of coverage you really have, find out now, before you end up having to file a claim.