Demand for workers with software development skills has never been higher. The biggest companies in the world are paying top dollar for the top talent, and many people are making career changes to more tech-oriented roles by going back to school or taking a programming bootcamp course to earn more money, stay relevant in the workforce or to do what they love.
Regardless of your reason, don’t you want protect that job and the perks that come with it, like a higher income? Most disabilities occur due to illness rather than injury, so even if you spend most of your day sitting behind a computer writing lines of code, you could become disabled and be out of work — and a paycheck. Long-term disability insurance is the best way for software engineers to insure their income and make ends meet when they’re unable to pull down a paycheck.
Note: We’ll be talking primarily about software engineers, but will call out a few other computer-related roles. Workers can become disabled no matter their role or title: software developer, programmer, coder, software architect and so on. We don’t mean to imply that these roles are interchangeable – just that everyone in these fields benefits from disability insurance.
Why software engineers need disability insurance
Unlike some professions, like lawyers and dentists, software engineers have a relatively cheap educational path. This partly has to do with the fact that an advanced degree isn’t a requirement for many jobs (a bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum, and a lot of employers value experience over a degree).
CollegeCalc lists the average annual out-of-state education cost for a software engineer at $37,631. The average annual cost for a computer science degree is $40,722. That means while would-be software engineers will likely graduate with some student loan debt — it’s hard to avoid these days — it’s a far cry from the $300,000 that isn’t uncommon for dental students.
However, there’s a huge upside in terms of income when it comes to computer professions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for software developers in 2016 was $102,280 (the actually salary depends on whether you’re looking at applications or systems developers, and BLS doesn’t have a category specifically for “software engineer”). Computer programmers had a lower, but still respectable, median salary of $79,840.
This means developers can earn high incomes early in their careers, and they don’t have to dedicate much of it to student loan debt. A long-term disability insurance policy ensures that if they become disabled, which one in four workers will at some point in their career, they won’t have to sacrifice their goals or lifestyle because of it.
Best disability insurance companies for software engineers
|Company||30 years old||40 years old||50 years old|
|Ameritas||$110.76/mo | $1,281.40/yr||$176.76/mo | $2,048.80/yr||$271.65/mo | $3,152.20/yr|
|Assurity*||$125.90/mo | $1,447.29/yr||$211.45/mo | $2,430.35/yr||$281.55/mo | $3,236.39/yr|
|Guardian-Berkshire||$132.09/mo | $1,585.13/yr||$201.87/mo | $2,422.50/yr||$305.69/mo | $3,668.26/yr|
|Principal||$136.68/mo | $1,562.00/yr||$206.02/mo | $2,354.50/yr||$304.54/mo | $3,480.50/yr|
|The Standard||$127.51/mo | $1,457.30/yr||$184.84/mo | $2,112.47/yr||$276.88/mo | $3,164.31/yr|
|MassMutual||$105.19/mo | $1,237.20/yr||$162.26/mo | $1,896.88/yr||$260.81/mo | $3,036.20/yr|
|Mutual of Omaha**||$126.80/mo | $1,449.00/yr||$190.48/mo | $1,896.88/yr||$291.59/mo | $3,332.41/yr|
*Non-cancelable policies not available
**To age 67; non-cancelable policies not available
Note that these rates are based on $5,000 monthly benefits for a male non-smoker in New York. The sample policy has a 90-day elimination period, benefit period to age 65, and features own-occupation, partial disability, future purchase, non-cancelable and automatic increase benefits. To learn more about these features, see our in-depth look at disability insurance riders.
Talk to a licensed expert to find the policy you need for your specific situation, and what it will cost you.
What software engineers need to know about disability insurance
No matter your specialty, software developers can benefit from having disability insurance. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you get the best coverage at the best rates.
New professionals can qualify for a higher benefit amount
Because software engineers are typically high-earning careers, it’s possible for even new professionals to qualify for higher benefit amounts due to their earning potential. Look for companies that offer a future purchase option or automatic increase benefit, which let you purchase more coverage without going through underwriting or automatically increases your benefit amount, respectively, so your policy can keep up with your income growth.
A private disability insurance policy gives you employment flexibility
Some employers offer disability insurance as a workplace benefit. One of the problems is it’s tied to your job. If you leave, you’re out of a disability policy. There are new startups popping onto the scene every day, and it’s not unusual for software engineers to switch jobs often or work as a freelancer or consultant for companies. A private disability insurance policy gives you the flexibility to work where you want without worrying about going unprotected.
The right degree can get you the best rates
Looking to get the best disability insurance rates? A computer science degree can help (BLS notes that computer science programs are the most common for software developers, “because they tend to cover a broad range of topics”), as can having three years experience when you apply.
Insurers will also consider your income. If you’re making at least $75,000 a year, you’ll likely qualify for better rates than workers making less than that.
Don’t discount working for established companies
Startups are all the rage, but if you want the best rates, another thing to consider is working for an established company – some insurers will reward you with a better rate. Plus, you may be offered disability insurance as a benefit, and you can buy a supplemental policy that you can use if you decide to go off on your own later on.
When you think of software, you probably don’t think of disability. But it can happen to anyone, and software engineers are in the unique position of getting great rates to protect their income. Talk to an expert about getting a long-term disability insurance policy today and give yourself the flexibility to pursue your dreams and start the next great tech company.
Disclosure: Policygenius offers insurance policies from many of the nation's top insurers, who pay us a commission for our services. However, all editorial choices are made independently.