Talking about disability insurance with Financially Blonde [PODCAST]

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Talking about disability insurance with Financially Blonde [PODCAST]

Shannon McLay at Financially Blonde first heard of PolicyGenius at FinCon, an annual convention for personal finance experts, and now she recommends us to her clients when they need insurance. In her "Martinis and Your Money" podcast, McLay and PolicyGenius CEO Jennifer Fitzgerald talk about why you might need long-term disability protection even if you work in an office, and two ways you can save money on a good policy. Oh, and also about that time Jennifer touched Jon Bon Jovi's hair.

You can listen to the podcast here, or read the edited transcript below for some great disability insurance information.

Martinis and Your Money Podcast

Disability Insurance - What You Need to Know

Transcript (edited)

Shannon: Welcome to Martinis and Your Money, the podcast about living a better life one cocktail at a time. I'm your host Shannon McLay. I'm so excited you're joining us today. We're going to have a lot of fun, so let's get started.

Today I'm talking to Jennifer Fitzgerald, the CEO of the company, PolicyGenius, about disability insurance. If you're like I was, you probably think that disability insurance is not something you'll need or need to waste your money on, but not having it could present a huge risk to you achieving your financial goals. So while sharing some cocktails, we're going to talk about some of these risks, questions you should ask, and how you should think about disability insurance in your overall financial plan. It's a great conversation that I hope you enjoy, but more importantly, helps you prepare better. And now, here's Jen. Welcome to the show, Jen.

Jennifer: Thanks for having me, Shannon.

Shannon: I'm so excited to have you because, well, first of all, I love your company, and I want to talk about that in a little bit. And then we're going to talk about something that I think no one really finds fun or even thinks about. It's disability insurance, and I thought you're one of the most fun people to talk to about this topic, so I can't wait.

Jennifer: Thank you. It's about as fun as it gets for disability insurance.

Shannon: So you are the CEO of PolicyGenius, and I love your company.

Jennifer: Thank you.

Shannon: I found out about you guys a year ago at FinCon, the financial bloggers conference, and well, I had to fall in love with your company, because the other co-founder was taking pictures of people in a shark costume. It was just so ridiculous, because there was financial services companies all over the place, and people wearing suits and ties, and some are formal or golf shirts. And then there was this guy in a shark costume, and I just thought, "Oh, this is somebody they've paid to do this," and then found out he was one of the co-founders of the company, and I instantly loved this company.

Because it's like a top-down kind of thing. If it starts with somebody wearing a shark costume just to get attention, then I knew it was going to get better, so I checked out the site afterward, and I love it. And so I want you to tell my listeners a little bit about PolicyGenius, what you guys do, how you started.

Just from your website, I love that your mission is "To get people the insurance coverage they need and make them feel good about it." That's awesome.

Jennifer: That is our mission at its simplest. So we started building PolicyGenius a couple of years ago. So my cofounder who you met in the shark costume, and for your listeners out there, the conference Shannon is talking about is called FinCon. It was our first FinCon, and we thought it'd be funny to have a running joke that, "Oh, we thought it was about fins, shark fins." So we had social media tags like, "Oops, wrong FinCon," and showed up in a shark costume, which just made a little splash, because at the end of the day, we're working in insurance. Insurance is intimidating, it's boring, it's dry, it's confusing, it's frustrating, so if we can bring a little bit of levity, a little bit of a conversation to it and a conversation you'd want to have, then we could help rise above everything else in the insurance industry.

So we started building it a couple of years ago. We've launched in 2014, and really what we're building and what we've done is take everything that a traditional brick and mortar insurance agent will do, and bring it online, and have a digital model of that, right? So everything from the advice and the need for the assessment to quoting to application to great content and answering questions like, "Oh, I just had a baby. Now, what do I do about my insurance?" So that's what we do. That's what we've got on our site. We've got four products so far on life disability insurance, which we'll talk about today, renters insurance, pet insurance, and we are adding more products in the next few months, which is exciting.

Shannon: It is exciting, and it's not only just a helpful site, it's really easy to use. I have recommended it to clients, and I love when I recommend sites or products or whatever to clients, and they come back and tell me they like it or they love the experience. And that's another reason why I like PolicyGenius, because I've sent clients to your site, and they come back and say, "Oh, I loved using it."

Jennifer: That's great. That's so good to hear.

Shannon: Well, no one wants to send people somewhere, and they're like, "Thanks for hooking me up with that site. I've got Josh Moore, an insurance agent, calling me all the time now." And that's one of the things I love about PolicyGenius, is you're not going to have that annoying phone call or people bugging you before you're ready to make a decision on your insurance.

Jennifer: Exactly, and we don't even ask for contact information until you're ready to apply for insurance. So we believe in letting people get all the way to see their quotes online without having to provide contact information, because people want to see, for instance, before they think about the next step.

Shannon: And that's something that I hated personally when I was shopping for insurance a few years ago, was that every time any site you went on, comparison site or whatever, it's like they give you a general ballpark, and then you just start to put in your information. And you wouldn't even see...the next step would be submit your e-mail or phone number, and somebody will call you, and it's like I don't want anyone to call me. The whole point of being...

Jennifer: It's frustrating.

Shannon: The whole point of being on the website is that I want to search. I don't want to have anyone to call me, so I love that you can do that. And for the listeners, too, on the podcast notes for this show on my blog site, we'll have links to PolicyGenius if you want to check them out. So that is you guys.

Why disability insurance is for more than people who work in construction

And I want to talk about disability insurance, because I've got to be honest with you, I never even contemplated this until I became a financial planner three years ago. Disability insurance in my mind seemed like something for someone who worked in construction, like I don't need disability insurance. I always assumed that it was like if I had some kind of high disastrous type of job that I would need it, but why don't you share for my listeners a little bit why should anyone care about it and if they have it or not.

Jennifer: Sure. So you're not alone in thinking that, Shannon. The disability insurance industry has done people no favors by calling it disability insurance, right? Because when you hear the word disability with relation to insurance, you think about exactly what you thought about, right? Like workers comp, and oh, it only matters if I have a dangerous and high risk physical job. In other markets, like in the UK and Australia, disability insurance is actually called income protection, which is more accurate and is actually what it is. So what disability insurance is, is if you get too sick or too injured to work at your normal job, it replaces part of your income, right?

Everybody always focuses on health insurance, and medical bills, and hospital bills, but the other part to your health is sometimes you actually can't work, right? And once you exhaust your paid sick leave at work, if you're fortunate to have a generous paid sick leave policy, then you're without a paycheck for the amount of time until you're able to recover. And it's not just injuries or freak accidents, right? Ninety percent of long term disabilities, meaning something that lasts longer than three months are illness-related, right? So that's some sort of chronic condition. You throw your back out, and you can only work two days a week instead of five days a week. And then work-related injuries actually only make up like 10% of long-term disability claims.

If you think about it, it's like cancer, it's arthritis, it's GI problems where you're out of work. One of my colleagues, his 26-year-old sister battled Crohn's disease for a couple of years and couldn't work, so it's those kinds of things that disability insurance protects against.

Shannon: I think that's a great point that really only 10% of coverage of long-term disability claims are actually things that people think disability insurance would cover. And that's eye-opening, that you have 90% of other things that could happen to you that this would be a need for you.

And why in particular this was an important topic for me to discuss is I have a client who is 30 years old, and I blogged about her. She had a detached retina, and she didn't even know. So she's 30 years old, had a detached retina, and had to be out of work for a little over 3 months and had her work disability coverage, but that's half of what she made. And so she took a significant income hit as well as the medical bills that piled up, and I thought here's a 30-year-old, she's very healthy in every other way, and a random detached retina situation happened, and that put her out of work. So you really never know what's going to happen down the road.

Jennifer: Absolutely, and for a few minutes you can think of a story like that that's happened to a friend or a loved one. My younger brother when he was 26, 27, really healthy, athletic, was in the army, and developed cysts along his spinal cord that had to be removed. And he was fine, but he was unable to work for six months. And because he was in the military, that was covered. But had he been out in the private sector, he would have been really struggling financially.

Shannon: So let's talk about that, Jen. If somebody is listening to this and thinking, "Oh my God, what if that happens to me?" and then says, "Well, my company covers me," what does their company typically cover?

Jennifer: So if you're fortunate enough to work in a large company with pretty rich benefits, you will likely have short-term disability insurance and then long-term disability insurance, right? So typically, a cut-off for a short-term disability is anything longer than 180 days, so past the normal sick leave time that you would get up to anywhere from 30 days to 6 months. It depends on the state you're in and the kind of coverage that your company has, but short term is short term, right? So anything typically shorter than three to six months is considered a short-term disability.

What's often surprising to hear is that pregnancy is considered a short-term disability. So if your company has short-term disability insurance coverage, then the time that you take off post-delivery for recovery is often covered by a short-term disability insurance. And then after that, if your company has long-term disability insurance, then what it means is that you will still get a portion of your income until you're able to return to work either part-time or full-time, depending on the provisions of the coverage. Now, the thing is when it's employer-provided disability coverage, a lot of times it's not going to be full income replacement, right? It will be...

Shannon: Which is what my client had.

Jennifer: Exactly, like 50% to 60%. If your employer pays the premium on it, it's going to be taxable to you, so you're going to pay taxes on the benefit. And usually it will have provisions where after one or two years of disability, if you're still disabled, then they're going to look to see if you can work at any job. Not just your old job and your regular occupation, but any job, and if you can, then the benefits would be curtailed.

Shannon: So even though it says long-term disability, it really does have a shelf life if it's provided by your company.

Jennifer: Possibly. So what does have a shelf life is looking at what your regular occupation is. They could enforce like workplace modification or moving into a job that you can do with your disability. So workplace disability is great.

We often encourage clients if there is a voluntary sign-up where you have to contribute, absolutely sign up for it, but take a look at the provisions. It might not cover enough income for you to get by if you were disabled for a long period of time, and so typically, the advice that we give is you may want to consider supplementing your employer-provided coverage with an individual policy. Because most people, unlike the status, change jobs every four years, right? So as soon as you leave that employer, you lose that coverage, and you may go freelance or you may go work for a company that doesn't offer it. So now, you're older, now health things might have happened, so the longer you wait, the tougher it is to get your own individual policy.

Shannon: Just like most insurance, unfortunately.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Shannon: It benefits the people who don't think they need it the most by getting it when you don't need it. So how do people know if they have it with their employer? And like you said, how would they know what type of coverage it is that's provided for them?

Jennifer: Sure. So the easiest thing is those big enrollment booklets we get in the fall that nobody ever reads...

Shannon: Oh, it's in there.

Jennifer: It'll be in there. Or the easier way is send an e-mail or give your HR manager or benefits manager a call to talk about whether you have disability coverage. And the questions you want to ask are, is it short-term disability, is there also long-term disability, what's the elimination period? So typically, there's waiting period. You have to be disabled for so many days before benefits kick in.

Then you'll also want to ask what's the benefit, right? Is it going to be a flat benefit like, "We'll pay you $500 a week while you're out," or is it a percentage of income. And if it's a percentage of income, you'll want to ask what that's capped at, because usually there will be a cap on the percentage of income that will be replaced. So those are the questions to ask your benefits manager. Most people actually don't have long-term disability coverage through work, so if you don't, then that's when you want to take a hard look at--"Should I get my own disability policy."

Shannon: So I think that's a great thing. If you're employed by somebody, and you're not sure what the coverage is, I'm with you. We get those big packets, but just call or e-mail your HR or benefits person. They definitely know and can give you a quick response, and those are great questions to ask. And like you said, if you do have a long-term disability, figure out how much it's going to work for you, and then think about how your budget's going to work. Because for my client, it was like half of her income. So she's not only racking up thousands of dollars in medical bills, but now, she's making half of what she was, and that set her back. And truthfully, she's now back living with her parents while trying to catch up from everything. So at 30 years old, that was an unexpected event from her. That was a difficult thing for her, because she had to be on it for three or four months collecting half than what she expected.

When should you buy long-term disability insurance?

Shannon: So those are all great things. But so if now, somebody knows they don't have it with their employer and is listening to this and thinking, "Is it something I should even care about?", what should they be thinking about, what should they ask, what should they look for, what should they expect?

Jennifer: Sure. I think a couple of things. One is understand that it's important and what it covers. I think some of the sobering statistics out there are it's much more common than you think. The social security administration released a stat that said 1 in 4 of today's 20-year-olds will experience some sort of disability before they retire, right? Think about how long your working career is, and there's a pretty good chance that something health-related will take you out for 3, 6, 12 months, right?

Shannon: I honestly have a huge fear that I'm going to have a carpal tunnel issue in my life. That's my actual number one fear, because I do have carpal tunnel that I got from...it got more pronounced when I was pregnant with my son, but I have a fear about that. I'm on the computer all the time. That's my job.

Jennifer: Yeah, and it's a very, very common condition that afflicts office workers and it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to do your normal work. So disability is not something necessarily catastrophic. It just renders you unable to do your work as you normally do it. So if you don't have it, you should definitely look into a policy. I think some of the common frustrations with the process is that any condition that you already had and is in your medical record is going to be excluded as a preexisting condition, right? Which is unfortunate, because usually the trigger that gets people thinking about it is their health condition, right?

Like, "Oh gosh, because of the back problem for a couple of weeks, I need to get disability insurance." You can still get it, but any claims related to that preexisting back problem are going to be excluded. So the best possible thing to do is get it when you're young and you've got a blemish-free health record. That way, it will cover any possible disability claim in the future, right?

But it's totally fine if you've got a couple of preexisting conditions, because just think about the range of things that can still happen. There's cancer, heart attack, stroke, the random thing that happened to your client with the detached retina. So a lot of people get, I think, unduly fixated on what's excluded if they have a preexisting condition.

Shannon: Right. There's plenty of other things that could go wrong.

Jennifer: Exactly. It is a random and scary world, so there's plenty other conditions that the coverage would protect. And we like to talk about it a lot with clients and our readers, because it's a big deal. There was a study that said almost half of Americans couldn't deal with an unexpected expense of just $400, right? And it's just $400. Imagine being out of a paycheck for three, four or five months.

Shannon: Again, my client went to half pay and now has to move back in with her parents. And she actually, for full disclosure to her, because she'll probably be listening to this, she had plenty of money saved, but she didn't want to keep eating away at her savings just to catch up. So for full disclosure, my clients do work on their emergency savings, so they can handle this, and actually, that was why she let me know. She was able to handle it, but she just made the choice, so that she didn't keep eating away at her savings.

Jennifer: Right. And that's a common scenario. You have those emergency savings but could you last 6 months, 12 months, 2 years if it came to that? Like I said, my colleague, his sister just out of nowhere with Crohn's disease couldn't work for two years, and she's just now getting back into work part-time. So there's things that you can't predict, unfortunately. And disability actually, there's another study that Harvard Medical School did a few years ago looking at the causes of home foreclosures and personal bankruptcy filings, and behind over half of them was extended illness, right? And most of those folks had health insurance, but in addition to the piling medical bills, there was also moments out of work and couldn't pay the mortgage, and bills piled up.

Shannon: They didn't have the income insurance that they needed?

Jennifer: Nope, they did not. And they may have had savings but ate those away and then were still out of work, unfortunately, so it's hugely important. I don't want to sound alarmist at all, but I prefer talking about financial preparedness. It's probably the big blind spot we see in a lot of people who come to our site and talk to us.

Shannon: And like I said, because I'm in the same boat as everybody else, I just thought well, I don't have a job where I'm going to be injured and out of work for that long. But again, we just don't think about...like you said, Jen, it's a great point: Thinking about it as disability insurance is the wrong way to think about it, and you really need to think about it as income insurance. And if something were to happen to you where you could not work for an extended period of time, how would your finances handle that? And if they would not be able to sustain that, then that becomes a big risk. And insurance is all about risk planning, and this is a solution to a risk that you might have.

Jennifer: Absolutely.

Tips when shopping for disability insurance

Shannon: So if you go to apply for it, you need to remember that if you have a preexisting condition, that will not be covered. But like you said, it's just that those conditions that you have, the other ones that you haven't had yet would still be covered. What else should people know about it if they're thinking of applying for it or looking for a disability insurance?

Jennifer: The best thing to do is to work with an independent broker who can provide you with quotes from multiple companies. Some companies are going to be more competitive than others depending on your occupation, so there are a couple of insurance companies that will specialize in cases where the person's a blue collar worker or grey collar worker. Some insurance companies are better and more competitively priced for professionals like CPAs, and attorneys, and things like that. So you want to work with a broker who can provide you multiple quotes and talk about which is the most competitive quote and carrier for your profile.

It's not an easy process, right? So in addition to looking at your health history, which takes a while to underwrite, they'll also look at your income, so there are minimum income levels. Typically, you have to be working at least 30 hours a week in your primary occupation, and then usually the minimum income is around anywhere from 20 to 24k annually. They'll also be looking at your financial history as well, because what they're doing, in addition to assessing what kind of disability risk you have, is looking at the income that they're insuring against, right? So they'll want to see if there is stability in that.

For people who are self employed, they'll want to see at least a couple of years under your belt to show some stability in income, which allows them to say, "If you were to be disabled, we know that this is likely what you would have been earning if you were working full-time.

Shannon: And not like, "I just got this great job. I've been making $50,000 a year, and I just got a job making $120,000 a year. I'm going to get disability insurance and expect them to pay me $120,000 a year."

Jennifer: Well, they might if you were a W2 employee, and you can show proof of contract, proof of income. If it's a brand new job, sometimes they might do an average until you have been at that new job for 6 to 12 months, in which case, you could apply to increase your benefit amount on the policies.

Shannon: So the underwriting process is tedious. It's true, and I always advise clients of that before they go on any experience, because then they're prepared, and you know it's going to be a tedious thing. But it's even more tedious to be out of work and have to foreclose on your home, right?

Jennifer: I think that's more tedious.

Shannon: And we're going to complain about a process. So it is a tedious process, but once they get through it, what can they expect as far as costs, benefits, that sort of thing?

Jennifer: Sure. So typically, if you want full coverage on your individual disability policy, you're paying the premiums on it with your after-tax money, so what that means is that any benefits that get paid out if you claim are tax-free, right?

Shannon: That's something really important to note, too. That's an important thing to note: Your disability payments, if you pay after taxes, you will not have to pay taxes on them, which that's significant.

Jennifer: It's huge. Typically, insurance companies will cover anywhere around 60% to a little over 70% of your gross income, right? So if you make, for simplicity, say $120,000 a year pretax, that's $10,000 a month pretax, you could probably get a benefit amount on a policy anywhere from $6,000 to $7,000 a month, but that would be tax-free, right? So if you went out on claim, because you were unable to work at all, that $6,000 or $7,000 of benefit monthly would be tax-free.

Shannon: Right. They're probably only getting 5,000 after taxes, so it's almost...I actually had a client once. He's a gynecologist, and he was somebody obsessed with disability insurance. He had a number of different policies, and we laughed, because even though his income was so high, I said, "You're almost better off just cutting off a finger and not being able to work." Because of how much coverage he had and knowing that it was going to be tax-free payments, I said, "You're probably better off just getting your disability and calling it a day rather than working through it." And it wasn't exactly like that, because obviously, insurance companies would not want to insure you for that possibility, but it was somewhere close, because he had a few different policies between work and outside of work.

Jennifer: Right, and I'm glad you mentioned that, because actually, doctors are one of the segments that tend to buy disability insurance more frequently, and that's because they've invested so much time and money into their occupation, right? So it could be hundreds of thousand dollars by the time they're all said and done with med school and residency. Their ability to work is both physically and mentally demanding, so doctors are probably most frequently the type of profession that buys up disability insurance.

Shannon: So they could expect 60% to 70% or so of their income in payments, and what could they expect to pay for that?

Jennifer: So it depends on your age and your gender. Unfortunately, it's the opposite for life insurance for women, so for life insurance, women tend to get cheaper rates at the same age, because we have longer life expectancies. It's a bit more expensive on disability than for men, because I guess there are more things that afflict us in terms of disabilities.

Shannon: That's sad. You know what? That is really sad. Actually, that's a fact that I didn't know about, and because insurance companies have all actuaries running numbers non-stop, so it always makes you wonder about different things. And so the fact that women pay more, that's an interesting statement about the likelihood of us having disability issues.

Jennifer: And that also might be, if I had to guess, a couple of things. One is a lot of that's probably pregnancy and maternity-related. The other thing is because we're living longer. It's just more chance to get sick, especially in the later years, right? So that's an unfortunate factor for women and disability insurance, but if you still get it younger, you can lock in a good premium. So the rule of thumb for disability insurance is you can expect to pay anywhere from 2% to 4% of your gross income in premiums per year, so it's probably a bit pricier than most people are expecting.

Let's go back to that hypothetical person who makes $120,000 a year, their premiums for full coverage, so something that provides $7,000 a month, in the event of a full disability, it could be anywhere from 200 to 250 a month. So certainly, not cheap, but it's less than most people's part payments. And the way that we like to describe it is you're basically providing a benefit to yourself, right? So think about it as just, of course, providing an employment benefit to yourself if your employer doesn't do it.

Shannon: Right. Just like health insurance or something like that. It's another monthly benefit.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Shannon: And like you said, too, Jennifer, that's for full coverage. You can get disability insurance for less than what you are making. So if you just want to hedge yourself with costs, and you know your numbers, you could also apply for something less, too.

Jennifer: Oh, absolutely, and we encourage folks to do that as well, especially people who have some savings and cushion. So if your number is, "You know what? If were unable to work and had zero income coming in, it's 3,000 a month or just 4,000 a month, I can live with that," right?

Shannon: And know that it's coming to you tax-free, too.

Jennifer: So we often encourage folks like what's that absolute minimum number. Maybe it's your mortgage payments and groceries. Whatever that is, you can lock that into a disability coverage. So you don't have to get full coverage if you don't want to.

Shannon: And I think that's an important thing to note. You can make changes to the policies as well as the amount of coverage you have once after it's underwritten as well.

Jennifer: Absolutely.

Two big ways to save money on a long-term disability insurance policy

Shannon: The biggest thing is just the underwriters getting your health history and general income history, but once you're locked in, then you're in the system, I like to say, and then you can make changes as you go.

Jennifer: Absolutely. And the other adjustments we encourage people to make if they're concerned about budgeting in the monthly policy cost is their two big triggers or levers you can pull. So one is the waiting period, also called the elimination period, and that's how long the disability has to last before benefits kick in. So usually the most cost-effective point is 90 days, meaning that the disability has to last longer than 90 days before benefits kick in, which means you have to be ale to cover those first 90 days with your savings, right?

Shannon: Right.

Jennifer: And if the disability resolves itself within 90 days, then you won't get any benefits from the policy. But if you can self-insure for 90 days or even a 180 days, that will bring down the cost of the policy significantly, right? Because you're basically risk sharing with the insurance company and saying, "You know what? Anything that's shorter than six months, I'm comfortable self insuring for," and that brings the cost of the policy down.

The other way to bring down the cost of the policy is the benefit period or how long, once you're disabled and unclaimed, how long the policy will pay out for. The richest policies will pay all the way to retirement age, so if you have a permanent disability, they'll pay to age 65 or age 67. Most disabilities don't actually last that long. Most disabilities actually resolve within a few years. So you could get a benefit period that's like 5 years or 10 years, and that will bring the cost of the policy down as well and still cover the vast majority of long term disabilities that might happen.

Shannon: And that's great to know, Jen, both of those things, is that there are flexibilities with creating these policies, so don't let $250 dollars be like, "Oh, no way. I can't afford that." There are a lot of moving pieces with the underwriting process that could bring it to a point that will fit in to your budget and your lifestyle.

Jennifer: Absolutely.

Shannon: And like you said, it requires some give and take with the waiting period and underwriting your own time or how long you're going to get covered. But you can make adjustments so that it can work as well.

Jennifer: Exactly. And what we tell folks is it's better to have something than nothing, right?

Shannon: Yeah, agreed.

But what about just relying Social Security disability benefits?

Shannon: What about people who are listening? I always think about this, people who are listening and thinking, "I'm just going to go on the governmental."

Jennifer: That I would say I wouldn't count on it, right?

Shannon: Right, I know.

Jennifer: So there is a disability coverage under social security called SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). But here's the thing about SSDI. So one, the benefit, if you actually do qualify as a claimant, which most people, their claims are actually rejected at first, on average, it will take one to two years to get a SSDI valid claim approved. So that's a long time if you're disabled, right?

Shannon: Yeah.

Jennifer: The second thing is the benefits are actually pretty low, so I think the average benefit is maybe only 1,000 or so a month, anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 a month. I think it's on the lower end of that range, so if you are making an income above that, if you are upper or middle class, that's likely not going to be enough to sustain your lifestyle or your savings. So we tell folks it's there, but if you can avoid relying on social security disability, because it's not very reliable, and it will take a while to get the benefits if you ever get the benefits. You don't want to put yourself in that position.

Shannon: I think that's a great point. I learned that people say that, "Well, there are so many people on disability at the government right now, so I'll just join the ranks." And it's like you said, first of all, it's not easy. And because there are such a growing number of people on disability, they're even more apt to not give it out to most people. Like you said, it's going up to almost two years to get a claim approved, and a lot can happen in those two years. And then like you said, once you get it, it's nothing to write home about. The same way people would feel about unemployment like, "I'll just collect unemployment." I'm like, "Do you realize how much unemployment benefits are? They're not that great."

Jennifer: I just looked it up. The average social security disability benefit is around $1,100 a month.

Shannon: So $1,100 a month, and we're talking about you being able to get up to 3,000 tax-free by planning, by having a plan in place. So I think that it's definitely worth a look. Like you said, doctors, there are certainly areas and jobs that make you more concerned about having the coverage, but I think it's a step that people should just take in general as far as risk planning to think about, and just look at the numbers, think it out, look at the budget, and see how will you be impacted if your income was impacted by some event, and would you be okay with that. If not, then figure out a way to plan for it, and cover that risk through disability insurance.

Jennifer: Absolutely.

Finally, what it feels like to touch Jon Bon Jovi's hair

Shannon: Awesome. Well, I found this completely fascinating. I don't know if it was my vodka or your conversation, but either way, I found it fascinating and really helpful. And before I ask you your random three questions, I have to ask you about your quote on the website. And if you go to the PolicyGenius site, which I'll have a link for on my podcast notes, on Financially Blonde, under your name, it says, "There's one time I touched Bon Jovi's hair." Tell me about this, because I love Bon Jovi, like obsessed, obsessed.

Jennifer: I am too, and you are a suspect in my book unless you are equally obsessed with Bon Jovi.

Shannon: I totally agree. "Livin' on a Prayer" was played at my wedding, and I was in the middle of the floor going crazy.

Jennifer: I've loved Bon Jovi since 1986 when Slippery When Wet came out.

Shannon: Same here.

Jennifer: So he has been a life long passion of mine, and I'm going to date myself, but in the late '90s when he was on that solo stretch of his away from Bon Jovi, I was studying abroad in London. I was in this small kind of hole in-the-wall bar, like maybe 100 or 200 people. And do you remember the band, The Wallflowers, around the late '90s?

Shannon: Yes.

Jennifer: So The Wallflowers were playing, and they started playing another song. It was some cover song from the '70s, and then all of a sudden Jon Bon Jovi just walks out on stage with an acoustic guitar to join the band. I guess he was just there visiting, and it was so funny. All the Americans in the place knew exactly who it was and went crazy. All the British people were like, "Who is this guy who just plopped out on stage?"

So I immediately ran to the front of this tiny bar. I was like, "This is the closest I'm ever going to get to Jon Bon Jovi." And at the end of the song when he was reaching down to high five people and everything, his hair is his thing, right? It's like the source of his strength and his power. I just reached up and touched the side of his head, so I could touch his hair.

It seems creepy when you talk about it, but I was just possessed by this force that I had to touch Jon Bon Jovi's hair. And it's exactly as soft and luxurious as you think it would be. He's got wonderful hair.

Shannon: First of all, I loved you before. I really love you now, and I'm just having such jealousy that you got that close, because I'm obsessed.

[...]

Shannon: Jen Fitzgerald from PolicyGenius, thank you so much for joining me today and talking about disability insurance and letting my listeners know why it's meaningful, what they can look for, what they should ask about. And if they want to find you or PolicyGenius, how can they do that?

Jennifer: They can come to our site, policygenius.com, and they can find me there. We've got our e-mail. We've got phone number. We've got chat. If you've got any questions about disability insurance or any type of insurance, we're there, and we do provide quotes for disability insurance, and we've got a lot of great content about disability insurance as well. So anyone out there who is now curious, you can come to our website and find a lot of great resources there.

Shannon: Awesome. Thank you so much.

Jennifer: Thank you.

Photo: Anne Rudanovski