Best disability insurance companies in 2021

The best disability insurance company for you depends on the cost, the policy features, and your job.

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By

Rebecca Shoenthal

Rebecca Shoenthal

Licensed Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal is an insurance editor and licensed Life, Health, and Disability agent at Policygenius in New York City. Previously, she worked as a nonfiction book editor. She has a B.A. in Media and Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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by

Anthony He

Anthony He

Disability Insurance Operations Manager

Anthony He is a disability insurance expert and the Operations Manager at Policygenius. He has 10 years of previous insurance experience and is a licensed agent in the state of New York.

Updated July 6, 2021|5 min read

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If you lose your ability to work, how would you pay your bills and plan for your future? Could you still maintain the cost of your lifestyle without a paycheck? Disability insurance is protection for your paycheck, allowing you to replace your income while you’re unable to work.

Disability insurance is often overlooked because many people have some disability insurance through their employer. But only about half of mid- to large-sized employers offer long-term disability insurance to employees [1] , which means you might not have as much financial protection as you need.

How do you find the right company for your needs? Looking at company ratings, the best disability insurance companies for your specific profession, and policy features can save you time, hassle, and money. We compare some of the biggest disability insurance companies by looking at their A.M. Best and Better Business Bureau ratings, proving their financial and customer service strength.

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The best disability insurance companies

Choosing a disability insurance plan to protect your paycheck if you’re unable to work is a big decision. Part of selecting the right plan is finding the right disability insurance company. The choice depends on your individual circumstances and coverage needs. 

Policygenius ranks each insurer using our own internal data, but every disability insurance application is one of a kind — talking to a disability insurance agent is the best way to find the best disability insurance company and most competitive policy for you.

Each of these companies is reviewed based on their consumer satisfaction and financial strength ratings.

CompanyBBB RatingA.M. Best Rating
AmeritasA+A
AssurityA+A-
Fidelity SecurityA+A-
Guardian/BerkshireA+A++
Illinois MutualA+A-
MassMutualA+A++
MetLifeA+A+
Mutual of OmahaA+A+
Northwestern MutualA+A++
Ohio NationalA+A+
Petersen InternationalB-A
Principal Financial GroupA+A+
RiverSourceA+A+
State FarmB-A++
The StandardA+A
ThriventA+A++
UnumA-A-

Methodology:A.M. Best ratings are an evaluation of an insurers' financial health. Ratings range from superior (A++ and A+) to poor (D). BBB ratings are based on consumer feedback from the Better Business Bureau. Grades range from A+ to F.

→ Learn more about buying disability insurance.

The best disability insurance companies by profession

Roughly 90% of all disability claims are due to conditions we cannot control: illnesses rather than injury, according to Policygenius Sales Operations Manager Anthony He. 

That's why it's important for people with low-risk jobs, like doctors, dentists, and lawyers, to have disability insurance. In fact, it's especially important for people in high-paying jobs that may need to pay back expensive loans for their education. Most disability insurance companies will heavily weigh your profession when determining premiums and policy features and may be more accommodating to workers in certain fields. 

Use our guide below to decide which insurer is right for you.

Types of disability insurance

The type of disability insurance you need determines which company you should work with. There are three types of disability insurance: Long-term disability insurance is the most common form of disability insurance and will give you the most options, short-term disability is only available at select companies, and Social Security disability insurance is provided by the U.S. government rather than purchased from a private company.

Long-term disability (LTD) insurance

Long-term disability insurance provides income replacement for a minimum of two years or up to retirement. It replaces around 60% of your monthly income. This is the most cost-effective form of disability insurance.

Short-term disability insurance (STDI)

Short-term disability insurance is a less common form of disability insurance. It provides up to 80% income replacement but only for one to two years. Since most disabilities average around 36 months (three years), it may not provide enough protection and is most commonly offered as a subsidized (or free) employer benefit.

Social Security disability insurance (SSDI)

Social Security disability insurance is a benefit provided by the government. While it is free to own if you have worked in jobs covered by Social Security (unlike private disability policies, where the policyholder must pay monthly premiums), it’s notoriously difficult to qualify for due to a strict definition of disability, and it doesn’t provide a large enough disability benefit for most people. 

How much does disability insurance cost?

The cost of disability insurance policies depends on these factors:

The monthly benefit amount, benefit period, and elimination period 

The higher the coverage amount, the longer the benefit period, and the shorter the elimination period, the more your policy will cost.

Gender, age, and health

Women tend to pay more for coverage, as do older applicants. Your health rating and whether or not there will be restrictions in coverage will be determined by your medical records and medical exam. 

Profession

An insurance company may price members of a certain profession differently than another company, even for seemingly safe jobs. Choosing the right company for your chosen profession can save you a lot of money over the life of the policy. You can compare disability insurance quotes to quickly find the best price. 

→ Learn more about how much disability insurance costs.

Best long-term disability insurance

In addition to the financial and consumer ratings, cost, and professional considerations listed above, you should look at the policy features and riders offered by each disability insurance company to ensure you’re getting a policy that works for your situation.

What to look for in a long-term disability policy:

Base policy details

First, look at all the base policy details. This includes the:

  • Elimination period or waiting period (how long you must wait before a company will pay a benefit)

  • Benefit period (how long the benefit will be paid out)

  • Policy’s disability qualifications

  • Whether the company offers partial benefits if you’re still able to do some work

Built-in policy features

Next, look at the built-in policy features. These are subject to availability based on your personal profile, but are standard across most companies. Policy features include:

  • Guaranteed renewable

  • Waiver of premium

  • Automatic increase benefit

  • Presumptive total disability

  • Family care benefit

  • Survivor benefit or death benefit

  • Good health benefit

  • Occupational rehabilitation

Additional riders

Finally, consider what additional riders are available. Additional riders include:

  • Own-occupation

  • Non-cancelable

  • Residual or partial disability benefit

  • Future purchase option

  • Student loan

  • Retirement protection

  • Critical illness benefit

  • Catastrophic Disability Benefit

There are even more options out there, like cost-of-living adjustment riders and Social Security offset riders. Some riders may add to the cost of your policy, so speak with a licensed expert to make sure you have the features that will fit your needs while not being extraneous or making your policy unaffordable.

→ Learn more about disability insurance features and riders.

Best short-term disability insurance

While short-term disability insurance isn’t the most cost-effective form of protection, it can still provide income protection under the right circumstances. Since long-term disability insurance policies can have a lengthy elimination period, a short-term policy can help fill that gap and ensure that you can continue paying bills in the interim.

There are fewer options for private policies than with long-term insurance, but most people can supplement their long-term disability plan with the short-term disability insurance they receive through their workplace.

Popular short-term disability insurance providers include:

  • Aflac

  • Humana

  • Mutual of Omaha

  • Metlife

Policygenius partners with LifePreserve to offer short-term disability policies to workers in the gig economy.

Employer group coverage

If your employer offers group disability coverage as a workplace benefit, it’s worth enrolling in, regardless of whether it’s long-term or short-term. These benefits are often subsidized or free, so there’s usually no reason to not take them.

However, a workplace disability policy shouldn’t be your only form of protection; at best, it should complement a private policy. That’s because:

  • The benefit amount may not be enough for your needs

  • It’s tied to your employment and doesn’t travel with you if you leave your job

  • You have limited options to customize your policy, and usually only one carrier to choose from

  • For high income earners, you’re capped up to a certain amount and year end bonuses are not covered 

Is disability insurance worth it?

Anyone at any age can be affected by a disability that restricts your ability to work and support yourself and your family. In fact, one in four adults will become disabled before reaching retirement age, according to the Social Security Administration [2] . Just like you should insure your home, vehicle, and life, it’s equally important to insure your paycheck from the unexpected. Reach out to a Policygenius agent for free to learn more about what type of disability insurance is right for you. 

Best disability insurance FAQs

Is disability insurance worth getting?

If you would not be able to support yourself and your dependents if you lose your ability to earn income, then disability insurance is worth the cost of premiums.

Can you buy your own disability insurance?

About half of U.S. employers do not provide disability insurance and the ones that do might not provide enough coverage. Private disability insurance – either long-term or short-term – is the best way to fill the coverage gap left by employer-provided DI.

Who offers the best long-term disability insurance?

The best company for long-term disability insurance varies based on your profession, age, gender, health, and overall financial needs. Reach out to a Policygenius agent for free to compare your options for disability insurance.