There’s nothing like going off on your own as a consultant and building your own business, free of Corporate America. But it also means a lot of responsibility. You’re in charge of everything — including your financial safety net.
Consultants have to build their own benefits package. That includes things like shopping for health insurance, saving for retirement with a SEP IRA, and protecting your family with a life insurance policy. But there’s an often-overlooked benefit: Disability insurance. When you’re a consultant if you can’t work, you don’t get paid. If you don’t get paid, you put your life goals at risk. A long-term disability insurance policy is the best way for consultants to protect their financial future, and they need to know which companies are right for them.
Why consultants need disability insurance
“Consultant” is a broad term, because it’s a position that can apply to virtually any industry. But it’s one of the most common occupation classes that shops for long-term disability insurance because, as a whole, there’s a potential for high income and no options for group coverage.
Because consultants are spread out over many different industries, it’s hard to nail down an average salary. But Salary.com has income data on consultants from dozens of different fields; the average salary among them is $91,000, ranging from over $130,000 to just under $30,000.
As mentioned, consultants benefit from disability insurance because unlike the salaried workers of a company, they don’t have access to any group insurance plans. A vast majority of disabilities occur due to illness, not injury; that means it can happen to anyone. And if you’re a consultant, you’re likely not pulling down a salary but being paid for the work you do. If you can’t put in the hours, you can’t pay your bills, pay down your debt, or save for future financial goals. Consultants are their own bosses, and that means taking charge of their own protection.
Best disability insurance companies for consultants
|Company||30 years old||40 years old||50 years old|
|Ameritas||$128.87/mo | $1,492.00/yr||$206.22/mo | $2,391.40/yr||$317.21/mo | $3,682.00/yr|
|Assurity*||$125.90/mo | $1,447.29/yr||$211.45/mo | $2,430.35/yr||$281.55/mo | $3,236.69/yr|
|Guardian||$165.78/mo | $1,989.38/yr||$253.66/mo | $3,043.88/yr||$384.44/mo | $4,613.25/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||$155.95/mo | $1,824.08/yr||$250.46/mo | $2,916.64/yr||$406.49/mo | $4,720.40/yr|
|Mutual of Omaha**||$140.41/mo | $1,604.45/yr||$211.15/mo | $2,413.08/yr||$323.51/mo | $3,697.13/yr|
*Non-cancelable policies not available
**To age 67; non-cancelable policies not available
These rates are based on a $5,000 monthly benefit, 90-day elimination period, and benefit period to age 65. Policy features include own-occupation, partial benefit, future purchase, non-cancelable, and automatic increase benefit features. The sample applicant is a male non-smoker living in New York earning $100,000 annually.
What consultants need to know about disability insurance
Price isn’t the only thing consultants should judge their long-term disability insurance policies on. Here are some other aspects of their coverage to keep in mind.
Your income matters
Your disability coverage amount depends largely on your income. Since you’re changing jobs, you can use tax returns to estimate your coverage needs. A licensed insurance agent can also use signed contracts as income documentation, which is usually required if you’re under two years in your field, combined with your prior-year income documents.
It’s important to not be put off by income requirements when it comes to disability insurance. Insurers will work with you to provide some coverage – for example, 75% of what you were earning previously – until you show compensation for your new role and can increase the benefit amount.
Insurers will be looking at your net income after deductions. Consultants can usually buy more coverage (usually 20% extra) to compensate for the difference in income.
Rates vary widely based on your income level and years of experience, which is why it’s important to compare insurers to make sure you’re getting the best rates.
Your exact rates will depend on your industry
As mentioned, “consultant” can mean a lot of things. An engineering consultant will have very different rates than a marketing consultant. Take this into account and make sure you’re looking at disability insurance quotes for your specific industry, not just your occupation.
Staying in your industry can improve your coverage
And speaking of your industry: Becoming a consultant doesn’t mean you’re completely switching tracks. If you’re staying in your same field, you may be able to get higher amounts of coverage based on what you earned at your previous full-time job.
Where you work plays a role
Being a consultant gives you the freedom to work from different places. If you travel often, that can impact your rates, and certain international locations may be excluded from your coverage. Working from home can also impact your rates and limit your benefit amount.
There’s no need to wait to get disability insurance once you become your own boss. Long-term disability rates increase as you get older, and the longer you wait the longer you leave yourself unprotected. Start shopping today so your financial safety net is in place and you can start doing the work you love with peace of mind.
You can find more answers to your disability insurance questions in our FAQ.
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