Long-term disability insurance can be a literal lifesaver for doctors. If an injury prevents you from doing your job and earning a living, insurance coverage will help you cover your bills until you get back to work. Without it, you could have trouble paying your mortgage and preserving your quality of life while you’re unable to do your job.
But filing a long-term disability claim is confusing. If you’ve never done it before, you could spend hours at your computer screen trying to figure out how to file. It’s enough to make you crazy, which is the last thing you need when the injury itself already has you stressed out.
We’re here to help. Here are five tips to make the process a little easier:
Fill Out Your Claim Forms Carefully (or Have a Lawyer Help You)
This is a hectic time for you, and you’re probably not too excited about having to fill out pages and pages of paperwork. But in order to maximize your eligibility, you have to take the time to read each word on the claim form and respond accordingly. If you make any mistakes, the insurance company could try to hold it against you and use it to decrease your payments.
If you have any questions about the claim form, talk to a disability lawyer. They’ll help you maximize your eligibility and minimize the risk of errors, delays, and penalties.
Respond to All Messages from Your Insurer ASAP
No matter which disability insurance company you buy coverage from, they’re going to want a lot of information from you. They might ask you for medical records, hospital bills, bank statements, and any number of other documents. In some cases, they might just need verbal verification from you about certain aspects of your claim.
So, make sure to answer their phone calls and respond to their emails as soon as you can. The faster you respond to your insurance company and get them the information they need, the sooner your claim will be processed (and the sooner you’ll start getting payouts).
Document All of Your Correspondence
It’s good to track all of the communication you have with your insurance company. That way, there won’t be any confusion about who said what or which documents were sent and received.
Create a folder in your email account for all of your email correspondence, and forward your emails to that folder. Every time you talk to them on the phone, pull out a notepad and jot down the time they called, who you talked to, and what you talked about.
If any questions ever come up, you’ll have all the records you need!
Adhere to the Restrictions Outlined by Your Insurer
All disability insurance plans include a set of restrictions — things you’re not allowed to do while receiving payments. For instance, your insurer might prohibit you from operating heavy machinery or lifting items over a certain weight. If you’re caught violating these restrictions, the company will take you to court in an attempt to stop paying you.
It sounds a bit crazy, but it’s true. Insurance companies often hire private investigators to surveil claimants receiving payouts.
So, even if you’re able to do yard work or carry the groceries into the house, don’t do it. If your insurer gets proof that you’re violating your contract, you could lose your coverage.
Remember: You Can Dispute Your Determination
Insurance companies turn down claims all the time, even if the claimant deserves disability payments. But determinations are disputed and overturned all the time, too, don’t be afraid to do that yourself.
If your claim is rejected, it might mean that you didn’t provide enough medical evidence of your disability. Or, it could mean that you forgot to fill out a section of your claim form. Both of these are fixable problems, so don’t let them discourage you.
Here’s a tip, though:
When appealing a claim determination, always enlist the help of a lawyer. At the very least, they’ll give you advice on how to refile your claim with the best odds for success.
You work hard as a physician, and you probably pay a lot of money toward disability insurance. Therefore, when an injury prevents you from working, it’s only fair that your insurer helps you cover your bills.
Don’t be afraid of filing a long-term disability claim. With these tips (and possibly a lawyer’s help), you’ll get the money you deserve.