Dr. Rosen is a surgeon client who lives in the Midwest.

Like many people, she thought she would never become disabled. She was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness in 2011 and was out of work for over two years. Now that she is back at work full time, she understands the importance of sharing with others her experience with specialty occupation disability coverage.

Here is an excerpt from our conversation.

Q. Did you ever think you would get disabled?

A. No, in fact I was actually thinking I would cancel my policy the next time it came up for renewal.

Q. Disability insurance can be confusing for many if not most people.  What would you suggest is the #1 benefit of having a disability specialist help you determine what you need?

A. Disability insurance policies have lots of different riders and it’s hard to anticipate ahead of time which ones you need. Without Billy walking me through my options, I never would have considered the details of the policy which made all the difference.

Q. Looking back at your original coverage, is there anything you would do differently in hindsight?

A. Having the check show up was such a relief. I just wish I had chosen a higher monthly amount. When selecting the coverage I never thought I would need it and chose the bare minimum.  If you end up needing disability you will likely also have significant unexpected expenses.

Q. While on claim, did your expenses stay the same, go down or go up?

A. They went up. No matter how good your health insurance is, you will have significant bills and uncovered expenses.

Q. Shortly after you returned to work full time, we were able to increase your coverage through the benefit increase rider on your policy. Why was it important for you to do this?

A. This was huge and goes back to not being able to anticipate ahead of time what you might need. I was shocked when I found out that I could increase my benefit even after getting sick.  I know now that I might need disability again and that my monthly benefit wasn’t really enough to cover all of my expenses. It is a tremendous relief to know that I now have the higher monthly amount to fall back on if I get sick again.

Q. In regard to the level of service and interaction you have received while working with Billy, does it matter that you live in a different city?

A. Not at all. Billy is very prompt in returning phone calls and emails, and the company he chose for my policy was so easy to work with.

Q. How important was it for Billy to be available during the claims process?

A. He can act as a go between when you don’t understand what the company needs.  It also felt like the company was less likely to give me trouble because they knew Billy was involved and would advocate on my behalf.

Q. To the physician who says “I will never get disabled”, what advice would you give to him or her about specialty occupation disability coverage?

A. They are probably right but we all see people every day who have unexpected and catastrophic things happen. The year I became disabled, two other young, healthy physicians in our group also suffered catastrophic disabilities. One from an illness and another from a major trauma.  A life-changing event is bad enough without having to worry about money.  I could not imagine having to go through all the things I did while also worrying about every bill that came in and every expense that came up.  Additionally, once you become disabled you can no longer buy disability insurance or you have to pay exorbitant rates.  From my perspective it is a win either way.  If you have something catastrophic happen you are protected, and if you don’t you were one of the lucky ones.