If critical illness cover (which we talked about last week) is a hard pill to swallow, disability insurance is often even more so. “I’m not disabled and I never will be!” we tell ourselves, envisioning wheelchairs, construction workers falling off scaffolding or labourers losing a limb in a freak accident.

When we don’t work in a physically dangerous industry and are healthy, we think we won’t need disability insurance. But, we could be very wrong.

Reframing disability insurance

Disability cover, including for temporary disability, is not about how likely you are to get hurt at work. In fact, it’s the company’s problem if you are.

More likely causes for disability insurance could include:

– You’ve hurt your back in a car accident, and you can’t work for a while
– A small fall at home resulting in leg or knee surgery, making you reliant on crutches for a month or two
– Your health suddenly deteriorates, and you’re not covered by critical illness cover, such as kidney failure that requires dialysis

Do you need it?

Anyone who earns an income to support themselves needs disability cover, because that is the sole focus of the insurance: protect your income and cover expenses if you’re physically unable to work due to a sudden accident or some other physical inability to work.

If you are disabled, through an accident or illness, and are unable to earn as much money as you did previously, you will receive financial cover to compensate for the loss in earning ability.

This is extremely important and also highly unique to how you make a living. While a call centre agent breaking their arm might not be unable to work for more than a few days, a painter who sells their art for a living would be unable to work with a broken arm. A knee operation could halt or even end a sales representative or an athlete’s career, but not necessarily a private practice lawyer.

But how likely is disability?

More likely than you think. A study done in the much more safety-conscious USA found that 5.6% of all Americans are likely to be permanently or temporarily disabled every year – and the majority of those will not be at work. This is more than double the chance of a woman dying from breast cancer (2.6% chance) and close to the same risk of contracting Alzheimer’s after the age of 65.

This is not even considering the possibility of you being involved in a car accident; the number one cause of disability claims in South Africa.

Do you really need Disability Cover? Well… if you want the security to thrive, then we believe you do.