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Disability insurance for sales professionals: What you need to know in 2021

Why sales professionals need income protection (no matter what you sell), estimated monthly rates to expect, and how to buy a personalized plan online — fast.

If you work in sales, your career revolves around numbers. So here are a few numbers to consider:

  • You have a 25 percent chance of becoming disabled at some point in your career, according to the Social Security Administration.
  • The average duration of a long-term disability is just under three years.
  • Only 48 percent of American adults indicate they have enough savings to cover three months of living expenses in the event they’re not earning any income.
  • Two-thirds of all bankruptcy filings are at least partially caused by medical issues.

Even if your career isn’t physically demanding, it does require energy. A number of injuries or illnesses can slow you down, such as cancer, stroke, or musculoskeletal disorders. Miss work for an extended period and you’ll lose your main source of income.

A disability doesn’t have to put you completely out of commission to affect your commissions. What if an injury or illness slows you down so that you can’t meet as many clients, make as many presentations, or close as many deals. Time is money in sales, after all, so the less time you can work, the fewer sales you will make.

Why do sales professionals need disability insurance?

You’re at less risk to lose your income in these circumstances if you invest in disability insurance. Disability insurance coverage is designed to replace a major portion of your income if you are unable to work due to injury or illness.

In exchange for your premium payments, an insurance company agrees to pay you contracted benefits if you suffer a disability that affects your ability to work. The benefits replace some or all of your lost income.

If an injury or illness limits the ability to work, the policyholder receives disability benefits. The policy is designed to replace some of the income lost due to the policyholder’s inability to earn a paycheck. Having disability insurance means being able to buy food, pay bills, and cover household expenses while you’re unable to work.

Without disability insurance, you could lose a significant amount of income and all that your income supports if you’re in a bad accident, lose your vision, or suffer an illness that affects your ability to work in sales. Even if the disability is temporary, you could fall behind on your mortgage or car payments, rack up more debt, and be forced to sell valuable items or tap into retirement accounts for needed cash.

Short term disability insurance is usually provided by employers and covers individuals, on average, for about six months. You will typically be reimbursed for about 60 percent of your lost wages due to disability.

Long term disability insurance is designed to protect people from illness or injury that keep them out of work for an extended period. Benefits may last from five to 10 years, and some will pay up until the insured reaches age 65.

There are two main sources for where to get disability insurance: You can buy a policy that’s part of a large group plan, such as through your employer, and/or purchase your own individual policy.

Breeze offers affordable disability insurance for sales pros. Get started here.

How much does disability insurance cost for sales professionals?

Here are examples of what sales agents might pay for disability insurance:

  • A 30-year-old female real estate agent living in Washington, D.C. and earning $100,000 a year could get a $1,700 monthly benefit for $25 a month, a $3,400 monthly benefit for $55 a month, or a $5,040 monthly benefit for $86 a month.
  • A 37-year-old male insurance salesperson living in Salt Lake City, Utah, and earning $125,000 a year could get a $4,000 monthly benefit for $59 a month.
  • A 44-year-old female sales manager who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and earning $75,000 a year could get a $1,300 monthly benefit for $36 a month, a $2,600 monthly benefit for $74 a month, and a $3,800 monthly benefit for $118 a month.
  • A 52-year-old male advertising salesperson in Dallas, Texas and earning $150,000 a year could get a $4,600 monthly benefit for $147 a month.

All of the above rates are for a 10-year benefit period and 90-day waiting period.

Curious what disability insurance costs? Check your rate here
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Insurance companies set your monthly premium on the following factors:

  • Your age and health. The younger and healthier you are, the less you will pay.
  • Your income. Disability insurance is designed to replace a percentage of your income if an injury or illness limits your ability to work as an attorney.
  • Where you live.
  • The benefits and features of your disability insurance policy.

Another factor that strongly influences what you pay for disability insurance is your job.

Disability insurance companies group jobs into specific occupational classes. These classes take into account the hazards of the job and the difficulty in returning to work following a disability. Another factor is the claim experience associated with certain professions.

Insurance companies generally classify occupations on a scale of 1 to 5 or 6. Typically, the higher the numerical value of the classification the lower the rate available from the insurance company.

Disability insurance companies often classify sales agents differently based on their recent annual income. One insurer will put a sales agent in its 5th rating class if they had earned at least $75,000 in each of the previous two years. The same insurer puts you in its 4th rating class if you earned between $45,000 and $75,000. All other sales agents would be classified in the 3rd rating class.

Another insurer classifies sales agents in its highest class if they earned $150,000 or more for each of the last two years. Those earning between $85,000 and $150,000 would be rated in the 4th of 5 rating classes. Those earning between $75,000 and $85,000 would be classified as a 3 and all others would be rated a 2.

Get coverage for partial disability, too

The most important factor when considering long-term disability insurance is how a policy defines “disabled.” This will determine how much, and even if, you collect benefits following an injury or illness.

A policy’s definition of disability is based on your capacity to work. Maybe you’re unable to work in your chosen profession, but can do other work. A disability may allow you to work in a reduced capacity. Serious ailments can prevent you from working in any job.

To collect on a claim, you must meet the policy’s definition of disability. You should have a policy that uses an own-occupation definition of disability.

This is a policy that protects your ability to work in your given profession. You will be covered if a disability prevents or limits you from working the job you had before your event. Even if you’re able to work in another capacity, you are still eligible for benefits.

You may also collect on an own-occupation policy if you have to work less hours because of a disability, or if there are some tasks of your job you can’t perform.

Own-occupation provisions may be included in your base coverage with some policies. In others, it may only be available as a rider.

In addition, your policy should have a residual disability rider. This rider may provide benefits if you can still work following a disability but are not considered totally disabled. It is designed to protect you against partial income loss. It comes into play if you are able to perform some, but not all, of the material duties of your occupation or if you are unable to work for a set percentage of the time. Benefits are typically calculated as a percentage of your loss of earnings or what you would receive if you were unable to work.


Joel Palmer is a freelance writer and personal finance expert who focuses on the mortgage, insurance, financial services, and technology industries. He spent the first 10 years of his career as a business and financial reporter.

The information and content provided herein is for educational purposes only, and should not be considered legal, tax, investment, or financial advice, recommendation, or endorsement. Breeze does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, reliability or usefulness of any testimonials, opinions, advice, product or service offers, or other information provided here by third parties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

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