Canadians would be wise to check out private insurance policies to help mitigate their risk should an illness leave them unable to work, Toronto personal injury and disability lawyer Nainesh Kotak tells Bloomberg News.
“The reality is many Canadians are living day-to-day, and the workforce is changing,” says Kotak, principal of Kotak Personal Injury Law. “Employers that traditionally offered group benefits plans to their employees to cover medical and disability benefits are cutting back and maybe not offering the type of plans they used to. Or you have people who are working from home, freelancing or (setting up) corporations where they get paid through their corporations for tax purposes.”
Private disability plans are a good option for people to shore up their coverage, he says.
“They’re not overly expensive, and you can cater it to your (individual needs),” Kotak says.
With group benefits, the employer often selects the cheapest option or the one they think adequately covers all employees, but the disability benefits might only cover a person for the first two years of their illness, he says.
In the first 24 months, Kotak says the criteria is whether the employee is disabled from performing the essential tasks of their employment.
“After that, it’s often ‘are you totally disabled from performing any gainful occupation,’ and that’s where we find many people have their benefits cut off,” he says.
Purchasing private disability insurance allows policyholders to customize their coverage and select benefits that remain in effect for as long as the person cannot perform his or her “own occupation,” Kotak says.
It’s also important to remember that not all disabilities are physical — many come in the form of mental health challenges, which will impact one in five Canadians at some point, he says.
“It may be temporary, could be anxiety or depression. People get denied a fair bit more when it comes to claims for anxiety or depression because they’re invisible,” Kotak says. “After two years, the insurer may say, ‘your job was physical, maybe you had stress in your environment, but you could do something else’ because they can’t see that anxiety and depression.
“The reality is that for people who suffer with anxiety and depression, it really doesn’t matter per se if their job was physical. If they can’t leave their home, if they’re having racing thoughts in their mind with stress and inability to deal with other people, they’re going to have difficulty doing any type of employment,” he says.
When claims are denied, Kotak says many people walk away without fighting it, but he advises policyholders to seek legal advice from someone with experience in disability files.
“Most insurance companies have an internal appeal process, but think about that: it’s like one employee at the insurance company judging another employee’s work,” he says. “We always recommend going to a lawyer and not getting involved in that internal appeal process.”
When someone is unable to work to due to illness, they’re often experiencing financial challenges, so it’s vital to get their case moving quickly, Kotak says.
Kotak also encourages people to consider critical illness coverage, which provides benefits for those who have heart attacks, cancer or other serious illnesses.
KOTAK PERSONAL INJURY LAW/DISABILITY LAWYERS CAN HELP YOU
We understand that being denied short-term disability benefits or long-term disability benefits can be frustrating and devastating. Your time to fight your disability insurance company is limited. Please do not delay in calling a disability claim lawyer at Kotak Law. We have successfully sued numerous disability insurance companies including Manulife, Sunlife, Desjardins, Great West Life, Canada Life, London Life, Blue Cross, AIG, SSQ, RBC, Industrial Alliance and more.
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