5 Best Disability Insurance in 2023: A Comprehensive Guide

Madeline Hlobik
Madeline Hlobik8 Jul 2023

Disability insurance is an insurance plan that will pay some of your income if you become disabled due to an illness or injury and takes you away from work. Essentially, you will have an extra layer of financial protection. Various plans are available; however, based on our research, we have found that Guardian provides the best overall disability insurance plan. 

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5 Best Disability Insurance

You can purchase disability insurance from employer-sponsored coverage at work, private insurers, and public programs such as the Social Security Administration (SSA). To access your disability insurance, though, you must first be qualified as having a disability. Different plans have their own individual specifications as to what they consider a disability. However, according to the SSA, you may qualify as having a disability if you cannot do substantial, meaningful work for at least one year. 

Individuals may choose to have a disability insurance plan to protect them financially should they have an unexpected injury or illness outside of work that prohibits them from working. Although you may be unable to work for weeks due to this accident, with a disability plan, you still will receive some portion of your income.

With the wide variety of options to purchase a disability insurance plan comes several different types of plans, from short-term to long-term. To better navigate the vast and unique amount of disability insurance available, we have composed this guide to make the process of electing disability insurance easier for you. Check out this table below with the type of disability insurance and when to use it. 

  • Guardian: Best Overall
  • Mutual of Omaha: Best Short-Term Disability Insurance
  • Northwestern Mutual: Best Long-Term Disability Insurance
  • Assurity: Best for High-Risk Occupations
  • Breeze: Most Affordable

Guardian: Best Overall

With an A++ rating from AMBest, Guardian won this category due to its vast range of long-term and short-term disability insurance options. Guardian has coverage in all  50 states. They have very customizable plans available so that you may be able to add riders, such as loan payment protection, to your specific policy. 

Additionally, if you are self-employed, cannot purchase disability insurance coverage through your work, or want additional protection, Guardian has individual and supplemental plans, a tax-free policy that you can purchase to help make up for some of the shortcomings that most work policies do not provide. If you are buying supplemental coverage, medical exams will not be required.

The only cons to utilizing Guardian is that group disability coverage will max out at 60% of your income. It may not be the most affordable option for some blue-collared workers. Overall, Guardian has much flexible coverage availability and is very customizable, making it a compelling option.

Mutual of Omaha: Best for Short-Term Disability Insurance 

Short-term disability insurance allows you to receive some portion of your income for a short amount of time, normally six months or less. Mutual of Omaha is best suited for this category due to the robust options of short-term disability insurance. 

With Mutual of Omaha, you will also have access to the benefits from the first day of your injury/illness. This means a zero-day elimination period, and they offer a benefit period of up to 24 months (much longer than other short-term disability insurance policies). Premiums also tend to remain level until the age of 67 with Mutual of Omaha, and all of the short-term policies they offer are renewable.

Northwestern Mutual: Best for Long-Term Disability Insurance

Long-term disability insurance is an insurance policy that will financially protect an individual from an injury or illness for a long period of time. Northwestern Mutual was recently ranked as the carrier that sold more long-term disability insurance than any other company.

Also, with an A++ ranking from AM Best, Northwestern Mutual offers specialized coverage for certain doctors and dentists. They also provide coverage for individuals who stay at home with their children. Thus, if a policyholder encounters an accident and needs to hire help with the children, the insurance policy will cover it. These unique settings set Northwestern Mutual apart from the others and help convey why Northwestern Mutual may be the best option for long-term disability insurance.

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Assurity: Best for High-Risk Occupations

If you have a job that puts you more at risk of suffering from an injury or illness, you will want to be sure you do have solid financial protection. Assurity is unique because it provides coverage for all individuals who hold very different occupations and at a relatively low cost.

Assurity has high coverage limits, ranging from $500 to $200,000 per month. Additionally, Assurity has a wide range of options to select from for small business owners. If you end up using your disability insurance and Assurity policy for business owners or business overhead expense coverage will pay for your lease, income, and other company-related expenses if you cannot work.

Breeze: Most Affordable

Breeze coverage is a newer company that was founded in 2019. It is easily accessible in that the application takes about 15 minutes to complete online, and you can get individual long-term coverage for as low as $9 per month. Monthly premiums are also halted as soon as your disability insurance is activated.

There are elimination periods available for 30, 60, 90, 180, or 365 days and your benefits can last up to two, five, 10 years, or through age 65/67. However, a shortcoming to Breeze is that they do not offer short-term coverage, and medical exams are required for some applicants.

Disability Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Navigating and selecting a disability insurance plan can be complicated due to the wide assortment of options and factors to consider. Check out some of these commonly asked questions below for more clarity about disability insurances.

How do I choose the right disability insurance for me?

Choosing a disability insurance plan that suits you can be a difficult decision. Some good factors to consider when selecting disability insurance are: how high-risk your occupation is, your age, how many people you provide for, and cost. By evaluating these factors, you should weigh different disability insurances to see which fits you and/or your family best.

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Should I get short-term or long-term disability insurance?

Long-term disability insurance allows you to have income for at least two years if you cannot work. Thus, if you feel that you could experience some long-term form of injury and need to be protected, long-term disability insurance may be for you. It is also the most cost-effective form of protection, as benefits are distributed tax-free and the longevity of coverage.

Short-term disability insurance could be used for individuals who feel they can recover quickly from an injury or illness. Because it is short-term, they will have to pay less than buying a long-term policy. However, with short-term disability insurances, most policies stop providing coverage after six months, which is much shorter than the average 36 months that a disability lasts. Because of this, some may argue that short-term disability insurances are not as financially protective as long-term. 

Short-term Disability InsuranceLong-term Disability Insurance
Typically replaces 60% to 70% of base salaryTypically replaces 40% to 60% of base salary
Pays out for a few months to one year, depending on the policyBenefits end when the disability ends. If the disability continues, benefits end after a certain number of years or at retirement age.
May have a short waiting period, such as two weeks after you become disabled and before benefits are paid.A common waiting period is 90 days after disability before benefits are paid


Why do I need disability insurance?

Disability insurance is a resource to have to ensure that you are financially secure should an injury or illness occur that puts you out of work. If you are unable to work for a period of time due to an ailment, oftentimes, your work will not be able to pay you during this time. With disability insurance, though, your disability insurance will pay you some portion of your income to ensure that you still are receiving money during this time. 

Bottom Line

Disability insurance is a great resource to ensure that you and/or your family are financially secure should any ailment arise. Through the private and public programs available, various disability insurances can make the process of finding a policy that best suits you difficult. However, based on our research, we have found that Guardian offers the best overall disability insurance.

If you cannot access health insurance in general, Mira may be a great starting point for you. Mira members have access to urgent care visits, lab testings, and more. Additionally, by engaging with us, one of our team members can assist you in navigating the wide assortment of disability insurances available. Sign up today.

Madeline Hlobik

Madeline is a Senior at UCLA majoring in Human Biology & Society with a minor in Spanish. She's currently a Healthcare Research Analyst at Mira, writing content for the blog to help the public better understand certain medical issues, technologies, testings, and the importance of healthcare.