Chris’s Adventures with Disability Insurance: Finding a Broker

Chris’s Adventures with Disability Insurance: Finding a Broker

I’ve been scared of sitting down and talking about insurance with someone for awhile now.

I’m not sure exactly why, Sandi had a few theories in our LAST EPISODE OF BECAUSE MONEY, when we talked about all of this.

But John really cut through the shit and made me realize that I was making excuses about something that was really important.

If you want to see the moment he broke through to me… you can find it at 36:11 of the video below.

And so I set up a meeting with an insurance broker.

 

Finding a broker: my tiny excuse for not making any progress

For the last 6 months one of my many excuses for not learning more about my insurance options was that I didn’t know who to talk to.

I know a few insurance brokers in other provinces, and had casual conversations with them about hypothetical clients (some of which existed and some of which were me).

But I didn’t know where to start looking for a broker that could actually sell me insurance.

I wanted someone perfect. Someone I could instantly trust and would dispel any of the baggage I have built up about the insurance industry, who wouldn’t pressure me into buying anything I was uncomfortable with and who could answer my many many questions.

And I had already decided that person didn’t exist…. so why even try to find them?

 

Google. Google. Google.

I wish I had a smarter answer for finding the best broker.

I wish I knew a ton of people in the industry so I could provide a list of the best ones.

And I hope that over the next decade I can do that, so that more of you can quickly connect to someone who understands that the complexity of creative income.

But I started simply by starting, and I feel like I got quite lucky.

I did a bunch of googling, I asked friends for connections, and then I just sent a bunch of emails through contact pages and waited.
Not for long…

Turns out insurance sales people are on the ball. I got a call back within 30 minutes from someone who asked a few questions and then referred me to one of his brokers that specialized in disability insurance.

 

Insurance broker vs non-broker

One of the interesting things I found when I was talking to people in the insurance business was how often I would hear the opposite side of the same coin.

From my broker friend I heard:

“Never trust anyone who isn’t a broker, if they’re not shopping between companies they honestly don’t care about you.”

And from my friend who works exclusively with one company:

“The insurance business is generally a copycat industry. Most companies have the same kinds of products, and so brokers just shop around for the best commission.”

This is the kind of shit that makes me feel like I’m standing in a sinkhole.

How do you know what’s true? How do you know who to trust? How do you know that you’re not making a huge mistakes?

Unsatisfying answer… I don’t know.

I have not found that all products, especially disability products, are equal between companies… but I am not an expert.

What I will tell you is that I was very happy to work with someone who had relationships with people from multiple companies because opera singers… are a hard sell.

 

A brief note on ‘occupational class’:

Here’s where opera singers, artists, and lots of other creative folk get screwed.

Insurance underwriters break down people into risk categories based on what they do. The riskier the profession, the more expensive it is to insure (that’s a gross oversimplification… but hopefully it’s enough for the point I’m trying to make).

And some occupations are deemed ‘uninsurable’…. like opera singing…. by most companies.

I get it.

Our business has a terrible reputation, and it really matters. Who’s going to insure a starving artist with low financial skills? Not many people.

We have yet to prove to this industry that there is an artistic middle class that has managed to secure a level of income stability that should put us on the map.

But that’s a tangent for another day.

For now, the problem in front of us is marked UNINSURABLE.

 

The power of knowing who to email

I have met my broker once, and talked to him twice.

I don’t know him intimately, but he made a very good impression.

Here’s what I liked:

  • he specializes in disability insurance for the self-employed (which is something that lots of brokers don’t know a ton about)
  • he really knew the products, everything that I had researched he knew more about than I did
  • he took the time to break down everything and answer a hundred questions
  • he knew who would be open to working with artists, and who wouldn’t be
  • he knew who to email

Knowing who to email seems to have gotten my uninsurable occupational class by the initial system and in front of an actual human that could look at my particular case.

I may not be able to show a lot of income, but I can prove a level of income stability that is growing by the year.

My broker’s connection to actual underwriting humans allowed me to put through a successful application for disability insurance at a price and premium level that I’m very satisfied with.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens next….

Emily Nixon

Emily Nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at emily@ragstoreasonable.com

Want to start getting control of your money? How can I help?

Why Would an Opera Singer want Disability Insurance?

Why Would an Opera Singer want Disability Insurance?

Something weird happened when I started to call myself a financial planner… people assumed that I had all my money shit figured out.

I do not.

And I’d rather not pretend that I do, because that takes away my ability to share the lessons that I’m learning with you…. helping us both learn together.

Take this last week when I finally made some progress on a financial weak point of mine: disability insurance.

 

The problem that requires a solution:

Not having disability insurance is not, in itself, a problem.

It’s just another financial product, but one that was created to help solve a problem that’s a real doozy: what happens if you get injured or so sick that you can’t do your job (or any job)?

What happens if you can’t earn income, but you still need all the things you need now: food, a home, and all that other important stuff?

Well, if it’s only for a few months you might be able to cover it with an emergency fund or a line of credit.

As a variable income earner I have lots of months where I don’t make much income and need to cover it with money I’ve saved.

But what if it’s really bad, and you can’t work for years… or maybe ever again?

That’s a problem that’s very difficult to solve with hard work and a can-do spirit.

 

Enter longterm disability insurance:

That’s what longterm disability insurance is for.

If you have it, and something big happens, they’ll send you cheques for as long as you can’t work.

It probably won’t be as much as you made before, but it’s tax-free money that can be a real lifesaver if everything goes wrong.

Sounds pretty great right?

Then why is no one talking about it?

 

The things I’ve always believed about disability insurance:

As a freelance artist I never thought something like this was available to me.

Honestly, I barely knew it existed until I started studying finance, but even after I did… I believed the rumours that floated around the arts business that we were excluded from this kind of product.

And even if I could qualify for something like it, I was sure it would be prohibitively expensive.

I believed that my best bet was hoping that nothing really bad would ever happen.

And because I’m still young and still feel mostly invincible… that isn’t a really hard thing to do. Serious injury and illness happen to people, but mostly they happen to OTHER PEOPLE.

I also believed that it was silly to even think about protecting my income until I had more income to protect.

Any insurance broker would probably laugh me out of the room.

 

The things I found out about disability insurance:

Sometimes our beliefs come from real stories, and sometimes they’re just based on fear and bullshit.

Yes, it’s hard to qualify for disability insurance when you’re an artist.

Lots of insurance companies have classified us as ‘uninsurable’. Which sucks to hear. They don’t want to put a bet on people who have very little income stability.

No, it’s not impossible.

Lots doesn’t mean all. I’ve found that there is room to get past official policy and have insurance companies consider each individual case. If you can prove that your income has some stability to it, the door to the world of disability insurance could open.

No, it’s not necessarily prohibitively expensive.

What if I told you that you could lock in $1,600 a month in tax free money if you get sick by paying $80 a month?

I’m sure reactions would be mixed.

Maybe some of you feel that’s an insanely high price, and some of you (like me) might see that as an excellent investment in an unsolvable problem.

I could dig into the numbers, but I think the $600,000+ of possible return is less important than realizing the stakes.

Yes, you could end up paying $80 a month until you turn 65 and receiving nothing. I don’t see that as a problem… I see that as an investment in my financial infrastructure. I see the benefits of being able to act knowing that I have something of a safety net if the unthinkable happens.

But it’s still $80, and some people don’t feel they can afford that.

… I’m not sure I can afford not to.

Stay tuned for more thoughts on disability insurance as I learn and navigate it for myself. Tomorrow I’ll talk a little about finding a broker, and what that experience was like.

Emily Nixon

Emily Nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at emily@ragstoreasonable.com

Want to start getting control of your money? How can I help?

EMAIL ME