Insurance Premiums

Short-term disability insurance provides crucial financial protection if an individual cannot work due to a temporary disability. This form of insurance offers income replacement for a limited period, typically ranging from a few weeks to several months, allowing individuals to cover their expenses and maintain their financial stability during their recovery.

According to the Council for Disability Awareness, approximately 25% of individuals in their twenties are likely to encounter a period of unemployment lasting a minimum of one year due to a disability before they reach the standard retirement age.

Every year, roughly 5% of employed Americans will face a short-term disability, typically lasting six months or less, as a result of illness, injury, or pregnancy. It is worth noting that nearly all of these cases are unrelated to work or occupational factors.

However, understanding the factors that influence short-term disability insurance premiums is essential for individuals seeking coverage.

In this article, we will explore the key factors that affect short-term disability insurance premiums, providing insights to help individuals make choices to obtain the most suitable policy for their circumstances.

1. Health Status of the Claimant

The overall health of the insured person is a crucial factor that influences short-term disability insurance premiums. Insurance companies assess the individual’s health condition during the underwriting process. 

Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions or health risks are generally considered higher risk and may face higher premium rates or even exclusions from coverage. This is because the likelihood of a disability-related claim is perceived to be greater. 

Therefore, individuals with excellent health are more likely to secure lower premiums, while those with underlying health issues may need to explore specialized insurance options or pay higher premiums to obtain coverage.

2. Age, Gender, and Occupation of the Claimant

According to Investopedia, as individuals age, their health tends to deteriorate, increasing the likelihood of experiencing a disability. Consequently, older individuals are charged higher premiums for short-term disability insurance compared to younger individuals. 

Additionally, young women face higher premiums than young men due to factors such as higher claim rates related to mental health and pregnancy. However, the rate of premium increase with age is steeper for men compared to women.

Occupation is another influential factor, as high-risk or physically demanding jobs may lead to increased premiums. Insurance companies consider these factors when assessing the likelihood of a disability claim, ultimately influencing the cost of coverage for individuals seeking short-term disability insurance.

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3. Benefit Amount and Duration

According to USA Today, typically, short-term disability insurance provides a benefit amount ranging from 40% to 70% of your monthly income until either you can resume work or the end of your benefit period, whichever occurs first. Generally, these benefits extend for a duration of three to six months. 

The specifics of the coverage duration and the types of disabilities included will vary based on the definition of disability outlined in your plan.

When individuals opt for higher benefit amounts, which are the income replacement payments they will receive during their disability, insurance companies assume a higher financial liability, leading to increased premiums. 

Similarly, selecting a longer coverage period means the insurer will potentially need to provide benefits for a longer duration, thereby raising the risk and cost for the insurance company, resulting in higher premiums for the policyholder. Balancing the desired benefit amount and coverage duration is important to balance coverage needs and affordability.

4. Elimination Period

The elimination period in short-term disability insurance refers to the waiting period from the onset of disability until benefits become payable. Typically, policyholders can choose the duration of this period, such as 7, 14, or 30 days. Opting for a shorter elimination period means that benefits will kick in sooner after the disability occurs. 

However, this convenience comes at a cost. Insurance companies charge higher premiums for policies with shorter elimination periods due to the increased likelihood of claims being made. Thus, individuals should carefully consider their financial situation and the trade-off between faster benefit availability and the associated premium costs when selecting their elimination period.

5. Additional Coverage Options

Short-term disability insurance policies often offer additional coverage options known as riders or add-ons, which can enhance the policy but also impact premiums. These options may include

  • Cost-of-living adjustments, which increase benefits to keep pace with inflation over time. 
  • Non-cancelable provisions guarantee that the policy cannot be canceled or have premiums increased based on changes in the insured person’s health. 
  • Residual disability benefits provide partial coverage if the insured person can work but experiences a reduction in income due to the disability.

While these coverage options provide valuable benefits, they typically result in higher premiums due to the increased level of protection and added financial security they offer.

6. Geographic Location

Geographic location plays a pivotal role in determining the premiums for short-term disability insurance. For example, the Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program in New Jersey offers monetary benefits to employees who are unable to work for up to 26 weeks due to various reasons, such as physical or mental health conditions, disabilities unrelated to work, and recovery from pregnancy or childbirth.

Dickstein Associates Agency states that short-term disability coverage is available for employers with a minimum of 10 active employees in NJ. Alternatively, individuals can acquire coverage through the state plan.

As a result, NJ’s short-term disability insurance premiums are based on its geographical region’s distinct characteristics and dynamics. Similarly, areas with higher healthcare costs or a greater prevalence of specific disabilities might experience higher premium rates. Insurance companies carefully consider these regional factors when assessing the level of risk and pricing their policies accordingly. 

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7. Smoking and Lifestyle Habits

Insurance providers consider tobacco use as a high-risk factor for various health conditions, leading to higher premiums for smokers. Similarly, excessive alcohol consumption and engagement in hazardous activities pose additional health risks, increasing the likelihood of disability and potential claims. 

Insurance companies take these factors into account during the underwriting process to assess the overall risk profile of the individual. Consequently, individuals who smoke or have risky lifestyle habits may face higher premiums due to the increased probability of disability and subsequent claims.

8. Insurance Company Policies

Insurance companies have unique underwriting guidelines and pricing structures that influence short-term disability insurance premiums. The premium amounts can vary significantly between insurers, making it crucial for individuals to compare quotes from multiple providers. 

It’s important to consider the reputation and financial stability of the insurance company before making a decision. Evaluating the insurer’s track record, customer reviews, and ability to pay claims promptly and efficiently ensures that individuals choose a reliable provider that offers competitive premiums and reliable coverage.


Many factors determine the cost of short-term disability insurance. The most important thing to remember is that you can’t predict what will happen in the future, but by being informed about your options and researching different providers, you can make sure you’re making an informed decision when choosing a policy.

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