Why Truck Drivers Need Disability Insurance [Learn Your Options & Save Money]

Updated: April 12, 2024 at 9:40 am

Truck on highway during sunset.Truck drivers probably don’t think about disability insurance much, right?

I mean, you know the importance of getting your shipments and load on time. Your customers are relying on you to be on time, unload your shipment, and ensure the shipment is in good order.

Then, you are on your way to your next destination.

Rain, sleet, or snow – the weather doesn’t matter; people are relying on you to get the job done.

What if you could no longer do that job? Have you ever thought what would happen if you became sick, ill, injured, and disabled? In this article, we discuss why disability insurance for truck drivers.

Here’s a breakdown of what we will cover:

Feel free to jump to a section as needed.

Why Truck Drivers Need Disability Insurance?

It’s simple, really.

Disability insurance helps pay your bills if you can’t work due to an illness or injury. Anything illness or injury related that prevents you from driving a truck is a disability. If you will struggle to pay the bills (your mortgage, groceries, healthcare, etc.) upon a disability, you probably need disability insurance.

I know your customers are very important. You have to remember, however, there is also a group of people who are more important. Who can be more important than my customers, you think? They pay the bills.

True. They do, but they don’t love you as your family loves you. By far, if you have a family, your spouse and children rely on you more than you think. They love you more than anything.

So, disability insurance is about protecting them if you can’t provide an income. The fact that you are looking into this now shows me you are responsible and love your family.

If you don’t want or feel the need for disability insurance, well there are tough questions that need answers.

  • Would you and your family be able to continue your standard of living without your income?
  • If not, what changes would need to be made?
  • Would your spouse have to work?
  • Would you need to sell your home to make ends meet?
  • Who could be flexible with the children should you be disabled?

The tough questions can go on and on.

Disability is known as the destroyer of dreams. Your future and family dreams could be destroyed. They don’t have to, though. With disability insurance, you have peace of mind knowing that you have a plan – and income – in place should the unexpected happen.

Yes, But A Disability Won’t Happen To Me

You think it won’t. However, the probability of having a long-term disability is anywhere between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 workers.

Think about that for a moment. Every 3 or 4 workers, someone can’t do his or her job. Someone isn’t earning money.

Contrast this probability to unexpected death, say from a motor vehicle accident, which is 1 in 114. Even dying from cancer has better odds: 1 in 7.

Disability can happen anytime, anywhere. It does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are a millionaire or poor, pink or orange…

But, John, I’m not going to get hurt, or in a wheelchair, you say. Wow! I respond. If you know that, then you should not be a truck driver. You need to play the lottery!

In all seriousness, when we think of disability, we think of someone bound in a wheelchair, right? Not true and far from it. According to the Council For Disability Awareness, most disabilities are from illnesses (like cancer) than from accidents.

Ok, John, but I have workers compensation. So, I am covered. That’s great, I respond. Did you know that 5% of disabling conditions are work related, leaving the other 95% not covered by workers compensation? That makes sense, since most disabilities are from illnesses and non-employment situations.

What will you do if you can’t work?

The Types Of Disability Insurance For Trucks Drivers

There are really 3 types of disability insurance available for truck drivers. We will discuss alternative insurances later in the article.

The 3 disability insurances include:

  • short-term disability insurance
  • long-term disability insurance
  • accident-only disability insurance

Many people ask us about the difference between short-term disability insurance and long-term disability insurance. Here’s the difference.

Short-term is really designed for a disability of a short time period. Let’s say you break your hand. Well, it’ll be hard to drive your rig with a broken hand, right? So, that is a disability – you can’t do your job. How long does a broken hand heal? Two to 3 weeks? Once you’ve met the waiting period, you’ll be eligible for benefits and receive some disability benefits.

Long-term becomes the life-saver on those disabilities that last longer than 3 months. Cancer…a a catastrophic injury…ALS…Diabetes…you name it.  Most families can get by financially when one member has a short-term disability. Sure, it might be tough, but families can get by. It’s a long-term disability that can financially ruin families.

Both insurances generally use the own-occupation definition of disability. (More on that in a minute.)

The Brakes For Short-Term Disability Insurance

You might say to yourself, “Short-term disability insurance is the way to go!”

We say, “Not so fast…”

Short-term disability insurance can be incredibly expensive for truck drivers. Look at the snapshot here. We are talking over $280/month!

to show disability insurance quote for truck driversThis is the general reason why we believe short-term disability insurance is a waste of money.

You should save that money and beef up your long-term disability insurance, which helps much more if you can’t work.

Finally, there is accident-only disability insurance. Think of this as a “last resort” disability insurance. It will only pay a benefit if you are disabled due to an accident. The better carriers offer coverage for both on and off-the-job injuries. Usually, there are no health questions. Most accident-only disability insurance is affordable. The reason is that most disabilities are not caused by accidents.

In this article, we focus on long-term disability insurance. However, you can contact us for any questions about short-term disability or accident-only disability insurance.

The Kind Of Truck Driving Matters

So, all the disability insurance carriers classify occupations. In general, the carriers classify from 1 or A to a 5 or 6. An occupation with a class 6 has the lowest disability risk due to occupation and class 1 has the highest. All things being equal, you’ll pay a higher premium if you are a class 1.

Disability insurance carriers usually classify truck drivers as a 1 or 2. In some cases, a class 3 may be available.

So, what does this have to do with truck driving?

Well, the type of trucking you do matters to disability insurance carriers.

If you are a short-haul driver, returning home each day, carriers will likely classify you as a 2. However, if you haul hazardous materials or work for an oilfield company, many carriers classify you as a 1.

Additionally, if you are a long-haul truck driver, not returning to home for several days, carriers class you as a 1.

If you work for a logging company or a quarry, carriers will classify as a 1.

Carriers usually classify small, delivery and box trucking as a 2.

Why The Low Class?

Continual and prolong truck driving causes muscoskeletal issues, back pain, arthritis, joint problems…you name it. Additionally, truck drivers don’t get enough exercise, sitting for prolonged periods in the cab. Obesity, diabetes, among other factors contribute to the lower class.

However, we discuss ways you can save money a little bit later.

The Makings Of A Good Disability Insurance Policy For Truck Drivers

Our goal when designing disability insurance plans for truck drivers is the combination of value and premium. In our opinion, there are certain “non-negotiable” provisions with disability insurance. The first is the own-occupation definition. Luckily, many carriers make this definition of disability available for the truck driver occupation.

The own-occupation definition means that the carriers pay a disability benefit if you can’t perform your own occupation as a truck driver. It pays even if your disability doesn’t prevent you from working in another job, say as a security guard.

Another “non-negotiable” feature is partial disability benefits. You’ll want this. All this means is that the carriers pays you a partial benefit if you can work, but just not full-time. Many carriers offer this, but they have a stringent definition. We work with carriers that offer an easier definition for truck drivers.

Of course, you’ll want to insure the most income you can. If you are an employee, most carriers will insure 60% of your salary. For example, if you have a gross monthly salary of $5,000, you can cover up to $3,000 (60%).

However, if you are a self-employed contractor or owner-operator, some carriers will insure 80% or more of your net income.

What is net income? It is your gross business receipts less business expenses. Let’s say you earned gross $300,000, but your truck note along with other trucking expenses cost $200,000. Your net income is $100,000. This is the insurable number. Why?

Because this is the number you’ll pay your house mortgage on, your utilities, entertainment, etc.

But, John, you say. I owe a note on my truck. If I’m disabled, I need to pay that, too.

No worries. We discuss another type of disability insurance which covers that.

Disability Insurance Policy Basics

There are several definitions and provisions you’ll need to understand about disability insurance to make an informed decision.

There is an elimination period, or waiting period, which is like a deductible. It is the length of time that elapses before disability benefits begin. For example, if you select a 90 day elimination period and are disabled, you’ll be eligible for disability benefits on the 91st day. However, typically with carriers, you won’t get paid until day 120 or so. This means you need to have adequate savings to carry you and your family until benefits begin.

For long-term disability insurance, you can go as low as 30 days.

Disability benefits can be paid for as long as 5 years. The average disability lasts around 30 months. Therefore, a 5 year benefit plan should be OK.

Benefits on an individual policy are income tax-free. Note that benefits from group disability insurance plans (i.e. through your employer, if offered) are typically taxable.

Optional Disability Insurance Riders

You can add optional riders at an additional cost to your policy to best fit your needs and budget. Some can be a waste of money and others important. You only purchase a rider to enhance your plan. Some popular rider options for truck drivers include:

Return of Premium Rider: Returns your net premium if you never make a claim or if you make a small claim. Honestly, save your money here. Return of premium riders can be expensive and not worth the money.

Guaranteed Insurability Option Rider: Allows you to obtain the coverage you need now with the option to purchase additional coverage in the future without evidence of good health. You generally can purchase additional coverage every 2 or 3 years, depending on the carrier. This is an important benefit!

Retroactive Injury Benefit Rider: Pays benefits from the date of total disability due to injury if disability occurs within 30 days of the injury and continues through the elimination period. This might be a viable option for truck drivers, considering the risk of their job.

Activities of Daily Living Rider: Pays an additional benefit if you cannot perform two or more of the activities of daily living or if you are cognitively impaired. This is also known as catastrophic disability.

Accident Insurance: Some plans offer an indemnity accident insurance. I think this is a viable option, with good benefits, and cheap. Consider the risk of your job, an accident insurance policy is worth the extra premium.

Cost-of-Living Adjustment: This benefit increases your disability benefit by the cost-of-living IF you are on total disability claim for more than a year. Honestly, this can be a costly rider.

Premium Cost Of Disability Insurance For Truck Drivers

Well, John, you say. This all sounds good, but how much will this cost?

That’s the $1,000,000 question.

The cost for disability insurance can be really expensive…or it can be really cheap.

Many agencies would gladly hand you a quote that’s hundreds of dollars each month.

Not us. We aim to balance a comprehensive disability insurance plan versus your other needs.

Keep in mind that the cost of disability insurance depends on the following:

  • your age – this is huge. Don’t wait to apply when you are older or if you get ill or hurt
  • your income – if you make a lot of money as a truck driver, then higher protection will cost more
  • your health – obesity and other conditions might increase the cost of your policy
  • state of residence – some states are simply higher in premium cost than other states

Having said all this, we at My Family Life Insurance have been providing economical disability insurance solutions to truck drivers for many years. I am confident we can help you out. Let’s talk about some of the ways you can save money.

How Truck Drivers Can Save Money On Disability Insurance

There are various ways truck drivers can save money on this important insurance. I’ll admit that I have seen competing quotes from other agencies that don’t even consider your other needs. Here are some ways you can save money on disability insurance. Just know that there are tradeoffs.

We talked about these throughout the article:

Use a 2 year benefit period – the average claim period is between 30 and 34 months. A 2 year benefit period will save money and provide “plan B” in case you are disabled.

Increase the waiting period to 90 days. Then save 3 months of expenses in case you are disabled.

Ignore some “nice-to-have” riders. Riders can make a plan extremely costly. While own occupation, guaranteed insurability, and residual disability insurance riders make sense, others, in our opinion, do not.

Protect Your Truck & Other Disability Insurance Options For Truck Drivers

In this section, we discuss how to protect the business loan on your truck and other disability insurance options.

Protect Your Truck If You Are A Business Owner

Your truck is likely your largest business expense. If you own your own trucking business or are self-employed, you have the advantage of a policy that will pay your business expenses upon a disability.

The policy is called a business overhead expense policy. Premiums are tax deductible. If structured properly, benefits are tax free as well. This type of policy will ensure your business remains solvent during your inability to work from a disability.

This is an additional reason why truck drivers need disability insurance. Contrast this policy to a traditional disability insurance which pays a percentage of your income.

Carriers who offer this type of insurance typically offers a discount on a disability insurance policy. Additionally, we only work with carriers that offer an occupation upgrade as well.

I recommend setting this up as a 30 day waiting period. It will cost more, but you’ll have your money much more quickly if you are disabled. Most business overhead expense policies only have a 1 or 2 year benefit period.

Other Insurances

If disability is out-of-reach or you are uninsurable, there are other types of insurance which act like disability insurance (but not). They are affordable, too. Here they are:

hospital indemnity insurance – the ones we like pay a lump sum benefit for hospital admission or outpatient surgery. What can you do with $6,000 in the short-term. I bet a lot.

critical illness insurance – will pay a lump sum benefit if you are diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, or some other covered condition. These plans are more robust and can be a viable option for truck drivers.

accident insurance – we touched on accident insurance earlier. There are a couple of different types, all affordable. When you think about the occupational risk, an accident insurance policy is an affordable way to protect yourself.

Now You Know Why Truck Drivers Need Disability Insurance

We hope now you have a solid idea why truck drivers need disability insurance. Confused? Don’t feel that way. We’re here to help educate you and protect your income and future. Don’t know where to start? Use this disability insurance needs analysis worksheet. Follow the instructions; it is rather easy to fill out (we at My Family Life Insurance try to make understanding insurance easy). Next, feel free to reach out to us for our assistance or a quote. Or, use the form below. We only work for you, your family, and your best interests only. We have helped many truck drivers and families secure disability insurance to give them peace of mind.

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I am a CFP® Professional and have an MBA. I founded My Family Life Insurance to provide honest, trustworthy advice and economical insurance solutions to individuals, families, and business owners. Contact me if you have any questions. There is no risk! If I can't help you, you've learned a little more, and we'll part as friends. Seriously! Can your current agent say this? View my linked-in profile here: www.linkedin.com/in/johnbarnescfp


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