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COVID-19 vaccines and disability insurance: What you need to know

With many employers starting to look at mandating COVID-19 vaccines for their employees, I’ve been getting a lot of questions around:

  1. Will disability insurance cover me if I have a reaction to the vaccine?
  2. If I choose not to get the COVID-19 vaccination and later get COVID-19, will my disability insurance still cover me?
  3. Can I file for disability insurance if my employer terminates me for not getting the vaccine?

This article is meant to address those concerns.

Will disability insurance cover me if I have a reaction to the vaccine?

If a medical condition occurs DUE TO the vaccine, the answer is yes, you would be covered by your disability insurance policy as long as you meet the Elimination Period (the amount of time you have to wait before benefits kick in). Taking the vaccine is not a disability, but if a health concern arises from taking the vaccine, you would then be covered if this medical issue prevents you from doing your job.

If I choose not to get the COVID-19 vaccination and later get COVID-19, will my disability insurance still cover me?

Sometimes I get concerns from clients about not being covered due to the vaccine being an elective treatment or experimental treatment. To help put it in perspective, we’ve had clients go on claim due to an elective surgery that went unfortunately bad and resulted in their inability to work. Even though they chose to get the surgery and it wasn’t anything that would have otherwise impacted their health, they still were able to collect a benefit. The takeaway from this is that the voluntary nature of the vaccine doesn’t have anything to do with coverage (whether a proven treatment or experimental).

What insurance companies are mostly looking to exclude from coverage is purposeful and intentional harm (i.e. taking a hammer to your hand after just telling your best friend you couldn’t take working for your boss anymore). A proactive measure to preserve your health by taking a vaccine wouldn’t fall under that category, therefore any complications would result in you being claim eligible. Regardless of whether you choose to get the vaccine or not, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and if any symptoms/co-morbidities last longer than the elimination period, then you could certainly qualify for a disability benefit if those medical issues prevented you from doing your job.  The key, however, is that you must meet the elimination period. Fortunately, most COVID-19 cases are resolved within 10-14 days and no further complications exist.

Can I file for disability insurance if my employer terminates me for not getting the vaccine?

This is the easiest question to answer. The loss of employment or the loss of a license in and of itself is not considered a disability, so if your employer decides they cannot employ someone that is not willing to get a vaccine, that is not anything a disability policy would cover because the nature of the loss of employment is between the employee and the employer and is therefore not related to a medical condition impacting your abilities.

If you have any further questions about COVID-19 and disability insurance, please reach out to me to schedule a quick call by emailing Chase at chase.brakke@northstarfinancial.com.

RNR 8-2021

Chase Brakke, DIA, DIF

Author: Chase Brakke, DIA, DIF

Chase leads our disability insurance and property and casualty insurance divisions, ensuring clients have a customized protection strategy for their specific individual, family, and business needs.

Chase is a registered representative and investment advisor representative of CRI Securities, LLC and Securian financial Services, Inc.