Can You Name Your Most Important Asset? (It Might Not Be What You Think)

Why it mattersWhat is your most important asset? Is it your house, your investments, your education, or something else? That’s a trick question of course, because your most important asset isn’t something you can buy or sell.

It’s your health.

Yet our health is often one of the most-neglected things. Even those who do take excellent care of their health can still be afflicted with diseases or hurt in an accident. It pays to keep that in mind.

What if you could no longer work?

What would happen if you became disabled and were no longer able to earn an income? Even if you’re not the only income-earner in your family, chances are that you do use your money for living expenses. And you may need expensive care, which can further eat into your money.

I’m going to sound like a disability insurance ad here, but it’s important to protect your ability to have an income. You know, so that you can eat and keep a roof over your head.

The odds of becoming (even temporarily) disabled

According to the Cornell University’s disability statistics in 2012, an estimated 12.1 percent of the US population reported a disability. Their survey included this question, “[d]oes anyone in this household have a health problem or disability which prevents them from working or which limits the kind or amount of work they can do?”

12.1 percent of the population reporting a disability is almost like saying 1 in 8 people answered yes.

If someone told you that your chances of winning the Powerball were between slightly-better-than 1 in 8, would you buy a ticket? I sure would. Those are some good odds.

Wake up and protect yourself

After watching my mom get cancer, become 100% disabled, and then die at a young age, I eventually woke up and bought long-term disability insurance. You would think that having seen what my mom went through, I would have rushed right out and bought it immediately, but disability insurance is one of those things that people procrastinate on. I was no different.

The immediate somehow seems more important, but it’s not. If you don’t have long-term disability insurance, consider getting it now. The easiest way to get it is through your employer, if they offer it, since there is usually no underwriting process with that. The down side to that is that it if you leave your employer, you’ll lose your coverage.

But that’s where I’d start, since it’s the easiest to get. You can also apply for disability insurance through the major insurance companies out there. Unless you don’t need to work, obtaining disability insurance is an important step in becoming financially healthy.

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6 comments

  • Yes yes yes —- people could save so much money for their future selves if they just take care of themselves today!

  • I’m looking to get long-term disability insurance in the next year but I’d like to be able to transition jobs without losing coverage so I’m nervous to get it through an employer. Do you know if there is some kind of gap long-term disability coverage like there is for health insurance to cover the period between jobs?

    • No, I don’t know whether there’s anything like that. But if it were me in that case I’d just look at getting private disability insurance instead. It wasn’t that expensive when I got an own-occupation policy a few years back.

  • Amen, amen, amen. I learned this the hard way. Still paying for it. Oy.

  • Most people (myself included) think we’re invincible. I work a desk job with decent free coverage from my employer but it really isn’t enough if something bad were to happen. The cost would be tiny for someone my age as well (24). Maybe something to think more about instead of just waiving instantly…

    Jay