Best Short-Term Disability Insurance

Mutual of Omaha offers the best income protection for short-term disabilities

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If you were to get injured or become ill, how long could you go without your usual paycheck? According to the 2020 Insurance Barometer Study by LIMRA and Life Happens, 63% of Americans couldn't make it six months before financial hardship set in, and 14% would be affected immediately. A serious illness or injury could affect you for six to twelve months or more, and short-term disability (STD) insurance can provide the safety net you need.

This type of coverage protects a portion of your income for a short period of time, such as if you are hurt, sick, or even recovering from the birth of a child. Coverage typically lasts between six and 12 months, with benefits that begin as soon as 14 days after disability onset. 

To help you shop around, we compared more than 10 companies to select the best short-term disability insurance policies. Factors considered include price, availability, coverage limits, and the length of time required before benefits are available. Here is what we found.

Best Short-Term Disability Insurance Companies of 2022

Best Overall : Mutual of Omaha


Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha

  • No-exam policies available: Yes, for applicants ages 18-45 applying for up to $6,000 in monthly benefits
  • Maximum coverage amount: $20,000 per month
Pros
  • Benefit periods range from six months to 10 years

  • Maximum monthly benefit of $20,000

  • Generous built-in policy benefits

  • No-exam underwriting available for some applicants

  • Pregnancy benefit

Cons
  • Coverage for mental or nervous disorders is limited without purchasing an additional rider

  • Partial disability benefits cost extra

  • Must contact an agent to apply

Why We Chose It

Taking the top spot for best overall short-term disability insurance coverage is Mutual of Omaha. This insurer provides up to 10 years of benefits (much longer than many other companies allow), with some policies offering coverage as soon as 30 days after your eligible disability. Monthly benefits are available up to $20,000, and policies can be issued through age 61.

Mutual of Omaha has been around since 1909 and has an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best. It offers insurance coverage across the country, though not all policies are available in all states.

Short-term disability coverage through Mutual of Omaha is some of the most comprehensive and benefit-rich around. Policies come full of built-in benefits, such as a survivor benefit, waiver of premium benefit, guaranteed renewability, rehabilitation coverage, and up to six weeks of leave for maternity. Elimination periods are available in lengths of 30, 60, and 90 days. Longer elimination periods of 180, 365, and 730 days are also available.

Mutual of Omaha’s STD policies are portable and can be taken with you even if you change jobs. If you want even more out of your policy, you can add riders such as return of premium, mental or nervous and substance abuse extension, cost-of-living adjustment, and more.

Best for Financial Stability : State Farm


State Farm

 State Farm

  • No-exam policies available: Yes, no medical exam is required
  • Maximum coverage amount: $3,000 per month
Pros
  • Coverage is offered in one- and three-year benefit periods

  • Benefits range from $300 to $3,000

  • Simple application process

  • Available in 47 states

Cons
  • Quotes and policies only available through an agent

  • No normal childbirth or pregnancy coverage

  • No coverage for complications from cosmetic surgery

  • Maximum benefit up to $3,000 per month

Why We Chose It

Besides Mutual of Omaha, State Farm is the only provider to offer short-term disability benefit periods as long as three years. Short-term disability insurance through State Farm provides between $300 and $3,000 in monthly coverage, depending on your occupation and current income.

Founded in 1922, State Farm currently holds an A++ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best, the highest rating available. Their short-term disability insurance policies are offered in 47 states (not available in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island). They also boast a simple application process that provides you with fast coverage.

There are some important exclusions to keep in mind with State Farm; for instance, there’s limited coverage for mental or nervous disorders, and no coverage for complications stemming from cosmetic procedures, unlike some other providers. State Farm doesn’t offer optional riders either.

You cannot purchase a policy or get a quote for coverage online through the State Farm website. Instead, you’ll need to contact a local agent for a quote and policy details.

Best for Shortest Elimination Period : Haven


Haven Life

Haven Life

  • No-exam policies available: Yes, for up to $5,000 in monthly coverage
  • Maximum coverage amount: $5,000 per month
Pros
  • 14-day elimination period available

  • 100% digital application process

  • Affordable premiums starting at less than $10

  • Policies issued by MassMutual, an A++ (Superior) rated insurer

Cons
  • Maximum issue age is 55

  • Maximum benefit period of 12 months

  • Not available in all states

Why We Chose It

Haven offers the shortest elimination period of the companies we reviewed that offer STD insurance to individuals. You can choose an elimination period of 14 days, 30 days, or 60 days and a benefit period of three, six, or 12 months. Policies are guaranteed renewable until age 65, and policies are generally affordable. 

Plus, you can get a quote and apply directly from Haven’s website for an instant coverage decision. We also appreciate the information, ease of use, and transparency the Haven website provides. Though Haven is a young company, policies are backed by MassMutual, which has an A++ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best, which is the highest possible. 

There are some limitations to Haven’s policy, however. The maximum benefit period is one year and the maximum monthly benefit is $5,000 or 60% of your income, so higher income individuals may be better served by Mutual of Omaha. What’s more, you’ll need to go with another company if you’re over 55 or live in CA, DE, FL, MT, ND, NY, SD, or WY.

Best for Family Medical Leave : Breeze


Breeze Insurance

Breeze Insurance

  • No-exam policies available: Yes
  • Maximum coverage amount: $1,000 per week
Pros
  • Family medical leave covered for up to 3 months

  • No medical exams or income verification required

  • Childbirth benefit available

  • Can choose accident & illness or accident-only policy

  • Get a quote and apply online

Cons
  • No option to choose your elimination period

  • Not available in California or New York

Why We Chose It

If you add Breeze’s family care rider, which is a low-cost endorsement, you can get coverage for up to 3 months in unpaid leave for regular childbirth, adoption, or the care of a family member. That said, 1099 workers are only eligible for the childbirth benefit. Most other individual short-term disability providers we reviewed exclude normal pregnancy, although Mutual of Omaha provides up to six weeks of benefits. You can also get a quote and apply for a policy with Breeze entirely online. 

Breeze only offers up to $1,000 in weekly benefits, so higher income individuals may want to choose another company. And Breeze’s premiums are more costly than Haven’s for comparable coverage, but you have the option to get an accident-only policy from Breeze at a fraction of the cost. You can’t choose your elimination period. However, you can select a 13-week benefit period, which comes with a 14-day elimination period; or a 26-week, one-year, or two-year benefit period, which comes with a 30-day elimination period. 

Breeze policies are underwritten by Assurity, which has an A- (Excellent) financial strength rating with AM Best. Policies are currently not available in New York or California.

Final Verdict

Mutual of Omaha will be the best option for people who need a high monthly coverage amount, appreciate a host of built-in benefits, and don’t mind working with an agent to apply. Those seeking quick coverage, an entirely online experience, and coverage no longer than two years should get quotes from Haven and Breeze. Breeze further distinguishes itself by offering benefits for family medical leave, including childbirth, but you may pay more for a policy relative to Haven. 

State Farm is highly-rated and offers a second option for a longer benefit period than Breeze or Haven, but has the lowest monthly benefit cap of the insurers we reviewed. Keep in mind that a comprehensive income protection plan should include a long-term disability policy as well. 

FAQ

What Is Short-Term Disability Insurance?

If you are injured or become ill and are unable to earn your usual income, short-term disability insurance can help protect you financially. This coverage starts after a specific period of disability (called a waiting period, or elimination period) and pays you a percentage of your income each month.

Short-term disability income insurance is intended to cover temporary disabilities, such as the healing of a broken leg. It can also be used to provide interim coverage while you wait for your long-term disability coverage to kick in, which may have a much longer elimination period.

You’ll typically find that short-term disability insurance covers a period of around three months to two years, depending on the provider and policy chosen. If you need more coverage than that, consider purchasing long-term disability income insurance as well.

Should You Get Short-Term Disability?

No one expects to become disabled, but the truth is that one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will be disabled for at least a year at some point before they reach retirement age. That could mean a total disability (where you are unable to work at all) or a partial disability (where you simply can’t work as much or as often) and could be due to anything from an unexpected illness to recovery from a car accident to a mental health issue.

No matter what your injury or illness looks like, though, short-term disability insurance should be a consideration if you don’t already have six to 12 months of expenses saved in an emergency fund. If you would be unable to cover your mortgage, car payment, or buy groceries without your usual income, short-term disability may be worth the cost.

Keep in mind that long-term disability insurance, while more expensive, is a better value for the coverage it provides. And, while many people can save enough to cover six months of expenses, few would be able to cover a lifetime of income loss. In that sense, long-term disability coverage is more important and more valuable. If you have a long-term disability policy and sufficient savings to cover you in the short term, you can forego short-term disability insurance. But for many families, it makes sense to have both.

What Does Short-Term Disability Insurance Exclude?

As the name implies, short-term disability income insurance is intended to provide coverage for a brief period of time, usually two years or less. It will replace a percentage of your income, up to the maximum benefit of your policy, once you meet the required waiting period.

Pre-existing conditions are not typically covered by short-term disability insurance, and when they are, it’s usually only after 12 months or more have passed since the policy went into effect. Short-term disability coverage also won’t provide medical care or long-term care.

What Is the Difference Between Short-Term Disability and FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a helpful regulation that allows employees to take leave if they are ill, injured, or need to care for a family member, without fear of losing their job in the process. FMLA is not paid leave, however, and only protects your position at your place of work for up to 12 weeks.

On the other hand, short-term disability insurance does provide paid coverage if you need to take leave due to an injury or illness. The exact financial coverage and benefit period that your short-term disability coverage will offer depends on the exact policy you purchase.

What Does Short-Term Disability Insurance Cost?

As with most insurance products, the cost of short-term disability income insurance will depend on your personal factors. Your occupation and its included hazards will be considered, as will your medical history, age, and tobacco use.

Your cost for short-term disability insurance will also be impacted by the exact policy you choose. The shorter the elimination period, the higher the benefits, and the longer the benefit period, the more you can expect to pay.

For example, a 35-year-old woman in retail sales might pay $68 per month for a 12-month $3,000 monthly benefit with a 30-day elimination period.

How We Chose the Best Short-Term Disability Insurance

To determine the best short-term disability income insurance, we considered some of the largest providers of individual disability insurance, plus newcomers such as Haven and Breeze. While many insurers offer short-term coverage, it’s typically through the workplace in the form of group policies; these policies are often forfeited if you leave that job, and the terms of coverage can vary greatly depending on your employer.

We compared companies based on: 

  • the availability of individual policies
  • coverage limits
  • elimination periods
  • no-exam options
  • built-in and optional benefits
  • benefit periods offered
  • the ease of obtaining coverage
  • financial strength rating
  • consumer reviews
  • cost. 

Stable companies that offer the most generous benefits and policy options plus provide a streamlined customer experience tended to do best in our review.

Injured Woman Talking To Hospital Nurse Following CT Scan

Tom Werner / Getty Images

Article Sources
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  1. Life Happens. “Why is disability insurance important?.”

  2. Council for Disability Awareness. “Disability Statistics; Chance of Becoming Disabled.”

  3. Haven Life. “How Disability Insurance Works.”