LODD versus an off-duty death: What you need to know about insurance coverage
Give some meaningful consideration to what kind of future you want for your family in the event of an off-duty death versus dying in uniform
One of the things police officers worry about is ensuring their family’s financial stability in the event of their death. We talk all the time about line-of-duty deaths, but rarely do we discuss incidents or accidents that suddenly claim the life of an off-duty police officer.
In these cases, does your department’s insurance cover you, or is there a coverage gap? Some departments only offer coverage for line-of-duty deaths, leaving off-duty incidents that cause injury or death unaddressed – and your family unprotected.
Think for a moment about the odds. Are you more likely to die in the line of duty or off-duty? According to the Officer Down Memorial Page from 2012-2016, a total of 704 officers died in the line of duty – less than one tenth of a percent of the roughly 800,000 police officers in the United States.
It’s not unlikely, therefore, that far more police officers would have died of heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, cancer, accidents or one of the other leading causes of death in the United States during that same time period.
Benefits of adding life insurance at different stages of your police career
Jim Farhadi, a financial advisor with Cambridge Financial Partners, LLC in Newport Beach, California says the coverage gap is not the only reason why they recommend life insurance.
“There are certain benefits available when a death occurs in the line of duty,” Farhadi said. “The state of California and the federal government may provide such benefits. If the person who passed away was married and had children, the children’s education in the University of California (UC) systems could be paid for. Even if you had 10 children, all of their college education could be covered. However, if you are off duty, and get in a car accident or something happens to you, then the only coverage your family will get is from other insurance you may have acquired. In most cases off-duty deaths don’t get covered under the federal system. Your children’s education isn’t paid for. There’s a huge gap.”
Farhadi says that, unfortunately, most of the police officers he has met over the past 20 years are underprepared and underinsured due to a lack of understanding or exposure to the varying benefits of proper and adequate insurance coverage.
Most police officers don’t start considering their financial future until they’re in their mid to late 30s or on the job for about 15 years, according to Farhadi. From early on, they are encouraged to maximize contribution to their deferred compensation program, but rarely is any emphasis made on maximizing insurance coverage to protect their future income and health rating. And they generally disregard the option of supplementing their association-offered life insurance to cover off-duty deaths. This could be a mistake – potentially a significant one.
Permanent life insurance will not only address the financial ramifications of off-duty deaths, but also potentially maximize their income at deferred compensation program retirement.
“This is a balancing act, because it comes down to budget, cash flow, affordability and priority. It comes down to health,” Farhadi said. “In my years working with law enforcement, I’ve come across people who started this process too late. I’m currently working with a high-ranking individual who at age 57 is looking to provide equal retirement benefits to his spouse upon his death through his pension election. This is something that he may have been able to optimize using permanent life insurance. At his age, however, the insurance premium has increased so much that it is almost cost-inhibitive. Had he planned 15 years earlier, the health rating and cost would have been significantly lower and therefore the solution much more manageable.”
Give some meaningful consideration to what kind of future you want for your family in the event of an off-duty, non-duty-related death, as compared with dying in uniform.
It’s important to be aware that many insurers will charge more for customers in what they consider risky occupations. Look for a carrier that does not view coverage for law enforcement and corrections officers as different from the general population. Only SWAT and officers on the bomb squad may face additional underwriting scrutiny.
It is vital to seek out an advisor who understands the complexity of police officers and their financial needs while employed and how the issues only grow after retirement.
Jim Farhadi and Cambridge Financial Partners have demonstrated their knowledge through working with various associations and law enforcement groups. Using their system, they create comprehensive reports that demonstrate clearly the benefits of planning as well as the cost for waiting. As a benefit to our readers, Mr. Farhadi offers a no obligation meeting as well as a detailed report of your specific pension options. Through this process they seek to identify and communicate your opportunities and create a meaningful outcome for you and your family. For a complimentary session and analysis send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.cambridgefp.com/homepage/.
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Registered Representative and Investment Advisor
Representative of and securities offered through OneAmerica Securities, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA, SIPC. Cambridge Financial partners, LLC is not an affiliate of OneAmerica Securities and is not a broker dealer or Registered Investment Advisor. Provided content is for overview and informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be relied upon as individualized tax, legal, fiduciary, or investment advice.