The corona pandemic, mental illness and inflation: The risk of slipping into poverty after a loss of earnings has never been higher. Disability insurance can help. But with pre-existing conditions, the choice is small. This is how you find the right tariff.

People with mental illnesses know this: Taking out disability insurance (BU) is almost impossible. What is much less known is that a coronavirus infection can also make it difficult to complete a BU. The problem affects millions of people: Since the beginning of the pandemic, the RKI has registered a total of almost 28 million infections with the corona virus throughout Germany.

The number of mental illnesses has also increased in recent years. For many, this leads to disability: In 2020, around 73,000 people received a disability pension for the first time because of a mental illness. This is the result of figures from the German pension insurance. Dangerous: A large proportion of working people in Germany have no occupational disability insurance (BU) and therefore no safety net if an illness makes the job impossible.

Disability insurance is risk insurance, similar to motor vehicle liability insurance. If you have a serious accident or a serious illness and are unable to do your current job, the BU will step in with a monthly pension. This also applies if you suffer from burnout or another mental illness. Because it is a risk insurance, no money is usually paid back in the event of termination or retirement age.

If you become unable to work, the state will not step in for you. If you can no longer work, you only have your own savings or Hartz IV. Important to know: Disability insurance pays if you can no longer work in your job. The statutory disability pension is only available in the event of complete incapacity for work. That is, if you can work less than three hours a day. You can only claim them if you have paid into the statutory pension for at least five years.

The contributions to the BU increase depending on age and previous illnesses, so it is advisable to take out insurance at a young age. Ideally, you do this before you start working: “The younger you are, the cheaper the monthly cost burden when you take out a BUV,” explains Sascha Straub, head of the financial services department at the Bavarian consumer advice center when asked by FOCUS Online. From the age of 30, the degree gradually becomes more expensive because the savings period is shorter, but the default risk remains the same. According to the consumer protection expert, most cases of disability only occur in the second half of working life.

In addition, in this phase of life, the subsequent professional career is still unclear: “Physical jobs such as bricklayer or roofer are still classified as more risky and are therefore more expensive. However, the psychologically-related absences among the ‘knowledge workers’ are also increasing,” says Straub. These include, above all, teachers who have been difficult to insure for a long time.

The tariffs of the insurers can sometimes be very different. They are calculated using:

Particularly dangerous hobbies such as extreme sports or lifestyle habits such as smoking lead to higher costs. In addition to the profession and previous illnesses, they are also decisive for whether one is accepted as an insured person at all.

Tariffs in advertising are also always calculated according to an ideal type. These are mostly young people in office jobs with no prospect of heavy physical exertion.

Disability insurance pays out if you can no longer practice your last job. You do not have to be completely disabled before you can receive benefits. Temporary disability, such as after an accident, is also covered. First of all: If you are no longer able to work for health reasons, this is not covered by the BU. The insurance only covers the loss of income for at least six months if you can no longer pursue your last job.

The takeover is only guaranteed if you can do less than 50 percent of the job during this time. The exact amount of the payment always depends on the respective contract conditions.

Constantin Papaspyratos, chief economist at the Federation of Insured Persons (BdV), advises insured persons not to apply for BU benefits on their own: “There are specialized insurance consultants and lawyers who help with the application for the BU can support BU performance.”

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Anyone who is currently undergoing psychotherapeutic treatment has a bad hand: “Psychotherapy must have been completed for at least 5 years, otherwise you will not get insurance cover,” explains consumer protection expert Straub. The chances of getting insurance at normal amounts or with a risk surcharge are better for completed therapies, writes the online insurance brokerage service “Clark”.

For example, anyone who has to report depression as a pre-existing condition should undergo a medical examination to increase their own chances. The doctor can then issue a certificate with a good prognosis. This signals to the insurance company that no recurrence is to be expected in the near future.

Long-term or late consequences of a corona infection are currently not foreseeable. It is still unclear whether and how a Covid infection is considered a pre-existing condition and whether this generally has to be stated. The situation is particularly unclear for new contracts. “Spiegel” research suggests that insurers are increasingly asking whether people have already been infected with the corona virus. Straub also confirmed this to FOCUS Online. Because so little is currently known about the consequences of a Covid infection, insurers cannot yet calculate any risks – and therefore cannot offer any corresponding tariffs.

When asked by FOCUS Online, Dr. Marco Adelt, member of the board and co-founder at Clark, that completing a BU under certain conditions has not been a problem so far. In particular, customers whose infection was a long time ago, who are symptom-free and who have not suffered any long-term consequences, can in most cases protect themselves.

The situation is different if you have only recently become infected and the aftermath of the infection is not yet foreseeable: Dr. Adelt waiting a few months before completing it to rule out long-term health consequences.

Straub finds reassuring words for everyone with existing disability insurance: “Covid-19 disease is not a reason for exclusion, even if it can have long-term consequences. Because the BU service does not depend on the cause of the illness, but on the fact that you can no longer practice your profession not known.

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Before taking out disability insurance, you should consider the following factors: