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Unemployment insurance

Supplement your state's job loss benefits if you qualify.

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Although you can find private unemployment policies, most laid-off workers get help through the state or an employer’s supplemental unemployment benefits. You may receive payments on a monthly basis until you find another job or in a one-time lump sum. However, you typically must prove you weren’t fired by your own fault, such as poor job performance.

What is unemployment insurance?

Unemployment insurance is a policy that protects your income for a set amount of time after you lose your job. It supplements the government’s unemployment benefits, helping jobless workers retain their full salary. You can receive unemployment insurance either through your employer, the state government or a private policy.

However, this policy does not pay out for resigning from your job, getting fired for poor performance or starting your own business. Private individual policies aren’t as common in the United States as in European countries. Unemployment insurance may also be called supplemental unemployment insurance, job loss insurance, job insurance, layoff insurance or supplemental unemployment benefits.

How does private unemployment insurance work?

Unemployment coverage provides an ongoing contribution of an individual’s regular income, usually for around three months. Private policies fill in the gaps of a person’s income after the state’s unemployment insurance pays out. What to expect for employer or individual policies:

Employer supplemental unemployment benefits (SUB) policy

A few insurance companies specialize in supplemental unemployment insurance for employers. The benefit of this type of employer policy is offsetting the costs of a traditional severance package as much as 50%.

  • Amount of coverage: The amount the employer takes out depends on the employee’s pay and how much the state unemployment pays. The more the state pays, the less coverage the employer needs. However, employees with high wages may need more coverage than low-wage workers.
  • Type of payment: The employee receives the benefits monthly and cannot take the amount as a lump-sum payment.
  • Time period insured: The employee receives benefits until the benefit period ends, usually 12 weeks, or until the employee finds another job. Some policies offer a bonus to those who are re-employed before the benefit period ends.

A separate layoff insurance policy

Individual layoff insurance policies may supplement the state’s benefits or work separately from the government. A policy that works separately from government benefits may not require you to file for state unemployment before cashing out for job loss.

However, the main two companies offering private policies aren’t currently accepting new customers. Those companies are IncomeAssure and SafetyNet.

  • Amount of coverage: A supplemental policy should help you retain your previous income level. A separate policy may offer a low benefit amount that may not cover your bills.
  • Type of payment: Supplemental policies may pay out monthly. Individual policies may pay monthly or in a lump sum.
  • Time period insured: This varies based on the company but may go up to the standard three-month period. Lump-sum benefits only get paid out once.

    What types of supplemental unemployment insurance can I receive?

    When you’re comparing supplemental unemployment insurance (SUB), you might come across several types in your research:

    • Private individual policies — These types of policies aren’t as common.
    • Employer-sponsored supplemental unemployment benefits — Paid by or offered through your employer.
    • Union supplemental insurance — Job unions may offer SUB while you’re in between jobs. This is especially common in industries like automotive unions where seasonal or temporary work is common.
    • Mortgage unemployment insurance — Pays your mortgage for a set time while you’re looking for new work.
    • Credit insurance — Also known as payment protection or loan repayment insurance, pays your loans for you after losing your job.

    How does government unemployment insurance work?

    Most states take unemployment insurance out of your employer’s taxes as you work. You must have earned enough income to meet the criteria for an unemployment insurance claim. Your state determines this by looking at your wages within recent quarters and calculating whether those wages meet its minimum threshold.

    States vary in the calculations used and if you’re denied because of the primary method, a secondary method may be used to see if you’re eligible. Its calculations also determine how much benefit you receive each week and for how long. Most states will pay out up to 12 or 14 weeks.

    Requirements for government unemployment benefits

    To qualify for state unemployment benefits, most states require you to:

    • Have earned a minimum amount of income
    • Be ready and available to work
    • Actively search for new employment
    • Be unemployed through no fault of your own, such as a company downsizing

    What limitations should I watch out for?

    Applicants should know the restrictions of this type of policy and the criteria for receiving a payout. Most policies will require that:

    • The policyholder must prove involuntary the loss of their job was not related to their performance.
    • To receive the payout, the policyholder must not receive any form of income other than state unemployment benefits. This includes casual, temporary or part-time employment of any kind.
    • The employee must be employed continuously for a specified period, such as six months.
    • The employee may receive the benefit one or more weeks after being unemployed.
    • Workers finishing seasonal or contract work may not qualify for benefits.
    • The employee must prove they’re looking for new employment.
    • Benefits will cease once the policyholder has obtained paid work. This may be part-time or full-time employment.

    How could these limits affect my unemployment income?

    You could get denied unemployment benefits if you didn’t make enough income or are receiving another form of income, like freelance work. Consider that even low-paid work could disqualify you, so you might focus on long-term paid jobs instead.

    Because not every job loss situation qualifies for state unemployment, consider working out a backup plan to supplement your income. For example, an emergency savings account can help if you get denied or for the period between losing your job and the benefit payment.

    Does disability insurance cover unemployment?

    Disability insurance doesn’t cover unemployment on its own. But you may be eligible for disability if you become disabled and unemployed at the same time.

    One good example is if you bought an own-occupation disability policy. This type of policy means you can receive benefits if a disability makes you unable to perform your current job. In this case, you can receive benefits while looking for another job and may also qualify for state unemployment benefits.

    Keep in mind you’ll have to meet the elimination period, otherwise known as the waiting period, first. Most plans will require you to have the policy in place for a particular length of time before you can claim disability coverage.

    Protect your income with disability insurance

    Data indicated here is updated regularly
    Name Product Coverage Amount Benefit period Waiting period Own Occupation Medical exam required Online quote
    Policygenius Disability Insurance
    $100 to $20,000
    2, 5, or 10 years or until age 65 or 67
    60 - 365 days
    Yes
    Depends on provider
    Yes
    Get matched with one of 15 top life insurance companies to find the best coverage and rates for you.
    Breeze
    $500 to $20,000
    1, 2, 5, or 10 years or until age 65 or 67
    30 - 365 days
    Yes
    No
    Yes
    This startup offers some of the most riders and benefits backed by an established underwriter.
    LeverageRx
    $100 to $20,000+
    1, 2, 5, or 10 years or until age 65 or 67
    30 - 365 days
    Yes
    Depends on provider
    Yes
    LeverageRx is a digital lending and insurance marketplace exclusively for medical professionals.
    loading

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Does life insurance offer unemployment coverage?

    No, life insurance doesn’t cover unemployment due to job loss for any cause. However, some policies can give support to customers during strenuous financial circumstances.

    Unemployment benefits

    To receive any sort of unemployment benefit, you would need to add a life insurance disability rider to your life insurance policy. In this case, the rider would pay out after an elimination period if you become totally disabled and unable to work. You can also receive money for expenses if you add riders for chronic or terminal illness or long-term care.

    Unemployment premium waiver

    This feature means your premium payments will get waived if you become unemployed. You might only receive this benefit for a certain number of months. In addition, you usually must show evidence that you’re seeking new employment or drawing state unemployment benefits.

    Bottom line

    Your best bet for job loss insurance is to file a claim through your state. However, you could talk with your employer about this extra benefit if you know they’re planning a severance package.

    On the other hand, if you’re planning ahead for income protection, consider how a disability policy might help for unexpected injuries or illness.

    Frequently asked questions about unemployment insurance

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