I wholeheartedly agree with the Disability Insurance Business Blog's recent post "Why Should You Get Disability Insurance?" Without S's employer sponsored disability insurance, we would be sunk. I was not prepared to become the household's primary breadwinner at the time that we would have lost his wages. It also ensures that his employer continues to hold a job for him, if and when he can return to work.
However, just having disability insurance is not enough. When you become disabled, or if you are simply going in to the hospital for a surgery or other illness, you must become a disability insurance expert. You should know how much of your wages the insurance will cover, for how long and for what conditions. It is slightly disconcerting to get your paycheck and find that you are only getting half of what you would normally make. Ask me how I know.
Once you start a claim, you cannot assume that you will be paid automatically. Insurance companies handle a large number of cases on a daily basis. You are just one of thousands. You must keep in contact with the company to make sure that your claim is being processed in a timely manner, they have all of the paperwork they need and they are in contact with the right doctors.
You probably have a case worker at the Insurance company. Someone who is assigned as a liaison between you and the company. As soon as you can, find out who this person is and make sure that they have your current contact information. If you will not be able to speak for yourself, make sure they know who can. Then, make regular contact with case worker to make sure that your claim is being processed in a timely manner. You may even have to do some of the "leg work"--getting paperwork from the doctor and faxing it, making phone calls, etc.
Dealing with the disability insurance company has become a major part of S's life. He has multiple doctors and multiple diagnosis. All of these doctors have different recommendations. S spends a significant amount of time working with his doctors to make sure the paperwork reflects what is actually going. Even then, he has to fight to get his claim approved and it is often only approved for a few days at a time. He has made the comment to both his doctor and the insurance company that "I spend more time working on paperwork than I do actually working on my rehabilitation." I know that he has spent entire therapy sessions working on the paperwork with no time left over for therapy.
Not all claims will be this hard, but you must know your rights and who your case worker is. Without this information, your claim can (and often does) get lost in the system. This means you don't get paid when you expect to, which is frustrating and often harmful to your recovery.