Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Former Farmers Insurance CSR

UPDATED: Oct 30, 2020

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The waiting period of a US insurance policy is normally the time for which an insurer will not make payment on a claim. This normally applies to health insurance policies where the insured party may have to pay for their own care for a period of days prior to being eligible to make a claim against their insurance policy.waiting period

The waiting period is often also referred to as an “elimination” or “qualifying” period, and is usually designed to balance the risk on a policy so that for short-term incapacity the individual can make reasonable provision for their own care and for long-term incapacity the insurer will step into the breach and make payment for that care.

What effect does the waiting period have on me?

Firstly, it’s important to know that the longer the waiting period defined in your insurance policy the lower your premiums are and vice-versa. While it is understood that you as a policy holder will be seeking the lowest premiums possible, it is essential to take into account that you will be liable for all the costs incurred during a waiting period – so if you do not have sufficient financial provision to do so, you would be effectively uninsured.

You must balance the waiting period against premiums so that you find a reasonable level of coverage where you would be able to make sufficient payments from your own pocket to cover that waiting period – or risk not being able to claim at all on your insurance, in that case your premiums will have been wasted.

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What’s the normal waiting period on an insurance policy in the United States?

For most policies that deal with long-term medical care and respite care, the typical waiting period would be 90 days. That means in the instance that you make a claim you will have to have paid for the first three months of care yourself.

While it is possible to obtain much cheaper policies with extended waiting periods above 90 days, it is unlikely to provide much benefit to the policy holder as there is a substantial risk they will not have sufficient funds to pay for care under the longer waiting period.

What is the waiting period on my insurance policy?

You’ll need to check your insurance contact to find out this information, or contact your insurance agent or broker if it’s not clear.

Additional Waiting Period Definitions

  • Wikipedia – waiting period is the period of time between when an action is requested or mandated and when it occurs.
  • Investopedia – The period of time between filing a registration statement with the SEC and the registration statement being declared effective by the SEC. Also known as the “quiet period” and the “cooling-off period”.
  • Reference.com – the required delay between the date of inception of a claim and the date on which the indemnity becomes payable, as in workmen’s compensation insurance or unemployment insurance.