When we think of the financial impact of injury on a household, we usually assume that the primary breadwinner is the impacted party. After all, an injury, whether it is on the job or not, can mean lost wages and time, and the possible lack of skill. This impact can be even greater when the injury is permanent.
While it is important to address the financial impact of an injured breadwinner (since it ca can be so devastating), it’s important not to overlook the financial impact that a stay at home partner can have on the household. An injured stay at home parent might have a greater impact than you can imagine.
The “Worth” of a Stay at Home Parent
It’s difficult to quantify the “value” of a stay at home parent. Each year, Salary.com takes a look at what the average mom does, and breaks down the roles according to hourly pay that a similar job would receive in the “real” world. (Even though the breakdown focuses on moms, the reality is that it could apply to stay at home dads, too.) The 2013 version of the breakdown indicates that a stay at home parent “should” be earning a salary of more than $113,000 a year.
While you may not want to use a dollar amount to describe the worth of your stay at home life partner, you can think about the tasks that a stay at home parent accomplishes. How much would you have to pay for daycare if your partner was injured and couldn’t take care of the kids? How much would you have to pay for help cleaning the house or cooking meals? What would it take to make sure your children made it to school, appointments, and extracurricular activities?
When you think about the help your injured stay at home partner might need, suddenly you realize how costly it could be. Many single-income households work because, rather than paying someone else to take care of things, or scrambling to do it yourself on top of everything else you need to do for work, there is someone to take care of all those things.
Once that person is unable to complete his or her regular duties, it can get a little difficult financially. You might have to pay for mental health care and physical therapy, on top of hiring some help for your partner. Even if your partner manages to recover and get back on his or her feet, some of the damage might already be done.
Protect Your Finances
One way to help protect your finances from disability — even if it is a stay at home parent — is to get disability insurance. You can get coverage for a non-breadwinning partner, and receive an amount that can help you offset some of the other costs involved.
It’s also a good idea to talk to a personal injury attorney. He or she can help you assess the situation, and figure out how to best protect your family’s finances. And if your partner ends up with a debilitating injury, it makes sense to find out how much you can expect in compensation if you decide to seek some sort of reparation. A personal injury attorney can help you determine that information as well, backing you up if the insurance company balks at paying, or if you have other questions about how to get back what’s fair.