As a dentist, you might not think of disability insurance too much. After all, your job is health-centered, and you likely take good care of yourself. However, disability insurance is something you absolutely need for a number of reasons, and you don’t just need disability insurance; you need the best disability insurance for dentists.
In fact, some of the reasons you may be hesitant to purchase disability insurance are the exact reasons you need it.
If you’ve been on the fence about shelling out for disability insurance, we’ve put together this in-depth guide to what it is, why you need it, and how to get the best disability insurance for dentists possible.
What is Disability Insurance?
Disability insurance comes in two main forms: Long-term disability insurance and short-term disability insurance. Both of those will be covered separately in this guide, but they do function mostly the same. Make sure you remember all of this when applying for disability insurance.
Both forms of disability insurance are designed to help you maintain your income in the event that you are no longer able to work.
While it may seem as if you can continue caring for your patients until retirement, there are a number of situations, even some basic parts of life, that you may benefit from disability insurance when you have to go through them.
What is Short-Term Disability Insurance?
Short-term disability insurance is the more basic form of disability insurance. It’s meant to cover disabilities that take you out of work for up to six months. This can mean certain injuries such as broken or damaged bones and ligaments you cannot work with, accidents that blind or deafen you, sicknesses that make work nearly impossible such as long-lasting Covid-19 cases, and even more positive things such as pregnancy.
This type of insurance kicks in quickly, but it doesn’t last long, and it doesn’t cover as many of your needs as long-term disability insurance does.
Also, we’ll talk more about this later, but short-term disability insurance might be a crucial transitional policy if something very serious happens.
What is Long-Term Disability Insurance?
Long-term disability insurance is just like short-term insurance, but it’s there to help with many longer-lasting disabilities. This can include things that require years of recovery, or situations where you may never work again, but you need money to hold you over until you reach retirement age.
Again, we’ll cover specifics later.
Why Should Dentists Get Disability Insurance?
As a dentist, you make an above-average income, don’t have to perform much manual labor, and don’t have to expose yourself to knowingly ill people like nurses and doctors do. So, why would you need disability insurance when you could use that money for something else?
Well, there are a lot of reasons.
First and foremost, you’re a high-income earner. You earn more than most people, and you have likely built a life that has more expenses than the average person. However, if you are unable to earn that money, the bills don’t go away, and you still have to maintain your daily life. If you don’t have something in place to do that, you can quickly burn through your savings and damage your financial state dramatically. Having the appropriate disability insurance policy to cover the duration of your condition is key to maintaining your financial state.
On top of that, you get up close and personal with a lot of people every day. While your patients may not be coming to you for help with a contagious illness, they may not even know they have something. With something such as Covid-19 or another intense contagious illness, you can be put out of work for weeks or even months without expecting it.
Not to mention, there are countless things that can happen to anyone; regardless of how safe their job is or how well they maintain their health. You can have a car accident, slip and fall on an icy day, or come down with a serious illness such as cancer that makes it impossible to work. You can’t control those parts of life.
Finally, what about your future parenting plans? The majority of dentists have their own practice. This is like being a business owner, and just like being a business owner, you have to show up to make money. There is no paid time off or maternity leave unless you save the money to afford it, or if you’re smart, you buy at least a short-term disability policy.
Disability insurance does accept pregnancy as a qualifying condition, and while it only typically lasts for six months, that means you can work the first trimester when it’s safe, and then transition to your disability insurance during the second and third trimesters when pregnancy symptoms start to really take their toll on you.
There are tons of reasons to purchase disability insurance as a dentist. You have a lot of income to protect, and while you’re not doing very dangerous work, anything can happen, or you might want to become a parent and need that protection for a more positive reason.
Which Disability Insurance is the Best Disability Insurance for Dentists?
Finding the best disability insurance for dentists is about a lot more than just reading a guide and getting pointed to an exact policy that meets everyone’s needs. The truth is a little less convenient.
While it’s not an answer that lets you quickly rush out to buy a specific policy with confidence, you need to buy a policy that is custom-tailored to meet your exact needs.
There are too many policies from different providers that handle the small details dramatically differently to recommend one specific plan for everyone. Every little detail of your lifestyle and needs must be covered before choosing a policy. At Policy Solver, we can help with this process, but we’ll cover it here for you to get a good idea of what each type of insurance offers and what you need to look for.
Is Short-Term Disability Insurance the Best for Dentists?
Short-term disability provides a number of benefits that are likely to be necessary at some point in your life. This makes it the most obvious option to choose. You pay well for it, but you’re also very likely to get some use out of it before you retire.
Here are the things it covers and how much it costs.
The Cost of Short-Term Disability:
On average, a short-term disability policy will cost you about 1% to 3% of your annual gross income. That’s not an unreasonable amount, but it is enough that you’ll notice.
The average payout per month in the event that you’re disabled is $1000. However, like a higher income earner, you’re likely to receive a considerable amount more than the average disability insurance recipient ((1)).
Considering this is the form of disability insurance you’re most likely to need, 1% or 3% of your income is not an unreasonable expense, and there are some policies that offer repayment clauses; allowing you to get your premiums back if you decide you no longer want the policy or you’re about to retire.
What Short-Term Disability Covers:
Short-term disability covers a wide variety of disabilities. Basically, anything that prevents you from working for anywhere from six weeks to twenty-six weeks due to injury, illness, or physical incapability is covered by short-term disability ((2))
This includes things such as long-lasting Covid-19, pregnancy, minor heart attack recoveries, injuries such as broken legs and other bones that prevent you from practicing, and various other things.
How Long Does Short-Term Disability Take to Kick In?
Short-term disability doesn’t take long at all to start providing benefits. Once you file a claim with your insurance provider, you can expect your first payment within two weeks. This is a huge difference compared to long-term disability that can months, or even more, than a year to be approved.
Is Short-Term Disability a Good Option for Dentists?
Short-term disability insurance is definitely a good option for dentists and practically everyone else. It’s likely to be used at some point, it doesn’t cost a large percentage of your annual income, and it’s flexible enough that it doesn’t require a dramatic incident to provide benefits.
Overall, short-term disability insurance is among the best disability insurance for dentists, and as long as you get the right policy, you are highly unlikely to regret buying it.
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Is Long-Term Disability Insurance the Best Disability Insurance for Dentists?
Long-term disability insurance is supposed to be used to provide income when you’ve suffered an injury or illness that will last a year or more. These tend to be very serious health issues, and some people stay on long-term disability insurance until they retire.
Let’s look at some of the details regarding long-term disability insurance.
The Cost of Long-Term Disability Insurance:
Long-term disability insurance typically costs the same amount as a short-term disability at 1% to 3% of your gross annual income. However, it may cost a bit more if you are predisposed to certain illnesses, or if you add certain features like a return on the premium feature ((3))
In comparison, long-term disability insurance tends to pay more than short-term disability, and it can pay as much as 100% of your lost income up to retirement.
Also, keep in mind that your premium costs can increase as you age and become more likely to become disabled.
What Does Long-Term Disability Cover?
Long-term disability’s focus on more long-lasting conditions makes it a bit more comprehensive than short-term disability. If you suffer a stroke that takes years to heal from, develop cancer cells, experience extreme chronic back pain, or anything else that prevents you from working for more than a year, you will most likely qualify for long-term disability benefits. You can see the exact conditions covered in our various other guides.
Long-term disability can last anywhere from a year to the day you reach the official retirement age. As of now, that is 65, but the number is adjusted occasionally to accommodate longer lifespans and other factors. At that point, you’re expected to switch to your retirement plan or social security.
How Long Does Long-Term Disability Take to Kick In?
Long-Term Disability takes a considerable time to be approved. After all, the insurer will be making fairly large payouts every month for a considerable amount of time, and they’re going to want to make sure it’s necessary.
This approval process might take a full year from the time you make a claim. Now, this is where short-term disability comes in again. If you have both policies and develop a long-term disability, you can use your short-term disability policy to cover your income for up to a full year to get you by until your long-term disability kicks in.
Is Long-Term Disability the Best Disability Insurance for Dentists?
Long-term disability is hopefully something you’ll never have to fall back on, and you can simply use a return on a premium feature to get your money back. However, you may end up needing it, and it’s that possibility that makes it essential.
You’re a high-income earner, and if one of these serious long-lasting disabilities develop within you, your entire life can change as you struggle to bring in money and maintain the lifestyle you rightfully earned.
So, long-term disability insurance may not be used within your lifetime, but it’s important to have it as a protective measure. You simply earn too much to risk losing it all to a sudden diagnosis that changes your life forever.
How to Find the Best Disability Insurance for Dentists
As we said, there’s no one-size-fits-all option when it comes to disability insurance, and while there are two main options to choose from, you can benefit greatly from either of them.
Instead of just buying whichever plans you can afford and calling it a day, contact Policy Solver. We can walk you through our massive network of insurers and find the perfect disability insurance policies to meet your needs and protect your lifestyle as a high-income dentist.
Don’t wait until a disability ruins your life. Protect yourself today with Policy Solver.
1: Taken from Trusted Choice, 02/18/2022, https://www.trustedchoice.com/disability-insurance/group-disability-insurance/voluntary/short-term-cost/
2: Taken from Policy Advisor, 02/18/2022, https://www.policyadvisor.com/disability-insurance/what-is-short-term-disability-insurance/
3: Taken from World Financial Review, 02/18/2022, https://worldfinancialreview.com/how-much-does-long-term-disability-insurance-cost/