Most people pay attention to life insurance that covers them and their family members in case of a terrible accident. However, like many people, doctors have a much greater probability of suffering from a disability that impedes their ability to work than from dying prematurely.
In such cases, a very small percentage of people have the necessary financial resources to fund their disability. However, that’s exactly what disability insurance is for.
If you’re a doctor or learning to become one, disability insurance is a must. Even though purchasing high-quality disability insurance has never been a quick and easy process, you can find all the information you need in this article.
About disability insurance
First things first, let’s take a closer look at the definition of disability insurance.
Disability insurance is a special type of insurance that provides financial support to individuals who cannot work due to an illness or injury. Long-term illnesses, accidents, and other disabilities can easily take one’s career and financial stability. In such unfortunate circumstances, it’s crucial to have insurance that’ll cover the loss of income.
Therefore, disability insurance is crucial for establishing financial security to protect yourself and those who depend on you.
While many workers often overlook disability insurance, it can replace a regular income and provide financial stability if an individual loses income due to an injury or disabling accident.
Why is disability insurance important for doctors?
Now that you know more about disability insurance, why is it so important for doctors to have this kind of insurance policy?
As a doctor, having disability insurance is one of the most important aspects of maintaining financial security. After investing a lot of time, money, and effort into medical school and premium training, a doctor’s career largely depends on the ability to perform specific tasks and duties.
Because of that, becoming a doctor is the ultimate personal investment since the most valuable asset in this field is within the doctor – proficient knowledge and skill.
However, 1 in 4 people become disabled before retiring, putting many doctors at risk.
If an unfortunate event takes place and a doctor suddenly loses the ability to perform the demanding tasks required from this professional position, the consequences could be quite serious. Job loss is a possible outcome, which puts the affected doctors in a difficult situation.
Income loss comes together with job loss, so losing financial stability can happen in a blink of an eye. Unlike other careers, even the slightest health changes can drastically affect the doctor’s ability to work, which is why disability insurance is so important.
Disability insurance for doctors provides financial aid as it replaces the income for doctors who cannot work because of an illness or injury. If you become disabled, monthly paychecks provided by disability insurance will give you the much-needed financial stability.
It can save you from a lot of stress and grief over losing your career and planned finances.
Short vs long-term disability insurance
Doctors can choose from short and long-term disability insurance policies. They come with different features to cover different health conditions and disabilities.
The key difference between short and long-term disability insurance is how these two policies define and approach disability and, naturally, how long they’ll provide financial support to doctors who can’t perform their regular tasks and duties. If you become ill or injured, the policy’s definition of disability will be crucial for any occupation, let alone doctors.
Here, you can learn more about the short and long-term disability insurance policy details.
Short-term disability insurance
Short-term insurance lasts between three and six months in most cases. It typically begins a week after the disability occurs. When it comes to doctors, short-term disability insurance can cover:
- Back injuries
- Accident injuries
Childbirth or maternity leave is among the most common reasons for taking short-term disability insurance. This insurance type usually replaces 50% – 80% of the doctor’s regular income during the 3–6 month coverage period.
Some factors that determine the premium for short-term disability insurance are:
Many doctors and other medical workers have short-term disability insurance included in their benefits packages, but what if short-term coverage isn’t enough?
Long-term disability insurance
Once short-term coverage ends, injured and ill doctors who didn’t recover can benefit from long-term disability coverage. Therefore, long-term disability insurance kicks in only six months after the disability occurs or when the benefits of short-term disability stop.
Some common disabilities that can affect the job performance of doctors are:
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Mental health disorders
- Childbirth complications
In most cases, long-term disability insurance covers 60% of the doctor’s annual gross income. That way, doctors can receive the full amount of their take-home pay with this type of insurance. Additionally, long-term insurance can cover doctors until they’re 65, when the income is replaced with a retirement program.
Because serious injuries can cause serious damage, doctors can be prevented from performing their regular job duties for months, years, or even the rest of their careers. In such cases, long-term disability is the only solution to maintain financial stability with regular income.
Finding the best disability insurance policy
Finding the best disability insurance for doctors is a time-consuming and demanding process, but you must complete it with a lot of focus, caution, and attention to detail. Since the type of insurance policy you choose affects what kind of benefits you can receive in case of an accident, it’s essential to fully understand what your policy includes.
To make things easier, we’ll go through some of the key features a doctor’s disability insurance policy should include. That way, doctors looking for quality disability insurance can easily understand the different features of an insurance policy and ensure they’re getting the most out of their plans.
All long-term disability insurance plans come with an elimination period. The elimination period, also known as the waiting period, is the total amount of time you have to be disabled before you begin receiving the benefits from the insurance policy.
The elimination period is 90 days in most cases, but it can range anywhere between 60 and 365 days.
Shorter elimination periods increase the cost of the policy, while longer elimination periods lower it. Each doctor can choose the elimination period by themselves, depending on personal preferences and financial situation.
If you’re looking for a plan that’ll pay out the benefits as soon as possible, choose the shorter elimination periods. However, if you want to save some money on your premiums, longer elimination periods are a better option. Just make sure you’ve got enough emergency funds to cover the expenses before your benefits kick in.
Maximum benefit period
Most policies come with a maximum benefit period which is measured in years or until a doctor reaches a certain age. Benefit periods range between two and ten years, or they can expire at age 50, 67, or 70. Extended benefit periods are available, but they’re significantly pricier. Most medical workers choose 65 as their maximum benefit period, as this is the time when retirement plans become available.
As a doctor, it’s important to choose the maximum benefit period you’re most comfortable with. Even though most doctors recover from accidents in a short time, most disabilities are caused by chronic illnesses that last a lifetime.
Choosing riders, or coverage add-ons, is a handy way to customize disability insurance plans to perfectly fit doctors’ insurance needs and requirements.
There are countless riders available to doctors. Nevertheless, it’s essential to know which ones are valuable to medical workers and which ones aren’t. Since this section covers plenty of useful information, we created a section that focuses on four riders that are most helpful to doctors and other medical professionals.
When to purchase
Most doctors don’t think about investing in disability insurance before noticing some health issues. However, accidents and other sudden events doctors have no control over are impossible to predict, so there’s always a chance of becoming disabled without having insurance.
To avoid that, you should invest in disability insurance as soon as possible, which is as soon as you can afford the monthly insurance payments. For most doctors, this is around the beginning of their residency.
If you haven’t invested in disability insurance yet, it’s still not too late. The best timing for getting disability insurance is when you’re healthy and before getting disabled.
The amount of needed coverage
The primary goal of disability insurance is to replace your post-tax income. However, the coverage you need can vary depending on your living situation.
For example, if you’re married to someone who has above-average earnings, you may not need to replace all your income with insurance.
However, if you’re the main income provider in your family and several people are relying on you, it might be a better idea to get full coverage from disability insurance.
Therefore, you need to carefully assess your financial position and foresee how the loss of income will influence your family.
The importance of riders
As already mentioned, riders are among the key disability insurance policy factors. Because there are so many riders doctors can choose from to include in their disability insurance policy, this feature deserves its own section.
Each policy related to disability insurance for doctors is unique because of the numerous riders that can be customized to fit personalized needs. The choices for doctor coverage add-ons are limitless, but there are four key ones all doctors should consider.
Free disability riders
Medical worker or not, you’ll want to take all disability riders that come at no extra cost. It will give you various perks at no additional cost, and you’ll be able to take advantage of different features such as guaranteed renewable, eliminated waiting periods, a waiver of premium, and others.
Find out which free disability riders different companies offer, and make sure to include all freebies into your plan.
Future purchase option
A future purchase option allows doctors to purchase more disability insurance sometime in the future. For young doctors who are still paying off their medical school student debt, this approach allows them to improve insurance plans once they start earning more.
Residual disability is a rider that covers all employees who can’t do a part of their job. For neurosurgeons and other specialists involved in specific tasks, this might come as a useful benefit.
This rider adds retirement contributions. Since these contributions are placed in a taxable trust, this rider isn’t as useful for other professions as for doctors.
The cost of disability insurance for doctors
By now, you probably get an idea of how complex disability insurance is since it involves multiple different factors. The cost of disability insurance isn’t identical for doctors as many unique properties determine the final price. The most important ones include:
- Age – the younger you are, the healthier you are, so plans cost less.
- Occupation – surgeons and other specialists are more likely to suffer from a disability because of the specifics of their job in comparison to GPs.
- Income – disability insurance costs around 1-3% of annual salary.
- Health – the healthier you are, the lower your cost will be.
- Medical history – risky medical conditions increase the disability insurance rates.
- Coverage amount – how much money you invest every month in disability insurance.
- Benefit period – the total length of insurance payments.
- Features and benefits – special features, benefits, and riders increase the final cost.
- Discount – training discounts range between 10% and 40% for disability insurance policies.
- Location – doctors with identical parameters can have different costs depending on the country and state they live in.
Disability insurance for doctors is something all medical professionals should consider investing in. After so much time, money, and effort spent on medical school and training, doctors sacrifice a lot to be where they are after obtaining a degree.
Doctors are the most valuable assets of the medical industry due to their proficient knowledge and expert skills. With that in mind, all medical professionals should ensure they have financial security even if an injury or illness occurs that prevents them from saving other people’s lives.
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- American Economic Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from aeaweb.org website: https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.29.2.123
- Cornell University Library. (n.d.). Retrieved from ecommons.cornell.edu website: https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/77810