The 5 Best Disability Insurance Policies for Dentists in 2023
Dentists have more to lose than the average worker if they become too sick or hurt to work.
If you're considering purchasing disability insurance, here's our expert opinion on the top disability insurance companies for dentists and other dental professionals.
Dentists make more money than the average worker.
Unfortunately, that also means they have more to lose.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a dentist was $163,220 per year in 2021. Still, some dentists make double that, even more, if they specialize.
Now let’s look at the flip side of the coin. According to the Education Data Initiative, dentists carry a large student loan debt — an average of $292,169.
Then, add the mortgage, car payments, and daily living expenses to that number. Oh, and don’t forget that dentists have more financial obligations than the average person!
They can afford these because they earn more.
But what if a disability made them unable to work as a dentist? How could they pay their bills?
The answer is through a comprehensive physician disability insurance policy.
This article will cover:
- Why dentists need disability insurance
- Things dentists should know about disability insurance
- What to look for in a dentist disability insurance plan
- How much dentist disability insurance costs
- Where to find the best disability insurance policies
Key Takeaways: As high income earners, dentists are especially vulnerable if a situation arises in which they can no longer work due to a disability. One out of every four dentists is at risk of disability.
Solution: We’ve ranked the five best disability insurance policies for dentists. LeverageRx can walk you through the policy that best matches your needs.
Why Do You Need Dentist Disability Insurance?
To all you dentists out there, we don’t mean to get you down. We only wish good health and prosperity to you.
However, when making financial decisions for the future, it’s best to look strictly at the facts.
Here they are:
The Ontario Academy of General Dentistry published an article on why dentists should invest in disability insurance. This article quoted the ADA, stating that one out of every four dentists will become disabled.
Dentists face all types of disabilities.
Take a look at this breakdown of disabilities amongst dentists:
- Musculoskeletal disorders (27.6%)
- Neoplasms (15%)
- Mental disorders (9.3%)
- Cardiovascular diseases (8.2%)
Several other illnesses are also common in dentists. That includes arthritis, vision problems, neurological issues, and orthopedic issues.
And, as always, accidents happen. For instance, a dentist may slip and fall or get into a car accident, leaving them tragically disabled.
We’ve already touched on the amount of dental school debt faced by dental professionals.
The first statistic we quoted was for student loan debt in 2019. Just two years later, according to the American Dental Education Association, that number jumped to $301,583. We can only assume it will continue to rise.
How will a dentist pay their student loan payments if they become unable to work?
Then, tack on the mortgage and car payments along with other living expenses.
Learn more about dentist disability policy options by contacting us today!
Things Dentists Need To Know About Disability Insurance
Disability insurance is a product that makes many medical professionals scratch their heads.
Let’s talk a little about how disability insurance works.
Factors That Determine Eligibility
When shopping for disability income insurance, it’s helpful to know one thing in particular:
How the underwriting process determines your eligibility, benefit amount, and cost.
Here are some of the risk factors that come into play:
Regarding disability insurance, the sooner you purchase your plan, the better. After all, insurance carriers consider their clients with the mindset of “the younger, the better.”
Insurance providers won’t provide disability insurance coverage for someone who’s already sick. For this reason, many require that you undergo a medical exam before extending coverage.
They’ll also request that you disclaim any pre-existing conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes.
Your personal choices will also enter the equation.
The application will ask questions such as:
- Do you smoke?
- Do you do illicit drugs?
- Do you participate in risky activities like bungee jumping or cliff diving?
- Do you wear your seatbelt?
As we’ve already established, full-time general dentists make more than the average worker. Specialists like orthodontists make even more.
Of course, straight out of medical school, dentists make less, but as your income increases, so will your coverage eligibility.
Group Policy vs. Individual Policy
Long-term disability is often offered by your employer, but do you need an individual disability insurance policy as well?
Let’s highlight the difference between the two to help you decide.
Group Disability Insurance Policies
A group disability insurance policy is an offering from your practice, with the terms decided upon by the executives. This policy must be taken “as is.”
It’s not customizable to your individual needs. In fact, most group policies won’t cover your full needs, and your coverage ends if you change practices.
Individual Disability Insurance Policies
An individual disability insurance policy, on the other hand, is fully customizable to fit your needs. It’s also transferable no matter where you work, and you can adjust it as your needs and eligibility change over time.
Disability Insurance Occupation Class of Dentistry
Disability insurance companies classify occupations by risk, usually on a scale of 1-5.
Dentistry is often on the middle-high end of the risk spectrum. It’s typically a 3 or 4, depending on the insurance company and dentistry specialization.
This means that dentistry disability insurance will cost more than average.
What To Look For in a Dentist Disability Policy
As you begin shopping around for disability policies, you may discover that policies can range greatly in price and terms.
Should you go for the cheapest policy you can find?
How can you be sure that a policy will protect you when you need it most?
Below are some characteristics you should look for in a dentist disability insurance policy.
Reputable Insurance Companies
Smaller, unknown companies may indeed offer cheaper policies. Yet, they also often find loopholes around providing benefits when you need them.
These popup insurance carriers aren’t as reliable as the more stable carriers with a trustworthy reputation.
Later, we’ll overview five insurance companies known for providing reliable coverage for decades.
In fact, they set such a high standard in disability insurance that they’re respectfully called “The Big 6”, (the five detailed below plus Ohio National).
Disability policies vary greatly in features and terms. So you choose one that won’t fail you in times of need.
To do this, you must ensure that your policy meets certain criteria.
First and foremost, make sure you invest in a non-cancellable policy. It seems pretty straightforward, but this term actually means more.
For one, the insurance company can’t cancel the policy as long as the policyholder pays the premiums. Also, the rates cannot increase, just as the company cannot reduce the benefits.
These policies carry a higher premium. However, if you’re purchasing a policy while you’re still young and healthy, it’s well worth the extra cost.
The typical waiting period (also known as an elimination period) for disability claims is 90 days.
You can shorten this period, but it’ll cost you.
Do you have enough savings to pay your living expenses for three months? If not, getting a shorter waiting period may be your best option.
If you’ve managed to save up this amount of money, you can keep your premiums down by sticking with the longer waiting period.
Length of Benefit Period
A disability insurance policy will only cover the policyholder for a certain amount of time.
Some policies last only 2, 5, or 10 years but as a dentist, it’s best to choose a policy that covers you until retirement or until you turn 65.
The increase in premiums is minimal compared to the peace of mind you’ll have knowing you have financial protection until you retire.
Individual disability insurance policies work like a build-your-own policy. You can choose which riders (or additional provisions) you deem the most beneficial for your unique needs.
The most popular riders are:
If you remember one thing from this article, remember this:
You want to purchase an own-occupation policy.
With this rider, the definition of disability according to your policy terms is own-occupation disability. This means that you’ll fit the criteria for “disabled” if you can no longer perform your own occupation.
Some policies won’t consider you disabled if you can still work, just no longer as a dentist. Imagine paying your hefty student loan payments as a gas station attendant.
Partial Disability Rider
Another popular rider is that of partial disability.
Most policies require a policyholder to meet the criteria of total disability in order to pay them benefits. But with this rider, if you become partially disabled, you can receive partial benefits.
This is helpful if your disability makes it difficult — but not impossible — to continue working. For example, you may be unable to work as many hours or perform certain duties, reducing your income.
When this happens, your partial disability rider will kick in and make up the difference.
Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Rider
When you opt for the COLA rider for your disability policy, your monthly benefit amount will increase to cover the rising cost of living.
If you purchase a policy early, you may not claim disability until decades later. It’ll be much more expensive to pay for everyday necessities by this time. The COLA rider will help cover this extra cost.
Student Loan Rider
We’ve already discussed how much student loan debt dentists will face on average.
The student loan rider will pay for your student loans on top of your monthly benefits.
Of course, things will change if you become totally and permanently disabled. If that happens, you’ll be eligible for a student loan discharge regardless of disability coverage.
Future Insurability Rider
Also known as a future increase option, this rider allows you to purchase more disability benefits. Yet, the key benefit is not having to repeat any medical examination or underwriting.
Related: Do Dentists Qualify for Physician Mortgage Loans?
How Much Does Dentist Disability Insurance Cost?
Disability insurance typically costs anywhere from 1-4% of your income. But, of course, the cost of your premium will depend greatly on the amount of disability insurance coverage you choose.
Level vs. Graded Premium
A level premium will start higher but will remain consistent throughout the policy period. This is a great choice for when you purchase at a young age.
Graded premiums can start lower but will rise in cost each year.
Factors That Affect Your Premium
There are several factors considered in the cost of your policy, such as:
Your Coverage Amount
The more money you make, the more coverage you can get and the higher your premium will be since disability benefits paid out to you will be higher.
You can purchase more coverage as your income grows, although it will cost more. There’s no obligation to take the full amount of coverage available to you. If you would prefer to pay less, just get less coverage.
Length of Benefit
Most dentists choose a benefit length that covers them until they’re 65 or retire.
Now, it’s possible to extend your benefit length until you’re 67 or 70, but again, this will cost more.
Length of Waiting Period
Shorter waiting periods cause a higher premium. But they may be worth it if you cannot cover your living expenses for the typical 90-day waiting period.
The Riders You Choose
Each rider you add to your policy will increase your premium. That said, most policies come with free riders as well. One example is the waiver of premium rider, which states that you no longer have to pay your premium while disabled.
Top 5 Dentist Disability Insurance Companies
As promised, here’s our list of the top five insurance companies that offer dentist disability insurance:
Ameritas disability insurance checks off most of the boxes. Their definition of disability is own-occupation, which will cover you if you can no longer perform your duties as a dentist.
They also offer two COLA rider options, a future increase option, and a non-cancellable policy.
You can choose your benefit period up to age 70, and there’s a two-year maximum coverage on disability due to mental issues or substance abuse.
Ameritas is one of the most well-known insurance companies for disability insurance, and for a good reason.
For more information about this company, read our full review of Ameritas.
2. Guardian Provider Choice
Another great policy provider is Guardian. You can choose between Provider Plus or Provider Choice when enrolling.
Guardian provides top-of-the-line dentist disability insurance. They offer three different COLA rider options and a benefit period up to age 70.
Their total disability policy is unmatched. If you become totally disabled, you can still claim your maximum benefit, even if you’re working another job.
This company also provides student loan protection and the ability to increase your benefit amount every three years.
Unlike Ameritas, Guardian has no limitation on disability due to mental illness (except in Florida and California).
If you’d like to look deeper into what this company offers, read our full Guardian review.
Principal disability insurance really shines in its flexibility and customization.
Their policies can include:
- A COLA rider
- A future increase option
- A benefit period up to age 70
- Partial disability after the loss of 20% of your income due to disability
Keep in mind: they do limit the ability to claim disability due to mental issues to two years maximum.
4. The Standard
The Standard has two different disability insurance products. Both define disability as own-occupation, offer a benefit period up to age 70, and offer two COLA rider options.
They also offer a residual disability rider and an automatic increase rider that will increase your benefit amount each year.
If this sounds interesting, read more about The Standard’s policies.
Last but not least is MassMutual. This insurance company also offers two choices for policies; Radius and Radius Choice.
The main difference with this company is that their own occupation rider requires you to be under a doctor’s care. However, this may only require that you visit a doctor regularly.
The Radius policy offers a benefit period up to age 67. The Radius Choice offers up to age 70.
Learn more about MassMutual’s disability insurance policies.
Dentists should thoroughly consider purchasing a comprehensive disability insurance policy to protect themselves against becoming financially ruined by a disability.
Disability insurance benefits can allow dentists to continue to live financially secure lives, even if they can’t work.
We know that choosing the right policy can be hard.
That’s why we offer a free consultation with one of our insurance experts to help you in this process.
Talk to a LeverageRx disability insurance expert today via email ([email protected]) or phone (402) 915-2045.