Because of the investment in training and the income they risk losing, it’s important for urologists to consider protecting their future earnings with a disability insurance policy.
It’s also important to examine several carriers and options to ensure you get the best coverage at the best cost.
Urologists are consistently rated across the major providers of physician disability insurance, with most classifying them as a 4 and one carrier classifying them as a 5.
However, the carrier’s occupational rating is just one of many factors that will determine how much you will pay for coverage. Below are some of the other determining factors.
Insurance is more costly for older individuals. Therefore, it is best for urologists to purchase when they’re younger in order to obtain the lowest rates.
In fact, if you’re a resident or fellow, you should consider buying an individual policy now instead of waiting until you’re in practice because your rates will never be more affordable. This is true even if you have coverage through a group plan because you will likely need an individual policy later.
Plus, as long as the individual policy you buy as a resident has a future purchase option, you can increase your coverage amount as your income increases. This option basically enables you to increase the amount of coverage at a future date without having to undergo additional underwriting.
Since disability insurance pays a percentage of your income, the more you earn, the more you will pay in premium. According to Medscape, urologists are among the highest-paid medical professionals, with an average annual income in 2017 of $400,000.
Some policies will pay out a monthly benefit if an injury prevents you from working at your normal job, but allows you to do other types of work that will nonetheless reduce your income.
Other policies, while charging less for premium, will not pay benefits if you are able to work in any capacity, even if your injury prevents you from working in your chosen field of medicine.
To get the most out of your disability insurance policy, you should ensure that it includes an own-occupation provision.
An own-occupation definition of disability means the policy will pay benefits if an injury prevents you from working as a urologist, even if you are healthy enough to perform other types of work, and even if you can work in another field of medicine. So long as your disability prevents you from working specifically as a urologist and a loss of income results, you will qualify for disability insurance benefits.
A policy without an own-occupation feature would not pay benefits so long as you’re able to work in some capacity, even if your new specialty or profession leads to a considerable loss of income.
This is important for urologists given that any other work in the field of medicine, be it teaching, research, or family practice care, will likely result in a considerable drop in income.
Disability policies include a waiting period — sometimes referred to as an elimination period — which is the period of time between when the disability occurs and when benefits are paid. For example, a policy with a 60-day waiting period would not pay benefits for the first 60 days after the insured becomes disabled.
The longer the waiting period, the less you will pay in premiums. Although you can find a policy with a waiting period of a year or even two years, a 90-day waiting period is considered optimal. This way, you don’t run the risk of wiping out your savings following a disability before benefits kick in. Also, many illnesses or injuries are temporary and may not last much more than a year.
When selecting policy benefits, you can often choose how long the policy will pay in benefits. The longer you receive payments, the more you pay in premium. Some policies will pay a monthly benefit for a pre-established period of time. Others will pay up until the insured reaches a certain age, typically 65. A few insurance companies have an option that will pay lifetime benefits, provided the insured remains disabled for life.
In addition to the above features and benefits, you should look for a physician disability policy that offers residual disability benefits.
This is generally defined as being able to perform one or more, but not all, of the material and substantial duties of your occupation, or being unable to work in your occupation for a set percentage of the time. This would mean that you can still practice urology but have to limit the type of or a number of procedures.
Residual disability benefits are triggered when the insured suffers an established percentage of income because of their disability. The benefit you receive under the provision is typically proportionate to your lost earning power.
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