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Individual Disability Insurance for Doctors

You chose medicine as a career to help people and make a difference. But what happens if you can’t practice medicine — whether temporarily or permanently — due to an accident or illness? What happens to the financial obligations you’ve incurred and the income to fund the lifestyle you enjoy? If you’re fortunate, you won’t have to worry about that happening. But as a doctor, you deal with people who didn’t think accidents or illnesses would happen to them either.

Individual disability insurance is something most people should consider owning. For physicians dentists, and other high-earning medical professionals, this type of coverage is an absolute must-have. Here are seven reasons why doctors need physician disability insurance.

1. Disabilities Happen Every Day

Study after study shows 25 - 30% of American workers will endure some type of temporary disability during their careers that will prevent them from working. You may not have a dangerous job or lifestyle, but there are still a number of ways you could become too sick or hurt practice medicine. Here are just a few:

  • You could injure yourself in a recreational activity like skiing, playing basketball, or boating.
  • You could suffer a stroke that prevents you from some of the physical aspects of your practice, but still enable you to consult or teach.
  • Cancer treatment may prevent you from handling some or all of your medical duties.
  • A cardiac episode could keep you out of practice for several months or longer.
  • Chronic back pain, arthritis, or carpal tunnel syndrome could limit the number of patients you can see or how many procedures you can perform.
  • A severe car accident, fall, or burn injury could completely affect your ability to practice medicine.

The list goes on and on.

Get a free disability insurance quote comparison here!

2. Debt Isn't Absolved if You Become Disabled

Chances are you incurred a sizable amount of medical school debt. If you still owe money on those loans when you become disabled, that doesn't mean your debt will simply be forgiven. You will still have to find a way to pay. The same goes for homeownership. If you took out a physician mortgage to finance your home, you will still have to make your monthly payment even if you can’t work. Your credit card debt will also still need to be paid as well. An individual long term disability insurance policy can provide the income you need to continue making those payments if you can’t work or have a reduction in your income.

3. Your Income is Fragile

As a doctor, you have specialized skills that require exceptional cognitive abilities, complete vision, and full use of your hands. Lose any of these capabilities in any capacity and you may have to reduce your workload or even stop practicing altogether. The impact could be temporary or permanent. Long term disability insurance policies can cover a partial loss of income through a residual disability insurance rider. These riders provide features that will replace your income in the event that a disability causes a partial loss of income, but you are still able to work in some capacity.

4. Even a Partial Disability May Cost You

Think about what you would have to give up if a disability costs you, say, 25% of your income. If you earn $300,000 and suddenly had your income reduced by $75,000 due to a disabling event, could you still save for retirement? What aspects of your current lifestyle would you have to do without?

  • A vacation home?
  • A club membership?
  • Your football or theater season tickets?

The right individual disability insurance policy can make up the difference between your pre-disability income and what you lost because of an accident or illness.

5. Mental Health Counts

Physical disability isn't the only type of financial risk you should be mindful of. The stress of your profession, life circumstances, or the onset of mental illness can impact your ability to work as well.

According to the Council for Disability Awareness, mental health issues accounted for over 9 percent of long-term disability claims in 2018.

Needless to say, doctors are not immune to mental health issues. This is more apparent today than ever before as physician burnout continues to run rampant through U.S. healthcare. Fortunately, individual long term disability insurance typically provides benefits when mental disorders, breakdowns or abnormal stress affect your ability to work.

6. Individual Disability Insurance is the Most Comprehensive

Many people believe they can rely on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to financially help them through a disability. However, SSDI doesn't pay near enough to compensate a high-income physician or dentist. Likewise, workers' compensation only pays a fraction of your income. And even then, that's only if you’re injured on the job. Meanwhile, a group disability insurance plan offered by your employer will typically limit the amount you can receive in benefits. Those benefits will also be treated as taxable income. With an individual disability insurance policy, you can rest easy knowing you will be able to replace as much of your lost income as possible if tragedy strikes.

7. You Are Irreplaceable (if you own your own practice)

Many medical professionals own their own medical practice. If a disability keeps you from practicing for an extended period of time, your patients may find other providers by the time you return to work. For private practitioners who still need to keep the practices running if they become disabled, there is an option called business overhead expense insurance. Whereas regular disability insurance covers individual income, a business overhead expense policy will help cover monthly business expenses such as:

  • Rent
  • Taxes
  • Utilities
  • Maintenance
  • Employee salaries

Premiums for this type of insurance are considered a business expense which makes them tax-deductible.

Who Offers Disability Insurance
for Physicians?

Compare rates, features, and more from the best disability insurance policies of 2022.
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6 companies match your search(Reset all filters)
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States AvailableAK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KT, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
About

Ameritas Life is as reputable as any name in the insurance industry. However, it's actually a newcomer to the disability insurance space in comparison to its competitors. DInamic Foundation is its best disability insurance product for doctors. Policies are underwritten and issued by Union Central Life, its wholly-owned subsidiary.

Ameritas features a true own-occupation definition of disability. This provision benefits you if an accident or illness prevents you from practicing your specialty.

DInamic Foundation requires you to choose between non-cancelable coverage and guaranteed renewal. The maximum benefit period available is to age 70. Ameritas offers basic and enhanced residual disability riders. It also offers two different COLA riders.

Pros

  • True own-occupation provision.
  • Lowest premium amount.
  • Two COLA rider and residual disability options.
  • Various add-ons such a good health benefit, presumptive total disability benefit, COBRA premium benefit, partial disability benefit, and non-disabling injury benefit.

Cons

  • Slower customer service.
  • Lowest maximum policy benefit: $20,000 per month.
  • Must choose between non-cancelable coverage and guaranteed renewal.
  • For certain occupation classes, the own-occupation provision is only available for five years.

Read our full review of Ameritas's disability insurance policy.

States AvailableAK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KT, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
About

As one of the largest, most trusted mutual insurance companies in America, Guardian Life is the Cadillac of its industry. Its disability insurance product, ProVider Choice, is a great fit for doctors. Policies are underwritten and issued by Berkshire Life, a wholly-owned stock subsidiary.

According to Guardian, total disability occurs when injury or illness prevents you from performing your occupation. For doctors, more than half of your income must come from hands-on patient care or surgical procedures to qualify.

Guardian’s true own-occupation definition of disability guarantees full benefits. It still applies if you’re able to maintain gainful employment in another occupation. In fact, you may be able to benefit if you can still practice your specialty with major limitations.

Coverage is non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable to age 70. You may elect 10-year, five-year and two-year benefit periods. Guardian offers 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, 180-day, 360-day and 720-day elimination periods.

Unlike other providers, Guardian features three cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) rider options. As for residual disability, Guardian offers both basic and enhanced partial riders.

Pros

  • True own-occupation provision.
  • Highest COMDEX score: 99.
  • Highest maximum policy benefit: $20,000 per month.
  • Simplified underwriting for up to $7,500.
  • Various options for benefit and elimination periods.
  • Various options for COLA and residual disability riders.
  • Various add-ons such as an automatic benefit enhancement, benefit purchase option, catastrophic disability rider, hospice care benefit, serious illness supplemental benefit and student loan protection.

Cons

  • Highest premium amount.
  • No presumptive total disability benefit.

Read our full review on Guardian's disability insurance policy.

States AvailableAK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KT, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
About

MassMutual has been a mainstay in the insurance game since 1851. MassMutual offers two disability insurance products, Radius and Radius Choice. Both feature provisions and add-ons that allow you to customize your coverage to meet specific needs. MassMutual helps you protect your income and retirement without relinquishing payment control.

MassMutual features a true own-occupation definition of disability. However, the provision is not part of your base policy. You must purchase it as an additional rider. With this provision in place, ‘total disability’ occurs when you cannot perform the main duties of your occupation. This requires you to be under a physician's care.

Both Radius and Radius Choice are non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable to age 65. Radius is conditionally renewable for life, while Radius Choice is only until age 74. Both policies have benefit periods available to ages 65 and 67, as well as two years, five years and 10 years. Radius Choice also offers a maximum benefit period to age 70. Both policies offer elimination periods of 60 days, 90 days, 180 days, one year and two years.

MassMutual offers one cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) rider. After your first year of disability, your monthly benefit increases by a set percentage each year. MassMutual offers one option with basic criteria that increases your chance of qualifying.

Pros

  • True own-occupation provision.
  • Various add-ons such as an automatic benefit enhancement, catastrophic disability rider, future increase option, presumptive total disability benefit and student loan protection.

Cons

  • Own-occupation provision sold separately.
  • Only one COLA rider and residual disability rider option.
  • No benefit purchase option, hospice care benefit or serious illness supplemental benefit.

Read our full review on MassMutual's disability insurance policy.

States AvailableAK, AL, AR, AZ, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KT, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NE, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WA, WI, WV, WY
About

Ohio National’s disability insurance product is relatively new to the market. Still, it's among the best money can buy. ContinuON Income Solutions II allows you to customize your coverage without losing control of premium expenses.

Ohio National offers its true own-occupation provision as a rider. Regardless of occupation class, it does not come with your base policy. With Ohio National, total disability occurs when you're unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your specialty. To qualify, you must be under the care of a physician.

ContinuON Income Solutions II is guaranteed renewable on an annual basis. Coverage is non-cancelable as long as you consistently pay on time. Benefits periods include age 65, 67 and 70. Two-year, five-year and 10-year benefit periods are also available. Ohio National offers 60-day, 90-day, 180-day and one-year elimination periods.

Ohio National offers both a 3% and a 6% COLA rider. Policyholders may elect the basic or enhanced residual disability rider.

Pros

  • True own-occupation provision.
  • Excellent customer service.
  • Various add-ons such as a hospice benefit, survivor benefit and recurrent disability benefit.

Cons

  • Lowest physical and labs limit means simplified underwriting is only allowed for up to $3,000 per month.

Read our full review on Ohio National's disability insurance policy.

States AvailableAK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KT, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
About

Principal Life is among the most competitive providers in the disability insurance market. HH750 is an excellent option for doctors seeking a top-shelf disability insurance product. It features a wide variety of options that afford you maximum flexibility.

Principal offers both a true own-occupation and a modified own-occupation provision. A true own-occupation provision is the best bet for highly-skilled individuals like doctors. You benefit if you become unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your specialty. It still applies if you can maintain gainful employment in a different occupation.

Modified own-occupation is a watered-down version of the former. Frankly, it's only feasible if you’re cost is a concern. The definition of disability is the same, but you will not benefit if you can fulfill another occupation. Either way, both provisions are available as part of your base policy. You do not have to purchase an additional rider.

HH750 is non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable to age 65. Benefit periods are available to ages 65, 67 and 70, and for two years and five years. Principal features 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, 180-day and one year elimination periods.

Principal offers one cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) rider. After selecting a maximum benefit between 3-6%, it increases on a compound basis. Principal also offers one partial residual disability rider.

Pros

  • True and modified own-occupation provisions.
  • Advisor’s Choice Award for advisor support.
  • Available to those who only work 20 hours a week.
  • Simplified underwriting for up to $6,000 per month.
  • Various add-ons such as a benefit update rider, catastrophic disability rider, future benefit increase rider, presumptive total disability benefit, and serious illness benefit.

Cons

  • The modified own-occupation provision can be misleading. It can save you money now, but you will not receive as strong of benefits as true own-occupation.

Read our full review of Principal's disability insurance policy.

States AvailableAK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KT, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
About

The Standard is among the largest, most trusted providers in the disability insurance space. The company has several options, but Platinum Advantage is the most beneficial for doctors. It features built-in provisions and additional riders that maximize income protection.

The Standard's true own-occupation definition of disability is available as an additional rider. With this provision in place, ‘total disability’ occurs when you are unable to perform the substantial and material duties of your specialty. You must also be under the care of a physician to qualify.

Platinum Advantage is guaranteed renewable to age 67. To make your policy non-cancelable, you must purchase an additional rider. Benefit periods are available to ages 65 and 67, as well as two years, five years and 10 years. Elimination periods of 60 days, 90 days, 180 days and one year are available.

The Standard offers one cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) rider. After selecting a maximum benefit between 3-6%, it increases annually on a compound basis according to the Consumer Price Index. The Standard offers a basic residual disability rider.

Pros

  • True own-occupation provision.
  • Wide variety of options and strong coverage guarantee.
  • No-cost riders and benefits, such as the family care benefit.
  • Various add-ons such as an automatic increase benefit rider, benefit increase rider, catastrophic disability rider, family care benefit, premium waiver benefit, presumptive total disability benefit, student loan rider and survivor benefit.

Cons

  • Own-occupation and non-cancelable riders sold separately.
  • Only one COLA rider and residual disability rider option.
  • Lowest COMDEX score: 79.

Read our full review on The Standard's disability insurance policy.

Joel Palmer - Award-Winning Writer

Joel Palmer is an award-winning journalist, corporate copywriter, and marketing specialist with over two decades of professional experience. He writes compelling, authoritative, and original content for companies and organizations across a wide range of industries, from financial services and real estate to government and software development.

Disability InsurancePublished January 21, 2020
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