1. Disability Insurance
  2. Long Term Disability Insurance for Doctors - 2018 Report

2018 Report on Long Term Disability Insurance for Doctors

An analysis of long term disability insurance policies purchased by physicians and dentists

About the 2018 Survey

The LeverageRx 2018 Report on Individual Disability Insurance for Physicians and Dentists is the first survey and report aimed at providing clarity to doctors considering purchasing individual disability insurance. This report covers important factors in disability insurance sales, insurance product features and purchasing trends. The 2017 report is compiled from survey responses from independent disability insurance agents that specialize in serving the medical market. Collectively, these agents have sold over 1,600 long term disability insurance policies in the last 12 months and over 18,000 policies throughout their individual careers.

LeverageRx conducted this survey between May and June of 2018. In conducting this survey, respondents were asked to answer survey questions to the best of their knowledge.

The 2018 Survey Respondents

Collectively, the 2018 survey respondents have…

years of experience icon
An average of 14.9 years of experience selling long term disability insurance to doctors
sales icon
Sold over 1,600 disability insurance policies over the last 12 months
sales icon 2
Sold over 18,000 disability insurance policies over the course of their careers

2018 Report on Long Term Disability Insurance Findings

Click on a long term disability insurance topic to see the findings from the 2018 survey

timing icon
When doctors purchase
own occupation icon
Definitions of disability
elimination period icon
Elimination period
benefit period icon
Benefit period
residual benefit
Residual / partial benefits
COLA
Cost of living adjustment
student loan rider
Student loan benefits
catastrophic rider
Catastrophic benefits
exclusions
Modifications, exclusions and limitations
combo plans
Combination disability insurance plans
important features
Most important features ranked
other findings
Other disability insurance survey findings

Most doctors purchase disability insurance during training

In the 2018 survey, respondents were asked what percentage of all disability insurance policies sold were to doctors in the following career stages:

  • In training, but not in the last year of training (28.3 percent)
  • In the last year of training (27.1 percent)
  • First year of practice (15.6 percent)
  • Two or more years into practice (29.1 percent)

An estimated 55.3 percent of doctors purchased their policy during training while 44.7 percent waited until practice to obtain coverage.

career stage question
definition of disability question

Own occupation is an overwhelming favorite definition of total disability for doctors

In the 2018 survey, respondents were asked what percentage of all disability insurance policies sold contained an own occupation (or your occupation) definition of total disability.

An estimated 92.4 percent of all policies sold contained an own occupation definition of disability, while an estimated 7.0 percent contained a transitional occupation definition and only 0.6 percent of all policies sold contained an any occupation definition.



What does own occupation mean?

90-day is the most common elimination period

In the 2018 survey, respondents were asked to break down their long term disability insurance sales by elimination period.

An estimated 88.1 percent of all long term disability insurance policies sold to physicians and dentists contained a 90-day elimination period.

  • 60-day elimination period: 0.3 percent
  • 90-day elimination period: 88.1 percent
  • 180-day elimination period: 8.2 percent
  • 365-day elimination period: 3.4 percent
elimination period question
benefit period question

Longer benefit periods are more common than shorter benefit periods

In the 2018 survey, respondents were asked to provide a breakdown of their long term disability insurance sales by benefit period.

An estimated 92.3% of all policies sold to doctors contained a benefit period to age 65 or age 67.

  • 2-year benefit period: 1.2 percent
  • 5-year benefit period: 3.2 percent
  • 10-year benefit period: 3.3 percent
  • To age 65 benefit period: 66.4 percent
  • To age 67 benefit period: 25.9 percent

Almost all disability insurance policies contained a residual or partial benefit rider

In the 2018 survey, respondents were asked what percentage of all disability insurance policies sold contained a residual or partial disability benefit rider.

An estimated 95.9 percent of all policies sold to physicians and dentists contained a residual or partial benefit rider.

Of those policies that contained a residual or partial benefit rider, an enhanced residual rider was included an estimated 88.7 percent of the time, while only 11.3 percent had a basic residual rider.

What is a residual or partial benefit rider?
residual benefit question
COLA benefit question

When a Cost of Living Adjustment Rider is included, 3% is the norm

In the 2018 survey, respondents were asked what percentage of all disability insurance policies sold contained a cost of living adjustment rider, and were asked to provide the breakdown of those policies that contained a COLA rider.

An estimated 70.2 percent of all policies sold to physicians and dentists contained a cost of living adjustment rider.

Of those policies that contained a COLA rider, 92.2 percent were a 3 percent rider while only 7.8 percent contained a 6 percent cost of living adjustment in their policy.

How a cost of living adjustment rider works

Despite massive student loans, student loan benefit riders are not a core disability insurance feature for doctors

In the 2018 survey, respondents were asked what percentage of all long term disability insurance policies sold contained a student loan benefit rider.

Despite an average student loan debt of $180,723¹ and $262,119² for physicians and dentists, respectively, only an estimated 4.6 percent of all long term disability insurance policies sold contained a student loan benefit rider when it was available.

Of the survey respondents, 46.2 percent said that none of the policies that they sold over the last 12 months contained a student loan benefit rider.

Additionally, respondents ranked the student loan benefit rider as the least important feature for both doctors in training and practice (see the Most Important Features Ranked).

1 Association of American Medical Colleges, 2016 Medical Student Education: Debt, Costs and Loan Repayment Fact Card

2 American Dental Education Association

student loan benefits question
catastrophic benefits question

One third of long term disability insurance policies sold to doctors contain a catastrophic disability benefit rider

In the 2018 survey, respondents were asked what percentage of all long term disability insurance policies sold to doctors contained a catastrophic disability benefit rider.

An estimated 30.1 percent of all policies sold had a catastrophic disability benefit rider attached to the policy.

Agents were split as 61.5 percent said that 30 percent or less of the policies they sold contained a catastrophic disability benefit while 38.5 percent said that 61 percent or more of the policies they sold contained a catastrophic disability benefit.

Almost a quarter of all individual disability insurance plans include coverage from multiple companies

In the 2018 survey, respondents were asked what percentage of the policies sold were part of a combination plan, or where the overall disability insurance plan contained coverage from two different individual long term disability policies.

An estimated 21.6 percent of all long term disability insurance policies sold to doctors were part of a combination plan.

All agents surveyed had used a combination plan at least once in the last 12 months.

combo plans question
modifications question

Most doctors will still purchase a long term disability insurance policy with modifications and exclusions

In the 2018 survey, respondents were asked what percentage of the policies applied for contained a modification or exclusion from the insurance company.

Additionally, respondents were asked of those that received a modified offer, what percentage didn’t purchase the policy.

An estimated 17.8 percent of all long term disability insurance policies sold to doctors received a modified offer from the insurance company.

However, most doctors still purchased the modified policy as only an estimated 5.6 percent declined the offer from the insurance company.

Most Important Disability Insurance Features for Residents and Fellows

In the 2018 survey, respondents were asked to rank the most important long term disability insurance features for residents and fellows from the following list provided.

  • Company’s Financial Strength Ratings
  • Cost of Living Adjustment
  • Future Increase / Future Purchase
  • Non-Cancellable
  • No Mental / Nervous Limitation
  • Own Occupation Definition of Disability
  • Residual / Partial Disability Benefit
  • Student Loan Benefit

An own-occupation definition of disability had the highest average ranking of 1.43 while the student loan benefit had the lowest average ranking of 7.86.

rank residents and fellows
rank practicing physicians

Most Important Disability Insurance Features for Practicing Doctors

In the 2018 survey, respondents were asked to rank the most important long term disability insurance features for practicing doctors from the following list provided.

  • Company’s Financial Strength Ratings
  • Cost of Living Adjustment
  • Future Increase / Future Purchase
  • Non-Cancellable
  • No Mental / Nervous Limitation
  • Own Occupation Definition of Disability
  • Residual / Partial Disability Benefit
  • Student Loan Benefit

An own-occupation definition of disability had the highest average ranking of 1.50 while the student loan benefit had the lowest average ranking of 7.57.

Long Term Disability Insurance Survey Respondents

LeverageRx would like to thank the following people for their participation in this survey as well as those that wished to stay anonymous.

Adam Sandman
Adam Sandman
Physician Financial Services
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Allison Batt
Allison Batt
The BattDouglas Financial Group
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Andy Borgia
Andy Borgia
DI4MDs
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DK Unger
DK Unger
DI4MDs
Visit Website
Larry Keller
Larry Keller
Physician Financial Services
Visit Website
Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas
The BattDouglas Financial Group
Visit Website
Michael Relvas
Michael Relvas
MR Insurance Consultants
Visit Website
Pradeep Audho
Pradeep Audho
PKA Insurance Group Inc
Visit Website
Raymer Malone, CFP
Raymer Malone, CFP
High Income Protection
Visit Website
Robert Kaplan, CFP
Robert Kaplan, CFP
Kaplan Financial
Visit Website
Ryan Poindexter
Ryan Poindexter
MD Financial Services
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Scott Nelson-Archer
Scott Nelson-Archer
MD Financial Services
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Stephanie Pearson
Stephanie Pearson
Stephanie Pearson, MD
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