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Cardiologist Disability Insurance: Protect Your Medical Career

cardiologist checking a child's lungs

Cardiologists are one of the highest-paid and most respected physician specialists. But what would happen if they suddenly lost the ability to practice cardiology?

Although most people would rather pretend they will never fall victim to tragedy, the prudent prepare just in case.

For cardiologists, the sudden loss of income could devastate their finances. They can protect themselves from these circumstances by investing in a comprehensive long-term disability insurance policy.

Are there any unique factors cardiologists should consider when purchasing one? This article will provide all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Why Cardiologists Need to Invest in Disability Insurance

You may be wondering if there is an actual necessity for cardiologists to hand some of their hard-earned money to an insurance company for a policy they may never use.

Keep reading to understand why cardiologists need to invest in disability insurance.

A Real Chance for Disability

According to the Social Security Administration, one out of every four 20-year-olds will become disabled at some point before retirement age.

If you knew that you had a 25% chance of losing your ability to keep working, wouldn’t you be willing to set a little aside to protect your finances?

That’s exactly what an individual disability insurance policy is for.

High Medical School Debt

Cardiologists spend many years in pre-med and medical school, learning all they can to become a professional in their specialty. It’s not free; 16% of them are still paying off student loans.

Should a cardiologist befall a disabling condition before they successfully pay off their student loans, disability benefits would cover these payments.

Employer-Provided: Not Enough

While most physicians will have employer benefits that come with their job, such as life and disability insurance, the fact is that their policies don’t provide enough disability insurance coverage.

Employer-provided policies have a weaker definition of disability, so there is a chance that you could be denied payouts from your claim simply because you aren’t disabled “enough” according to the terms.

This is because it isn’t considered an own-occupation policy, which would provide coverage if you can no longer perform your current occupation.

Also, these policies have monthly benefit caps, restricting how much you can ever receive. And, of course, if for any reason you change employers, these policies don’t follow you to your new position.

SSDI Not Even Close

The Social Security Administration has set up a system that helps disabled individuals to continue to have a means of living, but this system isn’t set up for high earners to maintain their lifestyle.

It is an emergency fund that will ensure disabled Americans don’t become destitute. However, cardiologists have worked too hard to barely scrape by with their small SSDI check.

Considering that the average cardiologist earns $507,000 per year, and the measly average SSDI payout is around $1400 per month, there is no comparison.

SSDI payments will in no way cover the living expenses of a cardiologist.

You Are Your Most Valuable Asset

Your skills and knowledge came at a high price. Remember the cost of student loans and the many years you invested into learning those skills.

Your brain and hands are valuable and should be protected.

This is especially true if you are in private practice. There is no way to keep your business afloat without your expertise and ability to continue seeing patients and/or performing procedures.

For this reason, a disability insurance plan should be an essential part of a cardiologist’s financial security.

How Is Disability Insurance Different for Cardiologists?


Disability insurance companies tailor some of their terms to specific policyholders. Although the application process is the same, cardiologists should seek a more comprehensive policy.

The best disability insurance for cardiologists has some specific details to meet:


While most high-earning medical professionals, such as dentists, know they should only settle for own-occupation coverage, cardiologists need to have this definition specified even further. The true own-occupation definition of disability needs to have some very particular language in order to provide the proper protection.

For example, there are subspecialties within cardiology that drastically change how they work and where they focus their energy.

Subspecialties Determine the Risk Factor

The three main subspecialties in cardiology include invasive, noninvasive, and interventional cardiology. Insurance carriers determine the cost of their policies according to where the profession falls on the risk factor scale.

Invasive and interventional cardiologists are much more involved in the procedural side of cardiology. If anything happens to their hands or arms, they won’t be able to perform their duties.

This would place them at a higher risk factor than noninvasive cardiologists. It also means that their policy definition of disability needs to reflect that so they don’t get denied disability insurance benefits if they hurt their hand(s).

Pre-Existing Conditions

Some plans are very strict on eligibility based on medical history. It’s crucial for cardiologists to check the terms for pre-existing medical conditions.

If you are aware of these factors, it’s best to present them upfront. If your condition makes you ineligible, you still have options.


A Guaranteed Standard Issue policy (GSI) is what you should apply for when you know you have pre-existing medical conditions. These have no medical underwriting involved in the application process.

GSIs are offered at unisex pricing, making it great for females since they generally pay higher premiums.

It is individual coverage reserved for larger residency programs or employers. Ask to see if you are eligible when you get a quote.

Might Be Eligible for Discounts or Special Offers

Some insurance carriers offer discounts or special offers to certain specialists. For example, Guardian provides cardiologists the Preferred Occupation Discount, giving you 10% off your premiums.

They also offer special limits for new cardiologists, with up to $7,500 per month for fellows. Some cardiologists can also take advantage of discounts from grandfathered agreements between certain agents and their associations or employers.

What Riders Should a Cardiologist Consider?

For cardiologists, the standard disability insurance policy should just be a starting point. To really amplify the protection offered by their disability plan, they need to consider some critical riders to add on.

The following three are the most beneficial for cardiologists:

Future Increase Option

This rider is especially important if you purchase your policy as a resident. It allows you to buy more insurance as your income increases.

Buying young allows you to get a better price on your premiums, but it also limits the amount of insurance you can buy. The future increase option solves this problem.

To learn more about the future increase option rider, read our full guide.

Residual or Partial Disability

The residual disability rider provides partial benefits should you be deemed partially disabled. This means that your disability may not make you unable to perform all of your duties, but it still limits your ability to work the same way that you used to.

For example, a back or leg injury may not make it impossible to perform procedures or surgeries, but it may limit the time you can spend standing.

This will put a physical cap on the number of procedures or types of procedures a cardiologist can complete on a daily basis, reducing their income.

A residual disability rider will come into effect and cover the amount of income you lost due to your limited abilities.

We’ve written a full article to help you understand the residual disability rider here.


FIO rider in disability insurance paperwork

Another rider especially beneficial if you buy young is COLA, or the cost of living adjustment. As time passes, so does the cost of living. The insurance plan you purchased years ago may not cover your living expenses in the present or the future. The COLA rider increases the benefits to reflect this increase in the cost of living.

Learn more about the COLA rider here.

Premium Costs for Cardiologist Disability Insurance

The cost of disability insurance for cardiologists depends on a lot of factors. To get an accurate estimate of a plan’s price, you need to get a quote from the top insurance companies.

Factors That Affect Your Premiums

Let’s discuss the factors that affect how much insurance companies will charge.


Generally, your disability insurance premiums will run between 1% and 4% of your income. This is a good starting point, but when you earn close to half a million per year, a 1% difference is over $400 a month.


Your age when purchasing your policy will also affect your premiums. As you can imagine, the younger you are, the better your rates.

As physicians get older, the chances of becoming disabled increase. Carriers consider you a greater risk and charge more to be covered.


For some policies, a medical examination is performed. Good health can earn you a discount. If you have a medical record of any pre-existing conditions, this could raise your premiums significantly or make you ineligible altogether.


General cardiologists are considered a low-risk occupation, so they pay lower premiums. Interventional cardiologists, on the other hand, are considered high-risk with higher premiums.


Insurance premiums for females are more expensive than for males in the beginning. However, as men get older, their policies get more costly.


Each additional rider you add to your policy will raise your premiums.

Elimination Period

A shorter elimination period costs more. If you want to save money, consider a longer elimination period.

Length of Benefits

The longer your benefit period, the higher the premium. The most expensive plan will cover you until you reach retirement age or older.

Consider Graded Premiums

Graded premiums start low and increase as time goes by. These policies can save you money if you plan to become financially independent before retiring.

Of course, this choice is personal, and the pros and cons of level and graded disability need to be carefully weighed. 

How Much Disability Insurance Should a Cardiologist Purchase?

Your monthly benefit payout should cover your monthly expenses. You’ll need to do a little math to ensure you’ll survive financially if you become disabled, whether it is long-term or just a few years. Consider your mortgage, car payments, groceries, gas, utilities, and miscellaneous spending.

Are you the breadwinner in a single-income household? You’ll want to get the maximum benefit.

Be sure your policy is guaranteed renewable and non-cancelable, with a waiver of premium rider. Although most disability insurance policies include these three stipulations, double-checking helps.


Cardiologists should not minimize the importance of purchasing a comprehensive disability insurance policy. Whether to invest in a disability policy or not isn’t the question.

The real question is how much, from whom, and what to include in your disability insurance policy.

Contact LeverageRx to find the best policy for your unique individual needs.