Disability Insurance For Doctors

As a physician, your most valuable asset is your continued ability to perform the every day duties of your medical specialty allowing you to continue to work and earn an income.

4 years of school for an undergraduate degree, 4 years of Medical School and 3 to 7 years of residency/training… There is no other profession that requires as much schooling and training before one becomes eligible to work in their career. On average a physician isn’t eligible for a medical license until the ages of 28 – 33 years old. You need to protect your investment and purchase “own occupation/own specialty” disability insurance as soon as possible designed specifically for physicians.

Own occupation/Own Specialty means full coverage for any sickness or injury that prevents you from performing the material and substantial duties of your specialty and does not include a restriction on working in another occupation.

For example: Guardian’s definition for total disability is written as:

Total Disability or Totally Disabled means that, solely due to injury or sickness, you are not able to perform the material and substantial duties of your occupation.  You will be totally disabled even if you are gainfully employed in another occupation.

Currently only 6 disability carriers write policies containing this important definition: Guardian • Ameritas • Principal • The Standard • Ohio National • Mass Mutual.

Despite what you may have be told by your company or your agent, NO other companies or group policy currently writes this type of policy. The AMA, ACOG, ACP, AAFP, AAP, North Western Mutual, New York Life, UNUM, Sellers DI; offer a definition that reads like this:

The insured is totally disabled when both unable to perform the principal duties of the regular occupation and NOT GAINFULLY EMPLOYED IN ANY OCCUPATION.

This means that you cannot earn any other type of income and continue to collect your benefit.

If you are a doctor – and you want own specialty/own occupation disability insurance – you need to stick with Guardian, Ameritas, Principal, The Standard, Ohio National or Mass Mutual.

Protecting your most valuable asset isn’t cheap but some carriers offer discounts based on hospital affiliation or work location.  Be sure to inquire about ways to qualify for discounts as these discounts have been none to save physicians thousands over the coarse of their careers.

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Special Discount Available for Doctors of Florida Hospital

Florida Hospital Physician are now eligible to save 50% on premiums for individual long term specialty specific disability insurance.

The post Special Discount Available for Doctors of Florida Hospital appeared first on Doctor Disability Shop.

Northwestern Mutual Does NOT offer True Own Specialty Disability Insurance

Despite what your North Western Mutual Agent tells you – North Western Mutual Does not and has not offered a true own specialty policy in almost 2 decades.

Their medical occupation definition of disability contains the following language:

“The Insured is totally disabled when both unable to perform the principal duties of the regular occupation and not gainfully employed in any occupation.

This is not an own occupation/own specialty definition of total disability.  Why?  Because their policy limits total disability if you are gainfully employed in any occupation.  So why does North Western Mutual say it is?  Because North Western Mutual pushes their products on Doctors because they love Doctors as clients and they want you to buy all your financial products from them.  This is why they went as far as to name their totally disabled definition as the  “medical occupation definition of disability” but that’s just to lure you in when really it’s a definition that limits your benefit if you are working in any gainful occupation.

The fact is that if you are a doctor you must have Own Specialty/Own Occupation disability insurance.  And unfortunately you can’t get that from North Western Mutual but despite what you might hear out there you can still get it.  Guardian – Ameritas – Principal – The Standard – Ohio National – and Mass Mutual still offer it.  But you have to make sure your agent is quoting it, because a few of these carriers offer both the Own Occupation/Own Specialty/Regular Occupation riders as well as a Transitional Occupation/Not Engaged benefit.

Here’s an example from the Guardian company on how your definition of Totally Disabled should read in order to be considered a real Own Specialty plan:

The Insured is totally disabled “You are not able to perform the material and substantial duties of Your Occupation.”  “You will be Totally Disabled even if You are Gainfully Employed in another occupation.” 

You should clearly notice the difference between the Guardian definition and the North Western Mutual and as if that wasn’t enough information to make you consider another carrier here’s another.  North Western Mutuals rates are more expensive, you will save money for much better coverage by considering a policy from Guardian – Ameritas – Principal – The Standard – Mass Mutual- and Ohio National.


The AMA Disability Insurance plan is NOT True Own Specialty Disability Insurance

We’ve been working with physicians for more than a decade and we’ve researched and studied every sort of disability insurance policy available to physicians.  We’ve learned something about doctors and their understanding of disability insurance that is getting them in trouble with the policy they end up purchasing.  And we wanted to take a few moments to write about it in an effort to help get the word out so that we can limit the amount of physicians who end up using their disability policies only to learn then that it doesn’t protect them the way they thought it would.

Every Physician is aware that they are supposed to purchase “Own occupation” also known as “Own Specialty” disability insurance.  The understanding is that if you purchase a policy that an insurance provider is calling “own occupation” or “own specialty” you are getting a plan that will pay you if you suffer a disability that limits your ability to work in your specialty and will continue to pay you your FULL benefit amount should you do something else.  While its true that these policies exist, what you didn’t know is that in the insurance industry “own occupation” or “own specialty” can mean up to three different things and the AMA, ACOG, ACP, ACS, AAP, etc. all know that you do not know that.

Here’s why they get away with it.  Technically speaking, Own Occupation coverage means that so long as the insurance carrier recognizes your specialty as your occupation and they do not force you to go an work in another occupation then it’s OK if they advertise their product as being Occupation or specialty specific.  What you didn’t realize was that this does NOT mean you can go to work in another occupation and still be entitled to your full benefit or any benefit at all.  It simply means they won’t force you to go to work in another occupation but they will not pay you your full benefit amount if you are earning more than 15% of your prior earned income in another occupation.

Let’s take a look at an advertisement piece from the AMA.  Right from the AMA website (https:/lwww.amainsure.com/coverage-details/disabilitypro-insurance.html) “own occupation” Disability Definition:

Unlike some other disability plans, this plan contains a preferred definition of disability.  If you are unable to perform the duties of “your own medical specialty,” benefits CAN be payable for up to the age of 65.

Frankly reading that its no wonder why so many physicians end up with the AMA plan.  But here’s what your policy will say if you buy it through them:

Totally Disabled or Total Disability means: – Your COMPLETE inability to perform the substantial and material duties of your Current Occupation, AND you ARE NOT ENGAGED IN ANY OTHER OCCUPATION.

That definitely doesn’t sound like the “Own Occupation/Own Specialty” coverage you’ve heard about and it definitely doesn’t sound like what the AMA advertises to you on their website.

Don’t end up making the same mistakes that thousands of other physicians make simply because they are misinformed.  As of today True “own occupation/Own specialty” disability insurance can only be purchased individually and it can only be purchased through the following insurance carriers:  Guardian, Ameritas, Principal, The Standard, Ohio National, and Mass Mutual.

Just for comparison purposes, here is the same definition of total disability from the Guardian carrier to compare to the definition from the AMA:

Total Disability or Totally Disabled: means that, solely due to injury or sickness, you are not able to perform the material and substantial duties of Your Occupation.  You will be Totally Disabled even if you are Gainfully Employed in another occupation.  

Its a big difference and we want to see doctors stop getting the wrong plan simply because of how cheap and easy it is to obtain coverage through the AMA.  Call us at 888-400-0262 for more information.

2 Great Disability Insurance Riders

2 Great Disability Insurance Riders

As a doctor, you don’t like to think about the possibility that you could ever be disabled, or even lose the ability to work in your chosen specialty. But to work as a doctor is to see this happen every day in the lives of other people. If an accident or illness were to happen to you, would your disability insurance protect you and your family? Which disability insurance riders are best for you?

Disability insurance riders can modify your existing policy to increase or decrease your premiums and benefits. For instance, including a rider called the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Rider. COLA increases your disability benefit annually once disabled to help keep up with rising inflation. You have two Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) options to choose from: compounded or simple interest. Policies with this rider help prevent inflation from taking a bite out of your disability income.

Another great rider is the Future Increase Option (FIO). It guarantees your future medical insurability as your income increases. It is also available if you lose employer-provided group disability. With some carriers FIO guarantees rate structure, occupational class, and policy definitions of your original contract. Rates are based on attained age.

Disability insurance for doctors can be confusing. It’s sometimes tough to decipher exactly what’s covered in a policy, and what isn’t. Some doctors discover too late that the disability policy they had been relying on didn’t offer the protections they imagined. Don’t be one of them! We can help you find a true “own specialty” disability policy that protects your income and your freedom of choice. Why let a restrictive disability policy dictate whether or not you can work — especially when there are much better options available? Let us show you what true “own specialty” disability policies and available riders are available for you. We think you’ll agree that true “own specialty” disability insurance is the way to go.

Are There Recovery Benefits with Disability Insurance?

Financial Advice for Doctors

Disability Insurance is an important way to protect yourself and your family from going into an economic crisis in the event that you become disabled or ill. These insurance programs pay out a cash benefit while you are unable to work. However, if you are concerned about your ability to get back on your feet after you return to work, you may be interested in looking at a recovery benefit rider with your disability insurance. This will allow you to continue collecting a cash benefit while progressing through your recovery, even after you have returned to work. Whether you’re a pediatrician, dentist, or a plastic surgeon, disability insurance including recovery benefits is a great option to consider.

What Are Recovery Benefits?

It’s important to realize that it can take some time to rebuild your earnings after you’ve returned to work full-time following an accident, illness, or injury. That’s why it’s good to look for recovery options that will continue to pay your partial monthly benefit amount while you rebuild your income and your ability to work.

Recovery benefits are considered a residual disability benefit that is paid following a period of total disability. The employee will have returned to work on a full-time basis, but they may still be experiencing a loss of income as a direct result of the illness or debilitating injury. It is important to fully understand the benefit period that is available for recovery benefits, as having the least restrictive benefit will be essential in ensuring that your income is adequately protected.

If you are self-employed, consider the impact of closing your business for several months while you recover from an accident or illness. Even after you reopen your business on a full-time basis, your profitability is likely to have been reduced greatly. This loss of income after your period of total disability can continue on for months or years, and it may never return to the level that you experienced before your disability.

What is the Difference Between Total and Partial Disability?

Another important distinction to consider with recovery benefits is the difference between total and partial disability. Total disability refers to the inability to perform at least one of the material and substantial duties of your specialty, while partial, or residual, disability means that you are only able to work in a reduced capacity but still able to perform all the material and substantial duties of your specialty. This can lead to working partial days and only bringing in partial earnings.

Investing in disability insurance with residual benefits is a great way to protect yourself and your family.  If you are interested in discussing these options and how they might be able to benefit you, contact your physician insurance agency today.

Financial Advice for Doctors

Are There Recovery Benefits with Disability Insurance?

Preparation is key in the life of a medical professional. Doctors spend their college years preparing for exams, their years in residency preparing for patients, and by the time they arrive at their working years, it’s time to start preparing for retirement. Some doctors experience financial turmoil as young adults, accumulating loans and bills as they make their way through medical school. When they finally achieve their goals and the money starts flowing in, it’s easy to see why they wouldn’t want to immediately shift the focus from their present to their future, but this has the potential to be a costly mistake.

Many doctors don’t enter their respective fields until their early to mid-thirties. That means working professionals who didn’t receive a graduate education have been saving for retirement for 5 to 10 years before doctors even get the chance to start. So, when they do begin to think about retirement, the best financial advice for doctors is this: seek professional counseling.

Medical professionals can begin to build savings plans on their own, but should definitely consult with a professional about long-term savings and retirement plans. The future is unknown, and a professional can assist with creating savings plans in the case of injury or long-term disability, as well as building a retirement savings plan that will guarantee that doctors can continue to live the lifestyle they’ve become accustom to.

The last thing you want is to work for 8 to 12 years on your education and training, only to find yourself disabled and out of money and options several years later. No matter what your specialty or your training level, whether you’re a dermatologist, a dentist or a surgeon, there is disability insurance out there for you. Own specialty disability insurance for surgeons, ER doctors, and all other types of physicians, ensures that you get paid for not being able to practice the specialty you trained for in school. A professional will council you on exactly the disability insurance you should invest in, as well as provide some important tips for reaching your long-term retirement goals.

One of the benefits to being a doctor is the living that comes with it. Improper financial planning could result in a retirement fund that runs dry long before it is supposed to. A financial professional or insurance expert will know exactly how much money you will need to invest in potential emergencies, and how much you should invest in your future so that you can adequately plan ahead. Your golden years after working as a doctor are well-earned. Few can appreciate the relaxation of retirement as well as a physician who spent the greater part of his or her life working long hours on challenging cases. Make sure your golden years don’t turn sour, start saving for retirement and have disability insurance in case of emergencies.

What Every Physician Should Know About Disability Insurance

What Every Physician Should Know About Disability Insurance

Traditionally, physicians are a financially conservative group. They ensure that life and health insurance are securely in place, manage investments wisely and plan for a golden retirement. However, more often than not, they may unwittingly put themselves in harm’s way by overlooking or under-planning for the ramifications of a disabling illness or injury.

What if you could no longer perform surgery? What if your eyesight started to fade or you were confined to a wheelchair? Statistics show that 1 out of every 3 people will be disabled for 90 days or longer and one year of disability could wipe out 10 years of savings. Disability doesn’t just happen to “Other” people. A disability is simply defined as a sickness or injury that interferes with your ability to work.

Purchasing good individual disability coverage is important in protecting your most valuable asset, your ability to practice medicine and earn an income. You want to have contracts that can never be changed or premiums that can never be increased. The definition of a good contract will read; if you can not perform the material and substantial duties of your specialty, benefits will be paid. With good disability insurance contracts if you couldn’t perform your specialty because of an injury or sickness and you engaged in any another occupation you would still receive your monthly benefit. Even if you were making a higher income in your new occupation, you would still receive your monthly disability benefit. Most good disability contracts will have extra policy riders you can purchase. Riders that would allow you to increase your coverage later in life regardless of your health. A residual rider that would pay benefits in the most realistic claim scenario of being partially disabled but still working in your own occupation. A cost of living rider ensures that if you were to go on claim your benefit would increase every year to keep pace with inflation.

Don’t rely on Social Security, group coverage or your professional association’s coverage. Many group policies are structured with loopholes and nit picking provisions. To qualify for Social Security, you must be completely disabled with no hope of recovery for a period of at least one year, or have a disability expected to end in death. You must also be unable to do any kind of work, not just your job. The majority of people who apply for Social Security disability are denied. Group coverage and professional association coverages may protect your “Own Occupation or Specialty” but only for 2 or 5 years. After 2 or 5 years your policy definition will switch to any occupation based on your education, training and experience. If the insurance company feels you can do some sort of reasonable occupation based on education, training or experience, benefits will cease. Other group and association coverage’s read that if you can not perform the material and substantial duties of your regular occupation and you are not engaged or performing any occupation for wage, remuneration or profit benefits will be paid. Insurance companies know from claims statistics that most claims involve partial disability where individuals are still working in their own occupation or in another occupation. In both group contracts and association contracts your benefits would be limited. Premiums also generally increase every 5 years with association coverage.

Most individual disability contracts in New Jersey can be purchased at discounted rates of 15%-50%. This could mean thousands of dollars in savings over the course of your career. In one example we were able to save a physician over $220,000 in premiums over her career.

It is very important that you work with a professional who works primarily with physicians and disability insurance. Someone who can show you comparisons of all the insurance companies that write disability insurance for physicians.

Why Physicians Should Look For Disability Insurance Outside of the American Medical Association

Why Physicians Should Look For Disability Insurance Outside of the American Medical Association

If you are a physician then chances are you have received solicitation from the American Medical Association (AMA) to purchase disability insurance using their name through US Life.

Remember from all our other blogs that the Physicians and Dentists purchase disability insurance more than any other white collar professional. This is because you have been told that you need to purchase own occupation or own specialty disability insurance and you are looking for a disability contract that covers your abilities in your specific specialty, not just your ability to work.

The American Medical Association through US Life does not offer the type of own occupation/own specialty disability insurance that physicians are looking for, but they will never tell you that.

Here is what we have learned about the AMA sponsored plan through US life:

  • Their definition of disability is by far one of the worst available in the industry
  • For 60 months totally disabled or total disability means your complete inability to perform the substantial and material duties of your current occupation beyond the end of the elimination period, and you are not engaged in any occupation.
  • After a period of 60 months you are only considered disabled if you are unable to work in ANY occupation for wage or profit for which you are qualified for based on your education, training or experience.
  • The AMA plans premiums are not guaranteed. They increase currently in 5 year intervals.
  • Your waiting period of 90 or 180 days must be total and consecutive. This means if you go back to work on the 73rd day your waiting period will start over from scratch.
  • You can only purchase a benefit up to 12,500 a month.
  • The rates typically start out low and will increase as you age. The rates are not guaranteed and are always subject to change.

Ok, so for someone who knows disability insurance like we do, that’s bad. You’re a doctor. Why would you purchase a policy with such a limitation? Is it because of the price? You aren’t trying to win the award for cheapest disability insurance premium are you? No, you are trying to buy a policy that protects all that you have worked for.

This plan clearly states that you are only considered disabled by them if you are not able to perform the duties of your specialty and are not working in any other occupation for wage or profit. And to add to the already sub-par definition they limit this to only 60 months. After 5 years of payments, they reserve the right to determine if you are qualified to work in ANY occupation. If they determine you are then benefits will cease. Their premiums are not locked in and are guaranteed to increase ever 5 years, and they reserve the right to change their increase amounts. So if you actually do the math, you will spend more during the life of your AMA contract then you would have had you just purchased the right type of policy to begin with.

So be smart, read the AMA contract, it’s obvious that the AMA plan is the wrong direction to go if you are truly looking for specialty protection.

Good Own Specialty coverage will pay you if you are unable to perform one or more of the duties of your specialty even if you are working in another field. Good Own Specialty coverage will allow you to accumulate your waiting period and pay your benefit to the age of 65, 67, or 70 regardless of your ability to work in another field. And finally, good own specialty coverage will never increase in premium.


North Western Mutual’s Disability Insurance Product for Doctors

North Western Mutual’s Disability Insurance Product for Doctors

We have all heard the hype. Yes, Northwestern Mutual has excellent ratings and their brand name is impressive. But that doesn’t mean you should be confused about what own specialty disability insurance really means.


Own Specialty is defined as:


“Own Specialty or Totally disabled means that, due to sickness or injury, you are not able to perform the material and substantial duties of your medical specialty. You are still considered disabled even if you are working in another specialty or occupation”


What this means: If due to injury or sickness you cannot perform your duties in your specialty, then you will be considered totally disabled, even if you are working in any other occupation. So long as you cannot perform at least one or more of the duties in your specialty, you will receive your total disability insurance benefit regardless of your new income. This is great. This is what doctors want.


Now here is what North Western Mutual delivers to the table:

The “Medical Occupation” definition of total disability offered by North Western Mutual sounds similar to the true definition of “Own Specialty” listed above. But, it’s much different.


North Westerns Medical Occupation of total disability is defined as:

The insured is totally disabled when both unable to perform the principal duties of the regular occupation and not gainfully employed in any occupation. If the insured can perform one or more of the principal duties of the regular occupation, the insured will be considered totally disabled if

1. More than 50% of the insured’s time in the regular occupation at the time the disability began was devoted to providing direct patient care and services;

2. The insured is not gainfully employed in any occupation; and

3. At the time disability began, the insured was primarily engaged:

(I) In a procedure-based medical or dental specialty for which board certification is available and the insured is unable to perform the principal procedures of the medical or dental specialty. The insured will be considered to have been primarily engaged in procedure-based medical or dental specialty if billing codes during the 12 months before the disability began demonstrate that more that 50% of the insured’s charges for patient care and services resulted directly from principal procedure performed by the insured; or

(II) In a non-procedure-based medical or dental specialty for which board certification is available and the insured is unable to perform the principal duties of non-procedure-based patient care and services. The insured will be considered to have been primarily engaged in a non-procedure based medical or dental specialty if billing codes during the 12 months before the disability began demonstrate that more than 50% of the insured’s charges for patient care and services resulted directly from non-procedure based patient care and services performed by the insured.

If the insured can perform one or more of the principal duties of the regular occupation and the insured is not considered totally disabled, the insured may qualify as partially disabled.


Wow, that’s a lot of language. Confused? Here’s what North Western Mutual is thinking:


They believe that the industry’s True definition of “own Specialty” (Own-Occupation) requires a surgeon (for example) to be unable to perform ALL of their surgical and nonsurgical duties in order to be considered totally disabled. So, they are saying that since most doctors will not satisfy this, that their definition of “Medical Occupation” provides greater clarity and flexibility.


This is incorrect. If a surgeon performs surgery and his practice of seeing patients comes from his ability to perform surgery then his specialty is being a surgeon. Therefore, if he becomes sick or injured in a way that causes him to no longer be able to perform the surgery side of his occupation then he is considered to be totally disabled even if he can still see patients in the office. Under the true “Own Specialty” (Own Occupation) definition of total disability offered from Guardian, Ameritas, Principal, and The Standard, the insured would receive their full monthly benefit regardless of the income they were receiving doing something different in the medical field.


Northwestern Mutual agents like to ignore or play down that 2nd statement in their definition of Medical Occupation. “The Insured is not gainfully employed.”


Plain and simple, regardless of all language they use to describe what medical own occupation actually means there is still a black cloud flying above. And it’s the number 2 statement where they say “the insured is not gainfully employed.” This 6 word phrase means a heck of a lot more than the 7 paragraphs Northwestern Mutual Uses to explain their “medical occupation” of total disability. This 6 word phrase that says not gainfully employed means exactly what it says, not gainfully employed.


If a surgeon can no longer perform surgery because of a sickness or injury, North Western mutual will only pay his full benefit so long as he/she is not working.  If he/she is working, they will only recieve their full disability benefit if he/she is earning less than 20% of his/her prior earned income as a surgeon working in another field. This is usually not what doctors are lookign for when they are shopping for “own specialty/Own Occupation” coverage.


Northwestern mutual agents will sometimes defend their position by trying to point out to physicians that it will be difficult for them to earn the same amount of income if they can no longer do their specialty. For lesser risk specialties they will tell you that if you can be a doctor (pediatrician) that would mean you probably couldn’t do another occupation anyway, so buy our product.


The simple fact is that these things are wrong. How do insurance agents know what your future disability is going to be?  He/She sold you the policy, they aren’t the ones who are bound by a written contract to cover your disability. Your contract is everything.  Why even bother with playing the odds. Just purchase a true own occupation definition of disability from the carriers that actually still offer this benefit. Because you are covered, and you can earn unlimited income in any other field of your choosing if you become disabled in your specialty.


It’s not like Northwestern Mutual is offering any super pricing discount. They are just as expensive and in a lot of cases more expensive then the carriers offering “own occupation/own specialty” benefits.


Often times once you have convinced the the agent that “own occupation” (Own Specialty) language is too important to ignore, they will tell you about the strength that their company possess. Yes it’s true that Northwestern mutual is an excellent carrier with high ratings. But, so are the other five carriers I mentioned in this blog.

In fact, Northwestern Mutual used to offerexcellent own specialty benefits. But since the late 90’s they switched out of that market and started offering this modified definition of “Medical own specialty.”  This is likely why you’ve heard that it’s hard to get true ownspecailty coverage these days.  Well it’s not hard, it’s always been there.  You just have to work with a carrier that offers it.


So don’t be convinced that a true “own Specialty” (own occupation) definition of disability isn’t as important as it is. Read the language and determine with your financial advisor what is really important to you, your family, and your practice.