Dentist Disability Insurance
Jan 24, 2013
Jamie Fleischner

Jamie Fleischner

24 Jan, 2013

Disability Insurance for Dentists

Set for Life has been ‘practicing’ in our specialty area – disability insurance for dentists, physicians, residents and medical students since 1993. Our experience gives us a vast understanding of your unique situation, its complexities, and your insurance needs.

The importance of protecting your income in your specialty.

As a dentist, it is critical that you choose a definition of disability that covers you in your dental specialty. This means if you become too sick or injured to work in your dental specialty, you can still work in another dental specialty or occupation and continue to receive benefits.

When you purchase a policy, each company classifies your dental specialty into an occupational class to determine rates. The higher risk specialties, such as oral surgery, are in a separate (typically more expensive class) than less risky specialties such as general dentistry. It is important to note that the policy is based on the occupational class at the time of application, but will base the claim on your occupation at the time of claim.

Dentist D.D.S. specialists – first two years in practice

(Orthodontist, Endodontist, Periodontist, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Prosthodontist)

May purchase up to $6,000/month individual disability benefit without financial verification

May purchase up to $10,000/month benefit of business overhead benefit without financial verification.


D.D.S. specialist residents/interns and dental students:

  • Within 180 days of completing their residency program may purchase up to $6000/month benefit regardless of income or group benefits in force and there is no financial verification necessary.

Dental residents in their first through last year:

  • May purchase up to $6,000/month of individual disability benefits.

General D.D.S. – first two years in practice

  • May purchase up to $5,000/month of individual benefit and/or $10,000/month benefit regardless of income or group benefits in force.

Dental students within 180 days of entering private practice

  • May purchase up to $5000/month of individual benefit regardless of income or if they have a signed contract.

Dental Students: Third or fourth year

  • May purchase up to $2500/month of individual benefit.

What to look for in a disability policy:

1)      Own occupation definition of disability. This means that if due to sickness or injury and you can’t work as a dentist, the policy will pay you a monthly benefit even if you are able to work in another medical specialty or occupation.

2)      Non cancelable, guaranteed renewable. This means that as long as you pay the premiums, the company can never cancel your coverage or modify your contract.

3)      Discounts. Set for Life has discounts available nationwide for pharmacists. Additionally, they have discounts available at hospitals throughout the country.

4)      Independent objective brokers. Since occupational classes vary widely from company to company, it is worthwhile working with an independent insurance broker who can compare all of the available options for you so you can ensure the most suitable policy at the best price.

If you are a dentist and run your own practice, you may consider purchasing a business overhead expense policy to cover your business overhead expenses.

If you are purchasing a practice, there are specific policies available to cover the loan. Some banks require this type of insurance before they will secure the loan.

Group benefits vs. an individual policy

If you work for a large group or practice, you may be offered a group policy. Usually you cannot opt out of taking the policy. Group policies typically offer a limited monthly benefit (60 percent of your income to a maximum amount). Group policies can’t discriminate – they must offer coverage to everyone in the group. Consequently, they often lack the important provisions of a personal policy.

Your group policy may require you to be totally disabled and not able to work in any capacity before you can receive any benefit.

  • The benefit may be taxable income to you if the employer is paying the premiums.
  • Your employer may cancel your policy at any time.
  • Even if you have a group policy, it is still important to consider supplementing with an individual policy.
  • Your individual policy is portable and you may take it with you if/when you leave your employer.
  • The policy definitions on an individual policy are usually superior (own-occupation, inflation protection).
  • If you are only partially disabled, your group policy may not pay you.
  • Having an individual policy protects your insurability by purchasing increase options. If your health changes, you may still purchase more coverage in the future based only on financial underwriting.

Considering disability insurance? Consider the facts.

  • Your most valuable asset is your ability to bring in an income. For dentists like yourself, your future income is your payoff for all of your years of training, hard work and accumulated debt.
  • You are at higher risk to become disabled in some capacity than other professionals since your job is very physically demanding.
  • Your student loans do not go away if you become disabled.
  • You may be eligible for a group rate or discounts. Set for Life has discounts set up at numerous hospitals and teaching programs throughout the country. Please let us know your employer name to see if we already have a discount. If a discount is not already in place, we can assist you to take advantage of this opportunity.

About premiums

If you are concerned about paying for your disability insurance while you finish your residency or become established, there are several things we can do to reduce your premium as much as possible.

  • Some companies allow a “graded” or increasing premium. This is initially less expensive and your premium will increase each year. If you wish to lock it in at a later time, you may do so on any policy anniversary.
  • You may choose to simply supplement what your group policy already offers and load up your policy with increase options. This will allow you to keep your premium low during residency and still reserve the right to increase it in the future without any medical underwriting.

Dentists as Business Owners

Oftentimes when practicing dentistry, you are also running your own business.

While individual disability insurance will cover your personal income, it does not cover your business expenses. Therefore, you may need to consider Business Overhead Expense (BOE) Insurance. BOE will cover your business expenses such as payroll, rent, etc… if you are too sick or injured to work.

Additionally, if you are buying into a practice, you may be required to take out a disability policy to cover your loan. There are disability policies available to cover the term of your loan. For instance, if you have a 7 year loan and become disabled in the first year, the policy would pay the lender the remainder of your loan.


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Getting the right disability insurance can be downright confusing. At Set For Life, we’ll help you understand the options and work with you to select just the right product for you and your family. These articles will help you understand some of the complexities involved, but we’re happy to walk you through it! If you’re ready to get set, reach out for a quote today!