As an optometrist, you’ve invested a lot of time and money in your education and training. You’ve worked hard to build your career, and you depend on your income to support your family, pay your bills, and save for your future. However, if you were to become disabled due to an illness or injury, your ability to earn an income would be at risk. That’s why it’s important to consider disability insurance as part of your financial planning.
Disability insurance is designed to protect your income if you become disabled and are unable to work. It provides you with a monthly benefit that can help cover your living expenses, medical bills, and other costs. However, not all disability insurance policies are created equal, and it’s important to consider your options carefully.
Group Benefits vs. Individual Policy
If you work for a large firm or company, you may be offered a group disability insurance policy. While group policies can be a good option, they often have limitations. For example, the benefit may be taxable income to you if the employer is paying the premiums. Your employer may also cancel your policy at any time, leaving you without coverage. Additionally, group policies typically offer a limited monthly benefit and may require you to be totally disabled and not able to work in any capacity before you can receive any benefit.
An individual policy, on the other hand, provides you with more flexibility and control. You can choose the coverage that’s right for you and your family, and the policy is portable, meaning you can take it with you if you leave your employer. Individual policies also typically offer better policy definitions, such as own-occupation coverage, which pays benefits if you can’t work in your specific occupation due to sickness or injury.
Important Policy Language and Riders
When choosing an individual disability insurance policy, it’s important to consider the policy language and riders carefully. Some important components of a disability policy include:
- Own occupation definition: This means that if you can’t work due to sickness or injury, the policy will pay you a monthly benefit even if you are able to work in another occupation.
- Noncancelable, Guarantee Renewable language: This means once you have your policy, the premiums are fixed and guaranteed for the life of the contract. The company cannot increase your premiums or add exclusions.
In addition to these important policy components, there are also several riders that can be added to a disability insurance policy to provide additional protection. These include:
- Residual rider: This will pay benefits if you have a loss of income of 15-20% or more in income. The policy would pay you a proportionate benefit. You would not need to be totally disabled to receive benefits.
- Increase options: This allows you to increase your benefits in the future without having to answer any medical questions.
- Cost of Living Rider: This rider will increase your benefits by 3-6% each year you are on claim to keep your benefits up with inflation.
Benefit Limits and Premiums
The amount of benefit you may purchase depends on your income and if you have a group disability policy through your employer. As an optometrist in your first year, you may purchase up to $4000/month benefit regardless of income. However, your premiums will vary depending on the amount of coverage you choose and the options you add to your policy.
If you are concerned about paying for disability insurance while getting established, there are several ways to reduce your premium as much as possible. Some companies allow a “graded” or increasing premium, which 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. Additionally, you may choose to supplement what your group policy already offers and load up your policy with increase options.
For more information about optometrist disability insurance, contact Set for Life Insurance today!