The most important part of an individual disability insurance policy for a physician is the definition of disability. This is what determines whether or not the company will pay benefits in the event of a disability.
It is more important to read the definition than to worry about the name. Different companies have different names. Guardian/Berkshire, Union Central/Ameritas and Standard all call the definition “own occupation.” Principal calls it”regular occupation” and MetLife calls it “your occupation.”
More importantly, make sure that the policy it pays you benefits if you can’t work in your medical specialty even if you are able to work in another medical specialty or occupation.
Take for example the anesthesiologist or surgeon who has severe numbness or arthritis in their hands or fingers and are no longer to practice in their specialty. In this instance, the policy would pay full benefits even if they could retrain and work in another medical specialty such as psychiatry or diagnostic radiology.
Some companies have special language explaining that a medical specialty is considered your occupation. Is this necessary? No. The policy will pay you benefits if you cannot work in whatever you were doing at the time of claim.
I had an anesthesiologist who purchased a policy while still in medical residency. Later in his career he started a business where he had dozens of employees working for him and he was working in an executive role. His income from the business was in the range of $800 to $900,000/year. He called me as he was experiencing numbness in his hand and said that he couldn’t practice as an anesthesiologist. I asked him how often he was practicing anesthesiology. His answer, “well, I’m not doing any shifts anymore since I’m working as a an executive in my business.” My answer, “are you still able to work as a business owner? If so, your numbness is not causing a loss of income and you are therefore not going to receive any benefits.” Even though his policy had the “medical definition of disability” it really didn’t matter.
Policies are based on where you are at the time of application. If you are a surgeon or a CRNA when you purchase your policy, the definitions and premiums are based as such. If you later change careers and are working in the business world, your policy would cover you in that capacity.
For more information about disability insurance for physicians, own occupation definitions of disability or to request a quote comparison, contact Set for Life Insurance today!