Why Is Own Occupation Disability Insurance Important for Physicians?
Aug 1, 2023
Jamie Fleischner

Jamie Fleischner

1 Aug, 2023

The “own occupation” definition is crucial to physicians when it comes to disability insurance because it provides a more comprehensive and favorable coverage for their specific profession. Disability insurance is designed to protect individuals in case they become unable to work due to a disabling injury or illness. For physicians, who have invested significant time, effort, and money into their education and training, the ability to practice medicine is essential for their livelihood and financial security.

Own occupation is the same thing as specialty specific definitions. An example of an own occupation claim would be a surgeon who develops carpel tunnel and can’t perform surgery. Under an own occupation definition, they would receive monthly benefits even if they could still see patients or teach. Any income earned elsewhere would not reduce their monthly benefit.

Own occupation will cover you in the specialty or subspecialty you are working in at the time of claim. For example, if you purchased your policy while doing an internal medicine residency and later train to do interventional cardiology, you would not need to change your policy. Your policy would cover you if you couldn’t practice interventional cardiology even if you could work and earn an income as an internist.

Without the “own occupation” definition, disability insurance coverage could be less favorable for physicians. Some policies might use a broader “any occupation” definition, which means the insured would only receive benefits if they are unable to work in any occupation at all. This broader definition could result in physicians being forced to work in a different field, even if it is unrelated to their medical expertise, in order to receive disability benefits. Most group policies do not have an own occupation definition of disability. Some only cover you for your own occupation for one or two years. Thereafter you have to be totally disabled and not working.

As physicians often earn higher incomes and have specialized skills that are difficult to transfer to other professions, having the “own occupation” definition ensures that they are protected financially if they can no longer practice their specific medical specialty due to a disability. It gives them the peace of mind that their disability insurance coverage is tailored to their unique needs and professional circumstances. However, it is essential for physicians to carefully review the terms and conditions of their disability insurance policy to fully understand what is covered under the “own occupation” definition and any potential limitations or exclusions that may apply.

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