Opthamalogist with patientHaving sold disability insurance online for more than 20 years, we've advised just about every possible occupation on how to purchase a disability insurance policy. Perhaps no occupation is more in need of a true own-occupation disability policy than ophthalmologists. Your occupation checks off all the boxes for needing this particular type of disability insurance. 

  • You have a significant income to protect
  • You have a highly specialized surgical occupation.
  • You have invested significant time and money in attaining your specialty.
  • It's unlikely that if you couldn't perform ophthalmology, you could make a similar income in another profession. 


Why is "True Own Occupation" Important for Ophthalmologists?

While there are many occupations that benefit from a disability insurance policy that protects them in their own occupation, we don't think there is one that benefits ophthalmologists more. Unlike other white-collar workers or generalized physicians, ophthalmologists have a very specialized skill set and work on the most intricate and fragile of organs - the human eye. This takes incredible skill, dexterity, and focus. Any sickness or accident could have an impact on your ability to perform these sensitive procedures and thus your income. 

The important thing about true own-occupation disability insurance is that it allows you to collect 100% of your benefit AND still work in another occupation. Since it's likely that anything you do other than ophthalmology is going to cause a significant loss of income, it's important that your disability insurance policy continues to pay you the full monthly benefit. That way, you're back closer to whar you made prior to your disability. 

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What Type of Own Occupation Coverage is Best?

There are 3 main types of "own occupation" definitions of disability that have been marketed by insurance companies over the years. 

  • Modified Own Occupation - This type of policy says that you're considered disabled if you can't do the duties of your own occupation AND you're not engaged in any other occupation. If you chose to work in another capacity, then you're benefits are reduced or eliminated based on your new income.
  • True Own Occupation - This is what most insurance companies offer. It says that if you can't do the duties of your own occupation, you will receive 100% of your monthly benefit for total disability, even if you're engaged in another occupation.
  • Enhanced True Own Occupation - This is a relatively new definition of own occupation and is unique to Guardian. It enhances the traditional definition and provides you even more ways to get paid. If totally disabled, you’re able to receive your full disability benefits even if you’re gainfully employed in another occupation or capacity. And, while totally disabled in your own occupation, there may be instances where you can even work in your own business or practice and still collect your full disability benefit.
    • We’ll consider you totally disabled if more than 50% of your income is from:
      • Hands-on patient care and, solely because of injury or illness, you can no longer perform hands-on patient care; or
      • Performing surgical procedures and, solely because of injury or illness, you can no longer perform surgical procedures.
    • That’s not all. If you don’t qualify for benefits under the source-of-earnings formula above, then we’ll look at your key duties, including those you were performing in your medical specialty at the time your disability began, to assess whether or not you qualify. Because we evaluate your situation from multiple perspectives, we give you more ways to qualify for total disability benefits.

Student Loan Protection

Students studying a text bookThis is a popular feature for many young ophthalmologists. Since an ophthalmologist may go through medical school, four to five years of residency training, and sometimes even additional specialty training for some, it's likely that there could be significant student loan debt upon graduation. Guardian1 provides an optional benefit to help ensure these loans are paid in the event of a disability. 





1Individual disability income products underwritten and issued by Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America (BLICOA), Pittsfield, MA. BLICOA is a wholly-owned stock subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Product provisions and availability may vary by state.

2022-140682 Exp: 7/26/24