Own Occupation Disability Insurance for Physicians
Physicians should buy the disability insurance policy with the best definition of disability available in order to protect their income. The amount of time and money a new physician has invested in his or her career is staggering. The average new physician racks up $166,750 in medical school debt, while earning an average income of $270,000.1 Although many physician incomes have decreased in recent years, they still account for a preponderance of six figure income earners.2 Given the income earning potential of physicians, it’s critical that they buy the correct type of disability insurance to protect that income, and associated education debt.
A disability insurance policy that protects someone in their own occupation has traditionally been the best type of policy available. These "own occupation" policies mean that if, due to sickness or injury, you can’t perform the material and substantial duties of your specific occupation, you may qualify for benefits, even if you can work in another occupation. Guardian and its subsidiary, Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, through their new Provider Choice policy series is enhancing this definition for physicians, making it even more attractive and comprehensive.
The new Provider Choice policy offers an own occupation definition of disability with enhancements designed specifically for physicians. This Enhanced True Own Occupation language is unique in the marketplace, and is tailored to physicians in all medical specialties. When you’re buying a policy, that policy is better when it is as specific as possible, offering you more benefits in more situations.
Enhanced True Own-Occupation with language designed for physicians:
If Your Occupation is limited to a Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathyand more than 50% of Income is earned from Hands-On Patient Care, We will consider You to be Totally Disabled even if You are Gainfully Employed in Your practice or another occupation so long as, solely due to Injury or Sickness, You are not able to provide Hands-on Patient Care.
- OR -
If Your Occupation is limited to a Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathy and more than 50% of Income is earned from performing Surgical Procedures, We will consider You to be Totally Disabled even if You are Gainfully Employed in Your practice or another occupation so long as, solely due to Injury or Sickness, You are not able to perform Surgical Procedures.
This new enhanced true own occupation definition of disability is different from the traditional own occupation definition, as it provides more ways to qualify for benefits. Under the older own occupation definition, there was no language specifying income from hands-on patient care. In many situations, this lead to a claim being payable as a residual claim; whereas, in the newly enhanced language, there is a much greater chance that this claim could be considered under a total disability, therefore paying 100% of the monthly benefits rather than just a portion.
The following chart gives a few examples of how the newly enhanced true own occupation language could consider a claim. Under traditional own occupation language, these examples would very likely be residual claims, and therefore not pay 100% of the monthly benefit.
|Pre-Disability Sources of Income|
|Post-Disability Capabilities||Under Our Enhanced True Own-Occupation Considered||Employment Options While Totally Disabled|
|SURGEON||• 60% from surgery|
• 40% from patient care and office visits
|PERSISTENT TREMOR IN DOMINANT HAND|
• Cannot perform surgery
• Able to diagnose and treat patients
|Totally Disabled (full benefits) because more than 50% of income came from surgical procedures and he or she can no longer perform those due to disability.||Each physician, while eligible for total disability benefits, can choose to be:|
• Gainfully employed full time or part time anywhere, even in his or her practice/business,
• Not gainfully employed
and still receive his or her full total disability benefits.
|INTERNIST||• 100% from hands-on patient care and office visits||SPINAL CORD INJURY|
• Cannot diagnose and treat patients
|Totally Disabled (full benefits) because more than 50% of income came from patient care and he or she can no longer do that due to disability.|
|PATHOLOGIST||• 100% from specimen evaluation||MACULAR DEGENERATION|
• Binocular vision impaired
|Totally Disabled (full benefits) While unable to qualify under the enhanced formula, he or she would qualify based on the inability to perform the material and substantial duties of his or her own occupation (True Own-Occupation) due to disability.|
Berkshire has always had coverage that protects physicians in their chosen specialty. With the introduction of Provider Choice, they have enhanced that coverage to provide for more ways to qualify for benefits than any other carrier.
If you are a physician in training, or in practice already, you should protect your income, and student loans, with a disability policy that not only protects you in your medical specialty, but also does so by offering you more ways to qualify for benefits than any other policy.