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Disability Insurance > Articles > Physicians and Dentists > True Own-Occupation Definition of Total Disability for Physicians

True Own-Occupation Definition of Total Disability for Physicians

Disability insurance is one of the most important types of insurance you as a physician can purchase to protect your flow of income in case of a long-term sickness or injury. When looking into a disability insurance policy, be sure that you are looking for a policy that has the true own-occupation definition of total disability.

A true own-occupation disability insurance policy defines a total disability as: solely due to injury or sickness, you are not able to perform the material and substantial duties of your occupation. You will be deemed totally disabled even if you choose to be gainfully employed in another occupation so long as, you are not able to work in your occupation solely due to injury or sickness.

Your occupation is defined as the occupation (or occupations, if more than one) in which you are gainfully employed during the 12 months prior to the time you become disabled.

The Provider Choice disability insurance policy issued by Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, a Guardian company, has a special, even more comprehensive definition of total disability available for physicians. If your occupation is limited to a Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathy and you are deriving over 50% of your income from hands-on patient care, you are considered totally disabled even if you are gainfully employed in your practice or another occupation so long as, you are not able to provide hands–on patient care.

Likewise, if your occupation is limited to a Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathy and you are deriving over 50% of your income from performing surgical procedures, you are considered totally disabled even if you are gainfully employed in your practice or another occupation so long as, you are not able to perform surgical procedures.

More so than any other occupations, physicians need a true own-occupation disability insurance policy. Provider Choice offers one of the most comprehensive definition of total disability available to physicians on the market today.

As a physician, you have invested a significant amount of time and effort into your education and training to be able to earn an income in your medical specialty. Protecting the ability to work in that medical specialty is vital. A long term sickness or injury may prevent you from working in your medical specialty forever and lose all future years of income generated from working in your occupation.

medical bag with instrumentsWhile disabled form your own-occupation you may still be able, and want to be productive working elsewhere. Such as working as a professor or consultant or even a different medical specialty. A true own-occupation disability insurance policy will continue your monthly disability insurance benefit in full until you are able to return back to work in your own occupation or until the end of the benefit period. A true own-occupation disability insurance policy is the only disability insurance policy that will continue to pay you a monthly benefit even if you choose to work in another occupation while collecting disability benefits.

Other, less comprehensive definitions of total disability are available in the Provider Choice policy, usually at a smaller premium for the trade-off that benefits are paid in less situations than in situations allotted in a true own-occupation definition of total disability.

A modified own-occupation definition of total disability is similar to a true own-occupation policy but can discontinue or decrease your monthly benefits if you choose to be gainfully employed elsewhere while receiving disability income benefits.

An any occupation definition of totally disability will consider you totally disabled only if you become totally disabled to the point where you cannot work in “any occupation”.

A blended definition of total disability is also available where for the first 24 months of a claim, total disability benefits are paid under one definition. Then after the initial 24 months, claims are paid under a different definition. A “blended definition” of total disability may be initially be confusing to the general public so please have a conversation or more with a disability professional.

Any definition of total disability less comprehensive than true own-occupation definitions are generally not recommended and should not be purchased unless for situations where you simply cannot afford the true own-occupation definition.

When shopping for a comprehensive disability insurance policy, the first recommendation is a true own-occupation disability insurance policy. And a true own-occupation definition of total disability is the best one in the market today. Speak to a disability insurance professional to help you make a decision.



Jack Le, CLU® holds a Financial Representative contract with The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America based out of New York, NY.

The information displayed on this page are the opinions and views of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions and views of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), or any company that is an affiliate or subsidiary of Guardian.

Individual disability insurance policy Forms 18ID, 18UD, and 18GI underwritten and issued by Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, Pittsfield, MA, a wholly owned stock subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY. Product provisions and availability may vary by state. In New York: These policies provide disability insurance only. They do not provide basic hospital, basic medical or major medical insurance as defined by the New York State Insurance Department. For policy form 18ID, the expected benefit ratio is 50%. For policy forms 18UD, 18GI, 18UD-F, and 18GI-F, the expected benefit ratio is 60%. The expected benefit ratio is the portion of future premiums that the company expects to return as benefits, when averaged over all people with these policy forms.

2018-61485 Exp. 06/20


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