Occupational incapacity insurance for medical doctors

Becoming a doctor requires a significant investment of time and money. While many doctors do very well after receiving their license to practice medicine, some certainly do much better than others.

However, the two main investments that all doctors share are the time they spend learning their chosen profession (college, medical school, internship, and specialist training) and the financial investment that comes with it, which for many doctors becomes almost a lifelong debt .

Like most professionals, doctors spend a lot of time not only feeding themselves and their families, but also paying back student and medical equipment loans if they choose to have a private practice.

And, like most professionals, the worst case scenario for any doctor would be to die unexpectedly or become disabled and unable to do their craft.

Sure, life insurance is important, but the truth is that doctors are more than three times more likely to become disabled than they were before age 65.

Easy article navigation

Why doctors need disability insurance

Occupational disability insurance for doctors compared to your own occupational disability insurance

How much does the disability insurance cost?

Which factors influence the tariffs of the disability insurance?

Which drivers should doctors buy?

Group vs. individual disability insurance: do I need both?

Short-term vs. long-term disability insurance

The best medical disability insurance

How to get disability insurance for doctors

frequently asked Questions

Why doctors need disability insurance

Doctors in particular have a significant need for disability insurance to replace their income when they become disabled and unable to work. There are three reasons for this:

  1. As a doctor, you often face high student loan debt. To reduce monthly payments, it may be beneficial to refinance your medical school debt at a lower interest rate. Unfortunately, these loans won't go away as they will continue to accrue interest while you work to repay them.
  2. Doctors are a high-paid group of professionals who don't have many alternative career options. They need to pursue their careers to maintain the lifestyle they enjoy as doctors. Also, as a disabled medical professional, you are unlikely to be able to replace your income with anything other than disability insurance.
  3. With so many losses, doctors should consider disability insurance, as an injury or illness can severely limit your ability to work. Even a short-term disability can be financially devastating. Acquiring adequate disability insurance can reduce the risk and make up for a large part of the loss of income.

What insurance coverage does the disability insurance offer?

As with most other insurance policies, the insurance company promises to pay the policyholder a benefit in return for a premium.

The disability insurance provides a monthly benefit when a policyholder suffers an insured event and replaces part of the policyholder's income for an agreed period of time, which can be months, years or lifelong depending on the insurance conditions.

Your long-term disability policy contains the terms of the agreement according to:

  • Amount of benefit which is paid out monthly for an insured loss event.
  • The deadline is the waiting time until the service is provided after a hindering event.
  • The service period is how long you can receive benefits if you become unable to work.
  • The definition of disability this is one of the most important provisions for doctors.
  • The insurance premium for the benefit you have requested.

All of the above conditions are selected by the applicant and the insurance company and agreed before a policy is issued.

Occupational disability insurance for doctors compared to your own occupational disability insurance

One of the most important aspects of choosing disability insurance is understanding what constitutes disability. This determines how much and whether you will receive benefits.

To be eligible for disability benefits, you must meet the definition of disability in the policy. This can vary by company and insurance policy, so it is important to understand the definitions at the time of purchase:

Own profession

A self-employed policy provides protection for people who are unable to perform their current job duties due to injury or illness. This type of policy ensures that you have future job opportunities if you have to leave your position. If you can work in another role, you will still receive benefits.

For example, if you're a neurosurgeon and you've injured your hands, you won't be able to do surgery, but you could likely find a lower-paying job in a general practitioner or a medical facility teacher. In this case, you are still entitled to the disability benefit specified in your policy.

In addition, there are some self-employment guidelines that allow a doctor to receive disability benefits if you can still work in your specialty, but only to a limited extent.

Any profession

If "any occupation" was defined, the policyholder would likely not be able to receive benefits if he or she could work in another job. This is considered to be the strictest definition of disability in a disability directive.

Although the insurance premiums for any professional liability insurance have lower premiums than for a personal use policy, the policyholder waives substantial insurance coverage.

These types of policies were developed by insurers to only cover severe disabilities that would prevent a policyholder from working in any profession.

For example, let's say that Dr. Fred Wilson is an experienced pediatrician with disability insurance. If Doctor Wilson is disabled and uses a wheelchair but can teach pediatrics, he will not be able to get benefits from the insurance company.

This type of disability insurance only pays a monthly benefit if the policyholder cannot work in a job that is “appropriate” for the policyholder. The problem with the term "reasonably qualified" is that the insurer can assess whether you can find the job.

How much does the disability insurance cost?

Compared to term life insurance or short-term disability insurance, long-term disability insurance can be very expensive for doctors.

One of the main reasons disability insurance charges so much on a doctor is the likelihood that a claim will be made.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the likelihood of a doctor having a long-term disability before age 65 is much greater than a doctor's death. In addition, the level of benefits paid for a doctor is usually higher than in most other professions.

Because the premium is a percentage of the performance (between 2% and 5%). So, if you're a high-paying doctor and require more than $ 20,000 per month in service, you can expect to pay between $ 400 and $ 1,200 per month.

If you think this is inappropriate, think about what would happen if you didn't have insurance and were unable to work for 2 or 3 years due to injury or illness.

Which factors influence the tariffs of the disability insurance?

When determining the cost of disability insurance for a doctor, insurance companies look at many factors. In fact, the underwriting process for disability insurance is usually more thorough than buying a very large life insurance policy.

Typically, insurance insurers consider the following when determining the premium required to issue a policy:

Your age

Because older workers are at greater risk of being disabled due to injury or illness, older doctors pay a higher rate than a doctor in their thirties or forties.

your gender

As with health insurance, women generally pay higher contributions to disability insurance than men. In the past, women have a tendency to develop a disability during their careers and therefore tend to make more claims than male policyholders.

However, there are insurance companies that offer policies with unisex tariffs that cut the premiums paid by women by up to 50 percent.

Your Health

The health insurance companies take your health into account when deciding on your insurance cover. You'll need to answer questions about your medical history and current health. You may be asked to undergo a medical examination by an external doctor.

The medical examination is similar to an examination required for life insurance and involves measuring your weight, height and body weight. The examiner will also record your pulse and blood pressure and ask for a blood and urine sample.

The examiner will also spend some time asking medical questions and comparing your answers with what is in the application and looking for more information if needed.

Your specialty

When determining the risk to the insurance, the job of the applicant is important. Occupations are rated on a scale from 1 to 6, with a ranking of 6 representing the lowest risk class. The assigned classes are determined by:

  • Occupational hazards
  • How difficult would it be to return to work after a disability?
  • Historical claims experience for the applicant's chosen occupation

Although most insurers name a medical professional with the letter "M", a medical professional is not actually a risk class. Instead, the insurance carriers will divide the applicant's medical specialty into a separate risk class.

Since the risk classes for specialties vary depending on the insurance company, it is important to obtain quotes from several companies in order to make a legitimate offer comparison for your particular specialty.


Disability benefits are based on a percentage of your income, so it is important that the company can verify your income. When assessing your disability insurance entitlement, financial insurance is one of the factors that will determine your premium.

The company's underwriter will evaluate and validate your earned income, undeserved income, current net worth, and any bankruptcy history.

In addition, the underwriter may require proof of income through personal tax returns and trade tax returns.

In the actuarial assessment, your income is considered earned if a disability would either reduce it or end it entirely. However, any business or investment income that is considered passive would not affect your financial underwriting.

In addition, some disability insurance companies consider your annual retirement or profit sharing plan contributions as earned income. If your earnings fluctuate (and many doctors' earnings do), the underwriter will calculate your average earnings over the past 2 or 3 years.

Country of residence

When determining your tariff class, insurers take into account the state you work in based on the different regulatory requirements, total claims history, cost of living and the average income level in each state.

Other political factors

Insurance factors that also determine your insurance costs are the benefit period, the exclusion period and all passengers that you request in your policy.

Which drivers should doctors buy?

Insurance companies that offer long-term disability insurance also offer multiple drivers (optional covers) that can expand your coverage. The driver selection is usually a personal decision that each applicant makes according to their personal circumstances.

Here is a list of the most common driver options that can be added to your policy for an additional premium:

Self-employed rider Changes the criteria for an entitlement so that it is unique to your job (if you can do another job, you will still be entitled to benefits)
Partial or residual disability It stipulates that the insurer will continue to pay benefits if you are able to continue your own gainful employment to a limited extent but suffer a reduction in income.
Non-cancellable Guarantees the premium and prevents the company from canceling your insurance cover (except in the event of non-payment)
retirement provision Ensures that the insurer pays planned contributions to your retirement provision
Securing student loans Offers the applicant the purchase of additional coverage to cover the student loan debt in the event the insured becomes incapacitated
Future purchase guarantee Allows a policyholder to increase their disability coverage without proof of insurance

There are several other passengers, and purchasing these valuable passengers can greatly improve your actual disability benefits. Every doctor should discuss and evaluate all available drivers with an insurance professional.

Group vs. individual disability insurance: do I need both?

Many doctors have the option of taking out individual disability insurance or taking out group tariffs

Group disability insurance

Many employers and professional associations offer employees and association members disability insurance. If this option is available to you, it makes financial sense to take advantage of the offer.

However, the advantages and disadvantages of group disability insurance should be taken into account:


  • Cheaper than individual policies
  • Guaranteed issue (no underwriting)
  • The employer pays all or most of the premium


  • Basic benefits available with minimal drivers
  • Insurance coverage is non-transferable – if you leave the policy won't follow you
  • Inadequate insurance coverage for most doctors and specialists
  • Renewals are not guaranteed

Individual disability insurance

Individual disability insurance can be tailored to your individual needs and budget and is yours for as long as you pay the premiums. Although each policy is fully signed, insurers can offer a fixed premium amount for the term of the policy.


  • The insurance coverage is transferable and follows the policyholder
  • Further provider options for tariff and coverage comparisons
  • Adequate insurance coverage for well-paid doctors and other medical professionals
  • Benefit payments are tax-free


  • Higher premiums for high earning professionals
  • The policies are fully signed
  • Four to six week approval process

If you already have individual disability insurance, you probably don't need group disability insurance, but if it is offered, but if group insurance increases your benefits at a very low cost, then you will definitely get both.

Alternatively, if you have a group policy but feel that the coverage is insufficient for your needs, an individual policy is also recommended

Short-term vs. long-term disability insurance

The disability insurance is categorized as short-term or long-term protection. The purpose of these policies is to provide income replacement for a period of time while you are recovering from an injury or illness.

The main differences between short-term and long-term disability insurance are:

  • The types of illnesses and injuries that are covered
  • The waiting time between entitlement and benefit payment
  • How long your benefits will be paid out

Short-term disability policies are sold through group plans by employers or associations and typically have a benefit period of six months to one year. However, individual long-term disability policies pay benefits from five to ten years and, depending on the insurance company, up to the age of 65.

The best medical disability insurance

Although many highly rated insurance companies in the market offer disability insurance, only a handful offer true disability insurance.

It is vital for doctors and other health professionals to have a real definition of disability from their profession. Here are the top 5 disability insurances:

Founded in 1887, Ameritas is a leading US insurance provider and should be a leading candidate for doctors seeking self-employment disability insurance.

The Ameritas Foundation's Disability Policy offers a variety of core benefits and several ways to tailor a policy to the circumstances of each applicant.

The Ameritas plan is designed to be tailored to your individual needs. It offers many advantages, such as a COLA driver, an FIO driver and an automatic increase in performance of four percent per year for up to five years.

Principal is a leader in the insurance industry with over a century of experience. The company offers a wide range of insurance products and services to individuals, companies and investors.

Principal has an A + rating with A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s as well as an A1 rating from Moody’s Investors Services.

The company offers a true self-employment of the disability and offers notice periods of 30 and 365 days as well as guaranteed extensions for policyholders up to the age of 65 years.

You can choose from a wide variety of optional passengers that allow you to customize your principal insurance with additional benefits. These features include a death benefit, a recurring disability benefit, and a waiver of premium benefits.

With additional optional drivers such as the COLA Driver, STRDB Driver, and Catastrophic Disability Driver, Principal remains one of the leading providers of medical disability insurance in the United States.

MassMutual logo png

One of the leading insurance providers in the country, MassMutual is both a financial powerhouse and one of the most respected companies in the United States.

Both A. M. Best and Standard & Poor’s have given MassMutual excellent ratings, which is very indicative of its financial strength.

The insurer offers a customizable and comprehensive disability insurance called Radius Choice. Radius Choice is designed and guaranteed to include key benefits and optional drivers to enable clinicians to customize a plan for their individual circumstances.

Additionally, the definition of disability in the Radius Choice plan is self-employment. This provides the policyholder with the best option to claim if you become disabled and can no longer do some or all of your current jobs.

Guardian life insurance logo

The Guardian Life Insurance Company, founded in 1860, has developed into a leading insurance provider in the USA and has an A ++ (Superior) rating from A.M. Best, an A ++ (very strong) rating from Standard & Poor’s and a COMDEX score of 98 out of 100.

Like others listed in our top 5 disability insurance, Guardian offers a real definition of disability. The company offers a notice period between 30 and 720 days and each policy is issued with several additional core benefits.

With a handful of optional passengers, applicants can customize their policy to suit their needs and income levels.

The standard

The Standard (originally Oregon Life) was founded in 1906 and is one of the largest life and disability insurance providers in the United States.

Standard's Platinum Advantage disability insurance offers a variety of built-in features, as well as several optional drivers, that allow applicants to expand their coverage and benefits.

Platinum Advantage offers the self-employed definition of disability with cut-off periods of 30 to 365 days. Platinum Advantage also includes Rehabilitation Benefit and Family Care Benefit, both of which are Integrated Coverage.

The standard offers a handful of optional passengers to allow applicants to maximize their income protection.

How to get disability insurance for doctors

Medical disability insurance is best obtained from an experienced and reputable independent insurance broker who represents the top insurance carriers that offer a real definition of disability for your own profession.

The steps in getting a policy that maximizes your benefits and protects your income are generally as follows:

  1. Recommendation and preliminary offer – after a telephone interview with your disability insurance specialist
  2. The insurance application – usually filled out online with secure encryption
  3. The medical examination (paid by the insurance company)
  4. The underwriting process (medical and financial)
  5. Current offer – if accepted, the agent will accept the deposit electronically
  6. Policy issuance – The agent receives the policy for review and forwards it to the customer

frequently asked Questions

When should doctors take out disability insurance?

Because disability insurance is designed to replace income if you become incapacitated and unable to work, doctors should get it out as early as possible in their careers.

How Much Disability Insurance Should a Doctor Have?

Most experts agree that doctors should get adequate disability insurance to cover at least 60% of after-tax income.

Which disability insurance is best for doctors?

The best and only disability insurance a doctor should consider is a policy that has a real definition of disability for one's job.

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The best and only disability insurance that a doctor should consider is a policy that has a real definition of disability for one's job.


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