Readers of “Rx for Disability” (Investment Advisor, July 2011) may come away with the mistaken impression that it is difficult for today’s medical and dental professionals to obtain individual disability income insurance coverage that meets the article’s so-called “gold standard.”
In fact, true own occupation disability policies are offered to these highly trained professionals by several major insurance carriers. Moreover, some insurers take the own occupation concept a step further by protecting a doctor’s or dentist’s ability to earn a living in an individual specialty. In other words, they pay a total disability benefit even if the doctor or dentist is able to practice in another occupation, with no reduction in benefits.
The purchase of a personal disability income insurance policy is not a life or death decision, but variations in contract provisions can result in significantly different benefits at the time you file a claim. Therefore, it is certainly a “quality of life” decision. By this measure, the most effective disability policy will be the one that pays the most benefits over a period of disability, regardless of whether a person is totally or partially disabled.
To identify the most effective policies, there are a few contract features that should be carefully evaluated:
- The definition of disability
- The provisions related to a residual (or partial) disability
- Inflation protection
The policy’s definition of disability should protect your clients in their regular occupation. Ideally, it should explicitly recognize their particular medical specialty as their regular occupation. If they cannot perform the principal duties of their regular occupation, they should be considered totally disabled, even if they choose to work in another occupation.
Indeed, the so-called “true own occ” definition of disability may best meet the requirements and realities of the medical practitioner. As the gold standard of disability protection in the medical field for over three decades, it has proven to be a flexible and durable approach to this all-important policy provision.