Dentists should review their disability insurance policies


You’ve made a significant investment of time, energy and money into building a demanding career with the promise of a high income and all of the rewards your profession provides. But, should an injury or illness prevent you from performing your specific duties, the promise of a rewarding career can suddenly evaporate.  You insure your house, your car, your health and your life; doesn’t it make sense to insure your most valuable asset, your ability to earn an income, with disability insurance for dentists?

According to disability statistics provided by Cornell University, in 2010, 1 in 9 people between the ages of 21 and 65 will suffer a disability due to an illness or injury, yet the odds of losing your car in an accident is 1 in 160. For another perspective, the chances of dying prematurely are just1 in 117, yet most adults own a life insurance policy. As you get older, the odds of a disability increase. Between the ages of 35 and 65, you have a 1 in 7 chance of suffering a disability.

Fortunately, dental students are well-schooled on this risk before they graduate, and they receive continuous education on the subject from the American Dental Association. It’s well documented that dentists are more susceptible than the general public to chronic conditions such as back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. As a result, 8 out of 10 dentists own disability insurance for dentists despite the fact that only one in 10 dentists believe “it” could happen to them.

In short, most dentists have taken steps to protect their income by purchasing disability insurance for dentists,while, at the same time, they still underestimate the likelihood of becoming disabled. Still, most dentists agree that it is important to protect their income realizing that they really can’t afford to lose it.

The larger concern then is the possibility that their underestimation of the problem results in the purchase of disability insurance for dentists that doesn’t provide the right level of protection. Nearly three-quarter of dentists who own disability insurance for dentists aren’t confident that it will provide the necessary protection.

The biggest mistake many dentists make is to approach disability insurance for dentists needs as just a matter of course, often relying on pricing as their main criteria. According to the ADA, nearly one half of dentists purchase their disability insurance through group plans which offer far less protection and dependability than individual disability plans.

Group plans are inexpensive for a reason. Their definition of what constitutes a total disability is more restrictive than the “own occupation” definitions in individual policies. Group insurers can change the definitions, provisions and premium rates at any time, and when dentists leave an employer, the disability insurance can’t go with them. .

Disability insurance for dentists is a specialty product requiring an expertise beyond what the typical insurance broker has. The stakes are much higher for dentists who have invested significant time and money, so it’s imperative that they work with an insurance professional who specializes in disability insurance for dentists.