If you become sick or hurt and are unable to work, proper long-term disability insurance can be your financial failsafe. Sadly, some physicians are leaving themselves vulnerable to potential hardship. They may purchase a disability policy based on what they can afford at the time. They know they have some long-term disability coverage, but the truth is, they may be underinsured. If a serious illness or injury strikes, they realize that the coverage they obtained is not adequate, and their funds are draining at an alarming rate. How can you keep this from happening to you?
If you are an independent physician, whether a sole practitioner or in a small practice, you can be especially vulnerable to the devastating impact of a disabling illness or injury. When choosing disability insurance, there are many factors to consider in addition to the cost of your premium. Let’s examine some of those factors.
How “Own-Occupation” Affects You
As you are aware, one of the most important things to consider when choosing a disability insurance policy is how the insurer defines disability. This is vital because that definition will determine whether you qualify for benefits if you are seriously ill or injured.
Suppose you are a successful physician with many years of experience. Over time, you develop debilitating arthritis that makes it impossible to perform your daily routine. Your condition prevents you from carrying on in your current duties, but you could theoretically still practice as a physician in a different setting.
Some insurers would not deem you eligible for disability benefits because you could still work in some capacity as a physician. You would suffer a devastating financial loss since your current position compensates you at a higher rate than a physician in another capacity. This is why the definition of “own-occupation” coverage is so important.
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Advantages that set Guardian Provider Choice Apart
Guardian Provider Choice gives you the option of protecting your medical specialty with a comprehensive definition of true own-occupation disability coverage. If you are hurt or sick and unable to work, this allows you to receive full disability benefits based on the work you were doing 12 months prior to becoming disabled. In fact, you can choose to work in another specialty, within or outside of your field (sometimes even in your own practice) and not forfeit your disability benefits.
Another advantage of Guardian Provider Choice is that if you become ill with a serious illness such as cancer, heart attack or stroke, you will receive 150 percent of your benefits in the first year, as well as a hospice benefit.
TMA Members can also receive a 10% discount for the life of your policy through TMA Insurance Trust, which can result in big savings on your premiums.
Flexibility for Physicians
Guardian Provider Choice also provides more flexibility in designing a policy. A TMA Insurance Trust advisor can help you customize your policy with the riders and options that offer the best protection. Here are some examples of important coverage options:
• Cost of Living Adjustment Rider (COLA) indexes your benefit to inflation.
• Future Increase Option allows you to increase your monthly benefit without further medical underwriting.
• Enhanced Partial Disability Rider lets you collect benefits when you are partially disabled and not earning your full income.
• Student Loan Benefit Rider helps you make your student loan payments while you are disabled.
Another reason we partnered with Guardian is the straightforward formula used to evaluate how a physician qualifies for benefits, based on the pre-disability source of earnings. If more than 50 percent of a physician’s earnings are derived from performing surgeries or hands-on patient care, and an illness or injury prevents him or her from doing this work, the physician is considered totally disabled and qualifies for benefits.
Guaranteed Renewable and Non-Cancelable
Once approved by Guardian, as long as you continue to make payments, your policy will not be canceled and the rate outlined in your policy will not be increased for the term of the policy.
Whether you need to purchase your first disability policy or supplement your current disability policy, a TMA Insurance Trust advisor can provide guidance to help you navigate your options and understand each policy’s definitions and language. We can help you make informed choices. That way, if you do suffer a disability, your benefits will adequately replace your personal income so you can focus on recuperating and get back to the life you love. Reach out to us today for trustworthy help.
For over 60 years, TMA Insurance Trust advisors have been serving Texas physicians, their families and staff. TMA Insurance Trust prides itself on offering unbiased information and strategies to members, along with exclusive group rates on a range of the highest-rated plans in the industry.