As a dentist, you’ve likely spent at least eight years of your life getting your Bachelor Degree and DDS or DMD — and even more time in training and residency. You’ve put in a lot of hard work to get where you are, and you can protect your paycheck and standard of living if you become ill or injured by taking out disability insurance.
According to the American Dental Education Association, over half of 2018 dental school graduates have debt over $200,000. That kind of monetary investment is worth protecting, but you should also consider the time you’ve spent in secondary and post-secondary education.
If you rely on your paycheck to survive — and to pay off your student loan debt — disability insurance can offer peace of mind. It replaces part of your paycheck if you become ill or injured and can no longer work, either as a dentist or in any field.
What type of disability insurance is right for me?
Disability policies fall into one of two categories — short-term and long-term — and there are a few ways to get coverage. The option that makes sense for you will depend on a number of factors, including your age and where you end up working.
Group disability insurance for dentists
If you’re working with a clinic, health center, dental school or larger practice you may be offered a group disability insurance plan. These employer-sponsored plans are ideal if you’re planning on staying where you’re at because it’s directly connected to your job. Plus, the premiums are typically subsidized by your employer, so you won’t pay as much to maintain your policy.
The downside? Group disability plans usually aren’t portable, which means you may lose your coverage if you change jobs. To prepare for that possibility, ask your employer if your plan comes with a portability or conversion option.
Individual short-term disability insurance for dentists
You can also purchase a policy on your own. Short-term disability insurance covers short-term needs. Depending on your insurer, it offers coverage in case you develop a disability for a period of a few weeks to a year. To receive benefits, you must meet your insurer’s definition of partial or total disability, and wait out the elimination period.
Between loan payments and everyday bills, even a couple of months of being unable to work can severely cut into your savings. If you’re a dentist who’s just starting your career, you may find this type of coverage especially useful to stay on top of debt that may have built up during school.
Individual long-term disability insurance for dentists
No matter where you’re at in your dental career, long-term disability insurance can provide protection against major wage loss from a covered illness or injury that keeps you from working. Elimination period options vary, but the benefits can last years or even until retirement — when you can begin collecting Social Security benefits.
Few occupations pay as much as dental careers — the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average pay in 2018 was over $156,000 a year. Suddenly being without that pay for months or years can severely affect your standard of living. Long-term disability insurance can protect your pay with benefits that generally start at 50% of your yearly salary.
What is an own-occupation policy?
As a professional with highly-specialized training, you might want to consider an “own-occupation” policy. Unlike a standard, any-occupation policy, this coverage pays benefits if you’re disabled and can’t work in your own field, but can still work another job.
How much does disability insurance cost for dentists?
Your disability insurance rates are determined by factors like your gender, age, salary, coverage amount, elimination period and any optional riders you add to your policy. To get an idea of how much you might pay, compare quotes from a range of providers.
You may also be eligible for discounts if you’re a member of certain professional associations. The American Dental Association, for example, has a deal with Great-West Financial that offers a premium credit discount to members.
As a dentist, you’ve likely invested a lot of time and money into your career, and you may be earning — or on track to earning — a solid paycheck. To protect your income in case you become ill or injured, look into disability insurance.
It depends on your financial situation, and how heavily you rely on your paycheck to cover everyday expenses and pay off debt. When you’re crunching the numbers, consider recurring bills, student loans, mortgage payments, and other incidentals.
Some providers offer a partial-disability rider at an extra cost. With this rider, you may be able to qualify to receive benefits — even if you can work part-time.
Yes, certain providers offer disability insurance policies for dental students. If your policy converts from a student plan to a standard one after you finish school, you may want to reevaluate your coverage needs to make sure you’re fully protected.
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