While we all tend to think that we’re indestructible, injury or illness can happen at any time. As a resident, fellow, or attending physician, you more than others know that life is unpredictable.
Physician disability insurance exists to hedge your risk against these unforeseen events and protect your income in the event of temporary disability.
If you’re shopping for a disability insurance policy, you may not be sure if it would be better to go directly through the insurance companies or to work with an independent agency.
In this article we’ll go through the pros and cons of working with an independent agency and how you can get the best disability insurance policy for you.
But first: do you really need disability insurance?
If you’re just finishing up your training, your most valuable assets are your education and your future income. This future income reflects a huge investment of time, cost of education, and postponed income due to years spent in training.
This future income reflects a huge investment on your part
Any negative impact caused by injury or illness on your ability to work threatens the knowledge assets you have spent a long time building.
Disability insurance protects your investment of education costs and training time by guaranteeing income in the event that you cannot work in your occupation as a physician.
So now that you’re looking for a policy….
You’re probably wondering whether to go through an independent agency or directly to the insurance company.
So let’s walk through the top three reasons to choose an independent agency instead of an insurance company.
You may think that going directly to the insurance company would save money, but that’s usually not that case!
Independent agencies have access to discounts
Independent agencies have access to resident and fellow discounts that don’t expire until 60-90 days after training ends.
Those discounts can save physicians thousands of dollars over the course of their career!
For example, male physicians can save 20 percent on their disability insurance premiums. That would give them nearly $500 in yearly savings, and nearly $15,000 in savings over a 30-year career.
The savings are even better for female physicians. They can save up to 45 percent on their premiums. That means they could save up to $1,620 in a year, and nearly $50,000 over the course of a 30-year career.
If you want to get quotes from multiple insurance companies, it can be difficult and time-consuming if you don’t go through an independent agency.
And as a busy resident, fellow, or attending physician, calling each insurance company individually is probably the last thing you want to spend your free time on!
Calling each insurance company directly, getting their quotes, looking at the policies to see how they line up with one another...all of that takes a lot of time and energy.
And you don’t want to waste your time working with companies that aren’t financially stable, or that have overly difficult claims departments.
Independent agencies, on the other hand, usually have a simple online process to gather information so that they can do the comparison shopping for you.
They are then able to compare the policies so that you know exactly what the “apples to apples” comparison pricing would be for your policy.
Independent agents have experience with the different insurance companies
And then you don’t have to waste your time on hold with various insurance companies!
Plus, independent agents have experience with the different insurance companies, so they’ll make sure that you get a policy with a reputable, financially stable company.
Many disability insurance contracts are very dense and take a lot of time to go through, so getting some help sorting through the options can save you a lot of time.
It gives you confidence in your policy
Because independent agents are able to focus on your specialized needs, they can help find the exact right policy for you.
They might even be able to customize a policy in ways that the insurance company might not be able to do, perhaps because they are restricted in their policy offerings.
Keep in mind that disability insurance policies are especially complex, even for insurance.
Much of this complexity comes from the assignment of occupational class based on your specialty as well as the practical definition of own-occupation coverage.
There are other important policy considerations to keep in mind. These include everything from making sure that you have the correct partial/ residual disability riders to ensuring that you get the specialty-specific coverage you need.
Disability insurance policies are especially complex, even for insurance
The important part of this definition of coverage is that it provides benefits if you aren’t able to work in your specialty without taking away your flexibility to make an income in another occupation.
If you don’t have a lot of experience in contractual language or intricate forms of insurance, you can trust that an independent agent who is experienced in working with insurance companies will help you find the best policy.
And finally, independent agents have a good idea about what is going on in the volatile insurance marketplace.
Insurance companies may suddenly end the availability of certain disability insurance plans, or may be less financially stable than they appear.
Working with an independent agent means that you’ll get the insider’s view on insurance companies, the ones they usually don’t talk about when they’re working directly with potential clients.
TL;DR: an independent agent is the best way to get disability insurance
From the standpoints of cost, ease, and peace of mind, working with an independent agent is clearly the way to go if you want a disability insurance policy.
Insurance is complex, and disability insurance especially so. Independent agents are on your team and want you to choose the best policy for you, instead of pushing policies only from a certain company.
So if you’re interested in disability insurance, we highly recommend at least checking out what an independent agency can offer.