3 minute read
3 minute read
Changes with How Doctors Research and Buy Disability & Life Insurance
Changes that Insurance Companies have made for Life & Disability Insurance
Opportunities & Advantages that are Available for Doctors
How will this Affect You as a Doctor
A Lot has changed a lot of how we research and buy everything. Amazon's very busy this time. In fact they come to my neighborhood almost every day, it's incredible. Due to these changes and social distancing guidelines, a lot of traditional advisors who meet with clients face to face to close their doors because they don't have the capacity or the ability to do things online. Now, you're finding fewer and fewer advisors out there who can actually help you to research and buy disability and life insurance.
Another major change we’ve seen is many educational events being canceled, things like lunch and learns or the types of educational sessions you might have there and your program, even dinners and things like that sponsored by financial planners. A lot of these things are obviously going by the wayside because you can't really do that anymore. This is taking away some of the opportunities you have to learn about these important financial decisions you have to make.
Your opportunities to learn and to have someone help you on these decisions are becoming fewer and far between. You have to be able to understand that online is a great place to shop and compare quotes for disability and life insurance, but you have to be particularly savvy at it. There are people online who tried to persuade doctors by the wrong kind of policies, whether intentionally or unintentionally. There are probably people who are actually trying to get into online sales of these types of products who maybe shouldn't be there. It is important to be careful that you're with someone who can really do a good job educating you and helping you take care of things online.
The main things to look for when shopping online for insurance are:
An independent broker
A broker is someone who isn't a representative of any one company. They're independent of any company insurance company, they're kind of between you and the insurance company are coming to advocate for you. They will help you to shop and compare and do it in an unbiased way.
Ones who are specialize in working with doctors
Physician disability and life insurance can be very different from just generic disability life insurance. So it is important to make sure whomever you choose specializes in working with doctors, and making sure they can meet with you, they can help you apply, deliver your policy all online. Otherwise, you might run into some pretty big roadblocks if they can't do all of that.
As far as some of the changes that insurance companies have made, I just wanted to spell one of the fears that is being talked about a lot out there. It's a big question we get all the time and that is:
“What's covered if you contract COVID-19”
The answer is life insurance, disability insurance if you already have it. Both of these types of insurance do not have pandemic exclusions, meaning you will be covered completely if anything bad happens from COVID-19, your family or whoever will get the proceeds from the life insurance. If you become disabled long enough to receive the disability payments, you'll receive those as well.
Just know that you're still covered, even for the COVID-19. If anything happens, you'll receive payments. Just keep in mind with disability insurance, however, you do have to be disabled for longer than 90 days. However, very few COVID-19 cases result in three months of missed work or more. But if that is to happen to you, then again, disability insurance would of course pay your benefit.
There are many changes that companies are pushing out due to this pandemic.
Some companies are extending payment grace periods by 60 days, meaning if you have a policy, they're willing to be more flexible with you on paying your premium.
They're providing coverage, even if you have reduced hours. So in the past, if you had reduced hours, they might alter how they would cover you or pay your benefit. That's not true right now, they're allowing you to reduce hours and still be covered completely. The definition of disability, it's still going to apply. Just know that if you're quarantine, that is not a disability. They're still gonna be covered for any illness or injury that occurs, no matter what they're going to cover you. But simply being quarantined is not a disability, and it is not covered.
Some companies have expanded their issue limits with no physicals or labs. A few years ago, you could only maybe get two to $3,000 a month in coverage, meaning if you got disabled they paid you two for two to $3,000 per month while you were disabled. You might only be able to get that much without doing labs or a physical. At this point in time, it's crept up through the years to $6,500 or $7,500. Now, there's even some companies who are willing to give you $20,000 a month in coverage locked in for the rest of your career, and you'll never have to do labs or a physical for it. If you've currently been diagnosed or previously or diagnosed with COVID-19, just know, you'll probably have to be back to work for at least 30 days and everything has to be fairly normal for them to then let you apply and consider you for coverage.
On the life insurance side of things...
They are also extending grace periods for late payments, meaning if you have a policy, they're willing to be more flexible with you on paying your premium.
Some companies are now giving you a waiting period if you've traveled internationally, so if you've traveled outside the US and you come back and you want to get life insurance, you may have to wait for a little while before you can actually apply.
Some companies are changing accelerated underwriting, this is a big deal. There used to be accelerated underwriting which means all you have to do is do a quick health questionnaire, there's no physical or labs used to be you could only get a million dollars of coverage in that way. Now, there are some companies giving you up to two and a half million dollars of coverage. Only a questionnaire, no labs, no physical as long as you've had a physical done in the last 24 months, because they'll still request those records and check them out. But the ability to not have labs taken and a new physical done, and to get up to two and a half million of coverage really is kind of a big deal.
Unfortunately, there's a lot of negativity out there and a lot of bad news. So the question is, what is this? What does this provide? Is there anything good coming out of this? Well, we do think there are some positives here.
You can maximize coverage with no physical or labs. So if you have concern about different things that might show up in your labs, or if you do a physical you're concerned about some things in that physical, just know that you can actually get a lot more coverage now without having to go through that.
The limits have increased. One company has even increased that max limit to $35,000 a month. These are companies where they were only $15,000 a month in maximum coverage. So the fact that they're raising the limits allowing you to get more coverage allows you to get more coverage without physicals or labs, all of this is good news.
Underwriters become more flexible. This is a whole secret but the insurance companies are getting a lot fewer people applying. People are doing other things they're not looking up looking for insurance. So some of these companies are actually really hurting and so just know that's that's not they're not hurting to the extent I think they're gonna run out of business or anything, but they want business and so, again, if you have any health history, or any question marks there a lot, they might be a little more flexible, be willing to give you a normal policy or not to bump up your your rates up. So the more flexible underwriting really is a good thing.
Prices for insurance are historically low. We have no idea what this COVID-19 thing is going to bring about, currently, rates are historically low, they're in a good place. With flexible underwriting and higher limits with no physicals or labs, it really could be a good time to take advantage of getting this taken care of.
Now more than ever, to make sure you have insurance. When we're young and healthy, it's really easy to say, “Well, I'm not really sure I need it yet. Or maybe I should wait.” But there are some advantages to getting it now. Not only that, but this pandemic just shows us how little control we have of our lives. So use this as a wake up call to say, “Hey, this is something I need to take care of. You never know when that car accident is going to happen. You never know when a pandemic is going to happen.”
So if you've made it this far, and read all of this, and thought “Hey, I get it right now is actually a really good time to do this, not only because it's highlighted the need for disability and life insurance, but because there are some advantages to getting that taken care of right now”