The Different Types of Physician Disability Insurance Policies

5 minute read

We often think that if a product has a certain label that it meets our needs. However, this is not always the case and it could be a costly assumption. 


With so many options and nuances in different policies, it is important to understand how different various policies can be. What might work as a supplement should never be considered sufficient to cover your physician disability insurance needs.

When looking into purchasing income protection with disability insurance the definition is the #1 thing physicians need to pay attention to. The definition of disabled sets apart good policies for doctors from those that should be avoided.

There are four main types of long-term disability insurance that are determined by the definition of disabled within the policy itself. 

These types are: 

  • True own-occupation

  • Transitional own-occupation

  • Modified own-occupation

  • Any occupation


The true own-occupation definition provides the most flexibility to receive benefits when disabled and is the only policy type that we recommend for physicians.

True own-occupation means that you would be deemed disabled if you are unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your occupation (medical specialty) and your benefits do not change even if you make an income (gainfully employed) in another occupation or specialty.

Since the definition of disabled is so specific to your specialty, it is a very secure policy. True own-occupation policies are also not limiting because even if you can’t work in your medical specialty but can work in another area, you’ll still be considered disabled and get your full benefit payout.

For example, if you were a cardiovascular surgeon who couldn’t perform surgery anymore due to a broken hand you would still be considered disabled even though you are still able to work as a professor or general cardiologist. 

Even though they’re still working, the fact that they can’t work as a surgeon means they get paid the full benefit.

To read more about true own-occupation click here.


The other definitions of disability can be confused or even mistakenly sold as true own-occupation to doctors.  

These types are: 

  • Transitional own-occupation

  • Modified own-occupation

  • Any occupation

These policies will not continue to pay you your full benefit if you can perform other jobs, even if they are lower-paying. 

Physicians should stay clear of these policies when looking to protect their income with disability insurance. 

To read more about the other definitions of disabled click here.


Employer policies are another issue that is worth mentioning. Employer disability insurance policies, also known as group policies, and individual disability insurance policies are very different for doctors.

A majority of employer policies fall into the category of any occupation definitions. That means if you can work in any other position, you won’t meet the definition of disabled and won’t receive your benefit.

It is also important to remember that an employer policy is not owned by you, meaning your employer has complete control over the policy.

If they wanted to cancel or change it at any time, there is nothing you would be able to do.

If in the future your employer cancels the physician group policy, and you were relying on that policy, it could leave you in a bad situation for getting your own policy if your health has changed.

With so many different types and definitions within long-term disability insurance policies, purchasing a policy can seem exhausting. We understand that disability insurance is confusing which is why we work to simplify the process by comparing all your quotes with one form.

To get started comparing your disability insurance options, Click Here for Free Quotes from multiple insurance companies.