PROVIDER: Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America

DEFINITION OF DISABILITY: Own-Occupation Definition

RESIDUAL BENEFIT: Requires 15% loss of income

FUTURE INCREASE OPTION: Available annually up to age 55

Guardian is one of the largest and most trusted insurance companies in the United States. Guardian is a great choice for physicians looking to secure their income with disability insurance because they are one of the Big Five Insurance companies, meaning they are one of the only insurance companies to provide TRUE OWN OCCUPATION disability insurance.

As stated above Guardian provides true own occupation, which is the most important thing a medical professional should look at when protecting their income with disability insurance. 

The language of each contract may vary, but Guardian’s definition of disabled is: 

“You will be totally disabled if, solely due to injury or sickness, you are unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your occupation. As long as you are totally disabled, benefits will not be reduced even if you are working in another occupation.” 

Guardian outlines that as an MD or DO, you are totally disabled if more than 50% of your income is lost due to an illness or injury. This definition outlines that you are guaranteed full benefits even if you are employed in another occupation. 


The Elimination Period or the number of days the following disability before benefits become payable, and the Benefit Period, the maximum time for which you can receive benefit payments for disability, is also important to look at for each company. Below are Guardians definitions of each: 

Elimination Period: 90 Days - The elimination period starts on the first day that you are disabled and is the number of days you must be disabled before benefits begin to accrue. The days within this period need not be consecutive, but they must occur within the accumulation period (210 days). The policy has the following elimination periods as options

  • 30-day.

  • 60-day.

  • 90-day.

  • 180-day.

  • 360-day.

  • 720-day.

Benefit Period: To Age 65 - This is the longest period of time for which they will pay benefits for a continuous disability.

A policy with Guardian is non-cancelable meaning Guardian can’t raise your premiums as long as you are paying your premium. They also are guaranteed renewable, which prevents the disability insurance companies from changing your policy terms (like the benefit amount) or canceling the policy itself.


Guardian also provides 5 additional benefits that you can add to your policy, known as enhancements, with the following riders: 

Basic Partial Disability Benefit - This option provides partial disability benefits when you are not totally disabled but, solely due to injury or sickness, you suffer a loss of income of 20% or more while working. You must be unable to perform one or more of the material and substantial duties of your occupation, or you can perform all your material and substantial duties but not for the length of time they normally require.

Compound Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) - This option adjusts your benefit on an annual basis at a rate of 3% compounded to help keep pace with inflation during a period of disability. $133.13 Severe Disability Benefit: $11,660/month - This option provides extra funds if, solely due to injury or sickness, you are irrecoverably disabled or are cognitively impaired.

Automatic Benefit Enhancement - This option provides an annual 4% benefit increase each year for six years, with no proof of income required.

Benefit Purchase Option - This option allows you to increase benefits every three years until age 55, without medical underwriting. You must apply for additional coverage every three years and purchase at least 50% of any additional coverage offered to keep the rider in effect. Financial underwriting is required.


SURGICAL LANGUAGE: One of the biggest benefits of a policy from Guardian is the Surgical Language in the definition of True Own Occupation. This language can be seen in the definition here: 

“You will also be considered totally disabled if you are an MD or DO and more than 50% of your income is from: Performing surgical procedures and, solely because of injury or illness, you can no longer perform surgical procedures - or- Performing Hands-on patient care and, solely because of injury or illness, you can no longer perform hands-on patient care.”

The terminology and specificity of job description and tasks completely cover surgeons and make Guardian a very secure option for your policy. 

FIO & BPR: The added option of FIO (Future Increase Option) and BPR (Benefit Purchase Option) are unique to Guardian. Other companies usually have only one option. With Guardian’s options for FIO or BPR, it is easy to completely customize your policy. 

GRADED LEVEL PREMIUM: A form of modified life insurance that provides for annual increases in premiums for a constant face amount of insurance during a defined preliminary period, to make initial payments more affordable.

Below is a pay scale that shows the advantage of a Graded Level Premium. It allows premiums to be lower while your income in residency is smaller.

Automatic Benefit Enhancement: This additional rider option allows you to have an automatic 4% compounded increase in the base monthly benefit. It’s renewable for the first six years if you are not disabled. This can help secure your benefit amount from diminishing as time goes on.

Spousal Coverage for Non-working spouse: This program gives existing individual disability policyholders the ability to cover a non-working spouse who does not generate an income and who tends to all matters of the home. If your spouse becomes disabled and can no longer perform responsibilities as a homemaker, the benefits can be used to pay for resources to cover his or her regular responsibilities in maintaining the home and family. 

Guardian is one of our most popular policies for medical professionals. With the number of options they have to personalize your policy, coverage amounts, and limitations, all while having the true own-occupation definition, Guardian is an excellent choice for your disability insurance policy. 

If you are interested in learning more about Disability Insurance, read more on our Beginners Guide to Disability Insurance.