What to Know When Purchasing Disability Insurance

After all the years amassed in the classroom, back-breaking hours on rotations during training, several life changes and moves later you’ve finally become an attending physician. Now imagine that all could crumble from a back injury, vision loss, or a hand injury. Disability insurance protects you against financial hardship if injury or illness prevents you from working. Sounds simple. Except for physicians there are many things you’ll need to consider when choosing a company and policy that they just don’t teach you in medical school.

Pattern rounded up the most important things to consider as you go through the process of picking a disability insurance policy. Continue reading the highlights or jump to the full post here

What Physicians Need to Know About Purchasing Disability Insurance

1. Make sure it’s true “own-occupation” coverage.

True own-occupation is the strongest and provides the most flexibility to receive benefits should you be deemed disabled if you are unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your medical specialty.

2. Include “riders” on your policy for specialty-specific coverage, high guaranteed increase limit, partial/residual disability riders, and non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable.

Add-ons, known as “riders,” can provide additional benefits to the policyholder. Some of the most important riders to make sure that your policy has are specialty-specific coverage, high guaranteed increase limit, partial/residual disability riders, and non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable. These riders make sure that you have the protection that you want so that in the case of injury or illness your income is protected.

3. Only 6 carriers actually provide true own-occupation policies. 

Don’t forget as you finish up training, your education and future income are your most valuable assets to protect. And you won’t have the time to put up with the hassles of a failing insurance company nor an obstinate claims department if you need to file a claim. Choosing the right company to buy from should be part of your consideration alongside what’s in your policy. There are only 6 carriers that actually provide true own-occupation policies: Principal, Guardian, Mass Mutual, Ameritas, Standard, and Ohio National.

4. Buy during residency/fellowship.

If you purchase your disability insurance as a resident or fellow, your policy will stack on top of the group coverage you’ll receive from your eventual employer, which makes residency or fellowship the best time to buy it.

Insurance is confusing, and disability insurance is a particularly confusing product. It's better to work with a good independent agency, instead of directly with an insurance carrier or going it alone.

Our friends at Pattern know a lot more about this. Check out their website for more details on what you need to know about choosing the right disability insurance policy. They’ll walk you through the intricacies of various plans and collect quotes to make sure that you get the best plan for you.


Pattern is a group of physician-only financial consultants who have provided trusted advice to thousands of doctors and practices from around the globe. Disability insurance is complicated. Doctors shouldn’t have to take time to sort through a bunch of insurance quotes to find the best policy. Don't stress over insurance shopping, let Pattern find the best coverage for you at the most affordable price.

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