Did you know most disabilities are caused by illness, not injury? That means, even though they spend most of their time in an office examining teeth, dentists can become disabled. But association disability plans available to dentists are typically expensive and don’t provide the protection they need. It’s important for them to look at private long-term disability insurance plans so they’re fully protected. Here’s how dentists can find the best disability companies and the lowest rates to ensure their income is protected.
Why dentists need disability insurance
Dentists need long-term disability insurance for one primary reason: Becoming a dentist is really expensive.
According to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), the “average educational debt for all indebted dental school graduates in the Class of 2016 was $262,119.” About 80% of dental grads have student loan debt greater than $100,000, and more than 30% have student loan debt over $300,000.
Becoming a dental hygienist is relatively less expensive, but still pricey. The ADEA lists average in-state education costs for dental hygienists as:
- Associate degree: $22,692
- Bachelor's degree: $36,382
- Master’s degree: $30,421
There are some bright sides to this. Dentists earn higher incomes faster than other professions, which means they can pay off their loans quickly. And the pay isn’t bad. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2016 median pay for dentists and dental hygienists was $159,770 and $72,910, respectively. For dental specialties, like surgeons and orthodontists, the median pay is north of $200,000.
High student loan debt and high earnings potential make for the perfect scenario where disability insurance can help because there is a lot to protect.
Best disability insurance companies for dentists
You should always talk to a professional to see what your disability insurance options are, but the below table will give you an idea of which carriers can offer the best disability insurance rates for dentists.
|Company||30 years old||40 years old||50 years old|
|Ameritas||$183.52/mo | $2,127.40/yr||$299.87/mo | $3,480.40/yr||$473.61/mo | $5,500.60/yr|
|Assurity*||$173.01/mo | $1,988.76/yr||$268.26/mo | $3,083.46/yr||$340.77/mo | $3,917.03/yr|
|Guardian-Berkshire**||$165.78/mo | $1,989.38/yr||$253.66/mo | $3,043.88/yr||$384.44/mo | $4,613.25/yr|
|Principal||$144.20/mo | $1,647.00/yr||$217.29/mo | $2,481.75/yr||$321.03/mo | $3,666.60/yr|
|The Standard||$194.80/mo | $2,226.29/yr||$319.16/mo | $3,653.45/yr||$530.18/mo | $6,059.13/yr|
|MassMutual||$178.04/mo | $2,079.44/yr||$283.07/mo | $3,293.52/yr||$484.76/mo | $5,625.20/yr|
|Mutual of Omaha***||$199.81/mo | $2,283.57/yr||$301.47/mo | $3,445.24/yr||$462.91/mo | $5,290.28/yr|
*Non-cancelable policies not available
***To age 67; non-cancelable policies not available
These sample rates are for male non-smokers in New York. They’re based on a $5,000 per month benefit with a 90-day elimination period and a benefit period to age 65. Your maximum benefit amount will be determined by your gross income and any other group or individual plans you have in place.
Sample rates also assume own-occupation policies with partial benefits, future purchase, non-cancelable and automatic increase options.
What dentists need to know about disability insurance
Anyone can be the victim of a disability, but thanks to their high cost of education and high earning potential, it’s especially important for dentists to get a disability policy as soon as they can. But there are a few things dentists in particular need to know so they can be sure they get a policy that works for them.
Disability insurance rates for dentists depend on the specific profession
Long-term disability insurance is important for everyone in the dental profession, but the rates you can get depend on your specific profession. Dental hygienists and lab techs will likely pay higher rates for their disability policies than dentists, while orthodontists, exodontists, endodonsists, periodontists, pediatric dentists, and prosthodontists can qualify for lower rates depending on the carrier due to their higher median incomes.
A future purchase & own-occupation options are a must
Compared to other professions, dentists start earning a high income early in their careers, but as with all professions they can earn more as they get older. To protect these future earnings, look for a policy with a future purchase option. This will allow you to buy a policy now and lock in rates when you’re younger, while giving you the option to increase your benefit amount later on when you need more protection. That means even students or new professionals can buy a policy while taking earning potential into account.
Dentists should also look at specialty own-occupation coverage. An own-occupation policy provides a disability benefit if you can’t do your medical specialty, even if you’re able to do other work.
Student loan riders can help
Want to make doubly sure you’re protected against high student loans you’re likely to have coming out of dentistry school? Get a student loan rider with your policy.
By paying a little extra each month, your policy will have a benefit amount dedicated toward your student loan payments. This is usually up to a certain amount per month, but can be crucial in helping you maintain your lifestyle and make sure you’re making payments on your loans.
At the end of the day, it’s important for dentists to protect the investment they’ve made in themselves. Disabilities can be unpredictable and insurance provides the peace of mind that you deserve.