Disability insurance is protection for your paycheck. If you can’t work for an extended period of time due to an injury or illness, then the disability insurance company will make monthly benefit payments to you until your coverage expires or you recover from your disability.
Doctors especially need disability insurance. That’s because they often work long hours and perform a lot of physical labor, so a disability can effectively sideline them from their responsibilities, possibly for life. A good disability insurance plan can make sure a disabled doctor can enjoy the same standard of living and continue paying off bills.
Oncologists, who often specialize in surgery and other practices that require a high degree of manual precision, may benefit from disability insurance even more than other doctors. What’s more: with the right policy, disability insurance can be especially favorable to oncologists, whose background can allow them to shift into related practices without losing disability insurance coverage.
Why oncologists need disability insurance
Doctors of all kinds typically have a lot of student loans, but those who specialize in a type of medicine may need to spend more time in medical school, and thus incur even more student loan debt. This includes oncologists, who may need extra training if they pursue surgical oncology.
Disability insurance can help you continue paying off student loans while you’re too disabled to go back to the operating room or lab. Without those benefit payments coming in, you could quickly go into further debt and have to give up necessities like your home or car.
Disability insurance is especially important in the first few years after residency. During that time, you’re just starting to make a dent in your student loans, and your salary may not be as optimal. Additionally, buying disability insurance early can help you save on premiums in the long run, as it’s cheaper to take out a policy now when you’re young and healthy versus when you’re older.
Compared to a general practitioner, some types of oncologists pay about the same amount on average for disability insurance coverage. Other types of oncologists, particularly surgical oncologists, will pay more.
Best disability insurance companies for oncologists
Mutual of Omaha
These sample disability insurance rates are for a male oncologist living in New York and earning an income of $100,000. The benefit amount is $5,000 per month, or roughly 60% of his income. The policy also has the following features:
An elimination period of 90 days, meaning your first benefit payment will arrive after this wait has ended.
A benefit period that lasts until age 65.
Own-occupation coverage, meaning that you can receive disability benefits if you can’t work as an oncologist, but you can work in a related career.
The residual disability rider, which pays partial benefits if you’re able to keep working but have lost an amount of income or duties because of a disability.
The future purchase option rider, which allows you to get more coverage later in life without going through underwriting again.
Non-cancelable coverage, meaning that your rates can’t go up.
The automatic increase benefit, which automatically raises your benefit in the first four to five years of the policy.
Because everyone’s needs are different, your policy’s terms and rates may differ. Women, for example, can expect to pay more for disability insurance. To find a disability insurance policy with the most favorable coverage for your needs, talk to a licensed representative at Policygenius.
What oncologists need to know about disability insurance
Because oncology is generally a well-paying field, disability insurance companies offer a lot of options to customize policies and make sure coverage offers the most support for an oncologist’s needs.
True own-occupation disability insurance is a must
Own-occupation disability insurance means you only have to be disabled enough that you can’t work at your current job. If you’re an oncologist, that means you can still claim a disability benefit if you’re able to work as something else, like a medical school professor.
But true own-occupation disability insurance means you may be able to keep being an oncologist. That’s because there are several types of oncology, like medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgical oncology. A surgical oncologist who can no longer perform surgery may still be able to claim the disability benefit if he or she is still able to work as a radiation oncologist.
Disability riders oncologists should consider
In addition to the riders described above, oncologists should consider the following when picking out a plan:
The cost-of-living-adjustment rider**, which increases your benefit amount if the cost of living goes up.
Retirement contributions protection, which is disability insurance for the amount you’d otherwise put into a retirement account if you weren’t disabled.
The student loan rider, which allocates money to make payments against your student loan debt.
Know your coverage limits
If you’re earning significantly less than the amount of disability insurance coverage you purchased, then insurers consider you “overinsured.” However, some disability insurance companies let you buy a policy while you’re still in medical school and earning a lower income, with the expectation that you’ll be earning more in the future. Such policies typically have lower coverage amounts, such as $2,500, that can go up to $5,000 when you begin your residency.
Residual disability coverage
If you’re disabled but have only lost a portion of your earnings or duties, you may still be eligible for a benefit payment from your disability insurance company. Residual disability coverage will pay you partial benefits prorated to the portion of your lost earnings, responsibilities, or time.
Supplement your work coverage
Many employers offer group disability insurance as part of a benefits package. Because you’re part of a larger insurance pool, you may be able to pay lower premiums for this coverage. However, group disability benefits may not be high enough to replace your income if you become disabled, and they may not last long enough to fully cover you for a serious disability.
Additionally, the definition of disability may be harder to meet than an own-occupation disability plan you buy yourself.
For that reason, many people buy an individual long-term disability insurance policy and take their employer’s group coverage. You can still buy the maximum benefit amount on your individual plan even if you have additional coverage from your practice.