At nearly $500,000, the median annual income for orthopedic surgeons is tops in the industry. If, as a 2008 survey conducted by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports, most orthopedic surgeons work at least to age 65, that can amount to $15 million of earnings. But, with orthopedic surgeons’ incomes rising faster than most other medical specialties, their actual lifetime earnings can be worth more than $60 million depending on their sub-specialty and the point at which they might tend to taper back their work schedule. And, therein lies the problem for many orthopedic surgeons who think their disability insurance plan provides sufficient protection – it often doesn’t.
Generic Disability Income Insurance Plans Don’t Cut It
Trying to address a high-earning surgeon’s disability income needs with a generic, off-the-shelf disability solution is like buying a mass-market homeowner’s policy for $4 million custom estate home. It just doesn’t cut it. Most insurance agents who aren’t disability specialists aren’t even aware of the customized solutions that are available for high-earning physicians. As a result, too many orthopedic surgeons are walking around with a patchwork of traditional disability insurance policies that don’t begin to protect their earning capacity.
In one case, a surgeon who earns $1.3 million a year came to us with a portfolio of four disability policies that combined for a maximum $16,000 of monthly benefits – less than 13 percent of his current income. Both the surgeon and his agent were unaware of specialized disability insurance that could provide him with an additional $50,000 in coverage to within 60 percent of his current income. While his lifestyle might still take a hit, it would at least be more manageable than if lost 85 percent of his income.
And, that is only the beginning of the problem when working through traditional insurance agents offering generic solutions. For an orthopedic surgeon, the most critical component of a solid disability insurance plan is how it defines a total disability. Most surgeons know that it is essential to have an “own occupation” definition of total disability that protects their specialty. What they may not know, however, is that the language in many policies can be laced with just enough nuance to create some ambiguity in the coverage. For instance, a surgeon who believes his policy protects his ability to perform any of the material and substantial duties of his specialty might learn that it only protects him if he is unable to perform all of his duties – only a slight change in language that can produce a much different and less desirable outcome.
Let Us Be Your “Specialist”
For the same reason patients shouldn’t go to a generalist to receive specialized care, high-earning orthopedic surgeons shouldn’t go to a generalist for the most important insurance protection he or she needs. The disability specialists at Doctor Disability not only understand your unique disability income needs, they also have access to the resources needed to create a comprehensive and customized disability income insurance plan. Contact us today.