On a typical shift in the ER, emergency medicine physicians (EMP) will treat dozens of patients with everything from multiple fractures sustained in a car accident to an acute myocardial infarction. In doing so, they might not even consider that many of these patients are as young as they are yet they stream through the ER day and night with debilitating injuries or illnesses that could leave them disabled for a long period of time.
One would, therefore, think that EMPs would be the first to recognize just how vulnerable we all are and that they could very easily be among the one in five who will become disabled for a year or more before they reach the age of 65 (and therefore need comprehensive disability insurance for emergency medicine physicians).
In fact, the demands placed on emergency medicine physicians increase their chances of disability form injury or chronic ailment. Very few medical specialists are required to work in such a fast-paced, high volume, high risk environment. Nor are they required to perform their duties for eight to ten hour stretches while standing, stooping, bending, and combining a wide range of medical skills in the normal course of a day.
With an average income of close to $400,000, emergency medicine physicians not only earn every penny, they also have a lot to protect should they suddenly find themselves unable to work due to a disability.
Disability Insurance for Emergency Medicine Physicians Essentials
“Own Occupation” Definition of Disability
At the core of disability insurance for emergency medicine physicians is the policy’s definition of disability. All physicians should have no less than an “own occupation” policy that will pay benefits in the event they are unable to work in their specialty, even if they can still work is some other occupation. EMPs who can no longer tolerate the rigors of ER duties, but can still practice in another medical field, would be able to collect benefits.
This is not an area to cut costs. Many less expensive group or association disability plans contain an “any occupation” definition of disability. To collect benefits, a plan with this definition requires the insured be unable to work in any occupation in which they have experience, education or training. At claim time the insurance company gets to decide if they could function productively in a different occupation (and therefore not receive benefits).
Residual Disability Coverage
Nearly half of disabilities are only partial, meaning an EMP might still be able to work partial hours or perform part of his/her job duties – both resulting in a drop in income. With a residual provision, a partial benefit is paid if your income falls below 80-85 percent of your pre-disability level. This is especially important if you experience a total disability, but then are able to begin working part-time at some point.
Future Income Guarantee
If you expect your disability income plan to provide maximum protection now and into the future, you don’t want to just set it and forget it. An EMP in her early thirties can expect her income to more than double over 20 years. If, at age 33, she purchases a disability insurance policy with a maximum benefit of $10,000, her income protection would diminish as her income increases. She could try to purchase additional policies to increase her coverage, but, if she were to become uninsurable at some point (due to health changes), she would be forever underinsured. Alternatively, she could add a Future Income Guarantee to her policy which guarantees the option to increase her monthly benefit based on her actual income and without evidence of insurability.
Medical Specialists Need Specialized Guidance
It takes a significant investment o f time and money to become an emergency medicine physician, which is why it requires more than a generic solution to fully protect your earning potential. Doctor Disability specializes in disability income planning customized to your medical specialty and your specific situation. Done right, your disability income plan will always have you covered.
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