Best Disability Insurance for Doctors

Best Disability Insurance for Doctors


The need for disability insurance is most important for doctors.  Here are the best disability insurance companies for doctors.

Not all doctors are created equal.  Doctors are separated by their medical specialty and the different levels of skill, education, and training that goes into each specialty field.  However, one thing that all doctors have in common is that they all need Disability Insurance.   But just like doctors aren’t all created equal, not all Disability Insurance is created equal.

Doctors need disability insurance

According to, in order to become a physician, one must complete a 4-year undergraduate program, 4 years of medical school, and complete at least between 3 and 7 years of residency/fellowship training before being eligible to practice.

The majority of Americans think of doctors as people who “make a lot of money,” but it’s safe to assume that those people do not fully understand the financial investment it takes to become a doctor coupled with the extra decade worth of education and training.  By the time a doctor is ready to earn money and start their life, they are already in their mid 30’s having to play catch up while the rest of us have been earning a living and raising a family.  According to BestMedicalDegrees, by the time a doctor is ready to practice in their early thirties the average doctor is already half a million dollars behind from the cost associated with their education and training.

Once a doctor is trained and working full-time they are virtually guaranteed to be earning a six-figure salary.  According to the Medscape Physician Compensation report 2019, the average annual salary for physicians rose to $313,000 in 2019.  This means that without even taking a pay increase the average physician has a career earning potential of over $11,000,000 making their ability to work in their medical specialty their most valuable asset and one that’s worth insuring.

What doctors need to know about disability insurance

Not all disability insurance is created equal.  When shopping for disability insurance True Own-Occupation coverage is a must.  True Own-Occupation coverage means if a sickness or injury makes it so you can’t do the duties of your medical specialty you are considered disabled and eligible to receive your disability benefit.  A True-Own Occupation plan will pay your full disability benefit even if you are capable of doing another occupation.  In addition, if you elect to work in another occupation a True Own-Occupation plan will still pay your full benefit regardless of how much income you are earning doing something else.

When the average doctor has a career earning potential of over $11,000,000 there are going to be a lot of Insurance carriers and brokers bidding to earn your business.  But remember, not all disability insurance is created equal.

Unfortunately, the terms Own-Occupation and Own-Specialty are abused by brokers, associations, and carriers looking to earn your business and therefore it’s extremely important to make certain you look at the options presented to you and ask to see a copy of the definition of “Total Disability.”  Total Disability is the section of every disability contract that the company uses to define when you are considered totally disabled and eligible to receive your full benefit.  Just because you saw an advertisement from the AMA or your broker who might be representing Northwestern Mutual is telling you that their plan is True Own-Occupation make sure you ask to see the definition of Total Disability.

Here are three examples:

  • Northwestern Mutual defines “Total Disability” within their “Medical Occupation” section of their contract.  Their contract says that in order for a physician to be considered totally disabled he/she must be unable to perform the material and substantial duties of their regular occupation and “not” be “gainfully employed in any occupation.”  This is a plan physicians should avoid because the ability to collect your full benefit is reduced and eliminated by any income you may earn if you elect to work in another occupation.
  • The AMA defines “Total Disability” by saying in order for a physician to be considered totally disabled he/she “must be unable to perform the material and substantial duties of their occupation, provided he/she is not engaged in an alternate occupation for which he/she is qualified by education, training, or experience.”  This is a plan that doctors should avoid because its a contract that will eliminate your benefits if you earn any income through any engagement of work.
  • Employer-Sponsored Long Term Disability is not True Own Occupation coverage because just like the AMA and Northwestern Mutual, group plans do not allow you to work in another occupation while collecting your full disability benefit and therefore you should never cancel or forgo the purchase of True Own-Occupation Disability insurance.

Best Disability Insurance Companies for Doctors

Only six insurance companies offer True Own-Occupation Disability insurance for doctors.

These rates are an example of a male doctor, non-smoker, in Florida earning an average annual income of just over $300,000 per year.These quotes represent a $13,000 per month True Own-Occupation benefit with a 90-day waiting period and a benefit payable to the age of 65, as well as the following riders:



  • True Own-Occupation Benefit: The full benefit is paid if your disability prevents you from working in your medical specialty even if you elect to work in another occupation regardless of the income you earn while working in another occupation.
  • Residual coverage:  If you are still working in your medical specialty but you are doing so in a limited capacity such as a reduction in hours, you will receive partial coverage to help make you whole while you are still working in your medical specialty.
  • Noncancellable – Guaranteed Renewable: These rates are guaranteed not to change up until the age of 65.  The carrier guarantees that they will never cancel the policy or change contract provisions.
  • Cost of Living Benefit (COLA): If disabled, the monthly benefit of $13,000 per month will increase each year to keep pace with the rise of inflation.
  • Future Purchase Options: As income increase, the ability to increase your benefit is guaranteed regardless of your health.

The above chart should be used as a guideline only, every Doctor’s rates will vary based on age, sex, medical specialty, and benefit eligibility.  Some of these carriers even offer discounts based on Hospital Affiliations or Professional Association affiliation, so be sure to ask your agent if you qualify for any discounts.


Protect your most valuable asset

If you are a doctor, you need True Own-Occupation disability insurance. Shop for quotes now.

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