Disability insurance is critical and necessary for any professional. This is even more important for General Dentists. Statistics indicate that General Dentists are almost 20% more likely to experience a disability compared to dental specialists and 30% more likely than some physicians. As a result, one of the major disability insurance companies recently increased their rates for General Dentists due to past and expected future poor morbidity. Others are certain to follow. Dentistry requires finely tuned motor skills and being able to maintain the same position for long periods of time. This often leads to musculoskeletal disorders, which are the leading cause of disability. The time to protect your income with disability insurance is when you are young and healthy. Being in the military limits some options but there is a solution.
Active-duty military dentists are provided limited coverage from the VA disability program. The program doesn’t cover all components of pay, which means that a disability would significantly impair long term financial goals. The maximum VA disability payout is typically about half of base pay, and that’s assuming you are rated 100% disabled. Your retention pay, incentive pay, and any moonlighting pay are not protected.
MassMutual is the only insurance company that provides active duty dentists and dental specialists non-cancelable and guaranteed renewable specialty-specific / own occupation coverage. A premium discount is also available. If you are an inactive reserve at least 90 days out from going active, you can apply to a select few other insurance carriers, but there are limitations with those carriers; for example, requiring that the policy and coverage be suspended while you are on active duty.
It is important to note that dental specialties like Orthodontist, Periodontist, etc. as well as AEGD trained dentists pay a lower rate than General Dentists. If you plan on becoming a dental specialist, it might be more cost-effective to wait until you are in advanced training to apply for coverage. This may however be offset by having to pay a higher premium due to age as well as the possibility of a health change. An experienced agent will be able to run the numbers and determine whether it makes economic sense to wait or not. Generally, the sooner you establish coverage the better.
One crucial fact to be aware of when obtaining disability coverage is the medical underwriting requirement. Since military medical exams are extremely thorough and document any medical condition it is important to establish coverage early in your military dental career before any conditions or ailments appear. Depending on the medical condition you may be declined coverage, issued a policy with a waiver/exclusion for the pre-existing condition(s) or issued with an increased premium. Even a combination of the latter two is possible. This can be avoided if you apply now to guarantee the protection you need later. Don’t think that you must maximize your coverage right away. Obtaining what you can afford now will allow you to purchase what you need later. There are options you can add to your policy to guarantee you can increase your monthly benefit in the future regardless of health.
There is no better time than now to establish the type of policy you need to protect your dental career in the event of disability. Our contact info is:
Andy G. Borgia CLU