Physicians Savvy About Disability Insurance Protection Typically Don't Adjust Policy as Careers Grow

May 11, 2012

I'm sure many of you can relate when I say that as a parent, I've always been proud that I’ve been able to pay for a mortgage and other necessities that keep my family healthy and safe. But what if I became disabled by an illness or accident? Would I be able to continue providing for myself and the people I love? Would you?

With May being Disability Insurance Awareness Month (DIAM), I thought it timely to address the fact that disability doesn't just happen to "other" people. According to the LIFE Foundation, which coordinates Disability Insurance Awareness Month every year, disability income (DI) insurance is the most overlooked of the major types of insurance. But I am happy to report this news: Recent focus group research conducted by an independent marketing organization on behalf of AMA Insurance Agency, Inc., shows that physicians generally are early and high adopters of DI insurance. In fact, participants reported that not only had they secured DI protection, they did so right after residency.

This confirmed for me that physicians are particularly savvy when it comes to taking steps to safeguard their number-one asset: their ability to earn a living.

What does surprise me, however, is our research finding that respondents hadn't revisited their DI coverage since first becoming insured, soon after starting to practice. Moreover, they also hadn't purchased a supplemental policy.

This concerns me, as physicians' financial responsibilities almost universally ramp up as they progress through their careers. Physicians typically take on a bigger home, higher property taxes, college education funding, practice-related expenses, and more. Our research shows that most physicians buy a policy, check it off their list – and don't look back. As a result, the expenses associated with their current lifestyle and financial obligations often significantly exceed their DI insurance benefits.

The bottom line? If you were to become disabled by an accident or illness, it would be too late to close the gap in coverage to help you meet your current financial obligations.

If you make a point of revisiting your disability insurance income now and then, including during life-changing events such as having children and sending them to college, then kudos to you for your excellent planning. But if you're like so many of us who lead busy lives and feel "it can't happen to me," you might want to take a few minutes to consider what’s truly at risk. If tragedy strikes – and you see it all too often in your profession – what would happen to the quality lifestyle and financial security you worked so hard to build? If you've only recently started practicing, the specter of being unable to pay off your medical school debt might be your chief concern.

Nobody means to overlook their insurance needs, but it's easy to let the topic slide until a more convenient moment. With Disability Insurance Awareness Month upon us, there really is no better time than now to protect your ability to bring home a paycheck.

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Final note:

Physicians have a lot of options when it comes to purchasing a new or supplemental disability insurance policy. It’s important for physicians to select a policy that offers affordable own-specialty disability protection, like the AMA-sponsored Disability Plan and even more importantly is to make sure they have enough coverage to cover their current "monthly nut" so there are no surprises in the event of disability.

To find out more about disability insurance protection and other insurance topics, call the AMA Insurance Agency toll-free at 1-888-627-5883, email us at or check out the various pages of our website at For a more-in-depth look at disability income insurance including considerations to keep in mind when examining specific disability insurance coverage, please see this article provided courtesy of U.S. Life.

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