- Disability insurance for thoracic surgeons can provide income if you experience a disabling injury or illness.
- Own-occupation disability coverage for thoracic surgeons allows you to collect monthly benefits if you’re unable to work in your medical specialty for a short period of time or up until retirement age.
- Thoracic surgery is considered a high-risk occupation, resulting in higher premiums than other non-invasive physicians.
There are less than 5,000 practicing thoracic surgeons in the United States. This speaks to the highly specialized nature of performing chest surgeries involving the heart, lungs, esophagus and trachea. For a profession that requires expensive medical school, a general surgery residency and a thoracic surgery fellowship, it’s crucial you protect your high income and education investment with disability insurance specific to your medical specialty.
Read on to learn about disability insurance for thoracic surgeons, including what costs and policy decisions you might encounter.
Thoracic surgeon disability insurance premium costs
The cost of disability insurance reflects the individual buying it. Your occupation, age and gender will determine your premiums, as well as your medical history, smoking status and state of residence. Other policy decisions can also impact your costs, such as coverage amount, benefit period, waiting period and policy riders.
When buying true own-occupation coverage, you can expect to pay anywhere from 2% to 4% of your income in premiums. Here’s an example quote for own-occupation disability insurance for a female thoracic surgery resident versus a male.
Thoracic Surgeon Own-Occupation Disability Insurance Monthly Cost
(Age 34, Resident / Fellow)
*NOTE: True own occupation definition, $5,000 base monthly benefit, $15,000 future increase benefit, Residual / recovery and mental / nervous coverage added. 3% inflation rider. 90 day elimination period. Includes 10%-30% discounts available through SLP Insurance LLC
As shown, a female thoracic surgery resident could pay $275 to $360 monthly for an own-occupation policy with a future increase option and residual benefits. This is significantly more than a male resident who could pay between $174 to $235 per month for the same coverage.
Unlike term life insurance, women can pay up to 35% more for disability insurance. So, it’s important to work with an independent broker who can find the best discounts to lower your premiums.
Why do thoracic surgeons need disability insurance?
Cardiothoracic surgeons, on average, earn over $800,000 annually, according to a 2021 report from the American Medical Group Association (AMGA). That’s a substantial income that’s earned with more than a decade of specialized training and education. But that income isn’t guaranteed.
The Council for Disability Awareness estimates that about 25% of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire. However, this data point is based on being totally disabled and unable to work in any capacity.
As a thoracic surgeon, even a minor-to-moderate injury could impact your ability to perform complex chest surgeries that require precise movement and focus. This means you could be sidelined from your thoracic surgery specialty much sooner than you’ve planned for.
Long-term disability (LTD) insurance can protect against this risk of injury or illness. LTD provides a monthly income for the duration of your benefit period. Depending on your policy, this might be for a couple of years, or it might pay all the way up to traditional retirement age.
Considering your high income, disability insurance can provide a significant payout when you’re unable to work. But if you have a policy that includes true own-occupation coverage, you’ll also have the option to work and earn an income in another field while collecting disability income.
SLP Insurance can help match you with a true own-occupation policy that gives you the coverage you need with the best premium discounts available. Fill out the form below to get started, or keep reading to learn what adequate disability insurance for thoracic surgeons might look like.
Own-Occupation Disability Insurance Quote Form
What should thoracic surgeon disability insurance include?
Disability coverage varies greatly by company, policy and individual. This can make it feel overwhelming to find the best policy. Here’s what to consider when choosing LTD insurance:
- Choose a policy with a true own-occupation definition of disability. This will provide you with the strongest protection because you’ll only need to prove that you can’t perform your essential duties as a thoracic surgeon. In contrast, with any-occupation coverage, you likely won’t be eligible if you can still work in another profession.
- Determine if you could benefit from residual benefits for a partial disability. If you aren’t totally disabled, this rider allows you to collect disability insurance benefits based on loss of income due to reduced hours or duties.
- Opt for a future purchase option that allows you to buy additional coverage. If you’re a thoracic surgery resident or fellow, your salary will increase rapidly. A future increase rider enables you to increase your coverage without additional medical underwriting in the future.
Depending on your situation and risk tolerance, you might benefit from other disability riders, such as a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) rider, catastrophic disability benefit or student loan protection.
At the end of the day, the best policy is the one that’ll pay out when you need it most. For thoracic surgeons, that’s going to be a true own-occupation policy.
How often do thoracic surgeons file disability insurance claims?
Thoracic surgeons have one of the highest ratings for filing disability claims. This means disability insurance companies view you as a high risk based on historical data from thoracic surgeons. Unfortunately, that translates to larger premiums than other non-invasive medical specialties.
For example, disability insurance will likely cost more for you than a family practice physician or a gastroenterologist. But that’s because a minor disability could dramatically impair your abilities as a thoracic surgeon compared to someone who doesn’t perform invasive procedures.
What kind of disability coverage is offered to thoracic surgeons?
Thoracic surgeons can find disability insurance through various avenues. However, plans can vary greatly depending on the definition of disability, policy riders and benefit amounts.
Option 1: Employer group disability coverage for thoracic surgeons
You might have coverage through your healthcare employer. In which case, it’s usually long-term group coverage that’s provided at no cost. But your benefits could be capped below what you need, and it might come with a narrower definition of disability — making it harder to file a claim.
Additionally, because your employer is picking up the tab for premiums, your group policy payout will be taxable income.
Option 2: Professional association membership benefits
Many professional organizations offer long-term disability options to their members through insurance partnerships.
For example, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) offers plans for specialty-specific benefits up to $20,000. Whereas, the American Medical Association (AMA) offers up to $15,000 in coverage.
Option 3: Guaranteed Standard Issue (GSI) policy
If you’re in the middle of residency or a fellowship, you might have access to a GSI policy, depending on your program. This type of policy is often overlooked (or ignored) by insurance agents. But it can provide huge benefits if you have a pre-existing condition as it provides guaranteed coverage without a medical exam. They also have unisex pricing, which can greatly benefit female physicians.
For reference, GSI policies are available with John Hopkins and Baylor University (Houston) residency and fellowship programs, as well as many more programs across the country.
Option 4: Individually purchased thoracic surgeon policy
An individual disability insurance policy can provide more flexible coverage that’s tailored to your risk tolerance and financial situation. Unlike with employer-provided coverage, you’ll be responsible for paying premiums. But any paid disability benefits will be tax-free, meaning you’ll keep the full amount.
It’s best to use an independent broker who will search the “Big 6” insurance companies for a plan that matches your needs. These are the insurance carriers who are responsible for underwriting the majority of own-occupation policies. Plus, an independent broker can tap into exclusive discounts that can make coverage more affordable.
How much disability insurance do thoracic surgeons need?
The maximum for disability benefits varies by insurance company, policy and other factors, such as whether you have existing coverage. But typically, you can find long-term disability insurance that covers up to 60% of your income.
Thoracic surgeon disability payout amount
Using AMGA data, the average thoracic surgeon salary is $800,000. Therefore, the average chest surgeon could receive a maximum benefit of $40,000 per month. However, depending on your own earnings, your payout could be higher or lower.
Additionally, you might not need the full benefit if you live below your means or have a high-earning spouse. But you might consider buying the maximum if you’re the primary provider in your household or have significant fixed expenses.
Why you need to review your thoracic surgeon disability insurance policy
Before buying a disability policy, make sure you understand the details that will ultimately impact your claim. Here’s a quick checklist:
- Look for a true own-occupation policy to secure the strongest definition of disability.
- Review your coverage amount to ensure your fixed costs are covered, plus an additional cushion for miscellaneous expenses.
- Use a trusted insurance broker who will compare options for individual policies, as well as GSI policy opportunities. This is especially important if you have a pre-existing medical condition or need unisex pricing.
If you have an existing group disability insurance plan, you’ll want to review the specifics to determine if you have adequate coverage. A supplemental individual policy can provide you with an additional benefit or better protection for your medical specialty.
Get a disability insurance quote for thoracic surgeons
SLP Insurance works with high-income medical professionals to find disability coverage that fits your financial and lifestyle needs. Let us compare true own-occupation policy options and get you the best disability insurance discounts available.
Complete the form below for a custom quote for disability insurance for thoracic surgeons.