Deciding to become a dentist can be an expensive career choice. According to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), the average student loan debt for indebted dental school graduates from the class of 2019 was $292,169.
That’s a huge investment to make in your dental career. And dental disability insurance can help you protect that investment.
One in four people in their 20s will suffer a disability before they retire. You may think that practicing dentistry isn’t a “dangerous” job. But most disabilities are caused by illnesses, not accidents.
With disability insurance, you can rest assured that your income is protected. Let’s look at to find the best disability insurance for dentists, hygienists, or other dental professionals at an affordable price.
What disability insurance do dentists need?
Here are a few things you’ll want to look for in a dental disability insurance policy.
When you’re choosing a dental disability insurance policy, it’s important to consider how disability is defined. With an any-occupation policy, you’re only considered disabled if you’re unable to work at any job.
But the own-occupation definition of disability is different. You’ll receive benefits as long as your disability keeps you from being able to practice dentistry. If you can’t do your normal dental work, an own-occupation policy will pay out, even if you’re able to perform other types of full-time work.
You can even purchase own-occupation coverage for particular dental profession specialties. This could be a valuable asset for surgeons and orthodontists. In this case, your policy would pay out even if you transition into work as a general family dentist.
Coverage until retirement
Disability income insurance benefit periods vary. Common disability benefit periods include two years, five years, 10 years, and until age 65. Although a shorter benefit period will be less expensive, it probably isn’t worth the risk.
With disability coverage until age 65, you’ll have guaranteed monthly benefit income until retirement, regardless of whether you become disabled at 27 or 57.
You’ll also want to make sure that your policy is non-cancellable. This means the insurer can’t ever cancel your policy or raise your premium.
Future increase option
As you progress through your dentistry career, your disability insurance needs may change. After a few years, your income may dramatically increase. Your cost of living may rise as well. In either case, your existing disability insurance coverage may become inadequate.
That’s why many insurers offer future increase options on their dental disability insurance policies. With a future purchase option, you can lock in your policy at a young age. But at the same time, you’ll have the freedom to increase your benefit amount down the road.
Not every disability will require you to quit your job completely. Instead, you may suffer a disability that simply limits your work capacity. For instance, you may only be able to work 20 hours a week instead of 40.
That’s where residual disability protection on your policy can come in handy. You’ll be able to receive some benefits even if you aren’t completely disabled. You’ll typically need a loss of income of at least 15% before residual protection will kick in.
If the disability policy you’re looking at doesn’t automatically include residual protection, you may be able to add it as a rider.
Long waiting period
The waiting period is how long you need to be disabled before receiving benefits. The waiting period is also referred to, at times, as the elimination period.
Waiting periods can range from 30 to 365 days. The longer the waiting period, the more affordable your policy premiums will be. Choosing an elimination period of at least 90 days is a good idea if you want to keep your policy affordable.
Where can you buy dental disability insurance?
You may have dental disability income insurance offered through your work. But you’ll want to check the specifics of the plan. It could be short-term disability insurance, which won’t adequately protect you. And even if your employer offers long-term dental disability insurance, you’ll lose that coverage if you change jobs.
For these reasons, you’ll probably want to buy your own separate policy to protect against long-term disabilities. Here are a few places where you can purchase dental disability insurance.
Online comparison shopping sites
Online shopping tools like Policygenius can help you quickly find the right dental disability insurance policy. They get you quotes from multiple insurance carriers in minutes.
Regardless of which insurer you choose, you can find non-cancellable, own-occupation policies with residual protection and future increase options. To make sure you’re getting the best deal, try comparing quotes from both sites.
American Dental Association
Members of the American Dental Association (ADA) can get exclusive member rates on ADA disability insurance. This is a true own-occupation plan and includes coverage until age 67. And since its a group policy, it may offer lower premiums than you could access with an individual disability insurance plan.
ADA disability insurance will also cover both total disability and partial disability as well as replace up to $180,000 of income per year. If you’re a member of the ADA, it would definitely be a good idea to compare the price of its plan against outside quotes.
Finally, you may want to contact some independent agents in your local area. Ask some of your dentist friends if they have any recommendations.
The overall idea is to make sure that you shop around for dental disability insurance at multiple places. By doing this, you’ll usually be able to find better offers than the ones offered by insurance representatives who visit med schools.
Whichever insurance company you choose, make sure it has a good AM Best rating. An insurance policy won’t do you any good if the insurer goes out of business. That’s why AM Best rates the financial health of insurance companies. AM Best gives each insurer a letter grade from A++ (superior ) to D (poor). Try to stick with companies that have an AM. Best rating of A- (excellent) or above.
Does dental disability insurance cover student loans?
Yes and no. Dental disability insurance simply pays out a percentage of your income — 60% is common. Once that money is in your hands, you can choose how to spend it — whether on student loans or any other expenses.
But since dentists tend to have such massive student loan balances, their student loan payments are often higher than the average person’s. For this reason, keeping up with these payments and maintaining your lifestyle can be difficult to manage on 60% of a dentist’s normal income.
That’s why several insurers offer student loan riders on their disability insurance policies. Disability insurance student loan riders will typically pay up to a certain limit per month — from a few hundred dollars to a max of around $2,500 a month.
Finding the best disability insurance for dentists
Finding the right disability insurance for you will depend on your needs. Consider how much coverage is right for you, how long you want it to last, and whether or not extra coverage for your student loans is essential.
Once you’ve decided what you need in a dental disability insurance policy, be sure to get quotes from multiple places. Shopping around will help you find the best coverage for the lowest price.
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