It can be uncomfortable to think about your own death. The good news is that there’s an extremely low chance of that happening for the next couple decades! That said, if you have a family depending on your income as most dentists do, life insurance for dentists should be an essential piece of your financial plan.
If you have existing life insurance, you might have been targeted due to your high dentist salary and sold an expensive product, like whole life. Or maybe you’re simply relying on your employer’s term life coverage thinking it’ll be enough. Alternatively, maybe you fall within the category of dentists who’ve opted out of life insurance altogether because you don’t think you’ll ever need it.
Here’s the deal: Term life insurance is necessary for most dentists, and it’s super affordable. It’s also a straightforward product, allowing you to make an easy decision that’ll provide protection for your family if the worst were to happen.
Read to learn about life insurance for dentists, including how much coverage you need, what other dentists are paying, and where to find it at an affordable rate.
Life insurance for dentists: What does the dental profession currently carry?
We reached out to our readers to get a better understanding of their life insurance coverage and overall insurance knowledge.
Our 2022 Student Loan Planner Insurance Survey had more than 1,500 participants. From that sample, 188 are dentists. However, we broke down dental specialities as follows to gain better insight:
- 151 general dentists
- 4 endodontists
- 4 oral surgeons
- 6 orthodontists
- 17 pediatric dentists
- 5 periodontists
- 1 prosthodontist
Here’s what we learned about the dental profession.
Dentists understand they need term life but don’t buy it soon enough
The vast majority of surveyed dentists said they thought they needed to buy term life insurance. But only about half have actually moved forward with purchasing a policy on their own.
This suggests that dentists, overall, have a firm grasp of the importance of having term life coverage. But they aren’t necessarily taking action and purchasing the coverage they need.
Our survey found that less than 13% of our responding dentists had some level of life insurance coverage through their employer. That makes sense in a profession where many dentists end up running their own practice or partnering in one.
I’ve spoken with over 1,000 dentists since founding Student Loan Planner. Dentists love to deduct things on their taxes. While you can deduct a small amount of term life premiums through an S corporation, that deduction is usually limited to a $50,000 policy. Life insurance is not exciting, but it’s a must if you have dependents or soon will.
Most in the dental profession are dangerously uninsured or underinsured.
Related: Understanding the Difference Between Life Insurance vs. Disability Insurance
Do dentists need life insurance?
Life insurance is meant to be a financial safety net for your loved ones when you’re gone. But you don’t necessarily need it for a lifetime.
You need life insurance when other people are dependent on your income. We usually suggest a 20-year term life policy. After it expires (that’s the goal for every life insurance policy), your kids should be out on their own and your major expenses (e.g. mortgage and other debts) should be paid off with a nice retirement nest egg.
In the event of an unexpected tragedy, you want to buy your family time, so they don’t need to make any big decisions for financial reasons well after you’re gone. I have enough term life coverage myself so that my family can pay off the mortgage, fully fund college anywhere in the country for my daughter and give my wife some funds to hire an attorney to sell my business.
Again, I hope I never need it! But I was able to buy $3 million of 20-year term coverage for only $80 a month.
Most dentists hear “life insurance” and get scared they’re about to be pitched an expensive insurance investment product.
That’s not what we’re talking about here. Pure term life only insures against death, and when you buy it as a young person, the policy protection can be huge. Plus, the premiums are usually very cheap. It’s like having a spare tire. You almost surely have one in the car, but you hope you never use it.
When do dentists need to shop for life insurance coverage?
Most people start exploring or reassessing their life insurance needs after a significant life event, such as getting married or having a child. These are major milestones that signal someone else will be relying on your income.
But you don’t have to wait for one of these life-altering moments.
Term life insurance is the cheapest when you’re at your youngest and healthiest stage of life. So, the sooner you purchase your own policy, the more affordable it’ll be as you age.
That said, I fully support letting a life event be a trigger to shop for your own policy.
The dental profession needs portable life insurance
Due to the nature of the dental profession, many dentists are left to find life insurance coverage on their own because they’re either self-employed or work for a small employer with limited benefits.
The portability of an individual term life policy can benefit you over the course of your dental career. The policy will follow you without interruptions if you decide to move to a new dental office or eventually open your own practice.
How much term life insurance do dentists need?
If you were to pass away, how much money would it take to keep your family at the same standard of living? How much would it take to pay off the mortgage, send your kids to college and provide your spouse or partner with adequate financial support in your absence?
Although these are financial scenarios you should consider, there’s an easier way to figure out how much term life insurance is needed for your family.
To keep it simple, we recommend buying coverage that’s 10 times your salary, rounded up to the nearest half a million.
Basic formula: Salary x 10 = Minimum Coverage (rounded up to nearest 500K) = Policy Amount
However, if you’re the primary income earner of your household, we recommend bumping up your policy amount to 10 to 15 times your salary depending on your risk tolerance and the earning potential of your spouse.
Term life coverage for the average dentist
To demonstrate, let’s use the average dentist salary of $158,940 based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for general dentists. The recommended policy calculation looks like this:
Average general dentist coverage: $158,940 x 10 = $1,589,400 (rounded up to nearest 500K) = $2 million
Therefore, the average general dentist could be adequately insured with a $2 million term life policy.
However, our survey results showed that more than three-quarters of dentists are the breadwinner of their household. The average breadwinner general dentist might consider adding slightly more coverage. For example, $3 million in term life coverage might be a reasonable number for a dentist with a spouse who does not earn taxable income.
Now, think about what coverage you have with your employer or existing individual policy. For some, it might be a shocking difference in what you need versus what you currently have.
Some term life policies are ridiculously expensive due to buying through a captive agent who can only sell one company’s policy. So, even if you have a policy, you can shop for a cheaper one. I did this personally, swapping out a $1 million 20-year term policy for $40 a month for a $3 million policy for $80 a month.
What life insurance benefits do dentists get through work?
Only a small portion of our surveyed dentists had life insurance coverage with their employer. If you happen to be a dentist with this particular work benefit, it’s likely offered as a free or subsidized benefit that covers either a set amount or one to two times your salary. In which case, you’re underinsured if you have a family.
For example, Aspen Dental provides company-paid life insurance up to $50,000, which is a common capped amount. That low benefit level allows the premiums to be tax-deductible.
Although $50,000 is helpful in the immediate aftermath of a sudden death, it’s not nearly enough to take care of the loved ones you leave behind for years to come.
Even if your employer term life policy covers one to two times your salary, you’re still greatly underinsured.
Two times the average general dentist salary ($158,940) is only about $318,000, which might seem like a lot at first glance. But considering the average dentist needs at least $2 million in term life, you’ll need to supplement your coverage with an individual policy.
How much does term life insurance cost for dentists?
Your monthly premium will vary depending on a number of factors, such as your age, coverage amount, term length and overall health. Note that being a smoker or having high-risk hobbies (e.g. skydiving) could significantly increase your premiums.
Our survey found that general dentists pay an average monthly cost of $99 for their current life insurance policy. However, all surveyed dental specialties reported paying monthly premiums ranging from $18 to $1,218 or more. The $1,000+ number probably represented someone who owned a whole life policy.
This is a large span of premiums. So, we ran cost estimates through various insurance companies to give you a better understanding of how much term life insurance for dentists might cost you.
Here’s what a 20-year term policy with $2 million versus $2.5 million of coverage could cost for a dentist in great health:
|Coverage Cost Estimates||$2 Million Policy||$2.5 Million Policy|
|26-year-old Female Dentist||$40 per month||$51 per month|
|26-year-old Male Dentist||$54 per month||$66 per month|
|35-year-old Female Dentist||$50 per month||$66 per month|
|35-year-old Male Dentist||$59 per month||$73 per month|
Considering your family could be provided with $2 million or more in the event of your death, term life premiums are very affordable for dentists earning high six-figure incomes.
Most young, healthy dentists can find adequate term life coverage for around $40 to $60 per month based on our cost estimates. For an extra $10 to $15 monthly, you can get an additional half-a-million dollars for extra peace of mind.
If you’d like a free life insurance quote for your policy scenario, use the SLP Insurance quote tool.
Top term life insurance options for dentists
If you’re receiving a lengthy spiel about the investment benefits of your expensive life insurance policy, it’s time to exit the conversation and look on your own. The same applies if you’re solely relying on your work-provided coverage.
Finding the right life insurance policy shouldn’t be complicated. As you explore life insurance options, focus on the coverage amount, policy term and premiums.
You can also look at other determining factors, like options to renew or extend your policy at a later date and whether you’ll be required to complete a medical exam.
If you’re purchasing a $1 million policy or more, you might be asked to take a medical exam in order to get the cheapest rate possible. However, not all insurance companies require one.
Using our quote tool at the bottom of this article, you can find up to $3 million in term coverage with no medical exam. The cost for a no medical exam policy is usually $5 to $10 a month extra, which many dentists tell me is more than fair to avoid any thought of a blood draw or the risk of getting turned down after an exam.
Life insurance through an association partnership
If you’re a member of a professional association, you might be able to purchase a discounted term life policy through a partnership.
For example, the American Dental Association (ADA) offers several types of life insurance for its members, spouses and dependents. Using its quote tool, a 35-year-old male dentist in excellent health can get a $2 million policy for about $477 annually. However, there’s some notable caveats to this low premium.
For one, this isn’t a fixed premium like you’d get with an individual term life policy. Instead, premiums gradually increase with age. Additionally, you could be asked to requalify for your preferred premium rate after 10 years by providing proof of good health. If you ignore the request or have a change in your health, your premium status could change, costing you more later in the policy. This amount also includes a 33% premium credit discount that is periodically reviewed, so it isn’t guaranteed.
Most group benefit plans like the ADA’s typically have limited options or more complex pricing and underwriting requirements. So, be sure to read the fine print and compare your options by exploring individual term life policies.
Quickly compare term life insurance options with SLP Insurance
Not all insurance carriers and plans are created equal. So, it’s best to shop around with multiple insurers to find the best coverage and value for your specific situation.
To compare over a dozen term life insurance options, start the free quote process today.