Disability insurance for doctors: the key to protecting your financial future

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This article is sponsored by Pattern. 

Pattern advisor Shelby Heiser discusses how disability insurance is more than a box that doctors need to check—it’s a tool for financial security and peace of mind.

Each physician is unique.

They come from different backgrounds, work in different specialties, and serve an immeasurable amount of patients, each with their own needs.

But every physician has one thing in common: A need to: protect their income.

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A mission to empower physicians

Physicians spend years of their lives mastering their specialty, caring for patients, and building a life outside of their work. As fulfilling as all of this can be, it doesn’t leave much time for them to think about our finances.

A recent survey found that 70 percent of physicians – including residents, fellows, and attending – lack the tools for financial success. Doctors face unique financial challenges, including jarring amounts of education debt and delayed earning potential due to our long training periods. These factors can understandably compound feelings of financial insecurity and impede a doctor’s pursuit of financial independence.

This underscores the need for doctors to have a guide when making decisions about their financial future.

Since our founding in 2013, Pattern has helped more than 20,000 doctors shop for disability insurance. Along the way, we’ve developed a keen understanding of the time demands that physicians—especially medical residents—experience.

“We definitely do a more personalized approach here at Pattern,” Shelby explained, highlighting the tailored support offered to physicians.

Before Pattern, doctors would have to spend days or weeks gathering quotes from different carriers and then comparing policies on their own. What sets us apart in the industry today is our commitment to educating doctors first so they can buy their policies with confidence.

With Pattern, you can complete a free quote request in about five minutes. Then, an advisor will compare quotes from five major carriers so you can make an informed decision about your coverage.

Choosing the right coverage

Choosing the right disability insurance can feel overwhelming. Shelby’s role involves demystifying this process for physicians, offering personalized advice that caters to the unique needs of each doctor.

Pattern specializes in a special type of disability insurance – it’s called own-occupation disability insurance.

Think about it like this: If you are a surgeon and develop a hand tremor and can no longer perform surgeries, but you can pursue a career in teaching, you would receive benefits.

“We are physician-focused… This type of disability insurance is where we’re experts,” Shelby said, reflecting on Pattern’s deep understanding of the medical profession and the specific challenges physicians face.

Any-occupation disability insurance is often provided by employers or professional associations but usually offers less tailored coverage and benefits. This type of insurance typically requires that you cannot work in any occupation to receive benefits, a definition that can significantly limit access to your benefits.

“I have reviewed many employer policies and private policies that don’t have that [own-occupation] language. And a lot of times, they’re actually not much cheaper,” Shelby said. “One thing about Pattern that I really like is not only do we take that personalized approach—being a broker, having these meetings, asking the important questions up front—but we are physician-focused.”

Timing is everything

Health risks loom everywhere for physicians, even those early in their careers, so the timing for securing disability insurance couldn’t be more critical.

“The best time to buy disability insurance is as early as possible in your career,” Shelby emphasized.

Specifically, after Match Day during your fourth year of medical school is the ideal time to secure your policy.

The rationale is straightforward — securing lower rates with training discounts and ensuring coverage before any potential health issues arise, safeguarding your financial future.

In fact, doctors who purchased their policy as an attending pay 18 percent more in annual premium-to-benefit amount compared to doctors who purchased as residents.

A culture of caring

Throughout the conversation, Shelby reiterated the vital role of disability insurance in a physician’s life, providing not just financial security but also peace of mind.

As she aptly put it, “It’s really rewarding to know that I’ve helped them secure some financial well-being.”

This reflects the refreshing level of transparency Pattern’s team offers to doctors. When speaking with an advisor, we’ll help you look for any red flags you may have received from other brokers, walk you through how policy costs are calculated, and even tell you if it’s not the right time to buy a policy.

Watch or listen to the full podcast for a wide-ranging conversation that includes topics like:

  • How many doctors have to use long-term disability insurance
  • The right time to buy disability insurance
  • The pitfalls of working with an instant quote website
  • Group policies vs. private policies
  • True own-occupation vs. any occupation policies
  • Common mistakes doctors make when shopping for disability insurance
  • Pattern’s process
  • How physicians can prepare for a meeting with an advisor

Closing thoughts

The call to action for physicians is clear: Do not delay in securing your disability insurance. While seemingly complex, the process is considerably simpler with the right guidance.

Shelby’s parting advice rings true. “Don’t wait until it’s too late,” she said.

As physicians of all stripes navigate their careers, dedicating ourselves to the care of others, it’s imperative that we also take steps to protect our own financial well-being.

We invite you to consider your own situation. Have you secured the disability insurance coverage that you need? Are you prepared for the unexpected? If not, we encourage you to take the first step today. Reach out to the Pattern team today, and we will guide you through this crucial process, ensuring that you, too, can secure your peace of mind and financial security.

Shelby Heiser is an insurance sales advisor at Pattern.

Pattern simplifies disability and life insurance for busy doctors so they feel confident they have the right policy and that their income is protected. Request your quotes today.

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