Starting residency: 3 questions to ask about your insurance
As a resident physician you likely receive insurance coverage as a benefit of your employment. This coverage is usually paid for by the hospital and is part of a package of benefits and services offered in addition to your regular salary. This is important insurance protection, but it may not offer you the complete coverage you may need for your unique personal situation. It’s best to think of your employer-provided coverage as a base from which to build upon. Evaluating this insurance in light of your needs is an important step to protecting yourself, your family, and your income. Here are three questions to ask yourself as you consider your current employer-provided insurance:
1. Is my employer-provided disability protection enough?
You have a significant potential income stream when you consider the years of practice you have ahead of you. Your ability to earn an income is your most important asset. The risk to that income, to your financial future, is disability and death. Securing an adequate amount of disability and life insurance now is key.
Disability insurance protects your ability to earn an income. You should consider purchasing resident disability insurance as a supplement to the coverage you receive at work. You want disability insurance that’s portable and protects your medical specialty, not just your ability to practice as a physician. Understanding the different types of physician disability insurance coverage available to residents is important.
Life insurance is important if you have someone who depends on your income. In addition to the loss of your income, your family may be left with any student loan debt that cannot be discharged. Term life insurance offers an affordable solution for residents to help provide financial protection for your family. Educating yourself about life insurance coverage options will help your physician family choose coverage that meets your particular life insurance goals.
2. Do I have all the life insurance I need?
Typically, an employer would offer a denomination of salary as a life insurance benefit – one time per salary. This may be adequate if there aren’t any financial obligations you’ll leave behind. Life insurance is meant to assist the beneficiaries who had depended upon your current and future income. As you evaluate your life insurance needs, consider the financial obligations your family would face without your salary – household expenses, children’s education costs, and final expenses to name a few. Costs add up. Does your current life insurance leave a gap?
Even if you don’t have anyone currently depending on your salary you may have a need for additional protection. Life insurance can also be used to protect cosigners on your private student loans. Some medical education debt may be forgiven when a borrower dies. Private loans are not always discharged and may be the responsibility of your co-signer. Life insurance coverage may help protect them from the financial burden of your student debt.
Shopping for life insurance may not be as complicated as other types of insurance coverage. Provisions and features don’t vary widely between carriers. A term life insurance plan generally offers the best value for those most concerned about protecting loved ones from financial hardship. Term life insurance can provide a high amount of coverage at a lower initial premium. In fact, term life insurance may never be more affordable for you than it is right now. Age is one of the factors that determines the cost of life insurance; the younger you are, the less you will spend on coverage. This is especially attractive to medical residents. A trusted insurance professional can help you determine the type and amount of life insurance coverage you may need that fits within your budget.
3. What’s the best way to shop for insurance?
Turn to a trusted source who understands the unique insurance needs of a resident physician. Your personal, professional, and financial circumstances won’t benefit from off the shelf, one-size-fits-all, insurance. Look for insurance designed for physicians, with features and benefits that respond to the unique character of your profession. It’s important for you to find insurance specialists who understand the medical profession and can offer you best-in-class products and services.