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‘Own-specialty”—what that means. And why it’s so important.

By:  Kendra Henderson
Physician Insurance Specialist

Doctor Patient Hand Shoulder

When you read your disability insurance policy—and, yes, you should—you will hopefully come across the words “own specialty.”  The context will be something like this: “Benefits will be paid when the insured is unable to perform the material and substantial activities of his or her own specialty at the time of the claim.”

Why an ‘own-specialty’ or “own-occupation” definition is a must for physicians

Some disability policies—often employer-sponsored group plans—define disability as being unable to perform the duties of any occupation. Others are defined more narrowly, paying when the insured is unable to meet the demands of his or her own occupation.

Good disability insurance for physicians includes “own-specialty” language. The differing demands of specialty practice require it. Surgery, for example, demands physical skills and stamina that a specialist in internal medicine might not need, at least not to the same degree.

Physicians often ask me if AMA-sponsored Disability Insurance offers “own specialty” coverage. Of course, the answer is yes. In fact . . .

AMA Insurance offers physicians a choice

Even when a disability policy includes “own specialty” language, there can be differences in the way benefits are paid.

You may see articles touting “true own specialty” insurance as the only way to go. They sometimes also say that AMA Insurance does not offer “true own specialty” disability insurance. In fact, we do, but we offer a modified option as well. While “true own specialty” policies might eventually pay more, they will cost more.

Modified “own-specialty” disability insurance pays monthly benefits for total disability benefits when you are unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your occupation solely due to injury or sickness and you are not gainfully employed. After you return to work benefits may be reduced based upon other income received.

“True own-specialty” insurance pays the maximum monthly benefit you are unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your occupation/medical specialty due to injury or illness. With this definition, you can work in another occupation/medical specialty and still be eligible for full disability benefits. Your benefits would not be reduced based on other income received.

At first glance, this is an attractive proposition, but it comes with a cost. The premium for true own-specialty insurance is inevitably higher.

At AMA Insurance, we believe you should decide which is right for you. And before you make the choice, ask yourself some questions.

  1. Are you confident that the monthly maximum benefit will fully meet your needs?
  2. Are there likely to be realistic opportunities for you to earn income outside your normal practice?
  3. Is your income likely to increase substantially over the next few years?

Now, here are some questions to ask a Physicians Insurance Specialist:

  1. How much more would I pay for “true own specialty” vs. the “own-specialty” option, based on the monthly benefit I prefer?
  2. Are there other coverage options that I should consider to enhance my level of protection?

You can depend on us to give you objective information. Even though you have many demands on your time, it is well worth investing a little to explore your options and work through the numbers. Physician Insurance Specialists will gladly help. Call us at 888-627-6685 or schedule a call at a time convenient to you, click here.

Kendra Henderson is a Physician Insurance Specialist at AMA Insurance. She specializes in disability and life insurance and works with physicians and their families at every career stage. Kendra is licensed to sell insurance in all 50 states and has helped hundreds of physicians nationally with their disability coverage.

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