Skip to content

When Should You Start Looking for Disability Income Insurance?

Don’t skimp on this critically important protection for dentists.

By Jamie L. Fehrs, MBA, ChFC®

At our firm, we have always held that disability income insurance is protection that anyone practicing dentistry should secure as soon as possible (read: immediately!). As a financial services professional, I am all too familiar with the common reasons doctors offer for putting off the purchase of this important risk management tool. I’ve heard, “Well, you know what, I am not making any money right now. For goodness sake, I’m still paying tuition!” I’ve also heard, “I make fifty grand as a resident, believe me there’s not a dime to spare.”

While I don’t deny that for many people getting through dental school or residency comes with a specific set of stressors, I also can’t refute the fact that disability is a really serious matter. Disability is one of those things that most people believe “will not happen to me,” until it unfortunately does, and inevitably upends their life. Being “taken out” by a disability is hard enough physically and emotionally; it need not be exacerbated by the financial hardship that comes from losing your primary source of income.

I would contend that in some ways you’re probably worth more as a student than you are at any time in the future. Hard to believe? Well, it’s true! As a student, you are “all potential,” and as such you have all of your earning years ahead of you. That’s something to be cherished and protected.

Securing disability income coverage while you are in training may put you in a position to update the coverage once you get out of your training program. Another great part is that once you obtain it, you may be able to update your coverage without regard to any changes that may have occurred in your health history. Again, if you’re a young person and you’re thinking “what kind of health changes is he talking about?” – believe me, there are things that happen when you get older. Your body is generally in its best condition the younger you are.

Now, let’s turn to your income. Even if being a student is hard, by the time you graduate, your income likely will have gone up. Most people want to increase their disability income coverage at that point, because there’s more at stake. Now that you’re making some “real” money, you want to make sure that you protect that income. Knowing that you have locked in your health history early on in your career, likely will allow you to access better rates for purchasing insurance.

You may have heard that some companies offer discounted rates for dental students or residents. They may let you “lock in” a lower rate when you’re in school. Given that most people are in school when they’re younger and in better health, then obviously the rates you lock in will be quite in your favor. So think about that! Now is a great time to buy disability income insurance. Don’t put it off until after graduation, get it while you can.

The bottom line is that disability income insurance is a kind of asset protection. You would never think of not having health insurance, would you? Of course not. Everything hinges on your physical health, and you want to protect that asset. It helps to think about disability insurance as the insurance you get to protect your financial health. It’s the stopgap measure that kicks in when you are unable to produce an income due to disability.

Just remember, you’re likely the most valuable money-making asset you have.

Treloar & Heisel and Treloar & Heisel Property and Casualty are divisions of Treloar & Heisel, Inc.

Insurance products are offered through Treloar & Heisel, Inc.

This content is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as advice. Please consult with a licensed insurance advisor.


Jamie Fehrs is manager, Financial Services Association Division, Treloar & Heisel. Learn more at