By Jamie L. Fehrs, MBA
While you are in residency, it’s common to think that you don’t need to deal with things like insurance because, well, you’re still in training. Insurance can be dealt with once “real life” kicks in, you might say.
Actually, there are some compelling reasons for securing disability income insurance while you are still in training. Let’s explore them.
Is Dentistry a Risky Business?
You probably haven’t thought of your profession as risky, but the truth is that the work you have chosen is highly specialized, and in the event that something happens to you (whether on or off the job), you could see your career come to a quick end (or significant slowdown). A minor hand injury may not slow down the average office worker or business executive. An endodontist, however, could see months or years of income fall away as a result of a hand injury. So while dentistry as a profession is not risky per se, the risks that the individual practitioner is exposed to can put their ability to earn an income at risk. For this reason alone, it’s important to try to mitigate it.
Protect Your Investment
Ironically, many residents feel that because they are not currently earning much money, they do not have anything valuable to protect. Not having significant income translates (in their minds) to not having much to protect. Not true. It could be argued that, in some ways, a dental resident, or anybody in training, is probably worth more at this point in time than they will be worth at any time in the future, simply because all their earning time is ahead of them.
All of your earning at this point is locked potential. Consider that potential an investment, and the investment is YOU. Disability income insurance allows you to protect your future insurability, even if it’s in the form of securing some minimum level of coverage with an option that may allow you to increase your coverage in the future, as your income increases, without having to worry about any changes in health.
Protect Yourself From Debt Obligations
Many disability income policies today offer student loan protection riders. A rider is optional coverage that you may be able to secure at an additional cost. If you’ve borrowed money to fund your education, it’s probably not a bad idea for you to look into student loan protection riders, which may help pay all or a portion of your monthly student loan payments if you are totally disabled.
Many federal loans forgive or discharge loans in the event of a disability, but if you read the find print, you’ll discover that their definition of disability may be somewhat restrictive. Accordingly, considering the purchase of a student loan protection rider may be quite worthwhile.
A Word About Malpractice Insurance
While malpractice insurance (or professional liability insurance) is a completely separate product from disability income insurance, it’s often presented as the “other insurance” endodontists in training should familiarize themselves with and secure early on in their careers.
If you are reading this article because you are currently in training and are concerned about your risk exposure, there are a few reasons to secure malpractice insurance while you are still in school. Most schools will ensure that you are covered for malpractice while in training under the auspices of their program. One possible exception may be in the event of an externship. If you are participating in an externship, make certain that the coverage through your dental school provides coverage. If it does not, you will need to purchase separate coverage. In addition, you will need your own coverage when taking your board exams.
Hopefully this information will help further your education on your risk exposure, and guide you along your path. We wish you the very best of health and success in your new career.
Treloar & Heisel and Treloar & Heisel Risk Management are divisions of Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
Insurance products offered through Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
For advice on the discussed topics, please review with your licensed advisor.