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Insurance for your paycheck

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month

May 01, 2013

By Karen Fox, ADA News staff

A disabling illness or accident is often the furthest thing from a dentist's mind; but the effects of one can be staggering.

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, and the Council on Members Insurance and Retirement Programs—which sponsors the ADA Disability Income Protection and Office Overhead Expense benefit plans—is taking the time to remind dentists and dental students to examine their resources in case of a life-altering event.

“At any stage of your career, you should expect that it could happen,” said Dr. Thomas Paumier, chair of the Council on Members Insurance and Retirement Plans. “You may be unable to continue to practice in the manner you did in the past, and when you lose income you lose the ability to support your practice and your family.”

In fact, becoming disabled—even partially—may be more common than you think. A statistic that appears on ADA Members Insurance Plans' website says that “1 out of 3 dentists will be disabled long enough to collect benefits at some point before retirement, and you're five times more likely to be disabled during your working years than you are to die before age 65.”

“That isn't just a general statistic; it's based on years of disability claims by ADA members,” said Dr. Paumier. The source is Great-West Financial, underwriter of the ADA disability insurance plans.

The ADA Disability Income Protection Plan offers protection at exclusive member-only rates that are among the lowest that dentists will find for comparable coverage. The plan features a true “own occupation” definition of disability that can pay benefits up until age 65. Own occupation means that if you become totally disabled from your specialized area of dentistry, you'll get full benefits, even if you choose to work in another area of dentistry or enter a new profession.

Even temporary disabilities are enough to wreak havoc on a dentist's financial outlook.

“For younger dentists with student debt, any disability that would keep them from working at the early stages of their careers could be catastrophic in their ability to maintain a practice,” said Dr. Paumier.

ADA student members are eligible for disability insurance coverage at no cost. Plus, once they are practicing, they will have the ability to convert to low-cost coverage in the ADA member plans without medical underwriting.

“Over 67 percent of members of the American Student Dental Association have ADA-sponsored Student Disability coverage,” said Dr. Paumier. “Should a student become disabled during his or her education years, there is a provision that will pay off their student loans in the event of disability. It really does meet a need that many don't think about.”

ADA-sponsored Members Insurance Plans are consistently ranked among the top benefits of ADA membership, and in the 2012 Member Value and Loyalty Survey were once again rated high when it comes to evaluating perceptions of benefits and factors that drive member value. There are more than 19,000 member dentists—representing 21 percent of membership—who are covered by the Disability Income Protection Plan alone.

Dr. Steven Fink is a dentist who has firsthand experience with disability insurance. A past chair of the CMIRP, Dr. Fink carried the ADA-sponsored Office Overhead Expense Plan from Great-West Financial. Disability Income Protection protects your personal income, while Office Overhead Expense coverage helps you keep the doors of your practice open during a period of disability by reimbursing up to $25,000 of business expenses (employee salaries, lease/mortgage, utilities and loans).

“As the underwriter for the plan, I felt like Great-West Financial really cared about my well-being as an ADA member dentist; not just their bottom line,” said Dr. Fink. “My Office Overhead Expense Plan was a life saver, and it helped protect my dental practice and my staff during that difficult time.”

Disability Income Replacement and Office Overhead Expense insurance complement each other to provide the maximum protection for members.

“Twenty percent of your colleagues are covered by the ADA's Income Protection Plan, so you have comfort in knowing that you will have that same security: the best insurance at the best value,” said Dr. Paumier. “It's likely that the savings you get from the ADA Members Insurance Plans will pay your entire membership dues for a year. That's member value.”

For more information on ADA Insurance Plans, visit ADA Insurance. If you have questions, email or call 1-866-607-5338 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Time.