That’s a question we are often called to address, and the answer is often “yes.” You may not need the same level of protection as people well into their medical careers, and unless you’re independently wealthy, we understand you can’t afford to pay unlimited disability insurance premiums. But we find that medical students are very much at risk for disability-related financial problems, and can quickly develop a substantial need for disability protection.
Here’s why medical students should seriously consider laying a foundation of protection against disability now.
1. You could become disabled
Yes, this should be obvious. But we’ve all known young people who think they are invincible – until it’s too late. Medical students encounter disabling illnesses and accidents all the time – from car wrecks to crimes to sporting accidents and everything in between. If you’ve ever considered a college or med school ski trip or surf safari, you probably need to consider disability insurance.
2. Chronic illnesses are not only for the old.
Many long-term, chronic and potentially career-ending illnesses first become symptomatic or onset during your 20s. Examples include schizophrenia, manic depression, pregnancy-related complications, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and many others. The leading cause of disability insurance claims are actually musculatory-skeletal conditions, and these frequently do affect young people – and can make it difficult or impossible to function as a physician as you had planned.
3. You can lock in future insurability. The insurance industry has programs that let you lock in the ability to buy more insurance later on, as your income increases, regardless of your medical condition or insurability. For example: Let’s say you are in medical school now, and things are going great – but you wake up one morning unable to move your legs. Tests show you have multiple sclerosis – which at this stage is a tremendous inconvenience – but it’s not severe enough yet to knock you out of medical school and you can still manage to work.
If you have not purchased disability insurance yet, you aren’t going to be able to buy it. Just like you can’t wait until your house is on fire to buy fire insurance, you can’t wait until your MS episode to buy disability or long-term care insurance.
But… if you already have coverage in place and you chose to include a future insurability rider, you will have the opportunity to purchase additional protection, guaranteed, even as your income increases. You will be able to guarantee more and more income as you enter residency and even enter private practice. We hope that even with MS or some other chronic illness that you can still work a long and rewarding career. But when the time comes that you have to stop working, you will still be able to fall back on a guaranteed income reflecting that of a doctor, not a medical student – provided you take advantage of the guaranteed insurability rider.
Otherwise, you take the risk that your disability income protection will not be able to grow with your career trajectory.
4. You have substantial student loan debt. Chances are very good that by this point in your career you will already have amassed some serious student loan debt to repay. If you haven’t, just stay in medical school. Most of you will owe money by the time you’re done. That’s not a bad investment at all – a physician can expect to earn many millions of dollars by the time he or she retires. That is many, many times the amount spent on a doctor’s education, as expensive as education is. But the difficulty comes when a young medical student incurs the high expense of medical school – and then through no fault of his or her own – becomes disabled and cannot work in any vocation nearly as lucrative as medicine. Then you’ll still have to repay the debt somehow: Federally-guaranteed student loan debt is extremely difficult to discharge, even for disabled individuals. Locking in an income now that will still be there in case you get unlucky in life will be a Godsend later.Furthermore, in some case, your parents may have co-signed on student loan debt. That means if you can’t pay your debt, the lenders will then go after your parents in order to collect. If your parents have cosigned any loans for you, even as an undergraduate, or even for non-education-related debt such as a car loan, getting disability insurance in place now can help protect them as well as you.
5. Medical School Discounts. Often, medical schools work out special discounts on disability insurance for their students. These discounts may go away once you graduate, or your health may change. Now’s the time to start shopping.
Want to know more? Call us today at 866-899-7318 for a no-obligation consultation and policy quotation. Or visit our home page at www.doctordisability.com.