Sometimes people question the value of investing in life and disability insurance, but these forms of insurance are vital to any surgeon who is concerned about protecting their family’s future.
Life insurance protects the financial security of your family and your estate. It is a simple solution to a difficult question: How will my family and estate manage financially when I die? Consider the following facts:1
- More than two-thirds of Americans are more concerned about saving for retirement than dying prematurely and creating financial strain.
- As household income increases, consideration of life insurance decreases.
- Only three in 10 Americans feel they have sufficient coverage.
- The number one reason people cite for not buying life insurance is perceived cost.
An assessment of current and expected financial needs can help determine the amount and type of life insurance policy necessary to protect an individual’s family and estate. In the event of a tragedy, life insurance proceeds can do the following:
- Pay off outstanding debt, including credit cards and mortgages
- Allow your family to maintain the standard of living to which they are accustomed
- Finance future needs, such as your children’s education
- Protect a spouse’s retirement plan
- Pay off medical tuition/student loans
Disability income insurance
Disability income insurance is critical for today’s surgeon. Because the ability to earn a living is perhaps an individual’s greatest asset, it is important to protect yourself and your family in the event you develop a disability that prevents you from working.
Professionals typically don’t hesitate to insure their homes, automobiles, and other valuable possessions, but they may overlook insuring their income. Statistics reveal the following:2,3
- Only 26 percent of Americans have disability insurance.
- More than 37 million Americans are classified as disabled, and more than 50 percent of Americans with disabilities are in their working years—ages 18 to 64.
- One in eight Americans will be disabled for five years or more during their working careers.
- As a surgeon, the highly refined skills you require to carry out your professional responsibilities lower the injury or illness threshold that could prevent you from performing your specialty.
- Approximately 90 percent of disabilities are caused by illnesses rather than accidents.
According to the Council for Disability’s Long-Term Disability Claims Review, the following were the leading causes of new disability claims that are also a threat to a surgeon:4
- Musculoskeletal/connective tissue disorders (28.6 percent)*
- Cancer (15.1 percent)
- Injuries and poisoning (10.3 percent)
- Mental disorders (8.3 percent)
- Cardiovascular/circulatory disorders (8.7 percent)
A long-term disability plan can help an individual maintain his or her current lifestyle and help protect personal assets by replacing a portion of your income.
It is recommended that high-wage earners conduct a needs assessment to determine whether they have adequate coverage. This suggestion applies both to surgeons who are in private practice and who are health care systems employees.
Although many options for acquiring life and disability insurance are available, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) has sponsored programs to address a surgeon’s unique need for these types of plans. The ACS encourages Fellows to look into these programs and to consider their options with regard to educational and personal needs. Visit the ACS Insurace Program website or call the ACS Insurance Program at 800-433-1672 for more information.
*This category includes claims caused by neck and back pain; joint, muscle and tendon disorders; foot, ankle and hand disorders, and so on.
- Life happens. 2015 Insurance Barometer Study. Available at: www.lifehappens.org/industry-resources/agent/barometer2015/. Accessed February 19, 2016.
- U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2014. Available at: www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/news/data-releases/2014.html. Accessed February 26, 2016.
- Commissioner’s Disability Insurance Tables A and C, assuming equal weights by gender and occupation class. Transactions of Society of Actuaries. Volume 37. 1985.
- The 2014 Council for Disability Awareness Long Term Disability Claims Review. Available at: www.disabilitycanhappen.org/research/CDA_LTD_Claims_Survey_2014.asp. Accessed February 26, 2016.