The Truth About Disability Insurance
A must-read for clinical hygienists
Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, BSDH, DMD
Have you thought about what you would do if you couldn't practice dental hygiene anymore? Many dental hygienists have to seek an alternative career when changes in their health preclude them from practicing. In speaking with Tyler DeStefano, senior vice president of business development of Living Legacy Financial Group, I discovered that dental hygienists are extremely underserved when it comes to disability insurance. In addition, I learned a few important facts that all dental hygienists should know.
1. Who can help determine the right policy for you: When considering a disability insurance plan, it is most beneficial to work with a broker who can explain the details of the policy. Insurance policies are often difficult to interpret and are written in a way that may not be in the best interest of the insured. Brokers who specialize in the dental industry are aware of our inherent needs and the risks associated with our profession. They can help us understand the specifics within our policies and identify potentially harmful loopholes.
2. Selecting a policy: When seeking a policy, it is essential to select a "non-cancelable, renewable" policy that will lock in the specific terms, including the cost. Moreover, these policies can never be modified or canceled by the insurance carrier, for any reason.
3. When you cannot practice clinically, but you can do something else: Dental hygienists are at risk for injuries from performing repetitive procedures, which can shorten their careers. Many dental hygienists who cannot perform clinical hygiene as a result of injury or health conditions often alter their career path to maintain a stream of income. A disability insurance policy that contains a "true own occupation" rider specifically defines that one is considered "totally disabled if you cannot do your occupation, but can perform another occupation." This type of policy could be a tremendous benefit for dental hygienists. For example, those who cannot perform clinical dental hygiene-but can teach dental hygiene or work in a corporate setting-can supplement their income indefinitely from their disability insurance.
4. Am I too old? It's well accepted that those that are young or in optimal health can obtain the most competitive rates, but that does not mean that there is an age or health status cutoff for obtaining a reasonable policy. If you are interested in obtaining disability insurance, contact a specialist for help in finding a policy that contains superior contract language at a reasonable cost.
5. How do I do this? It begins with an application (including a HIPAA waiver so that your medical records can be obtained) and possibly a visit by a nurse to collect some labwork. Once your application and medical records are evaluated, your disability insurance specialist can provide you with policy options, including a range of coverage and cost. The process is simple and there should be no cost associated with the application process. In addition, once initial medical records are obtained, there are policies for which you can increase coverage without any additional examinations. This is one reason why obtaining a policy early in practice or even during dental hygiene school (when there are often student rates) is most beneficial.
6. Discounted rates: Discount programs are sometimes available for groups of 3 or more people that have the same employer.
7. As with anything, you get what you pay for: As a rule of thumb, if you encounter an application process that does not obtain medical records or laboratory information, the policy is most likely filled with loopholes. Then when you need to use your policy, it may be written to be in the best interest of the insurance company. Working with a dental disability insurance specialist can help identify these loopholes and make an informed decision.
It is incredibly important for dental hygienists to be protected if an unforeseen health complication results in the inability to practice clinical dental hygiene. It is devastating when you have to say goodbye to your patients, co-workers, and practice, but the loss of income can create even more stress. Finding a reputable disability insurance specialist that focuses on the dental industry can help dental hygienists be prepared with a policy that offers the most protection and benefit.
Meet Our Expert
Tyler S. DeStefano is well-versed in the language of the many Disability Products available to doctors and health professionals. His strength is guiding them to the right type and extent of coverage to meet their unique individual circumstances. To accomplish this, Tyler works with the overall financial picture of the practice as well and the goals and aspirations of the client and his/her family. He is currently pursuing his Life Underwriting Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation through The American College. He can be contacted at Tyler.Destefano@llfg.net