Contributed by Christian Pearson, National Director of Dental Partnerships, Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
In our work with dental students across the country, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of disability income insurance. Once students understand how important it is to put this insurance in place early on in their careers – ideally while still in school, the next question is how to obtain it.
I know I need disability income insurance. How do I get it?
Buying insurance isn’t like a buying a computer, a car or a house. You can’t just go and get it. You have to apply for it. This means that you have to identify one (or more) insurance companies, and with the help of an insurance agent or financial advisor, apply for their product. After the application, you go through underwriting. Underwriting is just a fancy word for the research and evaluation that insurance companies do to make sure you qualify for insurance coverage.
How do I know whether I qualify for insurance?
Determining whether you are insurable depends on three major factors: your health, age, and income. As a dental student you will not have to worry about your income – the insurers know that you are temporarily limited in income while you are undergoing training and paying for an expensive education. As a dental student you still qualify for disability insurance, but the amount is capped at $5,000 per month of benefits. Later, as your income increases, you have the option to increase your coverage. Also, insurance is most affordable when you are young and healthy – so get it as soon as possible while you are still young and healthy.
Ready to get started?
After conducting an interview with you (no need to prepare, this is just a friendly conversation) an insurance agent will take your application for disability income insurance. This application will ask for basic information like your name, phone number, address, as well as questions about your health history. This process generally takes 15-30 minutes.
Next up: the medical exam
As scary as this may sound, the medical portion is really painless. Your application is submitted to the insurance company, and they in turn order a medical exam. The insurance company contacts you to set up a day and time that works for your schedule. The best part is that you will not need to go anywhere to complete it. The nurse or paramedic will come to your home or to your place of work. They will draw some blood, measure your height and weight, take your blood pressure, and ask you some medical questions.
Now can you buy the insurance? Not yet. From this point the insurance company will review the results from your medical exam, and request your medical records from your primary care physician. Getting your medical records from care provider can sometimes delay the approval process. After these are received and reviewed, the insurance company makes you its “offer.” In simplest of terms, the offer is the insurance company’s way of telling you how much they can insure you and how much it will cost. If you like the terms of the offer, all you have to do is sign the paperwork, accept the policy and pay the insurance company for your first month of coverage.
How much does the application and underwriting process cost?
Absolutely nothing. The insurance company pays for the entire underwriting process. And you will not be required to pay for your policy until underwriting is 100% complete, and you accept the insurer’s offer.
What happens if I decide not to purchase the policy?
You are not required to purchase the policy, nor are you out any money, nor will it affect you in any way. The medical exam that you completed will be good for 6 months, so you can reapply later with that company if you change your mind.