This insurance agent thinks disability insurance deserves a rebrand, and he's a doctor


If you already have disability insurance, keep reading as well. I have a great tip for you from personal experience that made a difference in the job I selected.

Let’s start with an important rebrand for “disability insurance.” What does it protect? Income! Car insurance is not called crash insurance. House insurance is not called burnt house insurance. And unlike a car or a house, it protects an asset with 10-20 times as much value as a million-dollar house.

Dr. Trevor Smith

So, let’s call it what it is: “income protection insurance.”

It’s always a bit nerdy when I talk about how much I appreciate insurance that protects lifelong income. I often make an argument that it is simply one of the best products that exists, especially for high-income earners with lots of debt. Many of us doctors are in that category and are not even slightly jealous of our friends whose parents paid for school (I’m looking at you not-her-real-name-Mary).

Disability is not the catchiest name for a product, but it is more pronounceable than “ophthalmology” and way easier to spell. This is my specialty, and I can’t believe we still haven’t gone with “eye surgeon,” but I digress.

So, let’s rebrand “disability insurance” for the sake of clarity:

I personally like to think of it as a monthly subscription for a soft landing in a worst-case scenario. Call me a millennial, but it just goes down smoother in my mind as a subscription a la Netflix ... and the four other streaming services that someone gave me a password to – if you’re a 55-year-old GI specialist, I know you’re on the Spotify family plan, too. No judgment from me.

So, for $15, you get a bunch of movies with Netflix, and, for $150-$300, you cover a lifetime of income. That’s a pretty decent service even without “The Office.”

Disability insurance often covers at least $15-$20 million dollars over a lifetime of earnings for only 1%-2% of your salary per year.

But I’ll pause here. The numbers are irrelevant if you never get the insurance.

I have one goal for this article, and it is simply to try to help you break down that procrastination habit we all have. I will have added immense value to at least one family’s life if you go and get a policy this week that saves your family from substantial loss of income. This is why I love insurance.

Doctors sacrifice essential life steps to get through training. But we are not alone in that.

Tim Kasser, PhD, puts it well when he said: “We live in a machine that is designed to get us to neglect what is important about life.” Here he is talking about relationships, but securing financial protection is loving to those closest to us.

So, what holds us back from taking a seemingly easy step like locking in disability insurance early in training?

Is it the stress of residency? Studying for Step 1? Moving cities and finding a home during a housing crisis? Job change during COVID? Is it because we have already put it off so long that we don’t want to think about it?


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