Disability Income Insurance: Why It's Important for Pharmacists

Few pharmacists opt to protect their income through disability insurance.

Pharmacists have a solid understanding of the frailty of the human body and the risks we face every day in terms of health and physical safety. Still, few pharmacists opt to protect their income through disability insurance.

This may be because so few pharmacists realize that their profession isn’t necessarily low-risk. Sure, working in high-rise construction or professional skydiving instruction may be more dangerous as far as serious acute injury is concerned, but on-the-job accidents aren’t actually the leading cause of disability claims. In fact, injuries sustained from work-related accidents only account for about 10% of all disability claims in the United States.

You’re far more likely to file for disability because of arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic back pain, or other musculoskeletal disorders that are quite common for pharmacists. After musculoskeletal disorders, the next most frequent causes of disability are heart disease, cancer, and nervous system disorders like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease—all of which can strike at any time regardless of your profession.

So, when it comes to disability, pharmacists are just as much at risk as the rest of the workforce.

Putting the risk of disability aside, when you consider the cost of becoming a pharmacist in the first place, the need for income protection becomes even clearer.

New pharmacists graduate with more student debt than almost any other profession. The average pharmacy school graduate enters the workforce with $123,063 in student loans.

Now, if those young graduates were to suddenly become ill, they could quickly find themselves buried under a rising mountain of debt and medical bills with absolutely no way of digging out.

What Pharmacists Should Look for in Disability Income Insurance

Not all policies are alike, and some are better suited for certain professions. As a pharmacist, you work in a highly specialized field, meaning your inability to perform the duties of your particular profession could essentially bring you all the way back to square one. That’s exactly why you should pay very close attention to what’s in your disability income insurance policy.

Here are a few things to keep an eye on:

1. Own-Occupation Coverage

This type of coverage means that if illness or injury prevents you from working as a pharmacist, you will still be eligible to receive benefits even if you’re able to work in another occupation or medical specialty. The alternative is any-occupation coverage, which can deny your benefits if you’re able to work, period.

This can be fine for some professions, but because pharmacists typically have higher salaries, it may be difficult to find that same income elsewhere, especially when you’re dealing with a disability. With own-occupation coverage, you’re income replacement won’t be denied simply because you’re still able to work a minimum wage job.

2. Residual Benefits

Pharmacists may also want to consider adding a residual benefits rider to their policies. This will provide partial income replacement benefits if you’re sick or injured but still able to perform some but not all of your duties.

This could mean that your condition only allows you to work part time or you’re unable to carry out certain aspects of your job. Generally, if your illness or injury causes a loss of at least 20% of your income, your residual benefits rider can step in to help fill that gap.

3. Noncancelable and Guaranteed Renewable

With this type of policy, your premiums will be locked in for the entire life of the policy. It also means that your insurer is required to receive your authorization before making any changes to the conditions of your policy.

You worked hard to get where you are and establish yourself in a well-paying, highly-skilled profession. Don’t risk it all by thinking that an injury could never happen to you.

Richard Reich is President of Intramark Insurance Services and a nationally licensed broker of life and disability insurance. He has more than 25 years of experience in helping individuals with their insurance needs. You can learn more about him at protectyourincome.com.