Income Protection for Doctors & Medical Professionals
Take care of yourself too, with income protection insurance for doctors.
Being a doctor or medical professional involves putting yourself at risk for the health and wellbeing of others. As a result, you're more likely to be involved in a work-related injury or illness than any other job occupation in Australia. To keep yourself financially safe, you can get income protection insurance.
Why doctors need income protection
According to Safe Work Australia, the healthcare industry has the highest proportion of work-related injuries and illnesses every year. Unlike other professions, healthcare workers encounters a range of health and safety hazards on a daily basis. You might be normalized to it, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't take the necessary precautions. Some of the hazards you might encounter include:
- Blood borne diseases. Exposure to blood borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis. Needle stick injuries can include cover for occupationally acquired HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Most policies also cover splash injuries as well.
- Other contagious illnesses & diseases. Doctors have famously strong immune systems but that doesn't mean you're not susceptible to contagious illnesses and diseases. Some can be spread by coming into contact with infectious patients. This is especially a concern for GPs.
- Back injuries. Many health professionals, including paramedics and nurses, need to lift and move their patients. As a result, back injuries are among the most common reasons for claims among healthcare and social assistance workers, according to Safe Work Australia.
- Mental health issues. Being a doctor can be stressful. The high stress nature of the job means that you might need time off as a result of a mental health problem you are dealing with. Fortunately, it's possible to get income protection for mental health issues.
How does income protection for doctors work?
Income protection insurance pays you a large portion of your income if you're unable to work due to an injury or illness. If you are a doctor and you have to take some time off work due to an injury or illness, income protection will pay you up to 75% of your regular income until you return to work or your agreed benefit period ends. It may also end when you reach a certain age - usually around 65 or 70. Income protection premiums are also tax deductible. Some features of income protection for doctors include:
- A non-offset clause. This entitles you to a full benefit payment even if you're already receiving compensation from WorkCover. In a nutshell, you can receive your income protection payments as well as any other form of compensation you are entitled to as a medical professional.
- Own occupation. Medical professionals can also get own occupation income protection. This means you're covered if you can't perform the duties specific to your own specialty, regardless of your ability to perform other medical duties.
- Cover inside and outside of work. Unlike workers' compensation, income protection is there for you all the time. It's designed to cover policyholders for injuries or illnesses sustained both inside and outside of work.
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How much can doctors expect to pay
Aside from factors such as your age and sex, occupation has a big influence on how much you will pay. Doctors and health professionals, including nurses, can expect to pay higher premiums because they're working in a riskier profession than most.
While there are several exceptions, many doctors and medical professionals are high-earners. In the past, this meant you may have found it difficult to insure yourself for the level of income you are used to receiving. This is because the Australian insurance industry limited high income earners to an insured amount of $30,000 per month, meaning you were only protected if you earned up to $480,000 a year.
However, you can now get income protection benefits of up to $60,000 per month. This means that high earning doctors can now get the protection they need to sustain their lifestyle should something happen.
Income protection for doctors conditions or exclusions
There are some conditions and exclusions worth keeping in mind when you apply for cover. These include:
- Part-time workers. You generally need to work for at least 20 hours per week to be eligible for cover.
- 'Own occupation' vs 'any occupation'. You will need to decide whether you want 'own occupation' or 'any occupation' income protection. 'Own occupation' is more expensive but means that your insurer could not claim you are able to perform other duties related to the medical industry. For example, if you have 'any occupation' cover, are a surgeon and suffer a hand injury, an insurer might refuse a claim as you can still work as a GP.
- Overseas cover. Some insurers won't maintain full cover if you take an overseas placement. Others might have exclusions for specific countries and regions, so be sure to read the product disclosure statement (PDS) beforehand.
- Waiting periods. Every policy will come with a waiting period. Essentially, it means you can't make a claim until you have held the policy for a specific length of time. Waiting times can vary from around 30 days to 2 years.
What other types of insurance should doctors think about?
All health practitioners are required to have professional indemnity insurance. So whether you're a nurse working in an elderly care home or a surgeon at a private hospital, you should consider getting medical malpractice insurance. This protects you in the event of a medical malpractice claim, ensuring you are not liable for any expensive compensation payouts or additional costs associated with legal fees and disruption to business.
If you're worried about exposure to blood borne viruses, some insurers offer needlestick cover as an optional benefit for medical professionals. If you become infected with HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C as a result of your work, needlestick cover can pay you with a large lump sum benefit.
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