The July issue of Dynamic Chiropractic Practice Insights contains an article co-authored by Jason Newfield, Esq., and H. William Wolfson, DC, FICC, MS, entitled “A Practical Approach to Individual Disability Insurance.” The article is a comprehensive look at all aspects of individual disability insurance policies, starting with a review of the statistics surrounding the likelihood of becoming disabled to the proper financial planning that should include purchasing a long term disability insurance policy.
While the individual disability insurance (IDI) policy is not subject to the same restraints as the ERISA policy when it is part of an employee benefits package, there are many, many different variables in the policies that must be understood before signing a contract. There are differences in the definition of the chiropractor’s occupation (any, modified, own), the elimination period (the time that must pass before a long term disability claim may be made) and how long payments will be made (finite years, age 65 or lifetime), to name but a few.
In a perfect world, the chiropractor treats the purchase of disability insurance as they would the purchase of any large financial investment – and disability insurance is an investment. Should the chiropractor become disabled, the IDI is meant to protect the chiropractor and family’s lifestyle and prevent a financial disaster from occurring.
The article provides detailed insight into the pitfalls surrounding the claims process. Our office works with many chiropractors who do not understand the difference between the claims process for health insurance and for disability insurance. Their offices manage health insurance claims on a daily basis, so they are often surprised when an IDI claim is delayed or denied because their treating physician has not described the tasks and physical requirements of a chiropractor.
Chiropractors often face the challenge of the “dual” occupation charge by the disability insurance company. They often take the position that the chiropractor is a healthcare provider as well as a manager of the practice, and therefore can still complete the tasks necessary to be a manager.
Having a disability insurance policy in place should be as much a part of the chiropractor’s financial picture as having homeowners insurance or auto insurance. It is a necessary part of a risk management strategy. However, an IDI claim presents far more challenges and requires far more preparation than any other insurance matter. “A Practical Approach” provides an excellent look at the overall picture of the IDI and how it is best approached by the chiropractor.