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Income Protection for Doctors & Medical Professionals

Russell Cain Fact Checked Updated: 19 October 2021

Medical professionals are frequently exposed to many unique risks within their profession. If you were injured or diagnosed with a disease, your ability to earn an income in your current job would be severely affected. You might not be able to continue in the occupation you’ve spent nearly half your life establishing.

As a doctor, nurse or dentist you know the high probability of accidental exposure to HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C via needlestick injuries. Which is why protecting your income earning ability against such occupational hazards are so important.

Also, it’s not only the accidents or sicknesses at work that could lead to your inability to earn an income, injuries and illnesses can occur anywhere at any time.

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What does Income protection for doctors’ cover?

Income protection for doctors and other healthcare professionals provides you with a monthly benefit of up to 70% of your personal exertion income should you be unable to work for longer you’re your waiting period because of a sickness or accident. Protecting your ability to earn an income as a medical professional is essential to supporting your family and maintaining your lifestyle.

Income protection is designed to support you and your family by helping you pay your day-to-day living expenses, including the bills, groceries and your mortgage/rent, so you can focus on recovering and returning to work.

How does income protection insurance for medical professionals’ work?

Generally, with an income protection policy you can choose your level of cover, how long it will pay-out and the amount of time you’ll have to wait before you receive it. Before purchasing an income protection policy, consider which options will suit your profession and requirements best.

Monthly benefit

Depending on your insurer, you can generally receive a monthly benefit of up to 70% of your pre-exertion income. However, if your salary is higher than $320, 000 a year, your benefit amount will usually start to reduce with most companies only covering 25% to 50% of your income. It’s vital that you speak with an insurance specialist to assist you in calculating suitable coverage for your requirements.

Waiting period

Your income protection waiting period is the length of time between when your doctor says you can’t work due to an injury or illness, and when your benefit starts accruing. Depending on your insurer, you’re waiting period can be 14 days, 30, 60 or 180 days or 1 or 2 years. Usually, the shorter the wait, the more expensive your premiums.

Benefit period

Choose for how long you’d like to receive your monthly benefit. Typically, your options are 2 or 5 years, or up until your age 65 or 70 depending on your life insurance company. However, the longer your benefit period, the more costly your policy is likely to be. Most policies pay out a monthly benefit until the earliest of:

  • Your medical practitioner advises that you are well enough to return to work,
  • Your benefit period ends,
  • Your policy expires, or
  • You pass away.

Indemnity value policies

Before 31 March 2021, you generally had the option to choose between policies that paid a monthly benefit which was calculated when you applied for the policy (Agreed Value) or at claim time (Indemnity value). Both Agreed Value and Indemnity income protection policies had their own benefits.

Stepped or level premiums

While level premiums generally cost more at the start of your policy, it usually doesn’t increase every year as your get older, like stepped premiums do. However, stepped premiums start off cheaper and might be more beneficial for the short-term. Be sure to review the advantages and disadvantages of stepped vs level premium options, before deciding.

Built-in and optional benefits

In addition to receiving your monthly benefit, your policy could include some features, either built-in or added for an extra fee, that might be beneficial to your specific profession as a dentist, nurse, or GP. For example, an income protection policy could provide you with a:

  • Needlestick benefit: A maximum of $1million will generally be payable if you suffer occupationally acquired HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C if your occupation as a medical professional satisfies the insurer’s definition.
  • Multi-tier work definition benefit: One of the options in such a benefit is the ‘hours’-based work definition, wherein doctors can usually work up to 10 hours a week, and still be able to claim their monthly benefit. Sometimes emergency call-outs cannot be helped.
  • Pre-claim earning benefit: If you have an indemnity policy, this benefit allows your insurer to calculate your monthly benefit based on your highest average monthly income in a consecutive 12 months before making your claim.

Take note: Waiting periods, benefit periods and features differ from insurer to insurer. Carefully review their product disclosure statement (PDS) before purchasing.

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Do you need insurance against needlestick injuries?

Needlestick injury insurance is an optional benefit which medical professionals can generally add to their income protection policy. It provides a lump sum benefit of up to $1 million should you accidentally get injured from a needle or other sharp object containing another person’s infected blood (HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C) while working in your regular occupation.

However, select life insurance companies may include this option as standard, at no additional cost, for healthcare professionals and/or give you the opportunity to receive the payment as a monthly benefit rather than a lump sum.

A needlestick or sharp’s injury is usually defined as a piercing wound caused by a sharp instrument or object, most commonly a needle’s point. Although, needlestick injury insurance also generally covers you against ‘splash’ injuries; should you be in contact with infected blood, as well as though the inhalation of blood or bone dust during surgery.

Income protection with a needlestick injury benefit

The needlestick injury benefit generally:

Why you might need protection against needle stick infections

Depending on your medical profession, contracting a blood-borne disease could significantly impact your income by:

What are the chances of contracting diseases from needlestick injuries?

According to the Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA), every year about 18,000 Australian medical professionals suffers from a needlestick injury, with doctors and nurses generally having the highest exposure rate. Your risk of developing a disease usually depends on the size of the needle and the depth of the penetration.

Frequently asked questions

  • How much does income protection for doctors’ cost?

    A non-smoking 43-year-old male General Practitioner residing in NSW and earning $1 million per year can expect to pay $981.76 in stepped premiums for an indemnity income protection policy that pays a 70% monthly benefit for 2 years after serving a 30-day waiting period (March 2019).

    The cost of your income protection policy depends on more than just your occupation. Variables insurance companies consider generally include your age, gender, health, smoking status and the state you live in. Also, your choice of premium structure, income protection policy type, benefit period, cover amount and waiting period will have a significant impact on what you’ll pay for your policy.
  • Where to find the best income protection insurance for medical professionals?

    There are a variety of life insurance companies in Australia that provide income protection policies, many of whom includes the need stick injury benefit, either built-in or as an optional extra. Fill in the quote from above and compare income protection prices and features side-by-side, online.
  • What is the best life insurance for nurses?

    The best life insurance policy for a nurse working in Australia depends on your requirement. For example, if you’re the breadwinner and have a family, you might want a policy that will pay out enough money every month to support your loved ones if something were to happen to you.

    However, if you’re a young nurse without financial dependents, you might only want a small life insurance policy, enough to cover any student loans and outstanding debts.

    Nevertheless, needle stick injuries among nurses are one of the highest occupational hazards and you might want a policy that protects you against needle stick infections.
  • What is disability insurance for doctors?

    TPD insurance for doctors pays out a lump sum benefit if you are unable to work in your Own or Any occupation because sickness or injury has left you totally and permanently disabled. However, as your profession is very specialised, you might want to consider disability insurance for your Own occupation, meaning a benefit generally gets paid when you can’t work as a doctor.
  • How to claim the needlestick injury benefit?

    After experiencing a needlestick injury, be sure to:
    • Report the injury to your relevant licensing body within 30 days.
    • Take an HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C test within 7 days. The test must be negative with sero-conversion evidence occurring 6 months of the accident.
    • Follow all reasonable preventative measures and show proof that this has been done.
    • Gather and provide proof that a relevant source accidentally caused the infection during your regular working duties.
    • Contact your insurer and get the valid claim forms.
    • Send the insurer your completed claim form, accident report and names of any witnesses, as well as any additional documentation they require.

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