July 2020 Volume LV Number 4

 
 
 
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Treloar & Heisel

Graduating in a Pandemic (or Know Someone Who is)?

July 2020 Volume LV Number 4

Graduating in a Pandemic (or Know Someone Who Is)?
Here are Some Tips on How to Navigate the Situation
By Shawn Johnson, ChFC, CLU, CLTC Vice President, Business Development Treloar & Heisel, Inc. www.treloaronline.com
 
We’ve been getting a lot of questions from residents and es- tablished professionals about insurance and insurability, so we thought we’d put together a brief article to help you navigate these unusual times. Across the country, clinics, dental schools and residency programs are in various phases of returning to work. Graduation looks a little different this year and start dates for future employment may be somewhat uncertain.
 
Typically, this time of year residents and students don’t have a moment to spare. They’re trying to take care of last-minute re- quirements. They’re looking at licensing in the states they want to work. They’re thinking about moving across the country and getting their insurance plans in place.
 
But for right now, time is on your side…
 
Many students and residents are preparing to move forward in their career but have more free time available than normal as they anticipate the nation’s return to work. I think an appropri- ate thing to do right now is take advantage of that time. We are seeing a lot of people are reaching out to schedule virtual meetings to review their disability insurance, malpractice insurance, and possibly life insurance options so they can make decisions (or changes) and get a strategy in place. They may not be ready to move forward on applications now, but when they are ready, they’ll have those plans in place to move forward once the time is right.
 
Lock in your disability income insurance as soon as possible.
 
Disability income insurance insures one of your most valuable assets, your ability to earn money. Most practitioners will apply while still in school. This makes a lot of sense. One of the keys to obtaining disability income insurance is that you have to go through medical underwriting or share your health his- tory to get a policy. Health changes could affect your ability to become insured. The younger you are, chances are the more healthy you will be, which in turn will allow you to lock into the price at the age at which you purchase the policy.
 
In addition, frequently there are discounts available if you’re still classified as a dental student, AEGD student, GPR resident, or a dental specialty resident. Review with your licensed insur- ance agent about applying for coverage as soon as you can.Generally, you want to secure disability income insurance as early as you can and purchase as much as you can afford.
 
Is it true you need to submit an application prior to receiving an indication of coverage or an illustration for that coverage?
 
An illustration is basically a cost proposal for the coverage for which you are applying. I think it can be a very useful tool because it lists the features of the policy you are consider- ing and gives the prices for each feature. Often, people have been given the impression that they cannot get an illustration until they actually apply for the policy and get an approval. Remember, an illustration is just that, a projected cost. Your health history may affect the actual outcome, and the final policy may be different than what is illustrated. An illustration is simply a good starting point to evaluate your options.
 
Also… how does the application process actually work for insurance and disability insurance?
 
First, you decide on the insurance company that you want to purchase the coverage through, the amounts of cover- age, and the features. Once that is decided upon, you sit down with a licensed agent and complete the application. The application asks questions about your occupation, your avocations and health history.
 
Once you and the licensed agent complete the application, you sign forms saying that you told the truth and that you’re permitting the insurance company to look at your applica- tion to see if they want to insure you. Simply submitting an application does not bind coverage. It does not obligate you to buy the coverage. It just permits the insurance company to evaluate if they want to insure you.
 
After your information is submitted to the insurance com- pany, they can obtain medical records to review your health history and in some cases, they might send out a nurse practitioner, or what’s called a paramedical service, to do a lab test. Once the insurance company has completed their review, they may come back with an offer for coverage.
 
Once the offer for coverage is available, forms are sent for your signature to place the policy in force. The final steps are completed when you sign forms accepting the policy and you make payment.
 
I think it is important to note that during the underwriting process, you have the ability to change the features you’re applying for, and if you determine you want to move in a dif- ferent direction than initially discussed, that can be changed on the application prior to the actual policy being issued.
 
Has the pandemic affected the underwriting process in any way?
 
What’s really interesting is that due to the pandemic many lab services have not been able to visit applicants and insurance companies are waiving lab tests up to pretty high limits of cov- erage. I’ve seen examples with some companies that if you’re under age 45, for instance, you can get up to $10,000 a month of disability insurance without needing to do a lab exam and up to $3 million of life insurance. That’s a significant change.
 
What about your graduation trip – all these years you said you’d reward yourself with a bit of an international trip after you’re done. Could those future travel plans outside of the US impact your ability to get approved for disability insurance?
 
I know a lot of travel plans are being canceled or postponed right now. If you have recently traveled outside of the US or have definite travel plans this could impact your ability to get an approval, and a postponement may be needed for your application.
 
What if you have the virus, how could that impact your application?
 
What we’re seeing is that if you have an application currently in process, and then you’re diagnosed with Covid-19, that the ap- plication would likely be postponed until you are back to work for a period of time.
 
How could any of these delays (being sick, wanting to travel, etc.) affect my eligibility for a student discount on my disability income application?
 
That’s a great question. Student or resident discounts are only available within a certain window of time. You will most likely want to apply as soon as possible. If you apply for a policy during the time period that you’re eligible for a student or resident discount, and you need to have a postponement for some reason, it’s likely that when the application is reopened the original discount may be able to be applied to the future policy.
 
Conversely, if you’re not in the application process and you need to delay your application due to the issues above (or any number of reasons) you may not be able to submit the applica- tion within the time period for which the discounts are avail- able. If this were to occur there would be little that could be done to get a policy with the student or resident discount.
 
And what about malpractice… at what point should you submit an application for professional liability insurance? 
 
Whether you are working at one location, or several locations, once you have identified at least one place of employment, you can submit an application. The applications for professional liability insurance are in some cases good for up to six months. During the time that you’re waiting to start work, if you have a change in future employment plans, you can update the ap- plication prior to when the actual policy goes in force.
 
Meet with an experienced advisor.
 
I would suggest you meet with a licensed insurance advisor, discuss coverage options, determine the features that are important to you, and start the application process as soon as possible. A lot of people are taking advantage of this time to apply for coverage now so that it’s ready to go when they start working. But for those that aren’t ready to apply, I think it is smart to sit down virtually with an insurance advisor, discuss your options and make some decisions on the coverage you want to secure when the time is right. I think it’s far better to have a game plan in queue than to wait until the last minute and have to make the decision when you will be the busiest.
As we return to work, we’re all going to be playing a lot of catch up.
 
I hope this was beneficial to you and provided you some infor- mation and clarity, but if you have any other questions, please go to treloaronline.com and link up with an advisor in your area who can specifically address any questions that you might have about your situation.
 
Stay safe and healthy during this time!
 
Treloar & Heisel and Treloar & Heisel Property and Casualty are divisions of Treloar & Heisel, Inc. 
Insurance products are offered through Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
This information is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as insurance advice. Please consult with a licensed insurance professional concerning these topics.