By NICK TRAWINSKI
AMA Insurance Website
According to the AMA website, the AMA plan contains a preferred definition of disability called ‘own-specialty.’ They explain that ‘Own-Specialty’ means a physician is eligible to receive benefits if unable to perform the duties of their medical specialty – even if he/she has the ability to work in another field of medicine.
During our review of the AMA website, the use of the word “ability” used in the AMA’s description of ‘Own-Specialty’ had us concerned. The ability to work in another field of medicine is different from being allowed to actually engage in another field of medicine.
When shopping for disability insurance, physicians will describe ‘Own-Specialty’ as a policy that covers them from a sickness or injury that prevents them from working in their medical specialty, while still paying them their full disability benefit even if they elect to work in another occupation or field of medicine.
AMA's Actual Definition of Total Disability
According to the actual AMA contract, which can be read by clicking here, total disability is defined as an incapacity from an injury or sickness, that completely and continuously prevents the insured person from doing the material and substantial duties of his or her regular occupation, provided he or she is not engaged in an alternate occupation for which he or she is qualified for by education, training or experience, for pay or profit.
Although the AMA advertises their policy as a contract that provides physicians with a “preferred definition of disability, called ‘own-specialty,’ the plan they offer contractually prohibits a physician from being engaged in another field of medicine.
AMA Policy Costs
AMA premiums can be calculated online here. Price varies based on state, age, and whether you are an AMA member or not.
Prices for the AMA contract are less expensive in comparison to the “Big 7” disability carriers and you can obtain a quote instantly online.
Underwriting is required and benefit amounts are capped at $15,000 per month of coverage.
Are AMA Premiums Guaranteed?
According to the AMA website, rates and premiums are reviewed and may change annually. Rates are based on your age on the effective date of coverage and your attained age on each renewal date. Premiums may change on the plan anniversary date (July 1) or your annual renewal date (whichever is later).
Is the AMA Contract Guaranteed?
According to the AMA contract, their policy can be changed at any time, without consent of the policy holder.
The contract also states that New York Life (the underwriting carrier for the AMA plan) can terminate the policy, after the first anniversary date, by giving written notice to the policyholder if the AMA no longer sponsors the insurance under the policy.
Conclusion of the AMA Disability Plan
AMA Policy is Not Own-Specialty
Because the AMA policy definition for “Total Disability” restricts you from being able to engage in an alternate occupation for wage or profit, it is not considered to be a True Own-Specialty plan. True Own-Specialty policies will not restrict you from engaging in an alternative occupation.
AMA Premiums are Not Guaranteed
Even though the premiums from the AMA are significantly less than “The Big 7” True Own-Specialty carriers, the fact that the premiums are not guaranteed is important to consider. When considering disability insurance, it is important to find coverage that guarantees level premiums throughout the life of your policy.
The AMA Policy is Not Guaranteed
Disability Insurance is the backbone to your financial well-being and when you purchase a policy to protect your income, it’s imperative that you are able to count on your policy when you need it most. The fact that the policy sponsored through the AMA clearly states that NY Life has the option to change your policy features, coupled with their exclusive right to terminate your policy if the AMA no longer sponsors the insurance, is extremely concerning.
According to our review of the disability insurance policy offered through the AMA, our findings conclude that the NY Life Policy offered through the AMA is not a recommended policy for physicians. True Own-Specialty Disability policies should allow you to earn another income while still collecting your full benefit if a disability prevents you from working in your medical specialty. They should always offer guaranteed contract provisions, level premiums, and protection against termination by the carrier.
If you are a physician who has not yet purchased True Own-Specialty Disability Insurance, or if you have already purchased a policy through the AMA, you should consider or reconsider a policy offered through the following carriers: Ameritas, Guardian, MassMutual, Mutual of Omaha, Ohio National, Principal or The Standard, because these are the carriers that currently offer physicians “True” Own-Specialty disability coverage with level premiums and guaranteed contracts.
InsuranceMD is an independent insurance agency working exclusively with physicians advocating that every physician has True Own Specialty Disability coverage. We provide physicians with quote comparisons from all 7 carriers and we shop for any available discounts to ensure each physician is getting the best coverage at the best price.
We care about your disability insurance; you can request quotes here and schedule a call with one of our experienced agents to help you determine how much Own-Specialty coverage you qualify for at the best rate available.