During your dental school residency, Professional Liability or Malpractice insurance is provided by the program. Many residents, however, choose to “moonlight” during the course of their residency. In this case, Malpractice coverage is specifically excluded from the program coverage. You will either have to purchase your own malpractice policy or have your employer purchase coverage for you. This personal coverage will specifically exclude your work in the residency program. You will also have to decide whether or not to use a Claims Made or an Occurrence policy and you may need to decide whether or not to join a state sponsored fund for malpractice. Malpractice insurance is deeply discounted for several years for new dentists, which makes it affordable when you are only able to “moonlight.”
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- Disability Insurance
Disability insurance provides an income to you and your family if you are unable to work because of illness or injury. To apply for disability insurance, you must provide past medical history and complete a medical exam. During your residency, your health may change significantly enough—by the measures of an insurance company—in ways that could prevent you from receiving comprehensive coverage or even receiving coverage at all. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to obtain disability coverage now.
As a resident, you typically are allowed a significant monthly benefit within the first year of your graduation without showing proof of income. You may choose to get as much benefit that is available, or you may choose a smaller amount that might be supplemented by a group disability policy provided by your residency. If you do decide to carry both, it is important to set up the personal policy before you sign up for the group policy to maximize your coverage amounts. Even if your residency does provide a group disability policy for free, the majority of residents still choose to carry some personal coverage because group policies often have many exclusions, limitations, and typically pay smaller monthly benefits.
For all dental professionals, we recommend a specific list of “must haves” for a disability policy to cover you appropriately. Most importantly, always remember to get a policy with a “true own occupation” definition of disability and one that has no limitations for mental nervous disorders.
- Life Insurance
In the event of a tragedy, life insurance proceeds can help pay the bills, continue a family business, finance future needs like your children’s education, protect your spouse’s retirement plans, and much more. You should consider life insurance if you are married, have a mortgage someone is responsible for, currently have any personal debt, or if you have children. There are many types of insurance but the two main categories are “term” insurance and “permanent” insurance. Many residents should only consider term insurance since the cost is typically very affordable as a student, but everyone’s situation is different. Don’t ever let anyone convince you to use a “cookie cutter” approach when discussing your personal situation. Let us sit down with you to determine what sort of plan will meet your goals and budget and when you need this sort of coverage.
- Health Insurance
As a dental resident, you have access to a University or Hospital-provided health plan that will typically suit a single dental resident well. Generally, you are required to utilize the organization’s medical facilities. If you want to add a spouse or children, this type of plan usually becomes less cost effective, so it may be in your best interest to acquire health insurance from another source.
If you plan on having children, Maternity coverage must be purchased sometimes up to 18 months before you become pregnant. These strict requirements vary widely from state to state and the type of policy to which you have access. Talk to us about your situation to see when you need to start considering this important coverage.
Aside from understanding where you can get health insurance, it’s important to know that there are many different types of health insurance plans, each with their own set of costs, benefits, and limitations. For example, a Health Savings Account (HSA) offers smaller premiums and a different type of coverage than a traditional plan; the HSA suits healthy individuals who need minimal care from a doctor and have inexpensive prescriptions. Finding the most cost-effective solution is best accomplished by talking with an agent to identify which type of plan suits you and then comparing quotes.
The “time value of money” principle shows that it is not how much you save each month, but rather that you start saving a little each month as soon as possible to accumulate money for retirement. There are many good options for you to consider especially if you had any type of IRA or 401k established prior to dental school. Based on current options available, the Roth IRA may be the best choice for rolling money from previous plans. Should you start to invest as a resident, we can help design a personalized plan that takes into consideration your saving goals, your risk tolerance, and the advantages of dollar cost averaging.