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Income protection for doctors

Doctor’s income protection insurance can be very helpful and we're explaining exactly how it works

A photo of Daniel Sharpe-Szunko, the author

By Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

Published on: 22 April 2022

5 min read

Income protection for doctors

Doctors have very rewarding but demanding job roles, and this can often lead to burnout, illness, injury and more. It’s sadly quite common for medical professionals to need extended sick leave, especially during and following on from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most doctors will be covered by NHS sick pay (at least for a while) but there are other ways to protect yourself in the event you suddenly can’t work due to accident or sickness.

Doctor’s income protection insurance can be very helpful, but most people don’t fully understand how it works and what they’re covered for. We will explain this for you, as well as which insurance companies sell these policies and some of the pros and cons of this type of cover.

What is income protection insurance?

Income protection insurance is an insurance policy that will pay out to you if you are signed off work by a GP or other doctor for 4 weeks or more. These policies cover a wide variety of illnesses and injuries – basically anything that prevents you from working for a long period of time!

Income protection will pay out a tax-free lump sum to you each month, normally an amount that equals around 60% (can be up to 70%) of your usual monthly income.

Can doctors have income protection insurance?

Yes, most of the time doctors shouldn’t find it too difficult to get an income protection policy that doesn’t include restrictions or exclusions.

There are a few things to think about before applying for cover. There are several factors that could impact your doctor’s income protection policy, but these will also apply to any application no matter the person’s job role.

Insurers will ask questions about:

  • Your medical history
  • Your general health and lifestyle
  • Your occupation
  • How active you are (any sports or hobbies)

How does income protection for doctors work?

Income protection insurance will work similarly no matter what your job is. You simply:

  1. Choose a provider and policy that suits your budget and the level of cover you need
  2. Pay your policy premiums every month to keep cover in place
  3. Submit a claim to your insurer if you are signed off work for 4 or more weeks
  4. Provide additional evidence if needed (e.g. a medical report from your GP)
  5. Once your claim is approved, you receive a payment each month in place of your normal income
  6. Your payments will continue until you either return to work or your claim period runs out

You can use the payments received to protect yourself and your family from financial difficulties, helpful if your household is heavily reliant on your income. You can use pay outs to cover expenses such as:

  • Mortgage payments or rent
  • Cost of living expenses
  • Credit agreements (e.g. credit cards, car finance)
  • Utility bills

Why do doctors need income protection insurance?

Many doctors believe their workplace (either the NHS or a private practice) will be able provide sufficient sick pay and support if they are unable to work.

This may be true for shorter time periods, but long-term sickness absence may not be fully covered and could leave you in some financial difficulty. There are various reasons doctors may need to take extended sick leave including:

Will income protection insurance pay out for doctors?

In most cases, doctors shouldn’t have a problem claiming on their policy. The main time an issue might come up is if you are trying to claim for sick leave related to a pre-existing condition (one you had when you bought the policy).

How much does income protection insurance for doctors cost?

You may be happy to hear that those that work in a medical job role (the NHS in particular) can often get income protection for a fraction of the price. This the same for other medical professions too e.g. nursing or dentistry.

This all comes down to the deferment period of your policy. A deferment period is basically the amount of time between claiming on your policy and receiving your first payment.

Most policies will have some delay in paying out, commonly 4 weeks from when you claim (unless you choose a ‘day one’ policy which can pay out immediately). Commonly chosen deferment periods are:

  • 4 weeks (most commonly chosen)
  • 8 weeks
  • 13 weeks
  • 6 months
  • 12 months

As doctors generally will have access to more comprehensive sick pay (either via the NHS or workplace sickness schemes), you can often defer your claim payments for anywhere between 6 months and a year. The longer you defer, the cheaper your policy can be.

Learn more about how deferring your policy pay outs works in our guide to income protection deferred periods.

What is the best income protection insurance for doctors?

A good thing about income protection is that there are a few different policies you can choose from, depending on how much cover you need and how much you want to spend.

Your 4 main options for income protection are:

Income protection insurance is available with most of the UK’s biggest insurance providers (as well as some more specialist insurers).

Providers that currently sell income protection insurance include:

How to buy doctors income protection insurance

There are a few options when it comes to buying an income protection insurance policy. You can:

If you’re not too sure which provider will be best or what level of cover is most appropriate, an insurance expert will be able to explain each policy to you in detail to help you decide. They can also compare pricing across the market to make sure you don’t pay more than you should.

Resources

Gov.uk – Taking sick leave

NHS Digital – NHS Sickness Absence Rates

Citizen’s Advice – Check if you can get sick pay

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