Disability Insurance for Residents: Graduate Medical Education

Disability Insurance for doctors in training represents a major opportunity for insurance agents. For new doctors,the residency program represents a major transition. Resident doctors have completed medical school. Now they’rereceiving the hands-on training they need to complete their education. It’s the start of a promising career, and that career needs to be protected with disability insurance for residents.
disability insurance for residents

How to Get Started Selling Disability Insurance for Residents

When it comes to marketing to residents, timing is important.

Residency programs usually start in late June or early July. This means that new residents will be starting their program in early summer, while “senior” residents will be graduating their residency at that time. This is also the time when residents should secure disability insurance coverage.

disability insurance for residents

In the fall and winter, you should focus on building relationships with graduate medical education programs and finding leads.

disability insurance for residents

In the spring, you need to ramp up your marketing.

disability insurance for residents

During the summer, you should focus on enrollment.

disability insurance for residents

Watch out for enrollment deadlines! GME disability programs may require applications to be completed by a set deadline.

DIS is the original graduate medical education disability insurance provider. We have the experience and expertise neededto help you navigate this market. Contact us for assistance.
disability insurance for residents

Paycheck Protection for Resident Doctors

Becoming a doctor is a big commitment. Aspiring doctors typically need to complete both an undergraduate degreeand a four-year medical school degree before committing to a residency training program. These residency or graduate medical education programs last at least three years, and depending on the specialty, they can be as long as seven years.

During this graduate medical education program, resident doctors need paycheck protection. There are three reasonsfor this:


Becoming a doctor is expensive. Between their undergraduate and medical school degrees, resident doctors have just finished eight years of college. According to Education Data Initiative, the average medical school graduate owes a total of $241,600 in student loan debt. If a disability prevents them from earning the income they expect, this debt could quickly become a major burden. Disability insurance can provide a safety net.


Resident doctors are just starting to earn an income. Finally, their education is paying off, and they’re receiving a stipend for their work. According to the 2021 AAMC Survey of Resident/Fellow Stipends and Benefits, the average annual stipend for residents in their first program year is $59,279. This stipend increases each year. By the third program year, the average stipend is $63,890. By the seventh program year, the average stipend is $75,728. Resident doctors depend on this income, so they should protect it with paycheck protection.

Earning Potential

Resident doctors have a much greater earning potential. According to the 2021 Physician Compensation Report from Doximity, the average doctor salary depends on the specialty and starts out at a little over $210,000 a year. Doctors in certain specialties can earn much more. For example, oncologists earn $447,112 on average, while dermatologists earn $476,263 on average. Neurosurgeons earn an average of $773,201. A doctor’s paycheck is a major asset, and it deserves to be protected with disability insurance.

disability insurance for residents

Disability Insurance Coverage That Can Grow

As doctors progress through their careers, their earning power will increase substantially. Because of this, they’ll quickly grow out of their original benefit limits. They need a policy that lets them increase their monthly benefit amount as their income increases.

The benefit increase rider lets them do just that. When resident doctors purchase a policy with a benefit increase rider, they don’t need to worry about growing out of their policy in a year or two. They can raise their disability benefits as their income increases, without having to go through medical underwriting.

disability insurance for residents

The Advantages of a GME Disability Insurance Program

Some residents may be tempted to put off purchasing paycheck protection. They’re young, and despite earning a decent income, their budget may be tight because of all that debt that they took on as medical students.

That’s actually a reason to purchase disability insurance right away instead of waiting.

Because residents are still young, they can lock in good rates. They may even qualify for guaranteed issuance with no medical underwriting through a graduate medical education disability insurance program.

Residents have already invested heavily in their careers. It’s smart to invest in disability insurance to protect that career.And it’s never too early to do this because disability can strike at any age.

disability insurance for residents

Disability Can Destroy Careers

Doctors face many serious risks. For example, doctors may be exposed to infectious diseases, or they may be injuredby patients. Doctors also have very stressful, high-stakes jobs, and this can put them at risk for burnout and mentalhealth issues.

Of course, not all disabilities are job-related. A doctor could be injured in a car crash or on a skiing trip, or a doctor couldbe diagnosed with cancer or another serious medical condition. The Social Security Administration says that one in fourof today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching full retirement age.

Disability is surprisingly common, and a disability that might not be a huge barrier in another profession could be a
career-ender for a doctor. For example, a person who experiences a hand injury or arthritis might still be able to work –but possibly not as a surgeon.

This is why doctors – including resident doctors – need paycheck protection. More specifically, it’s why they need theright disability policy with an own-occupation definition.

disability insurance for residents

Opportunity Selling Individual Disability Insurance to Residents

For resident doctors, the right disability insurance policy is a great way to kick off a promising career. For insurance agents, selling disability benefits for residents is a great way to create a lucrative income stream.

Every medical school in the country has a graduate medical education program. If you can be the one to provide disability insurance to these programs, you can establish a steady revenue of commissions.

disability insurance for residents

Helping Resident Doctors Secure the Right Disability Insurance Policy

Not all disability insurance policies are the same. Resident doctors have specific coverage needs. When helping residents review their coverage options, ask the following questions:

  • Does the policy have a benefit increase rider? This will let the policyholder increase their monthly benefit amount to keep up with future income increases, without the need for medical underwriting.
  • Does the policy use an own-occupation definition of disability? This will let the policyholder file a claim if they can no longer work in their chosen profession.
  • Is the policy fully portable? This will let the resident take the policy with them if they move to a different facility or start their own practice.
  • Is the policy guaranteed issue? This allows applicants to secure coverage without the insurance company requiring medical underwriting.
  • Is the policy noncancelable and guaranteed? This allows policyholders to maintain their coverage throughout their career.
  • Does the policy come with a student loan rider? Many residents have substantial medical student loans, so they might be interested in this added benefit to help with student loan payments in the case of a disability.
  • What is the elimination period? This is how long the resident will have to wait between experiencing a disability and receiving a payout. A shorter elimination period means the policyholder gets disability benefits faster.
  • How long will monthly benefits be paid? The benefit period can vary significantly, but some policies provide benefits that are payable until the policyholder reaches retirement age.
  • Are there other benefits the resident needs? With various riders, policies can offer survivor benefits, family care benefits, cost of living adjustments and other attractive coverage options.

To succeed in selling disability insurance for residents, it’s important to have the right connections. You need to work with the medical schools offering residency programs. You also want to encourage referrals from your clients, as they likely know other residents who need coverage.

DIS is the original graduate medical education disability insurance provider. We have the experience and expertise needed to help you navigate this market. Contact us for assistance.

disability insurance