Being a doctor is tough, and being married to one can be challenging, too. The smart thing to do when you're having trouble relating to your significant other is to go get some help, maybe even from a marriage counselor. But the solution of counseling can cause a problem when you're trying to get disability insurance.
Four or five years ago, disability insurers looked at counseling- any kind of counseling- as an outward sign that "you're having problems". They feared that these problems might lead to a claim for disability under what is known as a "mental and nervous disorder."
According to Mark Maurer, a disability insurance expert with Low Load Insurance Services of Tampa, Florida, mental and nervous claims are the most common claims for which benefits are paid. It's no wonder insurers were skittish about writing coverage for people who've had counseling.
Fortunately for physician families, times are changing.
Maurer says that these days, a history of counseling, or even depression, does not prevent doctors from receiving disabilty insurance. "There are very few times when we'll get a straight out decline," he says. The coverage offered to you will depend on the extent and severity of the counseling.
- Situational counseling: Marriage counseling, grief counseling and other issues that are an "isolated event, with a beginning and an end, with no medication prescribed" present no obstacle to coverage, according to Maurer. In this case, you might expect to be issued a policy with benefits payable to age 65 and the option to buy more coverage in the future with no need to go back through underwriting.
- Completed counseling plus meds: If you had an issue that's been resolved, but perhaps you took Zoloft or some other anti-depressant, you may be offered coverage to age 65, but you may not be offered an option to increase your coverage under that policy in the future.
- Continuing issue plus meds: If you're currently receiving treatment and particularly if you're currently taking meds, don't worry, you're still likely to get coverage. In this case, insurers often attach a rider that excludes claims for mental and nervous issues, and in some cases, they may reduce the benefit period to five years.
As you shop for coverage, remember that all insurance companies and all insurance agents are not created equally. Some insurers are more willing to underwrite doctors with a history that includes counseling, and a skilled agent knows how they will perceive you from the standpoint of underwriting. This kind of product knowledge and experience can save you money when it's time to get coverage, and improve the likelihood that you'll get the best coverage you can, given the circumstances.