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Income protection for doctors

A doctor’s income protection insurance policy provides doctors with a tax-free payment every month as a replacement for their salary, if they are unable to work due to illness or injury.

Of course, with sick pay you may wonder whether it is worth also having income protection in place. Being a doctor can be a very intense job with a lot of responsibility and it is vital to make sure you have protection in place in the event you need it.

There are various illnesses and conditions that can affect doctors in the UK.  Reported illnesses and injuries affecting UK doctors include but are not limited to*:

  • Stress/burnout
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Needle-stick injuries
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Infections

Income protection for doctors is a type of life insurance policy designed to provide financial security in the event you are unable to work as normal due to injury or ill health.

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Income protection policies will definitely be able to cover doctors. In fact, income protection is a great policy for doctors to put in place.

If ill or injured, you will have access to standard statutory sick pay (SSP) and potentially other funds depending on your employer (NHS sick pay if not in a private practice). However, this will only last for a set time period and is not indefinite.

If off work for an extended period of time this could cause great concern about your finances and how you will be able to pay your bills. If you have savings you can use them for a time, but those funds will be limited and it is not wise to solely rely on this for income when ill.

Income protection is designed to kick in once your sick pay stops paying out, as a replacement until you are back on your feet again.

Does income protection insurance pay out for doctors?

YES – you will be able to claim on income protection insurance as a doctor if you are unable to work for an extended period of time due to accident or injury.

You will be provided with a tax-free payment every month to help cover your doctor’s salary, usually between 50% and 70% of your usual earnings before tax.

There are plenty of reasons you may need to make a claim on your insurance and the majority of these policies will pay out for 12 or 24 months from when the claim is made, sometimes longer depending on the policy/provider.

Some common reasons for claims on doctor’s income protection include:

  • Mental health (e.g. stress/depression/anxiety)
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Cancer

If your policy is correctly set up, you should be able to start receiving payments towards the end of your sick pay period.

We are specialists in securing income protection for doctors and other medical professionals, and experts in finding the best possible deals with our extensive panel of lenders.

Compare income protection insurance for doctors

If you aren’t sure on the right income protection policy or provider for you, speak to one of our insurance experts.

With over 20 years experience in the insurance industry, we are more than equipped to help you find the perfect cover with you – and at the perfect price to suit your bank account.

We can search across insurance providers to find the most competitive prices and the best possible products available for your personal circumstances.

Can I get income protection insurance for doctors?

YES – as a doctor it is absolutely possible for you to get income protection insurance. There are some brilliant options for cover out there that will be available to you.

Policies such as CRITICAL ILLNESS COVER or income protection are a great way for you to ensure your finances will be stable, with no worries over how you will afford bills while unable to work.

If an NHS doctor, the amount of sick pay you are entitled to will depend on how long you have worked for the NHS. The longer your service the longer the amount of time off paid you are allowed. 6 months fully paid leave, followed by 6 months on half pay would be the maximum amount. You are entitled to this after 5 years of service.

Below is a list illustrating the amount of paid sick pay an NHS staff member is eligible for, depending on their length of service:

During the first year of service1 month full pay & 2 months half pay
During the second year of service2 months full pay & 2 months half pay
During the third year of service4 months full pay & 4 months half pay
During the fourth year of service5 months full pay & 5 months half pay
During the fifth year of service6 months full pay & 6 months half pay

If suffering with a long-term illness or an injury with significant recovery time, an income protection policy can provide peace of mind knowing that you will be able to take more time off if needed.

If you are unsure whether critical illness cover or income protection will be the best choice for you, read more in our guide ‘Critical illness cover vs Income protection’.

You may be able to get income protection for doctors for a lot less than you originally thought.

If an NHS doctor with a long service record (over 5 years), you will be entitled to NHS sick pay for up to 12 months (6 months full pay, 6 months half pay). This means you can potentially choose a longer ‘deferred period’ in your income protection policy.

The deferred period refers to the period of time between the first day you are off sick and your first pay out from your policy. If you know you will be able to put off receiving your pay outs for up to a year due to receiving sick pay, you may be able to get a significantly cheaper deal for your policy.

Cheaper income protection insurance for doctors

There are several things to consider when trying to save money on your income protection cover. These include:

Age – it is better to put cover in place as early in life as possible as premiums will generally be much lower than if you take out cover later in life

Comparing providers – a great way to reduce costs is by comparing the pricing across insurance providers, as often there may be one or two with significantly lower pricing

Get advice – it is a good idea to speak to an income protection expert who can advise you on the best insurers and policies for your needs

Improving health and lifestyle – taking steps towards a generally healthier lifestyle, such as losing weight can help to reduce premiums

Smoking – smokers will often pay slightly more for cover, so it is worth considering quitting or cutting back to reduce the amount you will pay

Pre-existing conditionsif you have pre-existing medical conditions that may affect the price of your premiums, speak to an insurance expert for more advice

Best income protection insurance for doctors

What you may find surprising is there are several different types of income protection insurance. These include:

  • Short-term income protection insurance which is made to pay out for up to 12 or 24 months from the point of claim. This is a slightly cheaper option than some other income protection policies and good for periods of absence that are long term but not permanent.
  • Long-term income protection insurance is a policy specifically designed to pay out right up until the end of the policy term. This cover is very useful for if you needed to be off work for very long periods of time. This cover is very comprehensive and so proportionately is the most expensive in terms of premiums.
  • Guaranteed sick pay will usually be cheaper than a full income protection policy as it excludes pre-existing conditions as reasons to claim. This policy type will normally pay out for up to 6 months from the point of claim. 
  • Personal accident insurance is most often the cheapest form of income protection. A main selling point of this policy is that it will pay out for hospitalisation over 24 hours, injuries and accidental death

Does being a doctor affect income protection insurance?

NO – being a doctor should not affect the ability to get income protection insurance. If anything, the amount of sick pay eligible for long serving doctors in the NHS could actually allow you to access a cheaper policy than most.

Doctors with over 5 years service can be eligible for 6 months paid followed by 6 months unpaid sick leave. This can allow you to defer the start of your income protection pay outs for up to 12 months, resulting in savings on your premiums.

Even if in service for a shorter time period, there still may the option to defer the start of your payments by several months, leading to a cheaper policy.

You will be able to specify the length of deferment period with the insurer when arranging your policy.

If working in a private surgery or hospital, your sick pay may work slightly differently. It is worth speaking to your employer about your sickness policy before deciding on the level of income protection you may need.

It is an unlikely occurrence to be refused income protection based on being a doctor alone. There are however, other reasons people may have been declined income protection cover.

This is usually if an insurer is concerned the applicant is more likely than most to claim, due to various factors. These factors include:

  • Dangerous hobbies
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • High risk jobs

Do not worry if you have previously been denied income protection for one of the above reasons. It is possible you were simply looking at the wrong insurance provider for your specific needs.

We can assure you having been previously denied cover will not automatically cause a barrier to you being able to access cover now.

Why do I need income protection insurance for doctors?

As a doctor, you could feel that possible sickness leave is a very understandable occurrence in your line of work, and therefore will be well covered financially. Although you will be entitled to sick pay for a set period of time, this is not a measure that will be in place indefinitely.

At a certain point your sick pay eligibility will come to an end and in some cases, you might not have recovered enough to return to work at this point. Your sick pay may also not cover every possible illness or injury, depending on your employer (NHS or private hospital).

This is where an income protection policy comes in. Income protection insurance has been specifically designed to support people who find themselves in this situation.

Best income protection insurance companies for doctors

Income protection cover is a product provided by the majority of insurance providers in the UK. Certain providers will have specialised policies for medical professionals such as doctors, meaning their cover will most likely be the most suitable.

Comparison is always key with any type of insurance policy. Check prices across providers as often there will be companies who will charge less or have better terms more aligned with your needs.

Guaranteed income protection insurance for doctors

With certain insurance policies you are able to access ‘guaranteed’ cover. You will be able to get this with certain doctor’s income protection policies as well.

This type of policy means that you will be guaranteed to be able to get this cover regardless of other factors such as your medical history and lifestyle.

This cover will however exclude you from claiming for any pre-existing medical conditions, which will need to be declared when taking out the policy. If you do not declare your pre-existing conditions, you risk invalidating your cover.

Income protection insurance questions about doctors

Before confirming any kind of insurance cover, a provider will usually ask questions to get an idea of your general health and lifestyle. This can include questions about things such as:

  • Age of applicant
  • Height and weight
  • General lifestyle
  • Dangerous hobbies
  • Pre-existing medical conditions

With income protection for doctors, there may also be questions related to the risk level of your job role, such as whether you often work with patients with infectious diseases, are at risk of being stabbed with needles resulting in cross contamination etc.

Ultimately, insurers will assess all of the information you provide, both general and job specific, and decide whether to offer cover. In most cases it should be straightforward to access income protection cover as a doctor.

It is usually a simple process to put in an income protection claim. It will be a much easier process than you might have thought.

If illness or injury leaves you unable to work for an extended time period, you can put in a claim. The 4 steps to an income protection claim are:

  • Contact your insurance provider
  • Complete the claim form (most often done online)
  • Submit medical evidence (if required)
  • Submit financial evidence (if required)

Medical conditions linked to doctors

Over the last couple of years, it has been more risky health wise working for the NHS. With the rise of coronavirus (Covid-19), some services have been stretched to breaking point.

Covid-19 has led to an increase in medical staff sickness leave. This could be due to contracting the virus, self-isolation or developing or worsening mental health conditions such as stress, due to a demanding workload.

Even coronavirus aside, working in close proximity to those who are ill of course will increase the risk of developing illnesses yourself – even with personal protective equipment (PPE) in place.

Common questions about doctor’s income protection

Below are some common questions related to income protection for doctors:

Do doctors need income protection?

It is definitely worth putting income protection in place, even as a doctor with sick pay. Eventually sickness pay will run out and if further recovery time is needed, an income protection claim can provide vital financial support.

What is not covered by doctors income protection?

This will depend on the individual policy and provider. It is best to check the terms of what exactly is covered when taking out your policy. There may be exclusions for claims related to pre-existing conditions for example.

What conditions does income protection cover?

Most common conditions will be covered by an income protection policy, if they cause you to be unable to work for long periods of time. But not every policy will cover every condition so it’s worth checking the specifics of the policy with the provider before taking out cover. In some cases, another provider may be more suitable for you and cover more.

How long will income protection pay out for?

The period of pay outs can vary depending on individual policies. The most common payment periods will be 12 months or 24 months. Some policies might even have longer pay out periods. Check with providers as to the maximum period of time you can claim for. Your payments will stop once you either reach the end of your claim period or return to work.

*according to Oxford Academic Journal

Useful resources for doctors

Below we have linked some useful resources for the topics discussed on this page:

British Medical Association – Protecting your mental health

NHS Digital – Sickness absence rates

Gov.uk – Taking sick leave

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