MILWAUKEE, Dec. 6, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Northwestern Mutual announced today that it is introducing additional flexibility and choice into its lineup of disability insurance solutions for medical professionals, including physicians and dentists. Medical market clients will now have a choice between a True Own Occupation definition and an enhanced Medical True Own Occupation definition when selecting a policy to protect their income if they were to become totally disabled and could not work.
"We have been protecting the incomes of medical professionals for more than 50 years, and over that time we have constantly looked for ways to innovate our product offerings to meet the evolving needs of these clients," said Kamilah Williams-Kemp, vice president of risk products at Northwestern Mutual. "We 'get' medical professionals, and know they obtain disability insurance early in their careers and that a lot can change over time in terms of their primary income-generating activities. That's why we have enhanced our Medical True Own Occupation definition that follows doctors and dentists throughout their careers and provides them with flexibility and choices in the event they become disabled."
A disability insurance contract's definition of total disability is important because it determines whether the policyowner can collect some or all of their benefits. The new Medical True Own Occupation definition, which is unique to Northwestern Mutual, is the most robust available in the industry today. Its earliest iteration was initially introduced in 2009 based on direct input from physicians about their understanding and expectations as it related to their personal disability income insurance policies.
Medical professionals will now have the choice between the following definitions of disability:
True Own Occupation: If a medical professional is totally disabled, unable to perform the substantial and material duties of their regular occupation, and they choose to work in an occupation other than the regular occupation at the time of onset of disability, they will be eligible to receive their full monthly benefit for total disability regardless of the income they earn from working in the new occupation.
Medical True Own Occupation: If a medical professional is unable to perform the substantial and material duties of their regular occupation which generate 50% or more of their direct patient care billings (e.g., procedural duties), but they are still able to perform one or more of the other substantial and material duties of their regular occupation (e.g., clinical duties), they can choose not to work and still be eligible to receive their full monthly benefit.
Additionally, the Medical True Own Occupation definition provides the same protection to medical professionals as is provided by the True Own Occupation definition. If a medical professional is totally disabled, unable to perform the substantial and material duties of their regular occupation, and they choose to work in an occupation other than the regular occupation at the time of onset of disability, they will be eligible to receive their full monthly benefit regardless of the income they earn from working in the new occupation.
"Income protection is foundational to financial security in any financial plan, and it is especially important for medical professionals," Williams-Kemp added. "When you begin your working life several years later than most and front-load it with significant student debt, you have to take steps to protect your earning potential. It is over the arc of their careers that medical professionals reap the benefits of their upfront investment in education and training and can secure long-term financial rewards and security."
Medical professionals who are existing policyowners will also be able to leverage the expanded choices. Those with recently issued disability policies can take advantage of these new benefits without any additional underwriting, while clients with older policies will have the opportunity to acquire these options if they meet the typical applicable underwriting requirements.