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Protect Your Financial Future at Every Stage
Throughout your career as a dentist, you’ll experience growth, development, and financial risks. Whether you are a new dentist concerned about paying your dental school loans, a mid-career dentist who wants to safeguard your earning power, or a late-career dentist thinking about leaving a financial legacy, you have options to help protect yourself, your family, and your practice from financial risks.

Starting a Family and Paying Off Loans

If you’re a new dentist just out of dental school, chances are you’re relatively young and generally healthy. The thought of dying or becoming disabled might not be top of mind. Hopefully you have many years of good health and a prosperous dental practice in your future. But the truth is, the beginning of your dental career is an ideal time to buy life and disability insurance. When you’re young and healthy, you’re more likely to qualify for preferred rates, which will significantly reduce your premiums over the life of your policy. If you wait until you are older to buy insurance, it’s possible you will have suffered an accident or developed a medical condition that could disqualify you for preferred rates or even from obtaining coverage.

Why You Should Consider Life Insurance

Anyone who has a spouse or children should have life insurance, but even if you are single or don’t have children, life insurance is an important tool in a risk management plan. This is especially true for dentists, who often have a significant level of both student loan and dental practice debt, both of which need to be paid off in the event of a dentist’s death. Life insurance can help protect your loved ones from debt, including a mortgage, credit card payments, or student loans, and pay for funeral costs. It can also help provide for your family in case of your untimely death by helping them maintain their standard of living.

Additionally, when you start your practice, life insurance may be used as collateral on a new business loan. Lenders may require proof of life insurance so that your business loan would be repaid in case you were to die unexpectedly.

You’ve invested heavily in your education and building your dental career. Life insurance helps you protect those investments—and your family’s future.

Why You Should Consider Disability Insurance

Clinical practice demands a lot out of you, and that includes your physical efforts: You probably work on your feet, and you depend on your hands. That’s why disability insurance is especially important for dentists. What if you developed a chronic illness or repetitive-motion injury, or suffered a car accident or sports injury that resulted in nerve damage in your hands, arthritis in your wrists, or severe back pain? These conditions would make it difficult for you to conduct the delicate hands-on work that you do every day when seeing patients.

The fact is, no matter how young and healthy you are, a disability can happen to anyone at any time. According to the Council for Disability Awareness, more than 1 out of 4 of today’s 20-year-olds can expect to miss at least a year of work because of a disabling condition before reaching retirement age,1 and the odds are no better for dentists. According to claims data from Great-West Financial® on the ADA members insurance plans, dentists have a 1 in 4 chance of becoming disabled.2

Disability insurance is important at every stage of a dental career, and it’s especially crucial if you’re recently out of school and carrying heavy student loan debt. Educate yourself on riders, premiums, and discounts, and talk to your colleagues. Finally, remember that not all disability insurance policies are the same: Some may be less generous than others or have restrictions in place. Even if you currently have disability coverage through an employer, check the details. Is it comprehensive enough to truly meet your needs? You might need to buy additional disability insurance on your own.

The "Own Occupation" Difference

As a dentist, you have invested in years of specialized training to perform a specific profession. If you became disabled and could not keep practicing, you likely wouldn’t want to have to work in a different field. Consider looking for disability insurance that offers coverage with a true "own occupation" definition of disability. This means you would receive full benefits if you cannot continue practicing your specialized area of dentistry, even if you are still able to work in a different area of dental practice or choose to work in a new profession. The right disability insurance can help secure a comfortable standard of living whether you’re able to practice in another dental field or choose to start over in a new career.

Establishing a Practice and Enjoying Life

The midpoint of your career is an exciting stage of growth. Your income may have increased, or maybe you’ve started a practice or purchased an existing practice. Perhaps you’re deciding whether to expand, offer a wider array of services, or refurbish your offices. With any of those choices, there’s a lot to consider both for your current practice and for the future.

Being at the helm of a thriving dental career can be exciting and profitable, but this stage of life also brings new financial risks. If you’ve taken on more debt with a growing family, a divorce, the purchase of a house, or more investment in your dental practice, you should reassess your coverage. If your income has grown significantly, you might need to adjust your insurance coverage to help protect your higher standard of living. Your life and disability insurance needs might have expanded, but your coverage may not have kept up.

As you enter your mid-career phase, re-evaluate your overall insurance needs. If your family has grown or if your spouse has decided to leave a career to raise the kids and your family relies on your dental practice for its income, you may need additional life insurance. Some life insurance policies give you insurance coverage along with a tax-deferred cash savings component. Depending on your age, income, and overall financial situation, a universal life insurance plan can be a good investment option that may help provide financial protection in the event of your untimely death.

Office Overhead Expense Insurance Is More Important than Ever

If you own your own practice and have a few employees, you might want to consider office overhead insurance. This type of disability insurance helps cover various office expenses for your dental practice, such as payroll, your lease, and practice and student loan payments. It may even cover the cost of hiring a replacement dentist to keep your practice running in the event that you are totally disabled.

Why You Should Consider Supplemental Medical Insurance

With the rising cost of health care and the high deductibles that go with it, you might find that your primary health insurance coverage is not sufficient to help manage all the costs of a serious illness or catastrophic injury. Consider boosting your health insurance coverage with a supplemental medical insurance plan, such as a policy that pays a cash benefit directly to you if you are hospitalized or diagnosed with a severe illness.

Supplemental medical insurance plans can help pay for your out-of-pocket health care costs. These insurance plans can also provide reassurance should accidents happen. For example, the right supplemental medical plan can help cover extra costs for children’s hospitalizations and ER visits. Even if you have good health insurance, there still might be some gaps in coverage or high out-of-pocket costs, especially for a catastrophic illness or injury such as cancer, stroke, or spinal injury. Supplemental medical coverage can give you extra cash benefits to help cover your out-of-pocket costs and fill in the gaps that are not paid for by your primary health insurance.

Planning for the Future

If you are a dentist in the later stages of your career, you might be looking to the future and thinking about transitioning toward retirement or re-evaluating your overall financial goals, depending on the needs of your family and practice. As an established dentist, now is an ideal time to assess your overall financial situation—including savings, debt, and how much support you give to family/dependents—and determine what kind of insurance (and how much) is needed at this stage of your life and career.

Find the Right Coverage Level for Your Life Stage

There are several different options for your existing life insurance. For example, if your children have grown up and moved out, you might want to consider reducing your coverage. However, if you are supporting your kids through college or graduate school, you might actually need to increase your life insurance coverage or extend the term of your coverage to help protect your family’s financial future until your kids are fully independent. Finally, life insurance also can be helpful when creating buy-sell agreements to sell a dental practice.

Why Established Dentists May Need Extended Medical Coverage

Even after you become eligible for Medicare, health insurance costs are likely to be a cause for concern. As of 2017, a healthy retiring couple at age 65 would need an estimated $275,000 of savings to cover the cost of health care during retirement.3

Supplemental medical insurance coverage can help protect your hard-earned savings throughout your retirement. Instead of dipping into your retirement savings or other personal funds, a supplemental medical plan can help offset the costs of hospitalization, ER visits, and costs associated with extended care such as rehabilitation after a stroke, home health care, skilled nursing care, and more.

Help Protect Your Future at All Stages of Life

Dentistry is a caring profession. You likely got into this profession because you wanted to help people feel better, maintain good oral health, and keep smiling through the years. But while you’re taking care of patients and taking care of your practice and your family, don’t forget to take care of your financial future. With the right insurance package—adjusted to suit your needs as your dental career grows—you can enjoy knowing you are covered at all stages of your life as a dentist.

Are you ready to assess your insurance needs? Great-West Financial Insurance Plan Specialists work exclusively with ADA members and their families and are available to talk about your goals and put together a package of insurance that will help protect your financial future.

Contact us to get an insurance assessment to make sure you have the right insurance plans based on where you are in your career and life.
1 Council for Disability Awareness, "Disability Statistics," March 28, 2018,
2 American Dental Association,
3 CNN Money, "Health Care Will Cost Couples $275,000 in Retirement," August 24, 2017,

Dentists: The information on this website is not a contract. Benefits are provided through a Group Policy Nos. (104TLP Term Life, 1105GDH-IPP Disability Income Protection, 1106GDH-OEP Office Overhead Expense Disability, 104GUL Universal Life, 104LTLP Level Term Life, 1117GH-HIP Hospital Indemnity, 1127GH-CIP Critical Illness, and 1107GH-MCP MedCASHSM) filed in the State of Illinois in accordance with and governed by Illinois law, issued to the American Dental Association by Great-West Financial®. The ADA is entitled to receive royalties from the ADA Members Insurance Plans. Coverage is available to all eligible ADA members in all fifty states and U.S. territories under the aforementioned group policy. Each Plan participant will receive a Certificate of Insurance explaining the terms and conditions of the policy. Level Term Life premiums are fixed based on the selected duration of 10 or 20 years. An insured must maintain ADA membership throughout selected term to remain eligible for insurance. Annually Renewable Term Life, Hospital Indemnity, Critical Illness, and MedCASH premiums increase annually based on age. Recommended premiums under the Term Plus® Universal Life plan consist of the cost of insurance (which may vary based on the member’s age and coverage amount), the amount chosen by the member for deposit into his/her Policy Value Account and a service charge. Premium deposits may fluctuate or remain level depending upon the amount maintained in the Policy Value Account. Disability Income Protection premiums increase every 5 years and Office Overhead Expense every 10 years based on age. Premium credit for Annually Renewable Term Life and Term Plus Universal Life is not guaranteed but reevaluated annually. Premium credit for Disability Income Protection, Office Overhead Expense, Hospital Indemnity, Critical Illness, and MedCASH is not guaranteed but reevaluated semi-annually.

Dental Students: The information on this website is not a contract. Student coverage is issued regardless of your condition if you are under 45. If you are 45 or older, you can apply for the no-cost coverage and all student program features by providing proof of good health. Coverage renews automatically each academic year. Individuals may convert coverage to the plans for practicing dentists after graduation by paying ADA member premiums and maintaining ADA membership. Benefits are not payable, as defined by the respective policy, for death or disability resulting from a sickness, disorder, physical condition, or symptom that existed or was treated within 12 months prior to enrollment. Benefits are provided through a group policy Nos. (104TLP Term Life and 1108GDH-SDP Student Disability) filed in the State of Illinois in accordance with and governed by Illinois law, issued to the American Dental Association by Great-West Financial®. Coverage is available to eligible ADA members in all fifty states and US territories under the aforementioned group policy. Each insured will receive a certificate of insurance explaining the terms and conditions of the policy.

ADA® is a registered trademark of the American Dental Association and Great-West Financial® is a registered trademark of GWL&A.

Effective June 1, 2019, Protective Life Insurance Company (for policies issued outside New York) and Protective Life and Annuity Insurance Company (for policies issued in New York) assumed administrative responsibilities for ADA Members Insurance Plans issued by Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company.

Great-West Financial® is a marketing name of Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company, Corporate Headquarters: Greenwood Village, CO; Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company of New York, Home Office: NY, NY, and their subsidiaries and affiliates. GWL&A is not licensed in New York, but eligible members residing in New York may apply for coverage under the aforementioned group policy. The trademarks, logos, service marks, and design elements used are owned by Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company. ©2020 Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company. All Rights Reserved. For website issues, contact the Webmaster at