The Gold Standard
True Own Occupation disability insurance is the "gold standard" for income protection in healthcare due to the freedom it offers an individual to work in an alternative occupation or specialty without a reduction in disability benefits, creating a path to full income replacement.
A Cardiovascular Surgeon is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Although symptoms are so far minor and intermittent, a key part of disease management is stress reduction, rendering him/her unfit to perform surgery or commit to a hectic schedule.
With True Own Occupation Disability Insurance, full benefits are payable without offset even if the Cardiovascular Surgeon earns income in a different occupation with reduced stress.
Teaching at a University
Consulting, perhaps self employed
Primary Care or other medical specialty
Starting a business
What Does the "True" in True Own Occupation Disability Insurance Mean?
"True" Own Occupation coverage is not the same thing as own-occupation coverage.
Without the "true", a person on claim is not allowed to work, even in a different occupation. Or if they are, benefits are subject to reduction.
True own occupation permits unlimited earnings in another occupation while disabled from one's own occupation, without reducing benefits, creating a path to 100% income replacement or more.
Specialty true own occupation may be included, which defines the occupation more narrowly. Specialty language is arguably not necessary since the specialty is entered on the application, which is part of the policy. However, it's more reassuring.
Carriers use different words to describe the true own occupation concept. Besides "true," it may also be referred to as "regular" own occupation or "pure" own occupation.
True own occupation always requires a rider, for additional cost. The base policy alone is not sufficient because the base policy will define disability with a not-working requirement. Only through the attachment of the correct rider is it possible for a policy to be "true" own occupation.
Healthcare occupations eligible for true own occupation
Assistant (medical or technician)
Certified Medical Aide
Certified Nurse's Aide
Critical / Intensive Care Physician
Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) Physician
Emergency Room Physician
Family Practice / General Practice Physician
Infectious Disease Physician
Internal Medicine Physician
Nuclear Medicine Physician
Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
Occupational Medicine Physician
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
Pain Management Physician
Paramedical Examiner (RN, office duties only)
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation / Physiatrist
Registered Nurse (RN) - office, clinic only
Sports Medicine Physician
Urgent Care Physician
Venous Disease Specialist
Don't see your occupation? Please ask.