What Dentists Should Know About Illness and Disability


As a dentist, you’re focused on your patients, your profession and the staff who keep your practice running. What if you couldn’t work because of a health set back like a critical illness or disability that prevents you from practising? Not being able to do what you love, and serve your patients, is a major emotional and financial setback. But you can protect yourself.

“More people are surviving critical illnesses and recovering from disabilities faster. Combine these advancements with rising salaries for dentists and it’s no surprise that income insurance, in the form of living benefits, is so popular,” says Julie Berthiaume, a senior insurance advisor with CDSPI Advisory Services Inc. Consider just one statistic:

Since the cancer mortality rate peaked in 1988, it has decreased 37% in men and 22% in women between 1988 and 2021.1 A greater chance of survival is great news. It also means more people will need the financial protection of income replacement insurance to maintain their standard of living and focus on what matters—recovery.

A diagnosis of cancer, a heart attack, or a stroke can be overwhelming both emotionally and financially. It makes sense to take a hard look at income replacement and get experienced advice from the day you graduate and start your career.

Getting started

A diagnosis of cancer, a heart attack, or a stroke can be overwhelming both emotionally and financially. It makes sense to take a hard look at income replacement and get experienced advice from the day you graduate and start your career.

  • Start early and stay insured.

    Insurance premiums are typically at their lowest when you are young and healthy. It pays to lock in a good rate and stay insured because any time insurance lapses, you may have to requalify medically and financially for coverage. If there have been changes to your health status, premiums could go up by a little or a lot plus you might face exclusions or even be denied for coverage by the insurer.

  • Know how to pay for insurance.

    Berthiaume suggests that some insurance premiums, such as life and disability, should be paid directly by dentists (instead of their professional corporation) to ensure benefits are tax-free in the unfortunate event of a claim.

  • Review and revise.

    Coverage should be adjusted annually or whenever there is a change to income or expenses. Experienced advisors will strongly encourage these regular check-ins.

Not all coverage is the same

Break a bone and you can count on your local hospital to set it straight and get you on your way. Your government health plan picks up the hospital and doctor’s fees, but you may be asked to pay for crutches or a stabilizer. Add the out-of-pocket expenses for the cost of treating a critical illness or disability and you face the possibility that you could be forced to use your personal savings or sell assets just to cover:

  • Personal support workers
  • Medications not covered by government plans
  • Travel to and from treatment
  • Parking
  • Cleaning services
  • Lawn care/snow removal
  • Accommodation for out-of-town relatives
  • Private physiotherapy
  • Personal trainers
  • Home modifications

Here’s how disability, critical illness and long-term care insurance can help to protect you and your family against these potential costs.

  • 1

    Disability insurance – how it works

    Your profession is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. The skills that make you a great dentist can be thrown off track easily by a short or long-term disability. Disability insurance can cover a percentage of your income while you’re unable to practise. Payments continue until you reach the age of retirement. An “own occupation” clause, automatically included in policies such as our DisabilityGuard™ Insurance plan, guarantees that you cannot be forced to take a job other than the one you have now.

  • 2

    Critical illness insurance – how it works

    Critical illness insurance pays out a lump sum when your diagnosis is confirmed, and you have met the required survival period (typically not more than one month).  “It might seem like overkill to have a six-figure back-up plan when basic medical expenses such as hospital stays and medical treatments are covered by government-funded health insurance,” says Berthiaume. “But we advise dentists to be prepared for all of the expenses that don’t get covered by provincial and territorial plans and to expect needing upwards of $12,000 a month for optimal care.”

  • 3

    Long-term care insurance – for a lifetime of assurance

    Long-term care (LTC), benefits give you more choices when it comes to how and where you want to be cared for. For example, private home care is one of the most expensive options in Canada right now. Government-run long-term care facilities are among the least costly but may not be compatible with your lifestyle.

Getting started on your living benefits plan

An advisor with experience serving dentists can help you estimate your insurance needs based on your income, age, and health. Here’s a quick summary of how these three plans provide complete protection.

Insurance How you're covered
Disability Based on your annual earned income and your age, you can receive monthly payments to replace lost income.
Critical illness Receive a lump sum payment to spend any way you choose upon diagnosis of a covered critical illness.
Long-term care (LTC) Receive monthly income to increase your options when it comes to choosing the best kind of care, whether at home or in a facility.

Living benefits are parts of a bigger picture when it comes to protecting your income and lifestyle. CDSPI offers best-in-class customized insurance solutions for dentists. The Advisors from CDSPI Advisory Services Inc. will work with you to assess your insurance needs and adjust your coverage throughout your career. Please book a meeting, call 1.800.561.9401 or email insurance@cdspi.com.

DisabilityGuard™ Insurance is underwritten by The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (Manulife), P.O. Box 670, Stn. Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2J 4B8. Precise details, terms, conditions, and exclusions are set out in the insurance contract for the plan.

The information provided is of a general nature only and should not be considered personalized financial, accounting or tax advice.

1 https://cancer.ca/en/research/cancer-statistics/cancer-statistics-at-a-glance#:~:text=Based%20on%20data%20from%202015,on%20the%20type%20of%20cancer.