Larry Keller

Standard – Preferred Producer Multi-Life Discount (PPMD) Introduced

Standard has introduced a Preferred Producer Multi-Life Discount (PPMD) that allows certain producers (agents and brokers) to provide their clients with a 10% discount on their policies.Producers who are awarded the PPMD must requalify each year in order to keep their Preferred Producer status.  However, once the discount is applied to a policy, it remains throughout the life of that policy.  Therefore, it is important that when you are shopping for your coverage that you keep this in mind as some agents have access to this discount while others do not.

The PPMD only applies to Protector Platinum policies and, at the time of this writing, is not available in the states of Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Ohio and Vermont.

Standard – Protector Platinum Approved in the State of California

The Protector Platinum individual disability insurance policy has been approved in California.  The Protector Platinum is now available in all states with the exception of Florida and Vermont. Applications may be taken for Protector+ (the “old” policy series) through August 31, 2014 and must be received in The Standard’s home office by September 30, 2014. Applications dated after August 31, 2014 or received after September 30, 2014 will be issued as Protector Platinum policies.

Some of advantages of the Protector Platinum policy over the Protector+ policy include:

  1. An Automatic Increase Benefit (AIB) Rider.  Protector Platinum policies allow insureds to automatically increase the monthly benefit on their policies by 4% compounded each year regardless of their earned incomes or other in-force disability insurance coverage (individual or group).
  2. The maximum monthly benefit on the Catastrophic Disability Benefit (CAT) Rider has been increased from $8,000 to $10,000.
  3. A Compassionate Disability Benefit (this policy provision is unique to The Standard) is included which provides a monthly benefit if the insured is working at least 20% fewer hours and has a loss of earnings of 20% or more while caring for a loved one with a series health condition.  A loved one means your parent, child (including an adopted child and stepchild), spouse domestic partner and child of your domestic partner.  You may claim the Compassionate Disability Benefit up to two times while the policy is in force and the maximum Standard will pay for all claims and all loved ones is a total amount equal to six times the basic monthly benefit of the policy.
  4. Unlimited coverage for claims related to mental disorders and substance abuse.  These claims are now treated in the same way as any other accident or illness.  Previously there was a 24 month limitation for these types of claims.
  5. An unlimited Recovery Benefit (similar to the other carriers) that provides monthly payments for the entire benefit period as long as the insured has a loss of income of at least 20% and is due solely to the injury or sickness that caused the prior disability.
  6. Under  the Partial Disability Benefit , for the waiting period and the first six months, the definition of Partial Disability is based on at least 20% loss of duties OR time OR income.  100% of the monthly benefit is payable for the first six months of a Partial Disability claim regardless of monthly earnings.
  7. “Own-Occupation” and Partial (Residual Disability) are no longer riders and are both built into the base policy.

Why would you NOT want to purchase the Protector Platinum?

  1. Benefits are now limited to 12 months for each period of continued disability while an insured is living outside the United States or Canada (there is no limitation on the Protector+ policy series).  Therefore, if you are disabled and wish to reside outside of the United States or Canada, the Protector+ is a better choice.
  2. Unisex rates are no longer available to association members.  Therefore, female physicians seeking policies with a unisex rate and permanent premium discount should purchase the Protector+.  You can take advantage of the more favorable pricing if you are a member of a professional association in which Standard makes a discount available.  Agents specializing in the medical market should be aware of these discounts and can provide them to you.
  3. The occupation class for Anesthesiologists has been downgraded.  As a result of this 2P occupation class, those of you in this specialty (with the exception of Pain Management Physicians) will pay a 25% surcharge compared to other medical specialties.  Therefore, female Anesthesiologists that have access to a unisex rate would want to purchase the Protector+.

MetLife – Changes to the Guaranteed Insurability Option (GIO) for Physicians Completing Residency

Physicians are now able to increase their existing MetLife individual disability insurance coverage immediately after and up to 90 days after the completion of residency or fellowship training (those entering practice). The GIO increase is available with the next premium due date immediately after completion of residency or fellowship training where the payment mode for the policy is set up as monthly, quarterly or semi-annual.  If the payment mode is annual, GIO increases would not be available until the policy anniversary date.

While this is great news, keep in mind, MetLife will still offset for employer provided group Long-Term Disability (LTD) coverage.  Therefore, if you have a signed employment contract and would like to increase your coverage, both your earned income and employer provided coverage will be taken into consideration to determine that amount of additional coverage available, if any.

MetLife – Income Guard Approved in Massachusetts and Ohio

Metlife has approved its newer policy, Income Guard, in Massachusetts and Ohio. While this is generally good news, those in occupational classes 5D (the occupational class for Dentists) and 4M (Orthopedic Surgeons, OB/GYNs, Psychiatrists, Anesthesiologists, Emergency Physicians, Interventional Radiologists, Interventional Cardiologists) will be issued policies that include a mandatory rider which limits the maximum benefit period for disabilities caused by mental and/or substance use disorders  to 24 months over the life of the policy, unless the insured is confined to a hospital, when the “specialty your occupation” language is included.

As a result, there is a huge incentive for Anesthesiologists and Emergency Physicians to purchase the “old” (Omni Advantage) policy while it is still available (other states that have not yet approved the Income Guard are California, Maryland, Virginia and Vermont). Unfortunately, with the exception of Florida and Vermont, the only other company that combines a true “Own-Occupation” definition of total disability with full coverage for mental and nervous conditions for those specialties is Standard Insurance Company

Since Standard places Anesthesiologists in their 2P occupational classification (unless they are Pain Management Physicians) and subjects them to a 25% surcharge compared to all other medical specialties, I don’t see many opting to pay the substantially higher premium rate in order to secure coverage with that feature.  Standard, however, will still be a viable alternative for Emergency Medicine Physicians due to the more favorable 3P occupational classification that they receive. In Massachusetts and Ohio, the last day an Omni Advantage application will be accepted is July 31, 2014 (applications must have been received in good order by July 31, 2014).

What do you think? Have you purchased a policy from The Standard or Metlife recently? Did you opt for the new policy or the old one? Comment below!