For about a decade now, my husband has been hearing me discuss how unisex rates are going away and with each carrier transition, he asks me, "I thought they were all gone, years ago?" I assume many of my clients feel the same way about this, so I wanted to summarize here within the blog to give you a quick up date on what this means to anyone searching for disability insurance in a medical specialty.
As a medical professional, you tend to look for a disability plan that will cover your specialty in the event you cannot perform the material duties of your occupation due to a disability. This type of coverage is called an "Own Occupation" plan, sometimes Regular Occupation. There are only six carriers that offer these types of plans to a medical professional. These products are one of the primary types of insurance that my partner and I specialize in.
Each of the six carriers slowly removed unisex rates from the marketplace and while discounts for residents/fellows (MDs and DOs primarily) still apply, all of the "Big Six" carriers will have transitioned from gender neutral/blended rates to a gender specific rate, also known as a gender distinct pricing by January 1st, 2021.
While these changes have been happening, Principal has allowed certain employers providing W2 income to Attending Physicians to still have access to a unisex rate on a new application; as long as they weren't in training. In order to get access to one of these unisex plans, certain parameters must be met. How do you know if you are eligible?
Are you an Attending?
You must be an attending physician as resident and fellows typically do not qualify now with rules that Principal has applied to the industry this fall.
You must be a W-2 Employee and not self employed or use any affiliations to an employer by independent contracting.
You must work with a Broker who has access to these employer discounts. Not all agents will be able to get you a unisex multi-life discount.
This latest discount program ends for the medical professionals this month indefinitely; although the nonmedical market does have some options to get access to unisex rates. For medical professionals, what is left are some Guaranteed Standard Issue (GSI) programs sprinkled throughout the nation. These programs offer the blended/unisex rates for anyone that would like to take advantage of this special opportunity that offers no underwriting during their application process. These GSI programs are not common and are special relationships between certain agents and employers so working with specific insurance advisors who have access, will be necessary. You can always talk with your GME office to see if there is a program available locally.
Will there be any other any Unisex options in 2021?
Now, since these insurance contracts are state specific, certain states have allowed a unisex rate for certain carriers. For example, right now Ameritas, OhioNational and Principal offers a unisex contract for anyone in the state of Massachusetts. In Ohio and Montana, Ameritas also allows unisex pricing as well for any applicant. This means than males would have to take unisex prices as well if they sign up in that state with the carriers who offer a unisex base contract.
Important tip: Once you have this unisex contract, this is portable and can move from state to state. What does this mean to you?
If you have an Existing Policy
If you already have a unisex rate or a gender specific rate, your discounted policies will not be affected by the new rates you will see advertised out there through marketing and blogs mentioning such changes. Changes that you hear about in the industry about new pricing will NOT impact your policy (if you have a noncancelable and guaranteed renewable policy or guaranteed renewable policy). This doesn't mean reviewing your policy annually isn't a good idea. You can always inquire to see if you have the most competitive pricing; however, typically buying at the youngest age is the best way to go.
If you are shopping for a New Plan
Females thinking of purchasing a unisex, discounted policy meeting the criteria above through Principal, must have applications submitted by December 31st to obtain the unisex rates.
If you are a Female and an Attending, you can contact me here to schedule a quick consultation to learn if your employer is on the list to get a unisex rate. We only have a few weeks to take some action.
Need to Get Quotes Anyway? You can request those here.
Looking for a GSI program? I am happy to connect you to other colleagues in our network to find you one. For more information, please submit a request here.
Getting Started on an Application
My team and I are happy to assist you in this process, but we need to get started ASAP! You will need to apply before December 31st, 2020, to lock in this unisex rate if you are eligible. Once your application is submitted, underwriting will apply and these applications are no obligation to take coverage if you are given an offer for insurance. This allows you to meet the deadline to lock in their unisex rates.
Happy Shopping and Cheers to a great 2021!