In our experience, many dentists we speak with put off filing a disability claim, even when they know in their heart that they’ve reached the point where they need to step away from practicing. Some dentists are reluctant to stop practicing because it has long been part of their identity, they don’t know what else they would do without their career, and they worry about an uncertain future. Others are familiar with the games insurance companies play and with how difficult it can be to get insurance companies to reimburse them for comparatively small amounts, and simply don’t want to face the headache of dealing with their disability insurer when the amount of money on the line and the stakes are much higher.
At the same time, dentists who delay filing a disability claim are not doing themselves any favors. They are not only placing their own health at risk, but also the safety of their patients (and they place themselves at risk of losing their license and/or being sued for malpractice, if they end up hurting a patient).
While dentists are generally aware of these safety concerns, most are not aware that delaying the filing of their claim can also place their disability claim in jeopardy, and make it much harder to collect if they end up filing down the road. In our next few posts we will be discussing a few of the common mistakes we have seen dentists make while considering whether and when to file a claim.
Waiting Too Long to File
No matter how well-documented your condition is or how thoroughly you complete your claim forms, if you submit this information in an untimely manner, your claim could be denied in part, or altogether. Consequently, it is important to review your policy(ies) carefully and be aware of the notice requirements set forth in your policy.
Policies typically have a specified time frame within which you must notify your insurer of your disability and intent to file a claim. For example, the notice provision in your policy might state, “written notice describing the Insured’s Disability should be sent . . . within 20 days after the Disability occurs or as soon as is reasonably possible.”
While this initially sounds like a somewhat flexible deadline, if you miss this deadline, many insurers will claim that the delay may have “prejudiced” their ability to fully assess your claim and use this as an excuse to delay a claims decision. Further, most policies also include additional language stating “[w]e will not accept proof of loss later than 1 year after it was due” (unless you are legally incapacitated). So, while you don’t want to rush into the claims process unprepared, it’s also important to keep in mind that there are deadlines for filing a claim, and if you wait too long, you could limit your ability to collect, even if you have a legitimately disabling condition.
In our next post in this series, we will look at how changing your work schedule and/or seeking out a new job prior to filing can impact your ability to collect on your policy.
Information offered purely for general informational purposes and not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Anyone reading this post should not act on any information contained herein without seeking professional counsel from an attorney.