The last six weeks have seen a sudden and unprecedented depletion of private income for Irish medical professionals due to COVID-19. Practice closures and major operational changes halted business as usual as practitioners had to protect their health and that of their patients, family and colleagues.
For those with day one income protection policies however, there was good news amongst the doom and gloom. One underwriter in particular, DG Mutual, has provided cover above and beyond the terms of client policies at a significant cost to their business.
In addition to covering COVID-19, DG Mutual made a decision to pay a benefit its existing Irish members for a period of isolation where they were forced away from work. This payment is outside of the terms of the policy and was made as a gesture of goodwill for existing members.
The reason for this is simple – as a mutual society, DG is not profit focused that exists to support the interests of its members rather being commercially driven. Their 100% Claims Paid record is unique to the industry and testament to their member centric ethos.
When we have heard so many stories of insurance companies using grey areas to avoid paying out during this time, the benefits of mutual society membership have really shone through. With cases running into the hundreds, the overall tally for self-employed medical professionals for this period is already higher than the total amount of Day One claims for 2019 and monetary payments will run to a seven-figure sum.
Members have expressed deep appreciation, taking some pressure off the difficult situation many have found themselves in. The claims process has been seamless and the majority were paid their first benefit within 1-2 weeks of submitting their form.
Medical professionals across Ireland had their work lives transformed when COVID-19 arrived in March, facing the threat of this virus from the front line. Direct interaction with infected and suspected infected cases has resulted in increased rates of sickness (at the time of writing 27% of confirmed COVID-19 cases are healthcare workers) and isolation forcing the complete shutdown of many medical and healthcare practices and a movement to phone/online consultations for others. At a time of great uncertainty, financial protection is an important ingredient for peace of mind.
DAY ONE INCOME PROTECTION – HOW IT WORKS
Illness and injury are most often unforeseen and can impact finances in a serious way. Omega Financial Management has been providing Day One Income Protection to Irish Medical Professionals since 2010 through DG Mutual. Day One Income Protection provides a replacement income from the very first day so that members can concentrate on their recovery rather than their finances. Self-employed medical professionals value Day One Income Protection as it provides an essential safety net for illness or injury. A replacement salary starts from the first day of illness – no waiting period – and lasts as long as the person is unable to return to work. If in the unfortunate event that a member is unable to return to work at all, the benefit lasts through to retirement age.
All accidents and injuries are covered, bar pre-existing injuries and new members are accepted up to the age of 54. It is advised to apply as early as possible in one’s career to reduce the amount of exclusions that naturally come with age and experience.
Members can choose their own level up to 66% of their salary (plus state invalidity benefit). Premiums are subject to tax relief at the marginal rate (up to 40%). For example if a GP earning €100k per annum takes out a plan to protect their income and the monthly premium is €160, tax relief will bring that down to €96. The claims procedure is swift and seamless with the first payment arriving within 1-2 weeks of receipt of the form.
*It is important to note that cover for a period of isolation was discretionary and not part of the standard terms for Day One income protection with DG Mutual.