It's the call no one wants to receive: There's been a fire at home. Such disasters are why we have insurance. Yet, all insurance isn't created equal. It takes a savvy and informed consumer to ensure you don't overspend or over-insure.
The scariest call of my life. It was nearly a year ago, March 2014.
My wife called me, sobbing uncontrollably. She couldn’t stop crying. She must have been flowing rivers of tears.
Hold on a minute.
I couldn’t understand what the heck she was saying and I asked repeatedly, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?”
Between stifled calls, she finally cried out coherently, “Our house is on fire and it’s my fault!” She cried and cried.
My heart must have stopped, my stomach dropped. Was my life about to be changed? Dear God, I hope nobody was hurt. This was certainly not the call I was expecting.
I thought, “Oh no!!! What about Evangeline??? She didn’t say anything about her. Did she get hurt??? Is she okay??”
Thank goodness when I asked her, the answer was that everyone was okay. I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Are you hurt? Are you okay?” She was unharmed too. Whew! Dodged a bullet on that one.
She was concerned about all the stuff in the house and was thoroughly embarrassed by the incident. I didn’t care about that at that point. I was just glad everyone was okay. You see, my father-in-law was a firefighter and back about 10 years ago, I was a volunteer firefighter. She couldn’t believe that she could be so careless and that this could happen to her.
It all started in the afternoon. My wife has made herself an incredibly healthy lunch of salmon salad over some kale mixed with pumpkin seeds and cranberries. The miracle child, Evangeline, was in her high chair and was refusing to eat. She was flinging food left and right and whining, whining, whining.
My wife decided to take her down, and after setting aside the plastic tray near the stove, she gave my daughter a bottle and sat her down for nap. Next thing she knows, the smoke alarm is going off!
She ran frantically out to the kitchen and to her horror she discovered that she had accidentally left a burner on in the kitchen after cooking the salmon and had put the plastic tray partially on the stove. Poof! It all caught on fire!
As you may know, my family and I have been through some crazy, life-changing events. At the time, I didn’t think of this as a big deal, just an inconvenience.
As you can see, it was a kitchen fire and it wasn’t like the whole placed burned down to the studs. It was just a small little area of the house.
But my goodness, I was shocked at ALL the stuff that had to get replaced.
Of course, new microwave, cabinets, countertop, and stove. But there’s more!
We needed new floors, new mattresses, new carpets in the WHOLE house, new paint in the WHOLE house, and EVERY piece of clothing had to be treated and cleaned.
The whole bill? This may surprise you. It floored me.
Over $90,000! I couldn’t believe it!
Thank the Lord we had good insurance! We didn’t have to pay a single penny out of pocket for the replacements, only for the upgrades.
As a young physician, when you are transitioning into practice, insurance is incredibly important! You have no assets, TONS of student debt, and LOTS of earning potential.
However, all of that being said, insurance is necessary for many reasons, particularly for high-earning doctors with their whole career ahead of them and often a lot of debt behind them. Consider the following questions…
How would your family manage without your income if you died or become disabled?
How much do you have in reserves for the “stuff happens” in life events?
The bottom line: insurance, while necessary to protect our families, is a cost that should be minimized. Frankly, insurance of all types are over-sold in my opinion.
My basic philosophy is when you are most vulnerable is when you need insurance the most. I encourage you to save and save and save so that you don’t need an insurance company anymore and can be “self-insured” down the road.
According to the Council of Disability Awareness and the Social Security Administration, illnesses like cancer, heart attack, diabetes, back pain, injuries, and arthritis are common causes of both long-term and short term disabilities. Further, almost 3 in 10 of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67. That’s 30%!
This is a very real and present problem. According to the Standard Insurance Company, when disabilities do set it, the average duration below age 50 is five to six years.
How would your financial situation change if you weren’t able to perform at your current capacity for five or six years? Voila! Disability Income (DI) insurance was created to protect against this risk.
In my workbook, The Insurance Guide for Physicians, I outline how you can minimize the cost of your disability income insurance and your life insurance. Also, I talk about when you should get rid of or how you can reduce the amount of insurance of an individual policy.
After all, we want to make sure we have the resources in hand. You never know when and where the next “financial fire” may ignite.
Dave Denniston, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), is an author and authority for physicians providing a voice and an advocate for all of the financial issues that doctors deal with. He is the author of 5 Steps to Get out of Debt for Physicians, The Insurance Guide for Doctors, The Tax Reduction Prescription, and his new book, The Freedom Formula for Physicians.
Dave is glad to answer any questions about insurance policies or other financial matters. You can contact him at (800) 548-1820, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website at DoctorFreedomBook.com to get a copy of The Freedom Formula for Physicians