This is an interview with Chris Wimberly, the founder of The Disability Doc Insurance Solutions.
Please introduce yourself.
Although I was raised in Texas, for the last 20 years I have lived in Southern California. It is where I now reside with my amazing wife and son. As of recently, I have taken up my newfound hobby of “backpacking.” Last summer, I went to Glacier National Park in Montana, hiking above 10,000 feet, and it was truly epic. I am hooked!
For several years now professionally, I have focused specifically on disability and life insurance products. Both my mother and father suffered disabilities that rendered them unable to work and it affected our family’s income. My mother had a blood clot in her brain when she was in her mid-twenties, and my father developed cancer in his thirties. I know firsthand that illnesses and injuries can quickly deplete savings, as well as any intended college funds for children.
While I will never regret working my way through college, it made me aware of the need to put safeguards in place to protect my family’s assets. Many of my parents’ friends were physicians, who I respected immensely, so specializing in disability insurance for physicians and dentists seemed like the perfect fit.
Personally, my daily mission is to be a man of unquestionable integrity, and I put my family and faith at the forefront of my efforts. My intention is to work at everything I do with all my heart, and I operate on the principle that we truly “reap what we sow.”
What drew you to insurance?
To be honest, as a kid growing up, I didn’t dream about becoming an insurance agent. My “best friend” was my electric guitar, and my ambition was to become a rock star. But after college when I started focusing on “a real career”, fortunately I was drawn to the field of insurance. Perhaps, my parents’ illnesses sowed the seeds. I honestly love my profession and wouldn’t change a thing. The policies I work with truly help people, and I believe in what I do.
Insurance is also a very a reliable field, affording many opportunities for growth. If I am diligent in my work ethic, knowledgeable about the market, and first and foremost really care about helping my clients, I can build a great book of business that results in a long-term residual income stream. I know that “Passive Income” enthusiasts can see the fruit in working with this type of business model.
After so many years in the business, what inspired you to branch off to start The Disability Doc?
Over the past several years, I have helped hundreds of individuals shop the marketplace to find their ideal disability insurance plans. Until recently, I worked as a producer for other independent insurance agencies. While I was grateful for the industry experience gained, everything within told me that it was time for me to branch out and pursue the American dream of owning my own business. So, I started my own independent insurance brokerage under the name “The Disability Doc.” While this agency is new to the market, my many years of experience specializing with physician disability insurance is its backbone.
I wanted to bring something fresh to the table. I am a big fan of integrating today's technology into the process of selecting an insurance plan to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible. Disability insurance can be complex, so I created dozens of short video resources to help individuals learn about the various options and riders available. In addition, I still provide the personalized level of service needed to ensure my clients that they can reach out to me via cell or email at any time if they have questions or policy needs. It’s the best of both worlds.
You seem to work exclusively with doctors, is there a reason you chose to do that?
Physicians devote their careers to helping others, and as mentioned before, they have made a huge impact on my family’s well-being. I feel blessed and honored to work with these individuals.
Unlike most other professions, physicians are highly specialized. They have gone through years of schooling and training and typically carry a very large amount of student loan debt (more so than most other occupations). This results in a pronounced need to protect their career and their ability to earn an income.
In my experience, most physicians already know they need disability insurance. My decision to work in this specialized niche is simply to help those who help others. When physicians are looking for coverage, I want them to know that they will be working with a trusted advisor who is doing everything within his power to offer them the best plans and rates available. Being an independent agent means I can shop the marketplace until I find the right fit, rather than promoting one carrier exclusively.
What are the most common errors you see doctors make when purchasing disability insurance?
The biggest mistake I commonly see is when a physician chooses to purchase an “Association” Disability Plan instead of an “Individual” Disability Plan. Sometimes, a doctor sees the initial lower cost of an Association plan and thinks it’s a better deal, so they jump on it. But, Association and Individual Disability Plans are two very different types of policies and have some key distinctions that can make a significant impact if one is ever diagnosed with a disabling illness or injury. I’d be happy to go over these key distinctions with anyone interested.
Another big error that I see frequently is professionals choosing to forgo individual market coverage because they have been offered group insurance through their employer. Generally speaking, group insurance is not bad and is certainly better than no coverage at all, but it can prove inadequate. There are many important reasons why you might need to supplement group coverage with an individual plan that should at least be evaluated before opting for group coverage only. An experienced independent agent like myself can point out the pros and cons in this regard.
When does it make sense to replace a disability policy?
Most of the time, if a client has a disability plan with strong coverage that they originally purchased when they were young and healthy, it’s typically not recommended to replace the policy with a new one. However, it is always worth reviewing throughout the years just to be sure. In fact, it would be prudent, if you haven't done so, to pull a copy of your current plan and send it to a trusted insurance agent so that they can perform a quick review of your plan to see if any better options are available in the market.
There are exceptions wherein it would make sense to evaluate canceling an existing policy to replace it with a new one. The first being rates. If you originally signed up for a plan with no discount included, and other carriers are currently offering great discounts, this could be a good reason to look at replacing your plan.
Another scenario would be based on the benefit provisions of your current plan. If your current plan is missing key riders or has a weak definition of disability, we would want to run an analysis of the market to see if stronger coverage is available at a reasonable price.
In addition, if you have a plan that has a medical exclusion because of a previous health issue, it is possible we might get a new carrier to offer coverage without the medical exclusion (especially if you have had no treatment or symptoms in the last 2 years for that issue). This is worth considering for sure.
When does it make sense to cancel a disability policy?
I always evaluate this on a “case-by-case” basis to determine each individual’s needs. If you currently have a plan and are considering canceling it, we would need to assess your current earned income as well as any passive (unearned) income streams. We would also want to look at the size of your nest egg and your current monthly expenses. By combining all these factors, we could make an informed decision as to whether you should continue coverage or not.
Outside of these case-by-case evaluations, generally there are two situations in which it may be recommended to cancel your policy. The first being a physician who is later into their career, has the majority of their debts paid off, and has a sizeable nest egg. If this is you, and you are comfortable risking a portion of your nest egg to “self-insure” for the remaining years of your career, then it might make sense to drop your plan and save the premiums.
The other scenario in which one would want to look at possibly dropping his or her disability plan is a professional who has invested well and has adequate passive income revenue. In this case, it might be argued that you really don’t need disability insurance any longer. If a disability situation arises, you would have enough passive income revenue to stay afloat and cover expenses.
However, before you consider dropping your disability coverage, there are some important items (potential risks) to think about, with a few examples being: reliability of passive income streams; possible increase in monthly expenses due to nature of disabling event; current health status should one need coverage again in the future; and risk aversion levels, etc.
What do you wish PIMD readers knew about you, your business, and insurance in general?
Disability Insurance is complex. Given the many features, riders, discounts, medical underwriting, financial underwriting, future increase considerations, timing strategies, etc. that can be applied, it is surely not a one size fits all insurance program by any means.
At The Disability Doc, our mission is to make the complex simple by working on your behalf to narrow down your options and create a plan specifically designed for your personal needs. We are a small team of dedicated professionals who do not work for any carrier—meaning you will never be “sold” a run of the mill insurance policy and will never be just a “number.” With years of experience in the disability insurance niche, we can facilitate the process of choosing a carrier that has strong financial ratings, solid plan provisions, trustworthy contract language and the best discounts available nationwide. We make your plan selection and application process smooth and efficient, so that you can feel confident knowing your policy is tailor-made to secure your financial future.
Let me shop the market for you!
Chris Wemberly can be contacted at The Disability Doc.