Career Development

Insuring your physician practice


Injuries. Physical illnesses. Mental health struggles. Life happens, and if you are responsible for some or all of the monthly expenses required to keep your physician practice open, you should take steps to protect your practice and your partners.

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The AMA helps physicians build a better future for medicine, advocating in the courts and on the Hill to remove obstacles to patient care and confront today’s greatest health crises.

You may want to consider three types of insurance policies commonly available to businesses and business owners to help protect your physician practice. Together, they can help cover not just immediate business and personal expenses, but also the cost of buying out a partner with a long-term disability.

Also known as an office overhead expense policy, a business overhead expense (BOE) policy provides reimbursement for the expenses of operating a practice if one of the practice owners is disabled and cannot work.

These expenses may include staff salaries, rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, professional liability insurance premiums and other fixed costs normal to the operation of a professional practice. Some BOE policies may even provide benefits for disabled professionals so they are able to hire a temporary replacement to fill in during their disability.

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With this type of policy, the practice’s expenses are covered until the disabled physician partner returns to the practice or until the disabled partner’s share in the practice can be sold. Premium payments for BOE insurance are tax-deductible as a reasonable and necessary business expense.

Benefits received during disability, while taxable upon receipt, are used to pay practice-related expenses, which are tax-deductible. As such, the net tax result is a wash, meaning no taxes are owed by the practice on the money received from the policy.

Office overhead expense insurance is available from AMA Insurance with coverage up to $20,000 per month. AMA members qualify for a 35% rate reduction, and nonmembers can get a 10% rate reduction for at least the first year of coverage.

If you become disabled, you will still need to cover your living expenses. That’s where physician disability insurance comes in. The “true own-specialty” definition of disability option allows you to collect full benefits if you can no longer work in your medical specialty but choose to work in another one.

AMA Insurance offers disability income insurance for every stage of a physician’s career. Coverage for physicians is completely portable, with up to $15,000 per month in benefits. Policies for for residents is specialty-specific and has a flexible premium structure. Coverage for medical students starts at just $41 per year and comes with guaranteed acceptance.

Learn how to protect yourself if you’re injured and cannot continue practicing in your specialty.

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Partners in a group practice will also want to consider a policy known as disability buyout (DBO) insurance, which is designed to help provide funds toward the purchase of a disabled partner’s ownership interest if that individual is no longer able to fully participate in the practice due to a lengthy disability.

Due to the specific skills each individual brings to a practice, attorneys often recommend a buy/sell agreement that details what is to occur upon the death, disability or retirement of each partner or owner. Having a proper buy-sell agreement in place before disability occurs can avoid the hard feelings and the conflicts of interest that often result from a partner’s disability.

The agreement should set forth the purchase price to be paid or should provide a formula for determining that price. Perhaps most importantly, the agreement must have a mechanism for providing the funds needed to make the purchase.

Working together with individual disability income insurance and BOE insurance, a DBO policy is specifically designed to fund the buyout of the disabled partner. It’s most common for the DBO policy to provide a lump-sum payment—used to complete the buyout of the disabled physician in one payment.

However, a DBO policy can be structured to provide the disabled partner payments through multiple installments. This should be determined when the policy is purchased and should align with the provisions in the actual buy-sell agreement. 

Premiums paid for DBO policies are generally not tax-deductible, whether paid by corporations, partnerships or individuals. The benefits, therefore, would not generally be subject to tax.

AMA Insurance has specialists available to help you find coverage that meets your needs. Call (888) 627-5902 for more information.