Often times the initial thought when the word “disability” enters a conversation is, “It’ll never happen to me.”
As most of us involved in the disability insurance (DI) industry know, there is a real disconnect between a person’s perception of a disability and what a disability insurance policy provides them. I have found the key to getting clients on board is to emphasize that DI is not ultimately about devastation, it’s about protection. It’s to protect their future income, the lifestyle they enjoy, and ultimately their dreams and goals in the event of a disabling accident or illness.
See our infographic: Could a disability happen to you?
All of us have unique capabilities in performing our job. Doesn’t it make sense to protect them? These abilities allow us to earn the income to live out our dreams and goals.
The reality is that the chances of becoming disabled have changed very little over time. Even in the advent of medical advances, illnesses make up 90 percent of all disability. People have a 30 percent chance of suffering a disabling illness or injury during their career that could keep them out of work for three months or more, according to Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE). This means an individual will have some type of illness or accident preventing them from going to work, earning their paycheck and fulfilling their ambitions.
The Council for Disability Awareness has found that medical conditions that cause the most disabilities are cardiovascular problems, musculoskeletal issues and cancer. One notable exception is the impact of pregnancy on female disability. Other causes are tied to accidents and illnesses related to the back, alcohol, drugs, nervous disorders and many others. While no one wants to imagine the possibility of becoming disabled, it is our role as financial professionals to educate clients and prospects before it is too late.
Here are three great ways to bring DI awareness to your clients.
1. Heightened awareness due to PPACA
With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), more employees are asking questions about their health and medical insurance. While medical insurance is a valuable tool for putting us back together again after an unforeseen accident or illness, it only goes so far. It doesn’t address wellness, nutrition, lifestyle and rehabilitation.
Many are unaware that Social Security disability doesn’t provide rehabilitation or back-to-work benefits either — it’s just a safety net for those who are totally disabled and unable to perform duties of any type. One of the critical roles of disability coverage, whether it is group or individual policies, involves the rehabilitation provisions within these contracts. This helps people with disabilities get back on their feet and back to work.
It is important to discuss your client’s “total” health insurance plan. For example, ask them how they would continue paying their household bills if they were unable to work. DI should be one tool brought to the conversation as it helps support rehabilitation and a worker’s stream of income, which allows a person to gain more choices and control as they recover. PPACA has unveiled the opportunity to tell the story about the whole health care program and how medical insurance and DI can work together.
2. Shift in responsibility
There has been a major shift in responsibility from employer-provided benefits to employee-responsible benefits. The employee is accountable for providing the benefits they require for themselves and their families. The employer might provide a platform, a match or a flat dollar amount, however, we have entered the personal responsibility century. For example, most pensions have disappeared so people will have to create and take action for their own retirement funding. An employer may provide the platform, such as a 401(k) plan for retirement funding, but the employee is responsible for the contributions.
Due to PPACA, there is another shift in personal responsibility occurring. Millions of people are being moved from large, employer group benefit plans into private exchanges. The employer is going to provide the employee with a flat dollar amount to be used for their personal benefits. Employees can use that total for any benefits they choose within specific private exchanges. We all know medical insurance is mandated, but what other employee benefits are needed to round out the whole person health program? This is your opportunity to bring DI awareness to your clients.
Ask your client or prospect what they know about income protection or disability insurance. Typically, they’ll respond by saying they have it through work. Well, what is it that you have through work? Is it enough? Most are unable to answer these questions because they just don’t know. It’s our duty to ask questions to help people learn about the value of employee benefits and income protection.
3. Increase in Gen Y
We have a huge tidal wave of Gen Y members coming into the workforce by the year 2020. There are 25 million baby boomers who make up more than 40 percent of the U.S. labor force that will be exiting the workforce and leaving many jobs to be filled, according to The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).
It has been reported that Gen Y, members of which were born in the 1980s and 1990s and are now between the ages of 18 and 34, are as large, if not larger, than the baby boomer generation And this group, more so than others, needs to be better educated on the value of DI. Gen Y represents an untapped market — a wealth of opportunities for agents selling DI. Younger Americans need to understand how DI works, that it will provide cash at the time they need it in the event of an accident or illness that prevents them from working, and that it allows them to use cash (benefit) in a manner they want. They need to know that it’s not forced upon them to use for this or that, which gives them choice and control.
DI is just one vehicle that helps people protect their dreams and goals during a life-altering occurrence.
As an industry, it is up to us to be proactive in bringing awareness to our clients and prospects by creating a positive and neutral picture about this tool. My membership in the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), as well as my own experience overcoming a disability, has taught me continuous ways to stand out and ensure my message is heard.