Demystifying Disability Insurance

As residents of a democratic nation built upon economic models of capitalism and free market systems, personal income is our greatest asset.  Without a regular paycheck, we wouldn’t be able to live as we are accustomed; we wouldn’t be able to provide the same food and shelter for our families or education for our children.  We wouldn’t be able to travel like we do or even afford the most modest of societal pleasures like cellular phones and trips to the movie theater.  Without a steady income, most of us would be financially dead – slaves to poverty and meager government assistance.

So we can all agree that being employed and bringing home a paycheck is requisite for life in America.  Yet, millions of working-age adults have lost their ability to make an adequate living due to illness or injury.  Thousands of Americans become disabled, either suddenly or gradually, every year by a multitude of causes and most don’t maintain safeguards like disability insurance or proper savings vehicles to support their lifestyles and the constant needs of their families.  They become the “living dead”, remaining heavy consumers without producing satisfactory income.

In these days of negligible interest rates, savings and retirement accounts do little in the way of financial support for those who need to generate capital sufficient to survive.  The most significant financial protection for those who work for a living in this country is manifested by personal disability insurance.

Those of you who sell DI to your clients and those of you who have attempted to sell DI to your clients know that it isn’t the easiest of sales.  Why?  Because most Americans think their bodies are stronger and more resilient than the reality – the human body is fragile and we are all vulnerable to disablement.  The average American is three times more likely to become totally disabled during their working career than die during that time.  But we still feel invincible.  It is your duty as an advisor to “show” your clients the truth.  Use stories and statistics readily available to you from organizations like The Council for Disability Awareness, Life Happens and the U.S. government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Other common complaints from consumers are that disability insurance is too expensive and that the policies are too complicated.  That is rubbish.  Income protection is pricey, but the alternative of financial ruin at the hands of premature disablement is far more devastating.  Demonstrate to your clients that budgets and DI products can be finessed to find a comfortable balance between premiums and benefits.  Regarding the complexity of policy wordings and benefit rider terminology, you, the agent must be the guide and interpreter.  Don’t be afraid to request assistance from your carriers to breakdown policy wordings so you can present products and worthy riders in layman’s terms.  Regardless of your preconceptions, insurance companies want to work with you.  They believe in their products.  They believe they can provide your clients with worthwhile protection and reliable benefits when and if necessary.  Carriers want you to sell their insurance so we can all make money while at the same time providing your clients with the most important of economic safeguards.

Some find using the word “disability” unpleasant and recent trends show that DI marketers are finding other ways to convey the need for the insurance by using terms like “paycheck protection.”  Now that is fine and clever, but we can’t neglect to instill in our clients that disablement is not pretty and the physical and financial realities are frightening.  Money aside, more Americans need sufficient disability income protection.  Petersen International will be happy to assist, but the ultimate promotion of DI is in your hands.  You, the insurance agent, are the key to demystifying disability insurance in the eyes of the consumer.