Disability Insurance Observer: Scholastic


The income umbrella (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) The income umbrella (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for education (LIFE) is teaming with Scholastic this year to help high school teachers teach students about personal financial planning and risk management.

The curriculum will include information about disability and disability insurance as well as about life insurance, health insurance, financial planning, and the general concept of risk.

I have a daughter in "Generation Z," in grade school, and I think the idea of disability insurers reaching out to those Gen Z children is a great idea. If anything, I just wish insurers had the time, energy and resources to do more to reach out to even younger children.

My experience is that Gen Z consumers see very clearly that they've been born into a complicated, unpredictable world. They are acutely interested in risk management lessons of all kinds.

A skeptic could say that the LIFE-Scholastic alliance is just about boosting future sales of insurance products.

If that's all the alliance is about: Well, that sounds good to me.

Nothing in life is perfect. Disability insurance products are certainly not perfect. But having just about any legitimate disability insurance policy is better when a disability occurs than having no income protection.

Scholastic already exists to sell my child all kinds of merchandise, with ruthless efficiency. Sometimes, it sells her books. But, at the Scholastic book fairs, it tries to sell her pencils, erasers, cat posters, and all manner of gimcracks that a stern financial professional would say are a poor substitute for savings, or for income protection insurance.

If the LIFE-Scholastic alliance ultimately ends up inspiring some alumni to go on to spend their money on disability insurance policies in the 2030s: Great.  

Some of those policies may be better policies than others. But it seems about 80 percent likely -- maybe 99 percent likely -- that young adults who blow off buying disability insurance in the 2030s will instead use the money to buy the young adult equivalent of cat posters.

If the LIFE-Scholastic alliance leads the alumni to spend a little less money than expected on restaurant vodka and lottery tickets, and a little more on disability insurance: What a blessed alliance.

And the world is already giving a lot of our children vivid lessons about risk.

This fall, my daughter got to go out in the afternoon as Sandy started to howl through our town. Her friends are sleeping with their parents in one small room in a large condo, because the parents are still trying to deal with the effects of Sandy flooding.

When my daughter is sitting with me on the couch, and we're watching the kids' channels, or the most beautiful, most enlightening of all TV channels -- the HGTV real estate channel -- Allstate's Mayhem spokesdemon will come on the air and start wreaking havoc on property-casualty policyholders' lives. My daughter wants to know all about Mayhem and what he's doing.

She cheers when she sees the ads for the company that supplies our home and auto insurance.

When the announcer who narrates the Gerber Life child life insurance policies comes on, my daughter starts asking me scary questions about college savings.

But, so far, it seems as if the Gerber Life commercials are just about the only life and health or savings-oriented commercials that she sees. 

She sees many commercials for GEICO's Gecko, many for cars, many for clothes, and plenty for credit cards -- but not many giving her realistic ideas about how she'll go about paying the doctor when she gets older, how she'll save money, or what she would do if she lost her ability to work.

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