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It takes a variety of “tools” to sell disability income insurance, probably more than for any other life or health product. Unlike life insurance, where the triggering event is eventual, and health insurance, which is a certain necessity, disability insurance protects against an event that may never occur.

This article discusses the 8 steps of the disability insurance sales cycle. By mastering these, you can help your clients understand the need for disability coverage.

1. Attitude. Whoever said “Image is everything” was only partially correct. While it isnt everything, it certainly helps to have a positive attitude and to present yourself professionally. Being able to look your prospect in the eyes and speak with confidence will certainly make a good first impression.

2. Knowledge. Not only should you know your products inside and out, you should also be prepared to accurately quote contractual differences between those offered by the competition. As an independent, I usually present up to three carriers to a prospect. Which carriers I present are dictated by the prospects occupation, since different carriers may have different contracts for that occupational class.

As in life insurance, there are different disability policies, with each serving a different need. Some major types of disability insurance products designed for a specific purpose can be found in Figure 1.

3. Prospecting. This phase of the sales cycle may be the most important of all, since you cant use any of your other skills, unless you get in front of the prospect.

There are several prospecting techniques that can be employed either simultaneously or on a dedicated basis. These are: (1) cold calling, (2) direct mail, (3) telemarketing, (4) seminars; and, (5) referrals.

I prefer cold calling and seminars to the others (except for referrals, of course), since it is all too easy for a prospect to disregard your mail or telephone attempts (although there are many “catchy” phrases that can capture the prospects attention). On the other hand, some of the others can save a lot of wear and tear and allow more contacts in a shorter period of time. Try some of each and see what your comfort levels are.

4. Presentation. Some professionals have a problem with using a “canned” presentation. I follow the expression, “Why re-invent the wheel?” Theres nothing wrong using a canned sales presentation flip chart. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words! But, be sure to base your presentation on emotion. Concentrate on emotionally selling the need, rather than the logic or the dollar values of the contract.

5. Objections. Hopefully, youre skillful enough to elicit objection(s), because without them, you really have no way of continuing your presentation. When you get an objection, its a good idea to have several rebuttals for anything a prospect can throw at you. Here are few of the more commonly heard objections:

1. I can invest my own money.

2. I have a good income and money in the bank to take care of me if I become disabled.

3. Ive never been sick or hurt in my life.

4. I cant afford it.

Be sure to develop good rebuttals for all of these frequent objections. For example, heres my rebuttal to objection 3 listed above:

“My company pays hundreds of claims each month to people just like you who were in perfect health at the time they applied for the plan. Many of them had never been ill before, but fortunately they had the plan in place before disability struck, to pay for the necessities of life–like food and electricity–for their family. Lets see if you can qualify before your health changes. Remember, were not getting any younger.”

6. Closing. OK, youve overcome the prospects objections and the prospect agrees he needs the product. You then fill out the application and ask for the check.

Some may say, “Sure, I agreed I need it, but I just dont want it right now.” At this point youve really got to emotionally touch your prospects and make them really feel the need. How do you do this? Fill up your brief case with a few good third person stories. These testimonials describe someone elses tragedy in detail and are bound to help.

7. Submit The Application. Finally, you got the application and gave the healthy applicant a binder. The next battle may be more difficult; that is, getting your company to “cooperate” and issue the policy as applied for, with no ratings or exclusions.

Unlike life insurance, wherein all the underwriter has to look at is life threatening health conditions, a disability underwriter has to look at the whole body as to which part will cause a claim down the road (carpel tunnel syndrome, bad back, etc). In these cases, be prepared to have your application come back with a rating, an exclusion, or a declination.

These will occur in greater numbers than anything you have ever experienced (especially when compared to selling life insurance). Dont minimize the need to properly fill out the application completely and accurately, it can make all the difference in the world to the underwriter reviewing your case. The underwriter needs reasons to produce a favorable disposition, especially on a questionable application. These are reasons that only you can supply.

A cover letter will certainly help if the underwriter might be predisposed to decline a case. These are usually due to emotional or psychological problems. This health condition is probably going to cause a declination with most companies, especially if the prospect is currently in therapy, or is on medication. A good idea would be to get a copy of the medical records and submit it on a trial basis.

But when all else fails, negotiate! When negotiating an application for approval with an underwriter, you should consider using some of the restrictions found in Figure 2 as bargaining chips to help get the policy issued.

8. Delivery. Finally, the policy is issued. If it has a rider (exclusion) you may have to resell the benefits and the need to the prospect. After all, its been 6-8 weeks and the prospect has probably forgotten half of what was said.

Point out that even if a certain condition was excluded from coverage, at least the other potential sources for disability will be covered in full. At this point, I would even pull out a picture of an anatomy and place a small dot onto the excluded area. Be sure to point out how insignificant the exclusion is when compared to the “remainder” to be covered.

Delivery of the policy is also a good time to get more referrals. Your prospect has now become your client, what better time to expand that relationship to include friends, family, and business associates that may also benefit from your services.

is a disability insurance specialist at Disability Insurance Resource Center, Albuquerque, N.M. You can e-mail him at info@di-resource-center.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, September 23, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.