Disability Insurance For The Women In The Sandwich
Baby boomer women could be great disability insurance prospects for producers who can provide the right products and the right advice.
Traditionally, most first-time buyers of individual disability insurance have been executives and professionals between the ages of 35 and 50, and the core buyers have been between the ages of 40 and 45, according to Susan Baker, manager of disability sales and marketing at Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, Pittsfield, Mass., a unit of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York.
One-quarter of baby boomer women are now in that core disability insurance market.
“Older women may not have thought about [disability insurance] because many were taken care of, or thought they were taken care of,” Baker says. “Younger women may not have come up against their mortality yet.”
But, in the boomer age group, “were seeing more and more of our high school and college classmates have serious problems,” Baker says.
Many boomer women also find that they are joining the sandwich generation. In addition to caring for children, women “are becoming the caregivers for their mothers and fathers,” says Cassie Wilson, an agent at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass.
Women (and men) who care for relatives with disabilities get a first-hand education about the importance of disability insurance and long term care insurance, experts interviewed say.
Getting detailed statistics about womens purchases of disability insurance is difficult, but Dan Skwire, a consulting actuary in the Portland, Maine, office of Milliman USA, says women seem to be making up a growing share of the disability insurance market at the insurers that he tracks.
Baker estimates that about 30% of the boomers who buy new disability policies might be women.
Despite the growth in sales of disability insurance to women, “I think the female marketplace is underpenetrated,” says Daniel Steenerson, president of Disability Insurance Services Inc., San Diego.
Executives in the individual disability insurance industry often worry that because their product is tricky to underwrite, difficult to explain and somewhat expensive, it tends to get lost in the cracks. Aside, possibly, from the high-income medical professional category, no demographic category has a disability insurance penetration rate that is really as high as it ought to be, experts say.
When single people or family breadwinners suffer disabling conditions without having adequate insurance in place, “it can be absolutely devastating,” Baker says.
But the problem seems to be even more serious for boomer women than it is for boomer men.
“That might be because there are more men agents than women agents,” Wilson says.
“The insurance industry is still a male-dominated industry,” Baker agrees. “Not enough women are being approached to buy disability insurance.”
Once agents approach them, “women tend to be a little keener and in tune to the need” for coverage, Steenerson says.
Female professionals and executives vary as much as male customers, but the average female customer seems to be somewhat more interested in advice and a good contract, and somewhat less interested in price, Wilson says.