In Women Are Not Small Men, her groundbreaking book on women’s health, cardiologist Nieca Goldberg promoted the concept that women require a different health care approach than that used for men. Because the basic physiology of women is so different from that of men, Goldberg said, effective health care strategies for women need to be crafted from scratch with their needs in mind, rather than being adapted from research performed on men.
Likewise, small businesses are not merely smaller versions of Fortune 500 companies. They are truly a different species. Meeting their employee benefit needs requires products geared to those unique needs, rather than just scaled-down versions of big-business benefit plans.
Companies with fewer than 500 employees comprise a vast, under-penetrated market that is a prime opportunity for new disability benefit sales. And for many of these companies, traditional disability plans are a good fit.
However, many small businesses want and need a disability plan, but have unique conditions that require a special effort to put coverage within their reach.
Disability income protection is every bit as important and appropriate on the shop floors of America’s small businesses as it is in the executive suites of the Fortune 500. Employers and employees alike are becoming increasingly aware of that need.
Consider these facts:
According to a 2002 study by the American Council of Life Insurers, 1 in 3 workers between the ages of 35 and 65 will suffer a serious disability.
A 2005 Harvard University study indicates that nearly half of all bankruptcies are due to disabling medical conditions.
Disability is 16 times more likely than death to cause a foreclosure, according to information from the Disability Insurance Marketing Center, U.S. Government Housing and Home Finance Agency, and Health Insurance Matters.
This untapped market is so large, and recognition of the importance of disability protection is growing so fast, that it is generating an explosion of innovation and creativity in the disability insurance field. This is leading to an array of new products that offer far more features and flexibility than do traditional policies.
One of the most potent factors driving this process is a need to make disability more affordable to small businesses. The percentage of hourly positions is higher in the 500-lives-and-under segment, so rates need to be brought to a different level to put them within reach of these employers and their workers.