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LIFE Gears Up For Second Annual Disability Month

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The Life Insurance Foundation for Education is hoping it can show insurers that coordinating a company-specific campaign with one of its public education campaigns can be a great way to increase sales.

Representatives from LIFE, Arlington, Va., talked about the issue here Wednesday at the latest JHA annual disability insurance conference.

LIFE is a nonprofit group that was organized to educate consumers and others about the need for life insurance and related products.

LIFE has been running a Life Insurance Awareness Month program in September for several years, and it added a Disability Insurance Awareness Month program in May 2007.

Hartford Life, Simsbury, Conn., a unit of Hartford Financial Services Inc., Hartford, is one of the insurers that participated in the first disability month campaign.

Hartford Life just added a program to measure the effects of efforts such as the LIFE awareness month campaigns and a disability employment awareness month organized by the U.S. Department of Labor. Early results suggest that the campaigns are helpful, Robert Rieff, a senior vice president at Hartford Life, said at a panel discussion focusing on the disability month program.

LIFE itself has found that, as a result of the life and disability month campaigns, it is getting calls for information from reporters at news organizations such as CNN and the Wall Street Journal “that we normally wouldn’t have access to,” said Marvin Feldman, president of LIFE.

One life awareness month participant, State Farm Mutual Life Insurance Company, Bloomington, Ill., has given LIFE permission to release results of an analysis of the effects of coordinating a company-specific advertising campaign with the 2007 LIFE life awareness campaign.

State Farm analysts found that the coordinated campaign appeared to increase sales about 32% over the level recorded in September 2006, Feldman said.

“The metrics are there,” Feldman said.

Principal Financial Group Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, is not releasing specific sales impact figures, but it supports the idea of working with other insurers to increase awareness, said Jody Baldner, specialty benefits marketing director at Principal.

If insurers and others work together to educate the public about the need for products such as life insurance and disability insurance, “all ships will rise with the tide,” Baldner said.

When LIFE started the disability month campaign, it was following the lead of Illinois Mutual Life Insurance Company, Peoria, Ill.

Illinois Mutual, which sells disability insurance to middle-market consumers, organized its own disability month campaign in 2005 because its agents were running into a lack of consumer awareness of disability insurance, said Chris Connor, a vice president of underwriting at Illinois Mutual.

The company built the first disability month around the question, “What if your last payday WAS your last payday?”

Illinois Mutual was happy to see LIFE and the insurance industry as a whole adopt the disability month concept, Connor said.

“The key to us is getting the message out,” he said.

Once more consumers and employers understand the need for disability insurance and how much coverage they ought to have, carriers can compete for the new business that will crop up, Connor said.

LIFE and insurers support the life and disability month campaigns with tools such as press releases, prepared articles, educational materials for consumers and employers, and Web sites.

For the 2007 campaigns, LIFE also took steps such as spending $20,000 in a radio public service announcement. Radio stations ran the PSA about 27,000 times, providing air time with a value of about $1.4 million, Feldman said.

The May 2008 disability month will use the slogan, “Carpe DIAM,” and it will feature April Holmes, the world’s fastest female amputee, as the campaign spokesperson, Feldman said.

JHA, Portland, Maine, a unit of General Re Corp., Stamford, Conn., is developing a disability month commercial.

One idea is to create a parody of a horror movie, showing in lurid detail how unspeakably terrifying it is to go without DI protection. Another idea is to show insurance company spokesmascots such as the Aflac Duck and the Hartford Stag talking about the need to unite to promote DI awareness, according to Stacy Varney, a JHA vice president.


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