The only thing worse for a worker than facing a tough job market may be facing a tough job market without the physical ability to work.
Disability insurers and producers are trying to convey that message to employers and individual income protection clients, to persuade insureds that they should try to keep disability insurance and other protection products in place even when cash is tight.
At this point, disability insurers are strong, and they have plenty of capacity to write new coverage, according to Robert Taylor, president of the Council for Disability Awareness, Portland, Maine, a nonprofit group that spreads information about disability risk and strategies for coping with disability risk.
Many disability insurers have reported that claims have been within expectations this year.
JHA, Portland, Maine, a disability risk management and consulting firm, says revenue from in-force long-term group disability insurance cases increased about 5% between the first half of 2007 and the first half of 2008.
Meanwhile, the financial crisis itself may be helping to make points that disability insurers and producers have spent years trying to promote.
The financial crisis is “really magnifying the value of your income,” Taylor says. “People’s savings are drained. People are in debt. If there’s one thing you want to protect, it’s your ability to earn an income.”
Workers should not stop insuring their incomes any more quickly than they will stop insuring their cars or their homes, Taylor says.
But disability insurers and producers will continue to face the same challenge they always face, even when times are good: workers rarely believe that disability can happen to them, Taylor says.
The CDA has responded by offering producers and others the CDA Disability Awareness Toolkit, a collection of statistics and other resources that producers can use to educate workers about disability risks.
A unit of MetLife Inc., New York, reminds consumers in its latest benefits selection guide that having adequate disability insurance is as important during challenging times as it is during more prosperous times.