With the national unemployment rate hovering near 10 percent, you may find some of your clients more concerned about — and protective of — their incomes than ever before. And with fewer and fewer companies offering fewer and fewer employment opportunities these days, your clients may even contemplate working on their own, freelancing or consulting.

As a trusted advisor, you can play an important role in helping secure their futures. Urge any clients who may be considering venturing out on their own not to lose sight of how important insurance benefits are to their long-term financial stability. There’s a good chance that their previous employers offered them adequate health and life insurance, but once they’re independent, they’ll need to obtain all this coverage on their own — as well as the ability to protect their income with disability income insurance. At the same time, securing appropriate protection may be a challenge for clients launching new ventures or independent careers.

Lead by example
How do you stress the importance of disability income coverage when your clients have so much on their minds?

  1. Share a dramatic story about someone who suffered an unexpected disability — and financial devastation — to encourage planning. For a particularly profound example, relate the case of “Monica,” which can be found on the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) website. Monica was a self-employed financial professional who launched her dream career in her 30s. Her story illustrates how easy it can be to have it all — and lose every bit of it — because of an unforeseen accident or illness and the inevitable life-altering complications that result when there is no financial protection plan in place.
  2. Position disability income insurance as living insurance. It can provide the disabled with choices for how they live and how they receive the medical care they need — without becoming a burden on their family. In fact, you can suggest that income protection insurance is really designed to protect a client’s children, spouse, and loved ones. That’s because it keeps providing income to pay for a family’s’ normal “living” expenses, such as food, clothing, and housing — even though the breadwinner may no longer be able to work for a living.
  3. Point out that a disability can last a long time, possibly a lifetime, regardless of how small the initial cause may appear. In Monica’s case, her initial surgery and rehabilitation only lasted four or five months, but the series of complications that followed spanned years and cost nearly $1 million. And although she applied for Social Security disability benefits, it took two-and-a-half years before she was approved to receive a single payment. Make sure you ask your clients, “How long could you live with no money coming in — and no way to earn any?”
  4. Stress that it can be traumatic to be unprepared for a disability. For everyone involved. Without the financial protection that disability income protection provides, clients may not only lose their livelihood, they could lose the unthinkable — family, friends, or loved ones.

Do your clients a favor, and help them avoid becoming another bankruptcy or foreclosure story. As they deal with the uncertainties of the current economy, make sure they have the certainty of knowing their family would be protected in the event they suffer a disabling illness or injury.

Barry Lundquist is the interim president of the Council for Disability Awareness. He can be reached at barrylundquist@disabilitycouncil.org or 207-774-2634.