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Life Health > Life Insurance

Selling Disability Insurance: Just Like Selling a Car

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Think about the last time you bought a car. What was the process? How long did it take you to pick out your car and make your buying decision?

Cars are complicated machines, yet picking out a car is fairly simple. Why? Because buyers know they need a car and understand the criteria for the vehicle that suits their needs. The average car buyer doesn’t need (or want) to know every technical specification of an automobile. At the most basic level, they want to know that every time they turn the key, the car will start. It will be dependable and meet their needs, and carry a price they can afford.

Disability insurance policies are similarly complicated. Unfortunately, and in contrast to the purchase of a car, most prospects don’t know the criteria for the policy that suits their needs. Many insurance agents and brokers mistakenly feel compelled to discuss the intricate details of the disability insurance policy’s terms with their prospects before addressing the main requirements, causing themselves to lose the sale. Most prospects start to fade away and lose attention when you discuss in exhausting detail the inner workings of a disability contract. You’ve lost them before they can even make a decision.

An analogy: Buying a car

Looking at the car-buying process, most people ask themselves a few basic questions before making a purchase:

  1. Do I need a car right now?
  2. What are my driving needs?
  3. What are the most important features for me?
  4. What is my budget?

Most people who purchase a car don’t need to know all of the inner workings of the engine, detailed mechanical information, or comparisons of minor engine differences between cars. They want to know that their most important criteria are being met. For example: Is the car fuel efficient? Does it have strong safety ratings? Is it reliable? Will it fulfill my travel needs? Can I afford this car?

Now, suppose you have picked out a car, and the salesperson walks over from across the showroom and starts to explain how one car has more horse power and another car has better fuel efficiency. One is all-wheel drive, and another has better tire traction. This starts to muddle your decision process. You are now unsure of your decision, and are caught comparing miniscule details that have no impact on your needs. You become overwhelmed and leave the lot. Had you stuck with the important criteria, you would have driven home in your new car. Instead, you’re trapped in the decision-making process, and may go to another dealer or may forgo a car purchase altogether because of sheer confusion.

How to handle the sale – the right way

Disability insurance sales are analogous. Once prospects are motivated to insure their income, you should help them identify their most important criteria and simplify the process for them. Here are some example questions (which are not exhaustive, but illustrative) to ask your prospect to narrow down their decision:

  • Is it important that your policy cover you in your occupation or medical specialty?
  • How much income would you need on a monthly basis if you were disabled?
  • Will you need to increase the policy’s monthly benefits in the future?
  • What is your budget for the disability insurance?
  • Do you have any medical conditions that might preclude you from purchasing disability insurance at this time?

Listen carefully to your prospect. Ask follow-up questions to help you prioritize their needs. Then, design a disability policy with the features that takes their needs into consideration. Afterwards, when you meet the prospect, explain the features of the policy that directly address the criteria they’ve identified as most important. Provide them with a few alternatives to hone in on the plan that best fits their needs.

Remember that it’s your job to make the decision process simple and manageable. Don’t assume that your prospect will understand the legalese in the insurance company’s computer generated proposal. In the same vein, avoid explaining the policy terms using confusing industry jargon. Instead, try to use examples that illustrate how the particular policy term you’re explaining works using hypothetical, “real life” scenarios. Always first address the prospect’s broad brush concerns then explain the fine points. I have found that this approach helps smoothly guide the prospect through the decision-making process. It can lead you to a disability insurance sale, and away from a confused prospect.

Jamie Fleischner is president of Set for Life Insurance. For more information, visit


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