Companies and groups in the disability community have been celebrating Disability Insurance Awareness Month by coming out with reports on how abysmally ignorant American breadwinners are.
On the one hand: Someone has to explore the outer limits of American cluelessness.
On the other hand: Maybe the survey sponsors would get more bang for the promotional buck if they broadened their range of interests a bit and asked more questions about other topics.
One problem with the current flood of “American workers are ignorant” surveys is that it’s hard to generate as much interest in the fourth report of that nature that comes out in a month than the first.
WellPoint Inc., Indianapolis (NYSE:WLP), is one of the companies that has released a disability ignorance survey report.
The company commissioned a survey of 2,500 U.S. residents ages 18 and older and found that two-thirds of the participants did not know what was covered by their disability plans, and that 40% said they thought disability insurance only covers disabilities caused by injuries or accidents.
Of course: WellPoint is a wonderful company that protects tens of millions of Americans against illness, loss of income and other risks. Some people can talk about problems they’ve had with any company, including a big health insurance company. Just about every big company will end up taking a thumping in the court of public opinion sooner or later. But, the bottom line is that tens of thousands of people may be alive, able-bodied and solvent today primarily because of WellPoint products.
WellPoint is trying to help healthy people stay well by taking the lead on projects such as getting people to exercise, working to keep dental benefits in place, and modernizing the U.S. claim coding system.
The survey report is a perfectly good survey report, and the fact that it comes from a giant health insurer is interesting. WellPoint has been in the disability insurance market and trying to educate the public about the need for disability coverage for years, but disability insurance tends to be a market in which carriers weigh the benefits and possible risks of expanding sales carefully. GenRe reported in its group long-term disability (LTD) market survey report for 2011 that WellPoint accounted for about $44 million in group LTD premium revenue from in-force business last year, or a 0.5% share of the in-force market. It ranked about 20th in terms of in-force group LTD premium revenue.
Similarly, WellPoint came in 18th in the GenRe group LTD new sales rankings, with $7.5 million in net group LTD sales and a 0.6% share of new group LTD sales.
If WellPoint decided that dramatically expanding its role in the disability insurance market was a great way to diversify, it could apply a great deal of promotional muscle to that effort. Maybe WellPoint could be the company that could create a spokescharacter that compete with what Flo does for auto insurance and what the Duck does for accident insurance.