Of all the products you have the opportunity to sell, arguably the most neglected is disability income insurance. The need is blatant for a wide range of age spans and income earners, and the product is affordable. Yet, too many good producers overlook the opportunities. What gives?

That’s the age-old question — although it’s not always asked in that way. For years, the industry and our society have suffered, I believe, because the need for income protection in the event of a disability has not been adequately filled.

But don’t blame this month’s panelists for those shortcomings. These three top producers are among the best in the business. Fielding my questions about what drives their passion for the market, the opportunities and challenges they face, and their practical advice for other producers looking to grow their DI business are the following: Robert L. Avery, CFP, CLU, ChFC; Peter R. Magni, LUTCF; and Larry Schneider.

Robert L. Avery, CFP, CLU, ChFC, has been in the financial services industry for more than 34 years, working with clients to help reach their financial goals and secure a safe retirement. Within the industry, Avery has served as president of the Denver chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA). He is a 28-year member of the Million Dollar Round Table, with two Court of the Table qualifications. Avery has also served the MDRT in various leadership roles, including the divisional vice president for the Program General Arrangements for the 2011 annual meeting.

Peter R. Magni, LUTCF, has been an associate with the Wellesley Financial Group in Massachusetts since 1982. During that time, he has worked with more than 700 clients nationwide. This group includes physicians, small-business owners, and other professionals interested in defining and achieving financial and insurance goals. Magni has specialized in working with the medical community. He is a 26-year qualifier for the Million Dollar Round Table organization and always attends its annual meeting.

Larry Schneider owns a brokerage firm exclusively devoted to and specializing in disability income insurance since 1976. His brokerage operation provides a number of services, both to his clients and to insurance agents, financial planners and other professionals who need guidance and solutions to their DI concerns. He is also a consultant and expert witness for DI claims that have been inappropriately denied. He has written many DI articles for trade journals, helped The American College rewrite its training manual, and has conducted seminars for several large associations. He has also been a moderator for the Life Underwriters Training Council.

Selling DI: It’s personal

Charles K. Hirsch, CLU: Many of the top disability insurance producers I know are among the most passionate salespeople in the business, and many of them have a personal story behind that passion. Can you talk a little bit about your own personal reasons for working so hard to tell the story of disability insurance?

Robert L. Avery, CFP, CLU, ChFC: The passion in this business typically comes after you see the impact of your first claim when you deliver the check. One of the first claims I assisted on was not even a sale that I benefited from financially. Instead, I urged a colleague of mine to take coverage out on himself. He paid the premium on the policy for a few years, and then he found out he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He battled that disease for more than 12 years. On several occasions, whenever he received a check, he would thank me for educating him on the importance of taking disability insurance coverage out on himself.

Peter R. Magni, LUTCF: When I entered the financial services industry, I studied the disability income protection product quite extensively because I specialized in the physician marketplace. I knew I had to become an expert in disability income protection to be able to help physicians properly, because they were extremely under-protected. At that time, I was told that a physician in one of the departments in which I had presented a financial seminar had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was unlikely to ever be able to work again. Due to this unforeseen event, I was approached by many physicians in the department for information on disability income protection. As my expertise grew, I became more passionate about selling disability income protection.

Larry Schneider: One of the many reasons I sell and promote income protection — disability income insurance — goes back some three decades ago, when a dear friend of mine casually asked the following question: “What is it and what can it do for me?”

Little did she know, and after some explanation and literally having to sit on her chest and force her to sign on the dotted line, she got rear-ended by a truck. There went her selling career, which involved a lot of driving!

She is now getting $6,000 a month for her lifetime, so I think that experience led me to believe that, besides making a nice living from my endeavors, my efforts could make an impact in someone’s life!