The income umbrella (AP photo/Charles Dharapak)

The International DI Society is working to attract agents and brokers to its 2013 conference in October, in New Orleans.

One reason to go is to network with other people who are interested in disability insurance. 

Another reason is to hear presentations on what’s going on in the disability insurance market.

Still another reason is that the food in New Orleans is really good.

But I think another, even more important reason — the reason I’m daring to post this, in the face of the possibility that this will look a little too promotional — is that I’m discovering, through conversations with friends and acquaintances, that many educated, reasonably solvent people with mortgages, children and small businesses have absolutely no clue what disability insurance is.

I see survey statistics suggesting that a fairly large percentage of U.S. adults say that they know what disability insurance is and that a big minority purport to have disability insurance, but I’m starting to think that many of the people surveyed are just saying what they think the polling organizations want to hear and have absolutely no clue.

Obviously, many people may hear someone describe a product, understand the risk, then weigh the cost of the product and the likelihood of the risk against the need to pay for their groceries. They may go with paying for organic milk rather than disability insurance.

People can know plenty about products — even, to be candid, write trade news website articles about the products — without having the income or mental energy to figure out how to pay for those products. The idea of coming up with 2 percent of income to pay for a product sounds a lot easier in LifeHealthPro.com sales slideshows than it does to a consumer wondering what financial tapeworm has gotten into the checking account and eats up the paycheck every month.

But I keep meeting people who haven’t even reached the point of disability insurance awareness at which they could be pronounced guilty of sloth, bad budgeting or denial. They simply have no more idea of what a disability insurance policy is than they have of what a collarateralized debt obligation (CDO) is. Someone could probably pretty quickly trick them into thinking that a disability insurance policy and a CDO are the same thing.

The New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration was really a kind of advertising/team-building exercise for New Orleans burial societies — old-time life insurers.

Maybe disability insurers could apply some of that Mardi Gras magic to promoting disability insurance. Maybe do something creative with Mardi Gras throws, or get a spirit guide to bless the 2014 Disability Insurance Awareness Month campaign …

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