Disability can be a difficult topic for most clients to understand, especially when it comes to how it can affect their own lives. As a result, disability income insurance can be one of the most complex products to sell. The reality is that 64 percent of wage earners believe they have a 2 percent or less chance of being disabled for three months or more during their working career, according to the Council for Disability Awareness. However, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration, the actual odds that an individual entering the workforce today will be disabled for an extended period of time are around 25 percent.
I have sold disability insurance for the past seven years, and now my agency leads with it because of a few different approaches to take. The reality about disability income insurance is the first priority.
Approximately 70 percent of my clients are young professionals, mainly physicians, whose biggest asset is several decades of earning power ahead of them. If they should become disabled and can no longer work, they risk losing that income. Insuring their earning power asset is the No. 1 reason they need a DI policy. And until they can build up other assets at some point in the future, they will need DI. As physicians, they help disabled people in their careers and probably understand better than most the emotional and financial impact disability can have.
Besides physicians, other professionals also understand that they need to protect their years of earning potential. Missing time from work due to illness or injury can have significant economic impact, as they cannot easily be replaced. Sales people are also a good example. Even though they may have a variable income, they can purchase a policy and increase the coverage when they have successful years. Business owners are also a key market. Many have thought of life insurance for succession planning, but they may stand a greater risk of disability than death. Many have key buy-sell agreements but only a handful are appropriately funded.
Approaching disability with facts and emotion
When approaching clients, put the emotion and financials into the discussion. When first meeting with a couple or young family, discuss their goals and ambitions, and review their plans to achieve their dreams. How are they going to meet their goals if they can’t work, especially if they have a family? Which dream would they have to give up if they didn’t have the income to finance their plans: sending their kids to college, a comfortable retirement, or independent living and counting on their children for support?
Use storytelling and examples to build a rapport and do a personal fact-finding about their friends and family members. Ask about their family history and inevitably, they all have a family member or friend who has had a heart attack, a stroke or is disabled in some way for some period of time. This gets the conversation about DI started. In a second appointment a more in-depth case relating their personal experiences to the lives they lead now can be presented.
Most clients assume that disability is caused by an accident, so present the other reality of disability. Any one of a number of common health issues can prevent an individual from working. Most are surprised to learn that approximately 90 percent of disabilities are caused by illnesses rather than accidents.
According to the Council for Disability Awareness, the most common causes of existing disability claims in 2012 were:
- Musculoskeletal/connective tissue disorders – 30.7 percent. This category includes claims caused by neck and back pain; joint, muscle and tendon disorders; foot, ankle and hand disorders, etc.;
- Disorders of the nervous system and sense organs – 14.2 percent;
- Cardiovascular/circulatory disorders – 12.1 percent;
- Cancer – 9.0 percent; and
- Mental disorders - 7.7 percent.
Addressing DI opposition