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Life Health > Life Insurance

7 time-tested disability insurance sales tips

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One reason Life Happens started the annual Disability Insurance Awareness Month (DIAM) campaign in 2007 was to increase consumers’ awareness of the existence of disability insurance.

Another reason was to overcome agents’ own fear of the unknown.

On May 1, agents will have what feels like an official reason to use prepackaged videos, posters, form letters and even tweets to start conversations about a topic they may not really know all that well. 

See also: Disability Firm to Court Newer Agents 

About 151 million U.S. workers, or 71 percent of all workers, are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Only 45 million, or 21 percent of the total, are eligible for private group long-term disability (LTD) insurance benefits. Just 3.3 million have private individual disability insurance policies.

An average of about 2.5 million people file SSDI claims every year. Private disability insurers get about 150,000 group LTD insurance claims and about 2,000 individual disability insurance claims per year, according to reports from Charles River Associates and the Society of Actuaries.

If you work in a typical community of 1 million people, an average of about 30 residents will file for SSDI benefits on any given business day. Just two will have private disability benefits. The other 28 will have to make do with SSDI benefits, which average less than $14,000 per year. Several other residents might become severely disabled that day without having access to any disability insurance benefits of any kind.

The people at risk of becoming disabled, without any access to disability benefits, may include the bakery owner who bakes your muffin in the morning and the cafe owner who serves you eggs on the weekend. Especially if you are new to insurance yourself, you may have no protection for your own ability to earn a living.

If fear is keeping you from talking to prospects about disability risk, consider these classic suggestions adapted from “Fear is the tyrant of the life agent,” an article published in a 1916 issue of National Underwriter (which was then called The Western Underwriter.) National Underwriter is one of the print publications that now helps run The National Underwriter editors based their article on presentation notes from William King of Missouri State Life of St. Louis. King was one of the top personal products producers in the West.

“When you walk up to the prospect’s door, turn the knob, and then feel a cold chill run up your spine, and a wild desire to turn and run, what is it?” King asked. “This is fear: the greatest cause of failure in insurance or any other pursuit on earth.”

For King’s advice about how to overcome the kind of fear that keeps an agent from selling disability insurance or other personal protection products, read on.


1. Throw off childish fancies.

“When you were a child, you feared the dark, the bug-a-boo, the ghosts of childhood’s fancy,” King said. “Why not throw off these childhood fancies — these childhood fears? Why not send forth your light of understanding into the most remote and darkest corners of your own soul… and show to men [and women] who do love their families what the great institution of insurance stands for?”

See also: Scary Things


2. Visualize disability insurance.

Help clients see how buying the right kind of insurance can serve as protection against suffering and also help shield other, less fortunate people against suffering, King said.

“First be sure you are right, then go ahead,” he said, quoting Davy Crockett.

See also: 5 secrets to activating the laws of attraction


3. Eliminate the darkness of ignorance.

“Realize once and for all that no sale is a good sale that is not mutually beneficial,” King said. “Realize the reality of, ‘He profits most who serves best.’ Go into your work in the real true spirit of service, with the firm conviction that what you have to offer will actually benefit your prospect.”

See also: Let’s talk: The glue of strong relationships


4. Know your goods.

“Nothing brings greater confidence,” King said. “Realize your own understanding, strive constantly to improve it, and with the outcropping of that knowledge will come enthusiasm, loyalty and earnestness, the strongest possible enemies of fear, and the stimulators of active, successful endeavor.”

See also: How to enter the DI market

Sales guy running ahead of the competition

5. Act.

“Throw off your fear by constantly doing the thing that you know ought to be done, whether it’s easy or not,” King said. “What do you suppose this country would have been if Washington, Lincoln, Grant, or thousands of others had refrained from action, simply for the fear of possibilities? Every time you turn from your duty, you are letting fear get just a little stronger hold on you.”

See also: Overcoming the 3 greatest challenges to selling DI

Family dinner

6. Remember the people who love you.

“Just as your mother was the dispeller of the bugbear in childhood, so in back of you today are a host of people who believe in you, and who want to see you make good,” King said. “If you won’t rise in your power for yourself, rise for the sake of those that believe in you.”

See also: The Most Important DI Sale You’ll Ever Make

A lone tree silhouetted against the sky

7. Remember that what you do matters.

“All the world would still be in a state of barbarism if it were not for salesmen,” King said. “Go forth clothed in the majesty and nobility and love of your calling to a bigger, a better, a more useful life.” 

See also:

4 myths about disability insurance, busted

3 scary consumer importance-protection gaps


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Image: The Shenandoah River valley (TS/Alex Mann)


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