Today, people expect to buy just about anything online. However, when it comes to insurance, that isn’t always that simple.

Buying insurance online, especially products like whole life and disability income insurance, can be difficult because there are so many important variables that need to be explained by a professional before the buyer can make an educated decision. It can even be challenging to research policy features and costs online without background on specific industry terms and language.

(Related: 8 Facts to Know About Disability Insurance [Infographic])

One solution in the disability income protection market is to borrow an idea from the term life and health insurance markets and to introduce quote tools. My own company recently introduced such a tool, a disability insurance quoting calculator.

Giving consumers access to an online disability insurance calculator makes it easy for them to get fast and accurate information about how much disability income protection will cost, allows them to select some of the most popular options to see if that either increases or decreases the price, and provides access to a financial professional who can complete the purchase.

Financial professionals who prefer to be involved in the entire consumer education process will see that adding transparency to the sales process with this new online calculator, and a little sun shine in, is a win-win. It provides just enough information to help the consumer better understand pricing and coverage, and it gives the professional a snapshot of the consumer’s financial picture. By the time the consumer and financial professional meet, they’ll have information that will make the sales process a much better experience for both.

Why is disability income insurance important?

You may sometimes get this question from clients and prospects and wonder what to say.

Eye (Photo: Thinkstock)

(Photo: Thinkstock)

Clients need to know that disability income insurance is important because it provides income replacement to continue paying bills and everyday living expenses if a person becomes too sick or injured to work.

According to a U.S. Social Security Administration fact sheet released in June 2016, although most people understand the importance of protecting their income, less than half of the population currently has long-term disability income insurance.

The Council for Disability Awareness points out on its website, http://www.disabilitycanhappen.org/, that people who do not have disability income insurance often overestimate the cost of a policy, and many aren’t sure how to get in touch with a trusted financial professional. The DI quote tool allows consumers to better understand DI insurance and how it can be customized to fit into one’s budget before taking next steps with a financial professional.

How should a good DI quote tool work?

A good online tool should educate consumers about the cost of coverage based on factors like gender, age and occupation. It should also demonstrate how adding or removing certain options might affect pricing and show suggested coverage based on current income. Doing so helps consumers better understand pricing and how they might be able to personalize a policy to suit their needs.

When using a good online tool, consumers should be able to:

  • Select how long they want their benefits to last while they are disabled (benefit period), and the amount of time to lapse before benefit payments start once they become eligible (elimination period).

  • Customize the coverage by selecting various policy features – such as the ability to collect benefits for a partial disability.;

  • Select a cost-of-living increase provision or a specific feature that helps cover student loan payments in the event of a disability.

The consumer can then decide whether to ask for a financial representative to contact them to discuss the coverage they’ve built and explain the costs.

Window (Image: Thinkstock)

(Image: Thinkstock)

The best part? No unwanted phone calls or emails! The consumer will only be contacted if they choose to provide their contact information to a financial representative.

The need for income protection is real

According to the Social Security Administration, more than one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before age 67, with most of these disabilities resulting from unpredictable illnesses such as heart disease or cancer, which could prevent a person from working for an extended period of time. Since most people can’t live without an income, the need to protect it is real.

By building the right online tools, we’re providing consumers with what they want: access to an online quote calculator so they can self-educate while giving them confidence to take the next step to discuss their financial situation with a financial professional.

— Read 7 New Cartoons for Disability Insurance Advisors on ThinkAdvisor.