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Maybe Employers Are Ready to Be Aware of Disability Insurance

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Insurers, agents and industry groups today launched the 2018 Disability Insurance Awareness Month campaign with something strange rumbling in the background: Employers are said to be asking about the possibility of improving employer-paid benefits.

(Related: Disability Insurance Awareness Month Starts, Quietly)

Executives from both Aflac Inc. and Principal Financial Group Inc. have said during recent earnings calls with securities analysts they see increased employer interest in adding true group disability benefits.

Aflac attributed the increase in interest in group disability to an effort to court benefits brokers. A Principal executive said she thinks the increase in interest is partly due to something that could help all issuers of group benefits products: The U.S. economy is close to the full employment level. Employers are starting to feel as if they have to do more to attract, and keep, good workers.

For insurers, a big increase in sales of long-term individual or group disability insurance would be a mixed blessing.

Insurers like the idea of selling more risk-based insurance, and, in the group long-term disability insurance market, they have much more ability to increase premiums than they do in the long-term care insurance market. But, given how low interest rates still are, insurers still have to work hard to generate the investment earnings they need to support long-lasting claims.

For agents, brokers and consultants, an increase in the underlying level of demand for disability coverage would create a chance to make up for decreases in health insurance-related revenue, while protecting more people against the devastation caused by loss of the ability to work.

DIAM 2018 Activities

The Council for Disability Awareness is offering agents a campaign media kit, including a two-page income protection fact sheet. CDA has also started a new consumer microsite,, and a packaged social media campaign, to help agents who find  their minds freezing when they surf over to Twitter.

Life Happens has developed a DIAM campaign package that includes videos, customizable articles, social media graphics, templates for emails, and flyers. The group is trying to hammer home the message that 7 in 10 employed Americans would run into trouble in just a month if they lost their ability to earn a paycheck.

The International DI Society has been encouraging its members to seek out DIAM resources from CDA, Life Happens and carriers, and to use the IDIS speaker’s bureau and an IDIS training video to boost their DIAM efforts.

The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors is joining with Life Happens and the American Council of Life Insurers to bring DIAM to Capitol Hill later this week. The groups will give the people who work on Capitol Hill a Disability Insurance 101 briefing at 2 p.m. Friday, in a House office building.

The ACLI also has posted a collection of consumer resources.

The disability briefing speaker list includes the Republican staff director and the Democratic staff director from the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security.

The briefing speakers will talk about Social Security disability benefits and workers’ compensation as well as private disability insurance.

Standard Insurance has posted a DIAM social media kit that includes content aimed specifically at consumers in the Millennial, Generation X and Baby Boomer age groups.

The May Group is an example of an insurance agency that’s participating in the DIAM effort. The firm has posted a “Financial Food for Thought!” item about the campaign on its home page.

The list of firms tweeting about DIAM includes MGM Benefits Group, Ensurem, Michigan Financial, Shelley’s State Farm, Producers XL, Art Jetter & Company and Melando Planning Group.

— Read Anthem Group Disability Exec: The Oxygen Is Back on ThinkAdvisor.

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