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Talk About Disability Insurance Now: Idea File

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What You Need to Know

  • COVID-19 has helped put all kinds of absence, leave and income protection issues in the spotlight.
  • About one-quarter of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled by the time they’re 67.
  • Many 20-year-olds have a hard time grasping the idea that they could become disabled.

Virgil Miller would like to see insurance agents and brokers do more to educate employers and workers about the critical importance of disability insurance.

Miller is the president of the individual benefits division at Aflac U.S.

He served as a Marine and is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. He worked in client services, policy service, customer service and transformation at Aflac before becoming a top-level executive.

He now leads the U.S. teams in charge of selling individual benefits products, including the U.S. independent career sales agent distribution team.

Here are four thoughts he has about protecting workers against the loss of the ability to earn a living, drawn from a recent interview.

1. Paycheck protection matters.

“We know the importance of disability,” Miller said. “We’ll get the message out to everyone.”

Aflac acted on that view in 2020, by agreeing to acquire the Zurich North America U.S. corporate life and pensions business. The deal included a large block of disability insurance and absence management business along with life and pension business.

Miller emphasized that Aflac writes disability insurance because disability insurance is a necessity.

“We believe in what we’re doing,” he said. “We don’t sell products just to be selling them.”

2. The COVID-19 pandemic shows why employers need to think about all kinds of absence, leave and income protection issues.

Miller said counting on workers to shoulder the responsibility for absence is often unrealistic.

In many cases, he said, “people simply can’t afford to be out of work. You don’t want people coming into work sick.”

3. Employers can help workers think about a risk that’s difficult to think about.

Miller cited estimates that about one-quarter of today’s 20-year-olds will face a disability by age 67.

“The employer understands the importance of disability,” he said.

But Miller said he believes many workers need help understanding why they need to insure against what seems to be a remote threat, especially because people who learn they have disabling conditions may have trouble qualifying to buy disability insurance.

“When you think, ‘I need the coverage,’ it’s too late,” Miller said. “People need to be ahead of the curve. Awareness and education are critical.”

4. Disability insurance is an area in which agents and brokers can make a difference.

“Brokers are a resource,” Miller said, pointing to a survey indicating that about 70% of employers trust brokers to help with benefits.

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Virgil Miller (Photo: Aflac)