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Home Authors Posts by Jeffrey D. Mohr, RHU, CLTC

Jeffrey D. Mohr, RHU, CLTC

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RHU, CLTC, is president of Diversified Brokerage Specialists. He is a third-generation disability insurance specialist with 27 years of experience.A proud member of The Plus Group, Mohr is currently serving as president of the Cincinnati-NAIFA chapter. Diversified Brokerage Specialists (founded in 1946) has grown from a disability specialty agency into a full-service life, disability, long term care and annuity insurance brokerage agency assisting brokers across the United States.Mohr can be reached at Diversified Brokerage Specialists, 9670 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, OH 45242. Telephone: 800-621-6161. Email: jmohr@dbs50.com.

DI Forum

Question: What challenges do you see in the DI market for the coming year?

Cohen
The challenges we face are not just in the coming year but extend into the future as well. We have to motivate  advisors to teach their clients the importance of protecting their greatest asset—their income.  A long term disability is devastating to not only afflicted but their family as well.

Another challenge that we are faced with is educating our advisors that disability income policies are underwritten differently than life insurance policies.  Disability policies are often issued with exclusion riders which exclude certain conditions.  This is the nature of the beast.  Advisors need to understand this and be able to explain it to their clients in a positive presentation so that their clients accept the rider knowing that there are a multitude of other medical conditions for which they will be covered.

I find another challenge is exposing the advisors to all the potential clients whose occupation is  not just in the medical market. Tradespeople, salespeople, business owners, etc., need to protect their incomes just as much as the professionals.  When the paycheck stops, everyone’s savings disappears.

My challenge is to educate our advisors that high income clients who have employer-paid group coverage may need individual disability income protection to supplement their group coverage.  This is a situation that many advisors walk away from. 

Mohr
The only challenge is getting agents and advisors to recognize the importance of presenting income protection solutions. Advisors just do not understand the risk until they have a client disabled. There are some very disabling viruses, illnesses and accidents that occur daily. I know of claims where the claimant is collecting on both a disability and long term care insurance policy at the same time. That should be “Priority One” for an advisor, to make sure their clients will have an income whether they can work or not. Promoting the importance of disability insurance will put advisors in front of high income clients and lead to more life insurance sales and other sales of financial products.

Petersen
More carriers, more options! This sounds good, and it really is, but it also adds more to the frustration which some producers feel about which carrier and which options for which client!

Schmitz
A shortage of trained life and disability insurance salespeople.

Baby boomers are getting toward the end of their DI purchasing lives.

Millennials prefer to buy online, which is great when buying a toaster, but maybe not the best option for buying DI. DI needs to be sold. There needs to be education and conversation. 

Phillips
One of the biggest challenges will be the sheer lack of carriers in the market.   Quietly, the number of carriers available to the independent producer has shrunk.    There simply aren’t many carriers to access.   I suppose one could spin that to a positive—there aren’t many carriers to learn! 

In addition, the upcoming year brings the age-old challenge in that it is a market dominated by “dabblers.”   Far too many producers are “one hit wonders.”   They’ll sell one or two, and that will be it.   It’s a market where sales are far too reactionary (client asking for it, or starting the conversation) and far too few that are done in a strategic manner quarterbacked  by producers.  

 

 

Question: What opportunities do you see that could/should attract producers to DI sales?

Cohen
The opportunity to attract advisors to sell disability income protection abounds.  Everyone is selling life insurance and very few are selling disability income protection.  There is very little competition in this arena. If only the advisors would ask their clients how long they can survive without a paycheck, they will see the look of interest and potential for a sale.  

When an advisor opens the disability income protection door, he/she will be amazed at the array of policies that the companies offer: A policy to fund a disability buyout, a policy to pay overhead expenses, and a rider to pay a business loan are but a few examples of what is available.

Some of our best sales have been funding a disability buy/sell agreement.  By asking the question, “If one of the owners were to become disabled, do you have a buy/sell agreement?”  This one question should create enough interest to explore this policy. I believe that this policy is one of the best kept secrets.

Mohr
First, just the desire to help and to do what is best for your client. Many clients are relatives, friends, community leaders and business associates; how would the advisor feel if one of them became disabled and the advisor never brought up the need for disability insurance? Second, income! The commissions and vested renewals that an agent can earn selling disability insurance are unmatched by any other insurance product. Third, referrals. Once you sell a disability policy you have a reason to talk to other business associates or people who work at the same job or in the same profession about income protection. 

Petersen
The same as my last answer—More carriers, more options! This means the value of the brokerage outlets becomes even higher! Brokerage outlets and new products are making the selling and administration of disability insurance easier than ever. GSI is having a record year by all carriers. Excess GSI is through the roof! Business DI programs are the most liberal and easier to use than ever before.

Schmitz
A more streamlined underwriting process. Easy access to medical information and financial documentation would generate tons of new business. In the meantime, lots of great true stories of satisfied claimants. This would be immensely helpful in our endeavors to get people to think about the need, and eventually realize income protection can be the best solution to eliminate some of the risk to their loved ones and/or business partners.

Phillips
A major reality of the DI market that should attract producers to it is that few are in it!  Competition is unusual except in the most developed market space (e.g. medical, high-income).   

Carriers are poised with an abundance of marketing materials and support for those who want to engage.  Brainsharks, pre-approach letters, seminars, mailers, email templates and the like  abound on every carrier’s website.   I don’t recall a time in my career when there have been more resources available for the informed producer to approach this market in a strategic, professional way.  Use them!

Another attraction to this market for brokers is that it can support and lead to other sales in other insurance and investments.      Gain an understanding of the client’s income, and it should  lead to conversations on life insurance and investments.   Have other product lines in-force and it will provide funding to perhaps maintain the insurance and investments that are already in place. 

Likewise, as a client’s income increases—and it will, sometimes substantially—so too will the opportunity to provide additional coverage by way of a new sale or exercising a “future purchase option” on their existing plan. 

Finally, another reality of the DI market is the “R” word.  Renewals.  For the most part, the more premium one does, the higher the renewals earned.   It is great way to build meaningful recurring revenue in an agent’s practice.  

 

Question: What is your view of agent responsibility to present DI and what consequences, if any, do you see affecting agents who continue to avoid this market?

 

Cohen
I believe that it is an advisor’s responsibility to offer disability income protection to all of his/her clients.  An advisor never wants to get a phone call from their client’s spouse with the news that their client has suffered a stroke. The spouse wants you to put in a claim for benefits for the disability. The advisor has three responses that he can make:

1). I am so sorry to get this sad news.  I will report the claim to the company and when you are ready we will review the policy; Or, 

2). I am so sorry to get this sad news. However, your spouse and I never discussed a disability income policy; Or, 

3). I am so sorry to get this sad news.  When your spouse and I discussed disability income protection, your spouse was not interested in purchasing this coverage and, yes, there is a signed form in the file with his/her signature stating that he/she was not interested in pursuing disability income protection.

Mohr
If I had an advisor that I relied on for financial advice, products and protection, and then I became disabled and had no disability insurance, I would be extremely upset—especially when I learned that income protection insurance was available to me and my advisor never suggested it. I believe that the advisor should be morally, ethically and possibly legally liable to present income protection insurance. The financial and emotional consequences are so great that advisors should have clients sign waivers that they have been shown the need for disability and long term care insurance and they chose not to purchase.

Petersen
While there is no legal obligation for a producer to talk about disability insurance, there should be a personal sense of responsibility (moral, ethical, emotional, or whatever you wish to call it) to tell clients about disability insurance. This is coming from a guy whose grandfather literally lost the family farm due to a back injury. This is also coming from a guy who has had two bouts of severe disability mishaps inside my immediate family. The first time, the absence of disability forced the liquidation of a small business. The second time, having disability insurance allowed us to keep the family home!

The consequence of this? Lost sales to the producer and underserved clients! 

By the way, if my grandfather did not lose the farm, my fathers “calling” into the disability insurance world in 1948 might not have ever happened! 

Schmitz
As I observe the aging of the salesforce, I also observe an aging of their client base. A recent inquiry was from an agent whose client was interested in DI for her grown children; both children earning six figure incomes. Many of our agents haven’t had a young client in a long time. The agent is focused on old retired and semiretired clients and their investment portfolios. Unfortunately, many new, seemingly captive advisors are focusing on investment portfolios exclusively as well. Maybe someday some advisor will be sued for not protecting an income, but it hasn’t happened or we would make a big deal out of it, like Chisolm Ice Cream.

Phillips
My view is professional agents need to understand they have clients—not customers.   Walmart has customers.   Much like due care is expected from a doctor by his patients, producers must recognize the obligation of due care to these clients.   

My observation has been that the quality agent is not on a sales call, he’s on a mission.  A mission to make sure that, should the worst case scenario occur, his clients are properly protected within the context of their budgets, needs and goals.  

Imagine having a client becoming disabled, having their income compromised, and the subject of income protection had never been broached. What view of the planner would the disabled client have, let alone the guilt feelings the advisor might have? 

Agents need to save themselves from these uncomfortable possibilities by discussing the need for DI with all of their clients and prospects.

 

 

Question: What tips do you have for agents to find success selling DI?

Cohen
My tip is for advisors is to have an organization behind him/her that is knowledgeable in disability income protection, holds regular teaching classes in disability income protection and keeps their advisors up to date on changes in the market place.  It is also important for advisors to have an organization that can teach advisors how to sell disability income protection.  An advisor needs an organization that can steer him/her through the entire process from taking the application through the placement of disability income protection policies.  Advisors need an organization that has staff that is always available to them and dedicated to their success in selling disability income protection.

Mohr
Bring it up time and time again. Bring it up to the right people, those with high incomes. Everyone needs disability insurance and there are products for all incomes. Have the income protection discussion with everyone. If people say that they are covered at work, let them know that they just have half a plan at work and that they still need a supplemental plan.

Petersen
Every client is a potential sale! Executives and professionals? No problem! Blue collar and gray collar workers? No problem! Athletes, pilots and entertainers? No problem! Also, if you have an established block of business of any sort (life, medical, etc.) you already have DI sales leads! One thing I hear often is, “Where do I find clients?” Existing clients from other sources of sales is a built-in lead system. Just talk to them! It sounds too easy, and it is, but it is amazing how many times I see a producer try to make it difficult.

Schmitz
In CA, State DI can pay $5000 per month ($1,173/week maximum). Look for people who do not have State DI, or those who earn substantially more than the limit. It helps if they are married and/or have children. The best prospect has L.O.V.E. (Love, and/or Obligation, and Verifiable Earnings). It is easier to motivate these people, and the premiums are bigger so you will earn more per case. 

Our top producers get their leads and referrals as members of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Elks, Lions, and Networking groups. They are writing books, and teaching classes and volunteering in the communities where they live and work helping others. 

Phillips
This isn’t that difficult:  Just ask about the client’s current income protection.   It is easily integrated into any fact finder or in-force policy review done for other product lines.   It is a product line that is one of the least commoditized purchases in the fixed insurance markets.   A client needs to be told about the opportunity to protect their most valuable resource—their earnings.   Bringing up the subject in a consistent, methodical way is bound to have positive results.

Disability Insurance Awareness Month Planning Panel

Q: DI Day events are popular with BGAs active in the DI market.  What does your agency do to attract agents to your event and/or aid and encourage them to utilize DIAM to engage their clients in the DI discussion?

Cohen
May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month. The Eugene Cohen Insurance Agency held a disability insurance  event in May, 2016, that attracted over one hundred advisors. Their comments were: “Very informative and motivating.”  The attendees were advisors specializing in life insurance, casuality insurance, health insurance and financial advisors.

In preparation for the event this year, we are giving attendees websites to watch for their benefit as well as for their clients. The Council for Disability Awareness is one and LifeHappens.org is another. Both sites are educational and Informative.

This year’s agency disability insurance awareness event is scheduled for May 12. The theme is The NEED and the IMPORTANCE of Disability Insurance.  Acclaimed and knowledgeable speakers in the field will make presentations.  The keynote is a nationally known speaker who will have the attendees eager to tell their clients about the most well kept secret in the insurance world—disability income protection. They will leave feeling anxious to have discussions about disability insurance with their clients as soon as possible.

Petersen
DI Day is a trademarked name for the Plus Group, a nationwide network of some of the top disability brokerage outlets. There are also other similar programs offered through other brokerage outlets as well as NAIFA and NAHU chapters. Regardless, these educational days are a producer’s single best source for finding out about what is new in the disability markets as well as picking up ideas that work for marketing, sales, field underwriting and even handling a claim. 

As an underwriting company, our role is to provide products and services to BGAs to solve their clients’ (producers) needs. As such we place a lot of resources into print advertising with ideas. We also produce numerous articles and other written communications frequently throughout the year and, lastly, we get in front of insurance professionals with ideas to sell more and strengthen their positions as insurance advisors. 

Mohr
DI Day is a registered disability insurance training event for Plus Group offices across the United States. Plus Group offices such as ours (Diversified Brokerage Specialists) generally conduct a DI Day event during the Disability Insurance Awareness Month of May. Last year we held two, one in May and the other in September. We advertise this event to our existing brokers and also use the event to raise awareness of the importance of disability insurance sales and marketing to a broader agent audience. Attendees are always very complimentary, coming away with knowledge and education that will allow them to better understand disability insurance needs and how to better protect their clients. They also learn how, through disability insurance sales, they can enhance their own income and careers 

Schmitz
Our agency holds a DI Day during DIAM. We look for a variety of speakers in order to develop an agenda which includes education in at least three of the following areas: sales ideas, product knowledge, industry outlook, claims, legal, and tax issues. We emphasize value that can transfer to the client and help make a sale. The event is free and scheduled to avoid traffic.  

Schnittker
Getting advisors/brokers to attend a DI Day event is quite challenging.  It is difficult to get people to take half a day out of their schedule to dedicate to an income protection event.  So, we have a keynote speaker that people will truly enjoy and creates a buzz that people will talk about for months to come.

 

Q: Disability income protection should be a year round focus—how do you build on DIAM interest to help agents develop DI awareness and focus throughout the year?

Cohen
I was introduced to disability income protection insurance in 1963. For the last 54 years I have been making consumers and advisors aware of the need for disability income protection.  I have seen how this product has financially helped people during life’s disruptive unexpected events.  

It is most important that advisors are knowledgeable about the product and that they are comfortable presenting it to their clients.

Sixty-one percent  of Americans say most people need  disability insurance but unfortunately only 26 percent have it. (2015 Insurance Barometer Study, Life Happens and LIMRA).

LifeHappens.org is a professional resource for advisors and consumers. There are many and varied videos showing how disability protection has helped individuals survive financially during a disability.  

Advisors need to be trained to think about what would happen to their clients if an injury or illness rendered them unable to work. They need to ask the right question to their clients: “Is your income protected if you became injured or sick and could not earn an income?”

Advisors need to be able to overcome the four objections that clients give to them: 1) No need; 2) No hurry; 3) No confidence; and 4) No money.

The most important job of the advisor is to uncover the need. The way to do this is by asking questions. The goal is to have the client understand that his/her most important asset is future income. Once the client understands the need for disability income protection they will find the dollars and will be ready to purchase.  Need motivates decisions.

In the Eugene Cohen Insurance Agency we have disability income specialists. It is their job to talk to advisors all day long about disability income.  We are spreading the word and making advisors comfortable with the uncomfortable

Petersen
Disability insurance is a year round need. What DIAM does is add subtle as well as direct information to the general public. This is done through magazines and public service announcements focused on the general public. The key is the awareness!

Throughout May the public is being bombarded with stories about the need for disability insurance. Producers can take advantage of these messages by focusing discussions on this vital topic. Now, since May sets the stage, the remainder of the year makes the discussion of disability insurance a bit easier. 

PIU helps producers realize what DIAM actually does and we try and explain that this is a great time to market these programs harder.

Mohr
We continue to reinforce the concepts presented at DI Day throughout the year. We have a full time staff committed 100 percent to the marketing and selling of disability insurance cases. In addition to new sales and agent training, we follow up all future purchase options and new employee additions to our multi-life accounts. A book of disability insurance is like a freight train rolling down the track. You cannot stop it. Even if you try it will take a long time. We just keep throwing coal on the fire by adding new sales each month and building on our book by growing  our disability producers and our renewals.

Schmitz
Yes, income protection should be a year round focus. We are always reminding advisors that they have clients who do not have enough invested assets to generate an amount of income sufficient to pay all the bills which will continue after a disability. Quite a few advisors seem to be focused on the investing while neglecting the protection. Wealthy clients have larger bills that need larger protection.   

Schnittker
A true challenge—to keep DI on the shelf at all times with advisors/brokers.  DI products pay the very best renewal compensation and most carriers have structured their renewal payout around volume, so it is important to constantly remind the producer what kind of renewal compensation they can earn with volume and persistency.  Some companies provide the ability to demonstrate “what if” models that can be very good motivators to the producer who has committed to writing regular business.

Q; What steps can you recommend for agents to prepare for and take advantage of DIAM to engage clients in the DI discussion?

Cohen
Make the most out of Disability Income Awareness Month!  Put Disability Income Awareness Month on your website. Tell your clients it is Disability Income Awareness Month.  Talk to your clients about disability protection.  Ask questions to find your clients’ needs.  Use all resources available to you to make this year the year you become a disability income protection advisor.

Petersen
The beauty of DIAM is that there is a lot of subtle messaging taking place to the general public on this subject. All producers need to do is talk about it! Insurance producers are frequently reluctant to talk about disability insurance due to fear. Fear of losing a sale on the life insurance. Fear of scaring off a sale by sounding like they are trying to sell too many things. Fear of the lack of expertise on their own part. This is exactly where the professional brokerage outlets come in handy! They can make any producer an expert in a short time. As to the other fears, these are their own self-generated fears and not the reality. As professional insurance advisors they should advise on all aspects of insurance, not just the part that is easy!

Throughout the year producers should take added educational steps in learning more about these essential coverages. I come from a family that lost businesses and even a house because of the lack of disability insurance. I also come from a family in which a home was saved because of having disability insurance. There is no one who can tell me it will never happen!

Business owners today are even more in tune to what happens when a financial impact adversely affects the business. 

Did the rainmaker (keyperson) stop generating cash flow because he or she became disabled? How long will this be before the bottom line is impacted?

Partners frequently set up buy-sell arrangements which account for a death contingency, but what if they don’t die? A disabled partner still has a voice but is more worried about getting money than building a business. Without a disability buy-sell a company will have to self-insure this contingency. Do they have the cash to withstand a multi-million dollar payout without paralyzingly the company? 

Many businesses take added liability with bank loans yet rarely protect against the possibility of severe difficulty paying them off because the owner becomes disabled.  It can, and does, occur in the real world. 

How do you make these types of sales? Listen! A sales call is not a one sided conversation, but an exercise in asking questions about the person, the company and the plans for the future—and then listening! What are their dreams and goals? How can you as the insurance expert make sure those dreams and goals happen? 

Insurance is the only financial assistance available to someone when they need it the most and are in a situation they cannot get it from anywhere else! What an amazing product! You are all superheroes! 

Mohr
Producers should ask, ask, ask and disturb, disturb, disturb! Whether during DIAM or all year long, advisors must ask every client that they work with if they own enough disability insurance. A review of a client’s disability insurance is every bit as important as a life insurance or investment review. I have seen clients’ fire advisors and switch to our broker advisor simply because their existing advisor never approached them about the importance of disability insurance.   

Confidence in the product and knowledge of the business applications for disability insurance can make all the difference. This is why attending DI Day is so important. The education and the sales tools provided, especially when it comes to business disability insurance needs, are invaluable.  DI Day will help advisors understand the many needs for business disability insurance. Most mirror the same needs for life insurance, such as income replacement, key person, overhead expense and buy-sell needs. The fact of the matter is that through disability marketing and discussions, the DI producer will also sell tremendous amounts of life insurance at the same time! The difference is that by leading with disability insurance needs you are setting yourself apart and opening doors to high income earners that a life-only agent will never open.

Schmitz
DIAM is another marketing tool. It is an opportunity to remind brokers and clients that DI exists and may be available to them to protect their largest asset – their ability to earn an income. Take advantage of the nationally recognized month. You have an excuse now to bring up the subject of income protection. The number one reason people don’t buy DI is because they were never asked to buy it. The Council for Disability Awareness (www.disabilitycanhappen.org) and Life Happens (www.lifehappens.org) are excellent resources with links you can use with clients.

Business owners may be the least protected. They often opt out of Worker’s Comp, and are under the delusional impression that the company will continue to pay them indefinitely should they become disabled. Yet, when asked “what is the longest vacation you have taken?”, the answer is usually something like “I rarely take a vacation” or “I took two weeks, but brought my laptop so I could check in regularly.” Some questions to ask the business owner: How long could your business operate if you could no longer perform your role?  What would happen if your partner stopped coming to work? How would you pay for expenses after a life-changing diagnosis or surgery?  What would happen if your business partner could no longer afford the purchase payment? Does your executive team value a stable income and a supportive work environment? How would you pay for your regular expenses if tomorrow was your last day of work? 

Schnittker
It depends on the producer (agent/advisor/planner) as you are tailoring your recommendations around supplementing their regular business approach with income protection.  They need to put income protection in their tool bag and we need to challenge the producer to consider the opportunity for income protection for all of their clients.  

Bottom line—you need to have a broker that is willing to consider and introduce income protection solutions for their clients. Many times the broker is not aware of the business solutions that are available to their clients, so we need to be diligent in our education and training.  We encourage brokers to push the bar and ask very direct questions like, “If you were sick or hurt, what would you like to happen to your business, your employees, your partners, etc.?”

Strong Foundations, Fresh Thinking

Diversified Brokerage Specialists, Blue Ash, OH
The Meyer Group, St. Louis, MO

 

Question: What tips and experience can you share about the process of grooming agency successors into leadership roles?

Mohr
For us, it is about working in the agency and learning about our culture, our attitude towards service and our commitment to serving our brokers. Understanding the importance of personal service, response times, accountability, documentation, accuracy and other factors are all part of providing great service. The other part is that any successor must take the time to be involved in education, business networking and industry groups. Staying active and aware of the latest trends, products and sales concepts is vital to maintain a competitive edge. Any successor must contribute to the success of the agency. One of our company mottos has always been “do the best thing for the client and the money will follow.” We tend to attract brokers that desire the same thing.    

Meyer
The key to getting Natalie prepared to take hold of the reins of the agency was exposure. Taking Natalie to all sorts of different meetings and events, even the ones that may not have seemed important at the time. I wanted to make sure she was equipped with the knowledge to handle any type of opportunity or complication that might arise for her in the future. There were meetings that I took her to that I did not think were going to be super beneficial to her but sometimes those were the ones that she would walk away and say, “Wow, I am really glad you brought me along on this one, it was a big learning opportunity for me.” Industry exposure is key!

Another tip I would share for grooming agency successors from my experience is patience on both parts regarding execution, but starting as soon as you can. There will be delays on both parts—life events, unexpected work travel, learning curves, etc. Remember that you both share the same goal so be patient and use great communication skills.

Question: What steps does your agency take to maintain, respect and accommodate “old school” long-standing producer relationships?
 
Mohr 
Well, we have tried all of the latest and greatest forms of marketing. We do embrace all of today’s current technology.  But there is still nothing like having good conversations with a producer. Talking with agents, solving problems, discussing sales ideas and helping with cases is what we do best. When we look at our best producers we have shaken most of their hands, met them and have developed strong relationships. There are those that we have worked with, in some cases for many years, and have never met in person. The whole key is the broker having confidence in us and that we are exceeding their expectations. We get a lot of compliments on our service.  We have functions over the holidays and a golf outing over the summer to show our appreciation for their business and as an opportunity to spend time in a social setting to network and to get to know one another better. It is good because many of the agents know one another and it is always a lot of fun getting reacquainted. We have had business partnerships form as a result of these social functions.     
 
Meyer 
To help make the transition smooth for our “old school” producers, I made sure to bring Natalie to all the meetings with them to make sure that when the time came for her to work with them on her own that she was able to replicate the type of service that the producer had been accustomed to in the past. By allowing the broker to get to know Natalie in advance, the producer did not feel as if they were being passed off. Instead, we were able to bring the producers in closer and make them feel like they were part of the family. This has proven to be a solid strategy for making sure no one gets lost in the transition and that the producer remains loyal to the agency.
 
Question: What are some key ways the thinking of the younger generation has been instrumental in the growth of your agency?
 
Mohr 
Technology stands out first. My son Shaun is in charge of our emailing and social networking, but he has added a lot more than that to our agency both from a marketing perspective and internal administration or human resource perspective. “Old School” ways are changing and having a fresh perspective towards managing, reward systems and motivating employees are always worth listening to. We have a great group of employees with great attitudes and many of the new activities and employee appreciation events we are having, such as celebrating job anniversaries and birthdays, contribute to that. Our employees work hard, but we try to make it fun at the same time.  
 
Meyer 
The two biggest things that Natalie’s way of thinking brought to the agency were technology and trends. I am probably not the first person in my age group to say that a younger generation incorporated new technology into their agency, but it is true. Knowing how younger generations communicate and operate is key to making sure our agency had the new technological tools in place to reach all generations in the benefits world.
 
The other great thing about integrating Natalie into the agency is that she thinks like the new generations of workers that our agency provides benefits to, so she can relate to the type of benefits that younger groups are looking for—such as wellness, pet insurance and identity theft coverage. Benefits that brokers used to scowl at before they are now open to offering, because they can get first hand insight of how and why their younger client population views these products and services as being truly beneficial.
 
What “old” is still essential, what “new” is inevitable and how does your agency build for the future?
 
Mohr 
Old—would be values. Things that don’t change. Do the right thing, do your best each and every day. Be committed to providing great service and being accountable. Give accurate information in a timely manner. Know your products and be better than the competition. Work hard. New—we are still trying to figure out. Technology, social networking, millennials, you name it. There is a world of opportunities like selling via Go To Meetings. This is why we stay involved in our industry groups and associations like NAIFA and NAILBA to stay on top of current trends and new sales opportunities. 
 
Meyer
In my mind there are two things that will always be essential—great customer service and handwritten “thank you” notes. No matter how great technology is, people still want to have a phone number that they can call to ask questions. Having a well trained staff that can assist producers with the answers they need will always be key. We can put all the info that we think they need on the web portal, but many people still call and want answers from a live person. Also I believe handwritten thank you notes go a long way. In today’s world of texting and emailing, a handwritten note really does show the extra effort and expresses sincerity. Natalie and I both are advocates of thank you notes and for the entire existence of our agency thank you notes will always be put on the supply order list.
 
The new inevitable is online enrollment platforms. These are the key to making sure people are able to select the benefits they want and view the benefits they have. Even if someone is mailed a copy of their benefits plan, they rarely know where it is or have it at their fingertips when they need it. Having enrollment platforms that can be accessed from a computer, tablet or phone is key to staying connected and they are not going anywhere. 

 

DI Forum: A Panel Of DI Experts Looks At The Disability Income Market And What Can Be Done To Increase Consumer Acceptance Of DI Protection Solutions

Question: What is your view of the state of the disability income protection market today?

Cohen: The need for this product is tremendous. There are so many people who are not protecting their income. It would certainly be advantageous if we had more companies manufacturing this important product-that is where there is a shortage. The market is wide open and our job is to get more financial advisors to offer this product.

 I went to a wedding recently and was talking to another guest. He asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was in the insurance business and my main job is working with financial advisors getting them to offer disability income protection to their clients.

 He proceeded to tell me his story. He said, “Your product is extremely important. When I was 26, I began my dental practice. At 31, I asked a friend if he knew anybody who could offer me disability income protection as no one had ever called me about this product. At 32, I sought out and bought my first policy for $5000/month with benefits to age 65. At 51 I sought out an agent and bought additional income protection for another  $5000/month. At 53, I was driving home and noticed that the vision in my left eye was impaired. I found out I had Central Retinal Vein Occlusion in my left eye. My vision became so badly impaired that I was forced out of my dental practice. I began a new career teaching. While I was getting a teaching salary, my disability income protection policies were paying me $10,000/month because I was insured in my occupation of dentistry.”

When we talk about the state of the industry I find it amazing that this dentist  had to seek out an agent in order to buy disability income protection. He should have been approached by his life agent or casualty  agent.

When it comes to your most important asset—your ability to earn an income—and your ability to protect that asset, there is a drastic shortage of individuals who are educating consumers about this product.

On DI Day in May 2016, we had over 95 financial advisors attending our event. We also had a speaker—an individual who did not check the box for disability income protection. He proceeded to tell us his story about the most tragic mistake he made, and how his mission is to keep others from making the same one he did.

 Periodically, I go to the website (lifehappens.org) to read the Real Life Stories about the individuals that disability income protection has helped. I encourage everyone to go read these stories and to see just how important and crucial this product really is.

I believe the industry is making great strides. I foresee more manufacturers getting into the market for disability income protection.

Bloch: The state of the industry is fine.  The remaining carriers writing disability income protection have been adjusting rates, products, underwriting techniques, and systems to enhance results.  The carriers are working hard to increase market share and making it easier for the targeted consumer to purchase this important coverage.  I am surprised, however, that additional carriers have not entered the market with new exciting products.  The industry needs a new bold approach with basic benefits at affordable rates with a streamlined underwriting process to attract new policyholders who cannot appreciate or afford today’s high quality products.  

Chittenden: It remains an under-penetrated market, yet remains as vital to the financial well-being of every working person as it always has been.  Those of us in this market have been screaming, promoting, teaching, pleading and explaining this fact for years.  Resistance from many financial advisors, as well as traditional insurance agents, to embrace the income protection products, however, seems to remain fairly strong.  This is a double-edged sword.  Because of this lack of penetration, consumers are hurt.  They are not made aware of the need or the solution to protect their income.  On the other side of that sword, those brokers that do promote income protection products have a fairly untapped market.  The problem is not availability of product.  Even with the recent exit of a leading major carrier from the individual market, there is still a plethora of very good products available from excellent carriers to meet both the individual and business income protection needs.  The under-penetration comes from the lack of client education and promotion on the part of the advisor community.   

Phillips: I’m confused and concerned by this market but also very optimistic.  

With the recent departure from IDI by a major carrier in the white collar space, there are  a very limited number of carriers who distribute their product through independent brokerage agencies. And, like IDI’s sister product long term care insurance, there just don’t seem to be many carriers clamoring to get into this space.   This confuses me, as the little information I get on returns on investment for IDI seem to be solid for insurance companies.   Maybe my perception is wrong on that.   

We are in an environment where it is costly for carriers to put business on the books, and carriers must maintain their inforce blocks that were priced and underwritten in a totally different market environment.  I think we underestimate the herculean effort it must take these carriers to juggle this dynamic.  

So we have very few outlets for white collar business, we’ve got a tenuous market environment, and yet there is still excitement in the DI business.  Product enhancements, technological advancements and marketing programs still abound.  Almost daily I’m presented with an exciting case or opportunity.   It’s like some sort of paradox.  

Also, it seems that more producers and planners are looking to expand efforts into the IDI market.    I suppose that’s a function of the likely regulatory changes in the  investment and annuity markets,  as well as the changes that have occurred in the health insurance business.     While it’s a little disappointing that it has taken upheaval for this product that is so fundamentally important to a client’s financial well-being to be brought up as part of the conversation, it’s apparent that it is being brought up more and more.  That has to be a good thing for the market over the long run.  

Petersen: The market for disability insurance is the most robust we have seen in well over a decade. Yes, MetLife stepped out of the individual disability markets, but that should have little impact on the market as a whole. The key players are still in there. There has become more awareness of GSI plans which are being used as primary as well as secondary and excess disability coverages.

Bottom line is there are more opportunities in the Disability market than ever.

Schnittker: The marketplace is better than it has ever been with so many income protection solutions—key man, business loan completion, retirement completion, one person buy-out, and student loan, in addition to the traditional personal disability, business overhead expense and buy/sell.  Great time to be in this marketplace.

Mohr: We are very pleased with our disability insurance sales production this year. Disability sales continue to be a big part of our overall sales and revenue. Retirement planning products are certainly increasing in popularity due to the baby boomers, but there will always be a huge population of working professionals and business owners that need income protection. Most insurance agents just still do not realize the importance of selling disability insurance and the impact on their income both first year and renewals. Disability insurance is not just critical for their client’s financial security, but for the agent as well. What financial planner can say he did a financial plan for a client if he did not guarantee his client an income whether they can work or not?  

Some consumers think that they are covered at work. We train our producers to advise these prospects properly by telling them that most employer plans only provide about 50 percent of what you are eligible for, so you have half a plan through work. That is great, because now you just need to buy the other half! 

The market has never been better for disability insurance sales. There are plenty of great products and underwriting programs. Whether selling to individuals or executive groups, pricing, discounts and underwriting are all aggressive. 

Schmitz: There are fewer advisors being trained by carriers, so financial education is not happening like it used to. High schools should be requiring at least a rudimentary level of financial education and include the concept of insurance in the curriculum.

The market needs more carriers, and Met Life leaving was a big blow, but not a nail. There is a huge number of self-employed people and small businesses that have not pursued protection for their largest asset. The number of employers hiring employees at 30 hours per week so that they are not required to offer benefits continues to increase. Getting the word out that disability insurance exists is our challenge. 

 

Carriers offer more flexibility in underwriting, including guarantee issue individual policies for small groups. Home offices are genuinely proactive in seeking information from the field to take back and develop new products and processes.

Question: What advice do you have for brokers who don’t spend much time pursuing DI sales to their clients? 

Cohen: Roger Sweeney spoke at my agency’s DI day in May, 2016. He said the biggest mistake of his life was not checking the box for DI protection when the corporation he worked for offered it to him.  He is a young man and is  disabled due to  a series of severe health issues .  He stated, “I was the All-American guy.  Perfect job, beautiful family, great income and then it was all gone.”

My advice is for every broker to know Roger Sweeney’s story and to take the time to read Real Life Stories at www.lifehappens.org. 

Once a broker understands how DI protection can save a person’s financial life, that broker should never feel that he does not have the time to pursue a DI sale.

My advice to financial advisors, agents and brokers: You have the responsibility of being entrusted with your clients well being.  You must explain the need for disability income protection. As you read Real Life Stories, you will become aware of the thorough and responsible job brokers did for their clients.  

Bloch: My advice to producers who are reluctant to discuss income protection with their clients is to pursue a partnership or other relationship with another producer who specializes in income protection insurance.  We have a number of producers who realize the importance of this coverage and split cases with income protection experts.  Their clients truly appreciate their professionalism.  On larger or more complicated situations, our agency is asked to develop strategies and implement them. 

Chittenden: Make sure they have a strong E&O policy.  It has always amazed me that brokers will spend all the time and effort to build an amazing financial plan to meet the hearts and dreams of their clients.  They will make sure retirement is funded.  College education for the kids is funded.  Maybe the dream vacation home or the travel dreamed about is funded.  For sure they address the catastrophe an early and unexpected death might cause.  But, they refuse to address the risk their client faces if their ability to fund the entire plan is interrupted by an illness or injury that prevents them from continuing to work and earn a paycheck.  Some brokers have a million excuses.  They don’t want to be a “policy peddler”, or there is only “so much” premium to go around.  They are worried a “complicated” IDI sale will ruin all their other sales, etc. All are simply invalid excuses.  To not evaluate the risk management part of the financial plan fully, meaning to protect the funds (income) that makes the complete plan work, is simply bordering on negligence.  My advice to all of our brokers not promoting income protection is to make sure their E&O plan is in place and strong, and that they very clearly inform their clients what services they do provide and which ones they do not provide.  If there are parts of the total financial plan they are not going to address then they should be identified, and an alternate avenue should be presented to get those aspects addressed.  Not many people can be proficient in all aspects of financial security but everybody can be part of a team that covers all the bases.

Phillips: My first piece of advice would be to make sure they understand their own situation and exposure for disability, and, if they don’t already own coverage or if it hasn’t been updated in years, to get an appropriate IDI policy for themselves.   Work with an agency that specializes in DI to really understand the differences in definitions and the many types of DI products that are available (ID, BOE, Loan DI, Retirement DI, etc.) as a consumer first, then take that knowledge to their own clients.    

I’d also simply announce to inforce clients that DI is now a product that they will be pursuing, and then “just do it”.   Ask inforce clients if they have DI coverage (they probably don’t).  If they have coverage , ask if they understand it (they probably won’t).  If they have had it for awhile ask if it’s been updated with their increased income (it probably hasn’t).  I’ve always been a proponent of learning by doing.   Do it by picking up the phone or meeting with a client and simply asking about their situation.

Petersen: There are several things:

To life and medical sales professionals who do not also promote disability insurance I have one thing to say—shame on you!

People are relying on us as professionals in the insurance industry to advise. If we spend our time saying things like “protect your assets”, “estate planning in case you die”, “business protection”, we better be including not just if you die—but if you live! Protecting your assets begins with income planning. You cannot have income planning without a program to protect the income. This is just as true if you live as if you die.

If we spend our time saying things like, “cover large bills from doctors and hospitals” we better be including some mechanism to cover all the bills, not just the hospital. People worry about medical insurance because they fear large bills from the hospital and doctors. Think about this: In most people’s lives, the largest purchase they ever make is their home. Do they have $500,000, $1 million or more to buy a house outright? Not usually. However, thanks to a mortgage, they can make payments. The caveat in all of this is that they have some sort of cash flow that allows them the ability to pay these big bills and big debts. If a person did not have medical insurance and the bill was $1 million, they could still pay it provided there was some source of cash flow.

Professional insurance producers who neglect disability sales when they actively sell life and/or medical insurance are not helping their client 100 percent. Could this be considered malpractice?

From a personal perspective, these producers are leaving thousands of dollars of commissions on the table.

Lastly, they are setting themselves up for another producer to take over the case and do a better “full service” approach.

Schnittker: You owe it to your client to at least ask them what would happen to them if they became sick or hurt and could not work.  There are numerous income protection specialists that a broker can affiliate with to provide the best solutions for their client’s needs/wants.

Mohr: Pretty simple—you are missing the boat or should I say yacht!

Schmitz: Be careful. Fiduciary liability/responsibility is a hot topic. You must address the issue of income protection within the financial plan or risk management plan. If you are not comfortable addressing the income or asset protection need, find someone to work with who can help you without disrupting the relationship you have developed with the client. Several MGAs now offer “in house” experts who are able to work directly with your client and pay you a referral fee.

Question: How have hybrid/combo products affected the income protection market? 

Cohen: From my observation hybrid/combo products have not affected the disability market.  An individual policy is more comprehensive and will do a better job protecting one’s income.

Bloch: Over the past five or so years, our agency has developed a number of income protection specialty products to solve unique situations for producers who work with our agency.  A couple have had mixed results and others have generated incredible enthusiasm and sales.  I do feel that the the income protection industry will be changed as we target unique specialty solutions, consumers, and other industry professionals. 

Chittenden: I do not see much impact within our market, unlike the LTCI market where the Life/LTC or even the annuity/LTC products have made a big impact.  For the most part, the advancement in the products in the income protection marketplace have focused on improvements for meeting evolving societal needs—such as older issue ages and riders for student loans—or product design to allow maximum flexibility. 

Phillips: In my experience, I have not seen much impact of hybrid products on the income protection market.  But we’re just at the start of this evolutionary use of death benefits helping address living needs.    At one time, acceleration of death benefit was limited to a terminal illness situation.  Recently carriers have expanded into access being granted for chronic illness/long term care situations.    More recently there has been liberalization to allow access for critical illness situations.   It certainly seems that the natural progression might lead to accessibility due to a disability (that might not be because of a chronic or critical illness).   

I’m not sure how the market would accept such a structure.   It seems to me that the acceptance of the ubiquitous chronic illness/LTC design is as much a result of the tumult in the long term care insurance markets as anything else.   

And while critical illness sales are on the upswing, it is not a mature market—there haven’t been generations of planners dedicated to the sale of CI.   There aren’t as many firms with roots as deep in the critical illness market as in the DI market, so it seems that acceptance of CI as a linked benefit opportunity might have less of a barrier than a DI design might.  

Call me old fashioned,  I can rationalize the linked benefit design as a strategy in some long term care planning situations or as a way to get something for critical illness exposure.   But the risk of death, the risk of long term care need and the risk of disability are three entirely different exposures.    In a perfect world, insurance to address these with individual products specific to those risks would be  most efficient.   Especially, it seems to me, the risk of losing one’s ability to earn a paycheck.

Petersen: We haven’t noticed any significant changes. Ultimately combos, like GSI, may just help the sales and underwriting process.

Schnittker: We have not seen much affect.  There are products like critical illness which are excellent supplements to income protection that can be really beneficial for the client, and can make your broker’s recommendation to his client more meaningful. 

Mohr: Most hybrid products have to do with Life and LTC combination coverages. I do not see where these impact disability insurance sales at all.

Schmitz: I would like to see a hybrid/combo product that includes DI. I would like to see a simplified issue hybrid CI/Accident-Only DI with cash value to market to millennials.

Question: What can agents, BGAs and/or carriers do to increase consumers’ acceptance of disability income protection solutions?
 
Cohen: Being a BGA, my job is to make every day disability income protection awareness day.  
 
We make our  brokers comfortable with the uncomfortable and we teach our brokers the questions to ask their clients to uncover the need for this important product; selling disability income protection is accomplished by asking questions.
 
I believe that the way to increase more consumer acceptance of disability income protection is for BGAs to educate the agents on the importance of this product.  The more agents that are educated, the more consumers will be educated.
 
The carriers who are manufacturing the products have developed good sales material which, if used, will result in more consumer awareness.  It is out there for the taking.  Every BGA and agent should familiarize themselves with the wealth of material that is available from the carriers.
 
Bloch: Over the years, the carriers and producers have jointly developed incredible income protection policies  geared mostly to the professional as they have been the preferred target market.  They demand Incredibly high quality definitions and protection guarantees.  Business owners and executive types may have different needs including disability business solutions.  I recently visited a physician’s practice and noticed their parking lot looked like a Mercedes dealership.  The patient’s parking lot, however, was filled with less expensive, practical transportation.  Our challenge is to educate the consumer and producer that an affordable solution is a better choice than one they cannot afford.

Chittenden: The biggest thing is for brokers to talk to their clients and educate them about the need.  Start a conversation with them.  Talk about it as income protection, not disability.  Ask some very simple questions to introduce the subject of protecting their income.  There are many easy transitions and opportunities to raise the subject.  For example, when delivering a life policy after placement, congratulate the client on their selfless action to protect the family he loves, but ask what happens if they don’t die but instead get sick or injured.  What would their plan be if they were simply too ill or hurt to continue to work and earn a paycheck?  The life insurance is of limited help to the family at this point.  Another example for financial planners was mentioned in an early question.  What happens to the great financial plan if there is no income to fuel it?  There is no reason for the broker to get into policy definitions and technical jargon.  Simply, the issue is educating the client on the risk of not protecting their ability to earn a living and, as with life insurance which protects the family financially from a premature death, income protection policies protect the family financially from the premature loss of work based income.  Both are needed!
 
Phillips: I was taught a good lesson years ago by an “old DI warhorse”. He lived in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and had a team of producers spread across the mountains and woodlands that sold only DI—primarily to blue collar clients.  
 
I was bemoaning the fact that our business overhead expense sales were lacking.   He listened as I griped about how I couldn’t get any broker to even quote—let alone sell—BOE. 
 
He looked at me and slowly spoke, “Well, Ray…it’s been my experience that if you don’t talk about something nothing will happen with it…have you been talking to brokers about BOE?”   
 
“Uh…come to think of it, Jim,” I said, “I guess I haven’t.” I went back to my office, started talking up BOE to anyone who’d listen, and guess what happened?  We made some sales. What a concept! Talk about it!  
 
I think simply a BGA needs to talk it up.  Discuss IDI more and more. Consumers suffer from less than stellar financial literacy on the whole.   Within that context, understanding of the exposures to disability, understanding the design of DI plans, understanding of the claims process and what triggers a claim is woefully lacking.   
 
BGAs must educate the broker populace that this should not be viewed as a niche opportunity.  It should be a foundation product.  It should be understood for what it is—the basis of every good insurance and financial plan.  It funds every other part of an efficient plan, allowing for continued timely payment of all other insurances in force from life insurance to homeowners insurance.   
 
BGAs must educate planners to not settle for their clients providing them with the old, “Oh, I have that at work” response.   Group LTD plans must be vetted.   Shortcomings of the group plan definitions must be discovered and pointed out.   For high-income earners the potential shortfall of the group plan’s maximums must be realized.   Is the group plan enough on its own or should it be supplemented by IDI to cover the income gap?  
 
DI is sold.  This is not a commoditized process. It takes thoughtful discussion, planning and education to help a client navigate the decision to purchase (or not to purchase) a DI policy.   An informed, educated and conscientious broker is needed for a client to decide the proper fit of an income protection product.   

Petersen: BGAs and carriers primarily interact with the retail producer and not the consumers. Thus the message and education needs to transmit to the insurance producer and motivate the producer to take action with the consumer.
 
Constant and consistent messaging is important. Many marketing pieces designed by carriers are “sales” focused. Today’s consumers often see this. What helps them most in considering the products is education information.
 
“What would I do without an income for three months?” does not impact me. I can easily rationalize and justify any response and then I am turned off by any further attempt. “Let me tell you about Joe, who is working today and looks pretty good.  But did you know Joe lost his entire business 10 years ago because of being out of work for six months?”  Now you have my attention!
 
The potential to lose some or all is what is at stake—not just “time off work”.
 
Bottom line is this: There is no magic bullet. It’s not quick and at times not easy, but that is how most things start!
 
Schnittker: The broker needs to ask the client what they would like to happen to their income stream, or their business, if they were sick or hurt and could not work.  Consumers don’t want to be sold.  They want to understand the need, find the best solution and be able to sleep at night. 
 
Mohr: Keep talking about the importance of income protection. I think that the carriers could do a much better job of communicating to the field and the public about the disability claims that they are paying. We have very little information on our claimants. From time to time I will hear from an agent about a claim that we paid or are paying. On one hand it is good, because I am not hearing about problems with claims. They seem to be handled and go smoothly. It would be nice to have more real life stories to help motivate people to own and producers to sell more disability insurance. 
 
Schmitz: Disability awareness. More claims stories. Salespeople need stories to make it real and to keep the prospect’s attention. Believe it or not, DI is not an exciting subject to most people. They really do not want to talk about it, and they are in denial about the probability of incurring a long term disability and the inability to access social/community benefits. Sales increase when consumers have real stories about nice people, who are grateful, and who have been paid large sums by friendly insurance companies. 

An Important Executive Benefit That Is Often Overlooked

Agents can open doors and find tremendous sales opportunities discussing executive disability insurance needs. Too many professionals and executives have a false sense of security when it comes to disability insurance. The time to discuss how much disability benefit a client will receive is now, not when he is hospitalized.

If what your prospect has been told he has, or thinks he has, is 60 percent of salary, you may need to help him think again. Never accept the 60 percent answer. Here is why. How much of his salary is really covered? Does the 60 percent benefit have a maximum limit or monthly cap? Is the 60 percent taxable? Is incentive pay (bonuses, pension contributions, health insurance, etc.)  covered at 60 percent also? What is the definition of a disability (just 2 years in my occupation)? What if he is only partially disabled?

You owe it to your clients, and to their families, to explain exactly what they will receive and for how long if the client becomes disabled!

The answer to this question in many cases is an executive disability insurance policy—one that supplements any disability insurance shortfalls that a client may have through his employer. A client can purchase this policy personally for a very reasonable cost since it will supplement existing coverage rather than having to purchase the full amount on his own. Benefits received from a personal disability policy are income tax free. If an employee can convince an employer to pay for such a policy, the benefits would be taxable unless the employee elects to pay tax on each premium. If he so chooses, then the disability benefits will be received income tax free.

In many cases the employers themselves fall into this category; therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that the employers sponsor such a plan for the highly compensated employees. By doing so, premium discounts and, in many cases, guaranteed standard issue underwriting are available and provide disability protection to employees that would otherwise be declined or rated up through traditional individual underwriting. Here is where you really have something very important and attractive—high quality disability insurance, at a discount, with liberal underwriting, providing employees with pre-existing conditions full coverage even for their pre-existing conditions. What a powerful combination and benefit!

Executive disability insurance policies themselves have significant benefits over employer-provided group long term disability insurance also. For one, the premiums can never be increased and the policy is fully portable, meaning that the employee can take the policy with them wherever they go and the price will always stay the same until retirement age. Unlike group disability, the disability benefits do not reduce with social security, worker’s compensation or any other disability benefits. Your client is also protected in his occupation for the entire benefit period! Features like partial disability, residual disability and inflation increases are also common, providing for better protection than what group disability insurance provides.

Providing an income for your clients and their families is too important to be taken lightly. I have seen many disabilities—some with no disability insurance and fortunately many with disability insurance. The differences are life changing. Just a 24 month disability can have lasting consequences without proper disability insurance. I strongly suggest reviewing your clients’ existing disability insurance protection. Employers should be encouraged to make sure that their highly compensated and valued employees have the proper disability coverage. Supplementing a group LTD plan with an executive disability insurance plan is recommended.     

By addressing this need, not only will agents find large multi-life cases, but they can avoid the lengthy and aggravating disability underwriting process through guaranteed standard issue underwriting. Not to mention the opportunity for individual insurance sales and financial planning for each highly paid executive. Other executive benefits such as deferred compensation planning can also be addressed. Working hard is a key to success, but focusing on executive benefit disability sales opportunities is working smart! 

Sell More Life Insurance By Promoting DI And LTCI Planning

The financial consequences of a disability can be greater than those of a premature death. Why? Because a disabled person is still a consumer and, in many cases, medical and living expenses increase. If care is required, then an even greater financial and emotional burden is placed on the family of the disabled person, which is why a disability is known as the “living death.” The financial and emotional consequences are terrible and will affect your clients, their families, their businesses and their business partners! Also keep in mind that disabilities are five times more likely than death prior to age 65 (Social Security Administration, Fact Sheet, March 18, 2011).

Now let’s talk about the benefits of marketing individual disability and long term care insurance. Would you prefer clients with high incomes and assets, or clients without high incomes and no assets? If you plan on making your career selling insurance, would you prefer to sell products like term life insurance, which pay no renewals, or products like disability and long term care insurance that pay lifetime vested renewals? Disability and long term care policies stay on the books into your retirement with no agent of record commission transfers allowed. A consistent disability and long term care producer can build a six-figure renewal income!

Selling and promoting disability and long term care insurance is working smart.

Here is another reason why selling disability and long term care is smart—and I have never heard or read this one before, I have only experienced it.

Do you know anyone who has ever collected on their own life insurance death benefit? Of course not, they’re dead! People buy life insurance for someone else. That in and of itself is difficult to do. They do not really want to do it, but they have to.

When you are selling disability or long term care insurance, your prospects know that they will be receiving the money. You are helping them, and they appreciate it.

Upon delivery of disability policies, many times the clients get out their life insurance policies and say, “What can you do with these?” You have fulfilled a very important personal need, and your clients will be more than happy to allow you to review their life insurance and most any other insurance topic that you want to discuss.

Have you ever thought about what you will do if one of your clients suffers a stroke or is involved in a serious accident? Will you (1) send a sympathy card and say that you are so sorry or (2) say, “Here is your first monthly check for $5,000”?

Set Yourself Apart from the Pack

Set yourself apart from the other life insurance agents by discussing disability and long term care planning. Contact prospects with high incomes, those with assets such as business owners and other professionals. Talk about their income, their ability to work and protecting their loved ones.

Ask them about what is important to them and what their most valuable asset is. This is what matters most. A discussion like this will also lead you to business applications for disability and business succession planning.

For each disability insurance need there is an equally important life insurance need. These needs are for income replacement, overhead expense, key person and buy/sell insurance planning.

Never forget that most large estate tax life insurance policies are sold to business owners, who are the perfect clients to work with because they are more accessible and make decisions quickly.

You do not have to be an expert to be successful in this market. All you need is passion, a couple of true stories and the ability to identify good prospects. Network among these people, and ask for some referrals after each sale. Professionals are busy and isolated; they gravitate toward warm referrals.

Don’t accept that a prospect already has disability insurance. Ask to see the policy! In the majority of cases you will find that most do not have adequate disability insurance.

Once you have identified a good prospect, find a good independent BGA who understands the disability and long term care marketplace and represents multiple carriers. Then get the product training that you need to present the case.

You will learn very quickly what disability or long term care product is best for your clients. Don’t think you must wait to be an expert before you get started or you may never get started. All you need to know is that if a client becomes disabled and cannot work, or if this person becomes sick and needs long term care, his family will be in serious trouble. That is it, nothing more—just your sincere desire to help clients protect their families and their businesses. Always remember, before people care what you know, they want to know that you care.

Now I can hear you saying, “But disability and long term care insurance is so expensive! I have trouble selling it.”

I recommend always starting by showing half a plan with a two-year benefit period. Everyone can afford such a plan, and some coverage is always better than nothing. If you try this, in all likelihood your prospects will say, “Yes, I can afford that, but what if I need this for more than two years?” Many times they end up selling themselves on a five year or longer plan!

Last is landing that big multiple life case. If a client is part of a professional practice (physician, attorney, etc.), why  not offer to plan for other partners and management level employees in the company? Explain that discounts are available for others in the group who purchase policies.

Multiple life cases offer the greatest opportunity for income because these are the cases that keep on giving. You can even get guarantee issue underwriting offers. Each year new hires can be added to the plan. Plus, as incomes increase, benefits increase—and so do your commissions. There will be new first year commissions each year and increasing renewals year after year, plus no agent of record commission transfers are allowed!

Now that is working smart!

So which individuals or companies do you know that you can approach about the need for disability insurance or long term care insurance planning?