Disability Insurance Awareness Month Planning Panel

    What special initiatives is your agency/company undertaking to take advantage of Disability Insurance Awareness Month?

    Thomas R. Petersen: Each year Petersen International Underwriters does special promotions playing up Disability Insurance Awareness Month. This includes additional Communicators (our weekly newsletter), pointing producers in the direction of the International DI Society (IDIS) as well as the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) at  www.disabilitycanhappen.org which has some great resources for this.

    Eugene Cohen: May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month.  In order to help educate brokers and bring awareness to this important product, we are sponsoring a disability meeting called DI Day.   DI day is coming to Chicagoland on May 3rd and is part of The Plus Group national DI Day initiative.  Our agency is a founding member of The Plus Group and proudly supports the National DI Day initiatives held by many of our Plus Group partners around the country on May 5th. 

    DI Day is celebrated by our agency by offering the opportunity to hear disability insurance speakers that are known nationally for their expertise; speakers who will walk you through your DI sales; as well as a keynote speaker who will help educate brokers on building their DI business, growing their portfolios and creating DI client relationships to last a lifetime.

    We are also promoting disability insurance awareness through our website.  In conjunction with our website, we are advocating disability insurance through marketing (flyers, videos, info graphics, real life stories and more!) from Life Happens (www.lifehappens.org) and the Council for Disability Awareness (www.disabilitycanhappen.org).

    Our agency is applying these resources in various campaigns through direct mail and email to our brokers.  Being an agency that is all about the broker, we have found these to be hot topics which not only increase the awareness and the need for disability insurance, but cultivate education for many.

    Nicole Blodgett: Our team is doing several things to actively promote income protection prior to and during Disability Insurance Awareness Month. With more information becoming available about disability insurance, it is up to all of us to distribute that information so those that need to know about it can take advantage of their critical services. Our consultants have committed to speaking at a number of NAIFA events throughout the country to educate financial professionals on the importance of income protection and encourage incorporation within their practices. We’re hosting three National DI Day events in conjunction with our Plus Group partners including the 15th annual Twin Cities DI Day (MN) and debut DI Day events in Madison, WI, and Birmingham, AL. DI Day is recognized as the premier income protection event in the nation and with each event we host, we have three specific goals in mind: to educate financial professionals on the importance of disability insurance and income protection; to motivate them to protect their clients with income protection solutions; and to inspire them with stories of real people who faced and overcame the challenges of a disability. And finally, we’re engaging in proactive outreach on a daily basis to encourage our advisers to keep having the discussion about income protection in their practice as well as providing them the tools they need to be successful through targeted marketing campaigns.

    Reed H. Schnittker: We are participating in National DI Day again this year.  We also add several tag lines to our email communications to brokers with interesting facts surrounding income protection.  Since income protection/solutions is what we do every day, we try to put a greater emphasis on education in the month of May.


    What suggestions do you have for brokers to help them take advantage of DIAM and engage clients/prospects in the DI discussion?

    Thomas R. Petersen: May is a great time to talk to new as well as existing clients about disability insurance (or about more). The industry is pushing stories and promotions on disability insurance through mainstream media sources which will add visibility and awareness more than at any other time of the year. Use the resources and tools from the CDA and IDIS. You don’t have to focus on making a sale (although you should) but focus on making your client more aware of the need for disability insurance. 

    Eugene Cohen: I have the following suggestions for brokers to help them take advantage of Disability Insurance Awareness Month.

    Disability income protection is the “best kept secret” in our industry. Disability Insurance Awareness Month is the second best kept secret.  I would suggest posting DIAM information on your social media.

    Also post this question: “How important is your earned income and  are you protecting your income from sickness or accidents?”

    This is a wonderful time to call your clients and introduce them to Disability Insurance Awareness Month.  When was the last time you discussed disability income insurance with them?

    Utilize the real life stories presented on the web site www.lifehappens.org.  You can also check out their flyers.  It is worth your time.

    Be sure to check out www.disabilitycanhappen.org for more tools and resources.

    Nicole Blodgett: We have a few “best practices” when it comes to engaging with your clients and prospects, and the first is to use the words income protection when discussing disability insurance. No one wants to talk about becoming disabled, but everyone will engage in discussion about protecting their income. Focus your conversation on what the product does, not what the product is. This can be done in a number of different ways, but my personal favorite is to ask clients about their most valuable asset. They will likely say their home, car, cabin, boat or something similar, or some may give a more sentimental response such as their family or business. You then ask if they insure these assets and they will say yes. Then the question:  “What about your ability to earn an income – do you consider that a valuable asset?” It’s a great way to open the conversation to income protection.

    Reed H. Schnittker: We encourage our customers (brokers, agents, planners, etc…) to communicate the various solutions that income protection products offer to their client base during DIAM.  There are more needs and solutions available today.  DIAM is a great time to get the word out.

    What advice can you offer brokers who are not DI specialists to make it easier for them to approach their clients about DI?
    Thomas R. Petersen: Adding disability insurance sales to any producer’s portfolio is easy. Producers who avoid including disability sales in their sales presentation are often concerned that the disability sale will either screw up their primary sale (life or medical) or is too difficult. 
    When doing a life presentation the most common purpose of life insurance is personal protection for the family. The proverbial “What would your family (or business) do without your income?” Well the same problem occurs should a disability happen, only the client is still in the picture. So the discussion should always be “What would you and your family (or business) do in the event that you are no longer a financial participant?”
    The producer who specializes in medical insurance sales is pitching that the high cost of getting well is the reason someone needs medical insurance. The explanation should be “in the event of an accident or illness, the high cost of getting well is mitigated using medical insurance, but recovery also requires you to take care of the daily financial burdens including your home (or business), utilities, food, etc. Medical insurance alone only completes half of the financial protection-the other half is disability insurance.”
    In each of these sales, the “pitch” is the same for the need for disability insurance. Having the discussion of the need for disability insurance early and often leads to more sales and better financial protection for the client. 
    Eugene Cohen: To make it easier for those of you who are not disability specialists, I suggest that you contact a brokerage general agency that has a disability income insurance team.  They will be more than happy to educate and guide you through the sale.  We educate and help brokers to become comfortable with the uncomfortable.  We guide brokers from the initial contact to the placing of the case. 
    As I stated before, keep asking your clients questions.  Questions create interest.  For example, ask your client: “What was the longest vacation you have ever taken?”  Most often the answer is two or three weeks.  Your next question is: “Why only two or three weeks?”  The answer is consistently, “I can only afford to take off that much time.”  Your answer is a question: “If you were sick or disabled for two or three years, would you have an income problem?”  The answer is “yes”, and your answer is: “We need to talk.”
    Nicole Blodgett: Definitely keep it simple! Ask your clients, “What planning have you done to ensure your income is protected if you become too sick or hurt to work for 60-90 days or more?” Using the words income protection will have a positive connotation to your clients and they will be receptive to a conversation. It doesn’t hurt to remind that income protection is the foundation to a sound financial plan. As their adviser you have the opportunity to coach and teach your clients how to mitigate financial risk, so ask them what their plan is and recommend income protection solutions where they are needed. Of course, not everyone can be a DI specialist – you’re already wearing enough hats as it is and we understand that. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid income protection altogether with your clients.  Secura Consultants has two specialists on our team ready to come alongside advisors to help them start the conversation and place business. We have a boutique income protection specialist that works with the fee-based and fee-only planning community and we also have a broker’s broker for income protection that works alongside financial professionals on a split case basis. You can focus on being an advocate and identifying the need and let someone else do the heavy lifting of discussing options and placing the business.
    Reed H. Schnittker: We encourage brokers who are already providing insurance solutions or money management to make sure that their clients are adequately covered if they become sick or hurt.  Our office is available to evaluate what protection solutions they already have and to make recommendations. 
    What techniques can you recommend to brokers to successfully address DI needs in the business market?
    Thomas R. Petersen: Be fearless! Apprehension surrounding bringing up the topic and apprehension regarding possibly losing a sale is in the mind of the producer, not the client! The client has asked for professional advice. This includes telling them about every coverage they should have. Not having the insurance does not lessen the risk potential of becoming disabled. 
    Eugene Cohen: The business market for disability income insurance is another well-kept secret.  But there are several policies designed just for the business market. 
    Asking questions creates sales.  For example, tell the business owner he has many types of insurance such as auto insurance, liability insurance and fire insurance.  As May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, I want you to ask him a question:  “Do you have a policy that provides monthly benefits if you become sick or injured?”
    Ask the business owner the question, “Do you have a buy-sell agreement?”  The next question is, “How is it funded for a disability?”  Disability buy-out insurance provides payment(s) to help with the purchase of a totally disabled business owner’s interest under a buy-sell agreement. 
    Ask a small business owner if he has a lease.
    “How would you pay your monthly lease if you were not able to work for a year or two due to an accident or illness?”  The next question is, “In addition to your monthly lease, do you have other expenses that must be paid even if you are not able to work due to an accident or illness?”  “You need to own an overhead expense policy which is insurance for business expenses incurred during a disability.” 
    Other questions you can ask a small business owner: “Do you have a key person who is critical to the success of your business?  If this person became disabled would this create a problem?” 
    “There is a policy called a key person replacement policy.  We can look into this for you.” 
    As you can tell, by asking questions you can uncover all sorts of needs for disability insurance for the business owner.
    Nicole Blodgett:  I was recently presenting at a conference to a room of approximately 100 independent insurance agents and financial advisers, most of whom are business owners. I asked them to raise their hands if they knew exactly what would happen to their individual, family, and business incomes if they became too sick or hurt to work for 60-90 days or more. Not one hand was raised. My point? Ask this question to your business owner clients. They have double the risk when accidents or illnesses strike-obligations to continue providing for their personal needs and the needs of their business! Income protection solutions will insure the lights stay on and the doors stay open if the owner is disabled. 
    As financial professionals we must focus on the when with our clients, not the if pertaining to the risks associated with disability. No one can predict if disability will happen, but we can control what the plan is when it happens and educate our clients because the risk is real and the stakes are unfathomably high.
    Reed H. Schnittker: There are a number of ways to address this opportunity.  
    Today there are more income protection solutions available than ever before.  Carriers are doing a good job developing specialty/niche products for specific needs.  A simple conversation with the broker, asking about his client can lead to recommending solutions that are available for the client to protect his income and the business income.
    Our office does a lot of searching on the internet looking into potential insureds, learning about them and their businesses, so that we can suggest the type of income protection solutions that we have available to businesses like theirs. 

    Thomas R. Petersen, MBA, RHU, HIA, FLMI, DABFE, ALHC, CFE, CHS-III, LPRT, is a senior partner of Petersen International Underwriters, a large underwriting firm specializing in disability coverage through Lloyd’s of London. Their product line includes excess and special disability insurance needs, international medical insurance, kidnap ransom coverage, and numerous other specialty lines.

    Petersen has written numerous articles and coauthored several books. A frequent speaker at local, state and national insurance organizations, he is a founding member and on the board of directors of the International DI Society. Petersen earned his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge, and his MBA in international business at Pepperdine University.

    Petersen can be reached at Petersen International Underwriters, 23929 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 215, Valencia, CA 91355. Telephone: 800-345-8816. Email: tom@piu.org. Website: www.piu.org.

    Eugene began his insurance industry career in Cleveland, OH, with a company that specialized in disability income protection.

    In 1981 Cohen founded the Eugene Cohen Insurance Agency, Inc., Skokie, IL, which specializes in DI, life, LTCI, fixed annuities, and impaired risk cases. The agency is a member of LifeMark Partners, NAILBA, the IDIS and is a founding member of The Plus Group.

    Cohen received the W. Harold Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award from the IDIS and NAILBA’s Douglas Mooers Award for Excellence.

    Eugene can be reached at Eugene Cohen Insurance Agency, Inc. Telephone: 800-333-4340. Website: www.cohenagency.com. Email: eugene@cohenagency.net.

    is a vice president at Secura Consultants. She is responsible for the growth, inspiration, and motivation of the Consultation team at Secura Consultants. She encourages team members to raise the bar in business and relationship development, client relations and marketing efforts. Like her team members, Nicole consults, coaches, and educates financial professionals in best-in-practice income protection solutions and case designs to meet their clients’ unique financial needs.Blodgett can be reached at Secura Consultants, 6465 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 920, Minneapolis, MN 55426. Telephone: 952-224-5400. Email: Nicole@securaconsultants.com.