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?

    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.

    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. 

    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 

    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.  

    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?

    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

    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.

    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.

    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.   

    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?

    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.

    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! 

    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.

    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? 

    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.?”

    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.

    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.

    Diversified Brokerage Specialists

    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.

    Jack B. Schmitz, CLU, ChFC, CASL, is the president and CFO of Bay Area Disability Insurance Services, Inc., dba: DI & LTC Insurance Services. Since 1983, DI & LTC Insurance Services has distributed income protection products to the Northern California financial services industry. They provide training, marketing, sales and underwriting support to insurance and financial advisors throughout the bay area.

    Schmitz is a graduate of CSUC with a B.S. in Ag Business. He received his Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), and the Certified Advisor for Senior Living (CASL) designations from the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

    In 2002 Schmitz became the Northern California partner of The Plus Group, a national DI and LTC marketing organization with 25 offices nationwide. He is a past president of The Plus Group, NAIFA Marin, and the North Bay Society of Financial Service Professionals. He has served on the board of the Dixie Youth Soccer Association, the board of Senior Access, the board of Mission San Rafael Rotary Club, and the Field Advisory Board of Standard Insurance Company.

    He has numerous articles published in several insurance trade magazines and websites.
    In October, 2015, Schmitz became the 11th recipient of the W. Harold Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the International DI Society (IDIS).

    Schmitz can be reached at DI & LTC Insurance Services, 4302 Redwood Highway, #400, San Rafael CA 94903. Telephone: 800-924-2294. Email: jack@di-ltc.com.

    The Plus Group Texas

    began his insurance carrier as a college agent with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1978. After graduating from Kent State University in 1979 with a marketing degree, he moved to Dallas, TX, to pursue a career. In 1981 he began working with Provident Life & Accident as a disability insurance marketing representative. A few years later, Schnittker began his own disability marketing agency, Financial Group, which is now The Plus Group Texas.Schnittker sits on disability insurance advisory councils for MetLife, The Standard and Principal Financial Group. He continues to be one of the Top 10 managing general agencies for DI with those carriers. Schnittker and his wife Cindy work together in developing a successful disability and long term care insurance brokerage agency employing six account executives and three marketing reps in Plano, TX.The Plus Group Texas has over 5,000 brokers, financial planners and CPA’s nationally that write business through their office. From the blue collar employee to the CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations, The Plus Group Texas has a DI product for your client.Schnittker can be reached at The Plus Group Texas, 2400 Dallas Parkway, Suite 260, Plano, TX 75093. Telephone: 972-943-9999. Email: Reed@plusgrouptx.com.