Q: What special initiatives is your agency/company undertaking to take advantage of Disability Insurance Awareness Month? What do you do to build on your DIAM momentum to help agents perpetuate DI awareness throughout the year?
Income protection is promoted to our producers 24/7/365. During Disability Insurance Awareness Month, our agency holds an exciting day of learning and reward achievement at our DI Day. Each year at DI Day, we provide different agendas for our producers to keep knowledge and industry trends up to date. Solutions based discussions create innovation and presentations of real world examples of the value of disability insurance, such as “It happened to me.” Our carriers send top executives to support DI Day as well as participate in carrier panels. Panels of producers share sales ideas and presentation methods to provide easy and successful ways to present income protection coverage. After lunch, there is a “fun” golf tournament with prizes and a donation to a worthy charity.
This year we are doing something different. Rather than sponsoring a big DI Day, we are launching a series of small regional/office DI Days. The big seminar with speakers is very effective in some locales, but we have not found it to be beneficial for us. Nor have we found it keeps the interest going no matter how excited brokers are leaving the meeting. The problem we have found with the large annual meeting is that sales come from habitual behavior and habitual behavior is not created in a once a year rah-rah meeting. So we are bringing DIAM into our brokers’ offices. We are holding a series of smaller meetings during DIAM and then establishing ongoing one hour training sessions on a monthly or quarterly basis. This way we can help our brokers develop the habit of asking the right questions to identify the problems that are solved by DI. We help them identify problems and sell solutions.
We try and remind insurance professionals that each year DIAM highlights the need for income protection to the public through numerous tools and outlets. It is an awareness, not a sales strategy. However, it is this increased awareness that makes it prime time to focus on marketing and talking to clients about the need for income protection for both personal and business needs.
The biggest initiative we undertake for DI Awareness month is our DI Day event along with our partner agencies in the Plus Group around the country.
Truth be told we usually don’t make it a whole day, so perhaps we should label it our “DI Morning.” For three or four hours we’ll do presentations on the products that make up the DI marketplace, and have sales sessions to help advisors with ideas and tips to sell more DI to their clients and introduce it to their practices. Very often we’ll attach Continuing Education credits to the advisors as well.
This year, our event is tentatively set at our go-to venue for our DI Days, The Rivers Casino in downtown Pittsburgh on May 22. The Casino offers beautiful meeting rooms. At our first DI Day years ago, an advisor won $800 in the casino after the event! That’s a sure way to get a repeat attendee! Although we are trying to raise awareness for disability insurance, we still try and make the day as fun as possible for anyone who attends. That’s why organizers do usually try and plan a casino event afterward. Before this next event, some guests may want to take some time to brush up on their casino skills by looking into this mega888 download. This should ensure that people stand a better chance of winning. If people want more of a variety with their online casino playing, they can look to other sites that may have what they are looking for, for example, they may want to play on 918kaya apk, or similar, to brush up on their skills, whichever one they choose as long as they play responsibly they’ll have a lot of fun. Just make sure to check how highly any online casino is rated before you start using it – the best way to do this is to head over to casino-bonus.me.uk and read some reviews.
For us DI Awareness doesn’t only occur in May. We are constantly offering training events and opportunities during the year. We have ongoing meetings, webinars, and broadcast emails that provide advisors the opportunity to learn about DI. Our meetings take the form of what I call our “Big Hotel Meetings in the Sky” where we’ll rent a room at a hotel and bring in an industry speaker or company rep to talk DI. We hope to get 50 or so brokers to one of those events.
We also have geographically oriented “DI hand-to-hand Combat Sessions” where we’ll do smaller, more intimate meetings in handy locales, with the intent of getting 5-10 advisors in attendance. These are more intimate sessions where we’ll peel apart products and provide ideas as to how to sell this stuff.
And, of course, we’re old fashioned. We still meet with brokers to provide training in their offices to themselves and their staff-often with CE just for them.
For us there is no “DI Awareness Month” it’s more like the “DI Awareness Continuum.”
We participate in many of our general agencies’ DI Days providing presentations on the importance of disability and awareness of the products available to clients who are not able to obtain disability in the standard market. We also provide webinars throughout DIAM to educate agents who are not aware of the high risk products that are available and how to capitalize on the declined cases they may have received.
This year we are doing more agency meetings, road shows, individual sit downs, presentations to local financial associations, study groups, etc. We are more visible than ever, just in different capacities. We will continue to educate going forward.
During DIAM we will utilize different tag lines on emails and correspondence. We will send out more marketing emails to our brokers discussing DIAM, and offering sales tips, marketing facts, and bringing them up to speed on the resources that are available.
What suggestions do you have for brokers to help them take advantage of DIAM and engage clients/prospects in the DI discussion?
Innovation and unique sales ideas and products provide opportunities for our producers to engage their prospects in the DI discussion. This includes individual as well as business solutions.
They need to become a believer in protecting their client’s income. In order to become a believer they have to understand the magnitude of the problem that exists when one is sick or hurt and cannot work and be able to convey that information to their clients. They need to be willing to talk about income protection-which should be part of the conversation with all their clients that are still in the income earning years. So, this should not be a once a year emphasis but part of every client interaction. If a broker is not comfortable talking about income protection with their client, and passionate about the extreme need to cover this risk, then they won’t sell it. But more important, they are leaving a major risk to their client unaddressed. The increased attention that will be given to income protection during DIAM in most industry periodicals, like Broker World and others, will provide a lot of extra education and sales ideas. They need to take advantage of this and take it to heart.
First, Life Happens and the Council for Disability Awareness have incredible tools for producers to tap into. These sources are printed, electronic and in video formats. Most of them are even free! Look at these websites. They can be found via google search or through many websites who link to them, such as our own website at www.piu.org. Second, talk to your clients. There is no need for a pressure sale, just a reminder of the “what happens when income stops.” Lastly, take advantage of May and June to promote disability insurance since the public campaign is going full tilt throughout May. People are in tune and open to the discussion!
My mantra on the subject of increasing DI sales is-just ask! The unfortunate fact is that this market is not highly penetrated. Chances are that just asking a client or prospect, “What planning have you done to protect your income?” will lead to further conversation and discussion about the subject.
Now that’s where we come in. We have more than enough resources to help out the broker as he works the paycheck protection market. We have three models of engagement:
- Traditional Wholesale Brokerage: Just like we’ve always done, we provide the advisor with support, quotes, advice and materials to close the sale. We guide, the broker decides how to best present to his or her client and solely engages the client on his own.
- Concierge Service: We have found that many brokers just don’t want to “go it alone.” They’re uncomfortable with the product, the market-and very often the client! So we’ll provide point-of-sale support, quarterbacking the interface with the client and presenting the DI concept for the broker.
While there are some “DI Specialists” out there, I’ve found that-rightly or wrongly-there is discomfort in exposing their client to another broker. The old “Fox in the Henhouse” concern. We’re a trusted, credible third party who will not try to “steal a client” from an advisor. It’s not what we do.
- Our third model is “Pure DI Partnership.” Many times we’re finding advisors-especially in investment firms and property/casualty shops-just don’t want to fool with something outside of their realm of expertise. They refer their clients to us for us to handle their DI needs. This, frankly, has been a transition for me as I’m an old-guard BGA who has never really attacked the market this way. But it’s apparent that this is a model that some of our firms and advisors desire.
Hosting webinars and DI Days is a great time to take advantage of DIAM by presenting as much information and training as possible to agents regarding making DI sales.
Tax season is always a great time to bring up the subject of DI, especially during an annual and/or monthly portfolio review.
We encourage our brokers/agents to own the DI on themselves, and we will specifically be discussing that fact during DIAM. We encourage brokers to have the “what if” conversation with their clients when they are delivering other financial solutions (life, annuities, LTCI, etc.), especially if their client has just gone through medical underwriting and they have gotten the green light on their health.
What advice can you offer brokers who are not DI specialists to make it easier for them to approach their clients about DI?
To help our inexperienced producers, we created a simple yet effective training module to help open the income protection conversation during or after the life insurance discussion. By discussing income protection in the same terms as life insurance, it has made it easier to transition from one product to another. It is important to note that this simple approach allows us to tailor the appropriate coverage at an affordable pricing structure. This helps the producer from getting “into the weeds” and feeling uncomfortable.
K. I. S. Keep It Simple! Income protection is not a complicated issue. The broker has to make the client aware of the problem and the basics of the solution. The problem is that if his income stops, how does he survive? If the client is working to pay the bills and fund financial plans, what happens to the bills and the plans if the paychecks stop? We are all one heartbeat, one auto accident, one major sickness away from a stopped paycheck. If that happens it impacts everyone that depends on them. What is the plan? The solution being that income protection policies replace a portion of their income if, due to injury or illness, their paycheck stops. Keep it at the Big Picture level. Brokers can rely on MGA’s like my office to help them with the details and to find the correct product from the correct carrier once they have educated the client on the importance of protecting his income and cultivated a desire to solve the problem. They don’t have to, nor should they, try to get into the detailed mechanics of the product until they have educated the client on the importance of protecting their income. Identify the problem and tell them there is a solution.
Talk to your clients! You are the financial expert. They have called you for advice, so advise them! If you sell life insurance, you usually speak in terms of income replacement due to death. Income for keeping the home, business or family intact. What if you don’t die? It’s the same story, just a different product. If you sell medical insurance, the reasons usually fall into the category of need because of the high cost of getting well. It is an income story! Isn’t this the same need for income protection? Just talk to them. They can decide if it is time to buy or not, but if they don’t know about the products available, the options they have, or the need, then they can never get a chance to buy!
To coin the old Nike tagline, the best advice I can give is, “Just Do It.” We have your back in any of the ways described in question number two.
The life and DI conversations go hand in hand. Essentially, any conversation pertaining to retirement vehicles can open the door to the subject of DI. Once the initial conversation has taken place, open the discussion for DI by asking the client, “How would you pay for these products if you became disabled?” The agent should present statistics for disability to the client indicating that one in four Americans will become disabled before retirement. Encourage any producer with a challenging case to reach out to a disability insurance specialist in order to discuss the various nonstandard tools that are readily available for their clients to utilize.
We continue to communicate to brokers that we are their income protection department. They do not need to be DI experts, that is why we are here. DI is outta sight, outta mind-if we are not in front of the agent they are selling something else.
What techniques can you recommend to brokers to successfully address DI needs in the business market?
There is incredible potential in the business market. An easy starting point with the business owner is having a discussion surrounding a Group LTD plan. Although many businesses provide this coverage, plan design and quality provisions are oftentimes inadequate. With Group LTD as a starting point, it is then easy to identify potential additional needs, such as guarantee standard issue individual plans to cover additional income, Business Overhead Expense insurance, Key Person, Buy-Sell, Pension.
Ask Questions! Ask questions. Did I say ask questions? By asking questions, it transforms the conversation from you trying to sell something to you being a trusted advisor solving a problem your client has. The transition to addressing income protection for a life client, a health insurance client, a financial planning client or any other client is all similar. Additionally, I would suggest that the transition is very simple and easy. After the life sale, it is as simple as asking, “What happens if you don’t die?” After the health sale it can be as simple as, “Now that we have the doctors and hospital paid if you are injured or sick, who is going to pay you?” After the financial plan is funded, “What happens if you get hurt or sick-what happens to this plan?” What is the plan if their paycheck stops? For most people all of their security and dreams for the future come from their paycheck. Once the client understands and acknowledges that fact, it is not hard to get them to want to protect it against disability. It is similar for business owners, but the key is that once you get them to see the importance of protecting their own income, you need to get them to understand they have two incomes to protect. Their business income is just as much at risk if they can’t work. So, ask questions: “Mr. Business owner, if you could not work for a period of time, would your business survive until you got back on your feet?” “Does your business have enough cash flow to sustain itself if you are out for six months or a year?” “Would your employees stay?” “Would you be forced to fire sale your business or worse?” The same risk management issues exist for businesses that exist for an individual plus some. Brokers need to view themselves as problem solvers for their business owner clients. They are advising on the risks and exposures the owner faces and recommending solutions to minimize that exposure.
Again, talk to your client! Business tune ups are important. At least once a year an insurance advisor should be looking at existing coverage and counseling a business client on the need for more, different or changes to insurance protection. If the focus has always been on life insurance, the conversation is simple-“I am so glad you have the life insurance to cover the xxx (buy-sell, keyperson, bank loan, etc.). Have you ever stopped and considered what you would do financially if there was a disability involved? You would have the same financial obligations, but without disability insurance in place you would have to self-fund these obligations. For a few dollars we can cover that exposure too!
Business Overhead Expense coverage is a woefully undersold product.
Encourage any producer with a challenging case to reach out to a disability insurance specialist in order to discuss the various nonstandard tools that are readily available for their clients to utilize.
Extend options past the standard carrier when necessary. Through collaborative efforts, nonstandard carriers may be able to offer viable asset protection. Nonstandard carriers have the ability to use creative solutions to safeguard residual income in order to maintain the lifestyle clients have worked diligently to achieve.
We encourage agents to have the conversation with their clients, “If you were sick or hurt and could not work, what would you like to provide for yourself and your family, and what would you want to happen with your business and to your employees?”