Disability: Preparing for the Unexpected By STEPHANIE SHIELDS
he adage known as Murphy’s Law states that “If something can go wrong, it will … and usually at the worst time.” By their very name, accidents are unpredictable, and the onset of serious sicknesses like cancer or heart disease can also take one by surprise. Worst yet, both have the potential to lead to an income-halting disability. Even though we may not be able to pre dict when illnesses and injuries will happen, or the effects they might have on one’s budget, we can still do our best to prepare for them. One of the best ways to do just that is through disability insurance. DISABILITY INSURANCE AWARENESS MONTH May – Disability Insurance Awareness Month – is just around the corner. That makes now a good time to strategize with clients about helping employees face facts about disability and the impact it can have on savings and the ability to earn a living. There are important reasons an entire month is devoted to increasing awareness about disability insurance: • The Social Security Administration estimates that slightly more than 25 percent of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67. • Sixty-three percent of Americans agree that most people need disability insurance, but just 29 percent say they own it. The need for disability insurance protection is evident, particularly among primary wage-earners. Because disabling injuries or illnesses often lead to significant medical bills, anyone who works – whether they are single, married, with children or without – should consider coverage. Disability insurance can help protect them from financial ruin with: • Benefits that are paid for both total and partial disability. • Coverage that is available either individually or through an employers’ group plan. •A vailable guaranteed-issue options. 16 | CALIFORNIA BROKER
BENEFITS FOR EMPLOYERS The good news for employers is that companies can help protect workers’ finances by providing access to disability insurance. Furthermore, they can enhance employee satisfaction and productivity by working with an insurer that provides value-added services. A few examples include: • Financial and legal advice, including online assistance preparing wills and other documents. • Student loan-assistance programs that allow employers to contribute directly to an employee’s student loan, much like they contribute to a 401(k). • Web-based resources that help employees and their families lower the cost of college and navigate the application and admission process. • Help navigating the health care system, resolving billing issues and negotiating with providers to potentially lower existing medical bills. • Access to licensed professional coun selors who offer confidential assistance and resource support for a full range of personal, family and work-life problems. THE VALUE OF VALUE-ADDED SERVICES These days, many employees have multiple jobs – and even multiple careers – during the course of their working lifetimes. Some leave jobs because they’re uninspired or have new and different employment dreams. But they often leave for another reason: disenchantment with their benefits, especially their health care benefits. As the competition for top employees intensifies, wise employers are looking for ways to increase their desirability among workers. Disability insurance and value-added services are a one-two punch that can be critical to establishing a productive, engaged workforce. Plus, the combination can deliver a knockout blow to rivals in the competition for the most talented workers. There is yet another reason to tout group disability insurance during Dis- CalBrokerMag.com -
ability Insurance Awareness Month: the growing focus on corporate social responsibility. Companies today are increasingly judged by their impact on the environment, on the communities in which they do business, on their civic and social contributions and, last but never least, on the way they treat the employees who depend upon them for financial security. By providing clients with access to group disability insurance and the value-added services that go along with it – in other words, by showing they genuinely care about employees both on the job and after business hours – they can better demonstrate the compassion that separates great companies from the merely good. EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED Brokers do not have to know the future to help clients be prepared financially in the event of a disabling illness or injury. By giving clients the real numbers, showing how costly disabilities can be, and providing real benefits solutions, brokers have a great opportunity to grow their disability book of business. H Stephanie Shields is vice president of national broker relations for Aflac.
Want to know more about the info mentioned in this article? Start here… Social Security Administration. “Fact sheet: Social Security.” www.ssa.gov/news/press/basicfact.html. LIMRA. “Lack of knowledge hinders disability insurance ownership.” www.limra.com/Posts/PR/ Industry_Trends_Blog/ Lack_of_Knowledge_Hinders_ Disability_Insurance_Ownership.aspx.
California Broker March 2018 edition