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With the back to school season, many of you are getting back to work as well – exploring opportunities to make one final push to finish 2013 strong. With a still-shaky economy, stricter regulations, and evolving consumer expectations, it seems that change is the only constant in the insurance industry. If you’re selling life and/or disability insurance, here are four trends to keep on your radar:

1.  National focus on health insurance and cost shifting. If you attended any insurance industry tradeshows over the past year, you already know that life and disability topics are taking a back seat to health care. Employers, individuals and even insurance agents are so focused on health reform, it’s difficult to turn their attention to life and disability. However, with change comes opportunity and the opportunity for life and DI is in the voluntary/group benefits arena. Employers are reassessing their benefits programs and looking for options to affordably fill coverage gaps. Guaranteed standard issue disability insurance, multi-life long-term care insurance and critical illness insurance are all attractive solutions.

2.  High unemployment and limited discretionary income. With millions still out of work, many are too busy paying off mortgages, credit cards, and student loans to worry about life insurance. And if there’s no paycheck to protect, disability insurance is not even a discussion. However, unemployment rates are slowly trending downward, so now is the time to get ready for growth. View training webinars and videos, learn a new sales script and stock up on client handouts. Watch for growth opportunities in group life and disability as private employers continue to add new hires to their benefit rolls.

3.  Multigenerational hardships. Baby Boomers are increasingly postponing retirement, working longer to recoup money lost during the Great Recession. This is creating a higher likelihood of serious illnesses or injuries in the workplace. And Gen X-ers and Millennials are experiencing less personal wealth, slower upward mobility, and greater family obligations such as caring for aging parents, making them more likely to use family and medical leave benefits. As an agent, your opportunity comes from meeting your clients on their terms. Know their hot buttons and preferred communication styles. Don’t assume that they will respond to the same marketing and service tactics that have allowed you to succeed in the senior market.

4.  Increasing disability incidence. The sluggish economy and aging workforce has contributed to an increased incidence of disabilities in the workforce. In fact, the Social Security disability backlog may have reached an all-time high. What does this mean for you? It means that older clients may still be good candidates for disability, critical illness and long-term care insurance protection. Make sure to emphasize that the best time (and sometimes the only time) to buy these products is while one is still healthy. Also, make sure clients understand that Social Security disability benefits can be lean and hard to obtain. It’s much smarter to take charge of your own protection.

Bottom line – if you want to finish out 2013 on a high note and achieve sustained growth for 2014 and beyond, keep an eye on the trends and be ready to adapt to your clients’ changing needs. One way to stay on top of the latest disability insurance news is by subscribing to our blog in the upper right corner of this screen.