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We need to redefine disability insurance

Trustmark recently had a chance to take a fresh look at the disability insurance market with new research to understand what consumers think about disability. While there were countless insights into what consumers want from their protection, there is one insight that came through crystal clear: We need to redefine disability insurance as an industry.

Consumers aren’t connecting

Our survey found that 47 percent of people feel they have an average to below average understanding of disability insurance.1 Needless to say, that’s a large number of people that probably don’t understand this critical product. On top of that, 84 percent of respondents feel that easy to understand coverage is either somewhat or extremely important with disability insurance.1 So, while many don’t understand disability insurance as it stands, they do want something that is easier to wrap their heads around.

Digging a little deeper, we began to look at some of the most misunderstood aspects of this type of insurance. These are some features that are misunderstood even within disability insurance policyholders2:
  • Situations covered – Whether the injury has to be at work and whether pregnancy is covered
  • Payment timing – Consumers are unsure when payments begin and how that interacts with time off and sick days
  • Provider of payments – Whether the employer or insurance carrier is making the payments
  • Contribution during disability – Whether premiums continue during disability
  • Mental health and substance abuse coverage – Some individuals were unsure if these were covered
As you can see, employees are struggling with understanding the ins and outs of disability insurance. It also helps to show the areas in which they need help. Clearly, something about the way the product is being presented isn’t connecting with consumers.

Framing the conversation

The data aside, there’s an interesting nuance to the way we approach Disability Insurance not only in the naming, but also the way we talk about it. When you look around at the insurance landscape, most of Trustmark’s products are no longer associated with the negative side of the coverage. Life insurance isn’t called “death insurance”, critical illness insurance has moved on from its old name of “dread disease insurance” and auto insurance isn’t “car crash insurance”. The name “Disability Insurance” still holds a negative connotation that other products don’t. The word “disability” also lends itself more to the sense of consumers thinking, “That won’t happen to me”, which is a major hurdle in terms of potential policyholders embracing and understanding a product.

To help get them on board, we need to simplify the conversation and take a different approach to how we present disability insurance. A person’s paycheck truly is one of an individual’s most valuable assets, and in order to help them protect it, it’s time to redefine disability insurance to consumers.

1 Trustmark and Advantage Research, Inc. 2015.
2 Trustmark Connell Group Research. 2014.

Posted on August 30, 2018 in Sales

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