Poet William Butler Yeats once said to “think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.” While it’s true that the right verbiage and empathetic delivery may show clients you understand their unique reality and circumstances, even the most well-spoken and expert insurance professionals can’t guarantee a disability insurance (DI) sale.

 disability insurance benefits

There are, however, several words that can strengthen (or weaken) your position while easing potential client concerns, building relationships, and positively impacting disability insurance sales. Remember the power of the positive. Your current and prospective clients would rather hear about disability insurance benefits than possible negative repercussions.

Consider these three overarching themes or sales approaches being used to sell disability insurance products:

  1. The “protect your lifestyle” approach: This approach typically focuses on highlighting the negative consequences of losing one’s income, to which DI products would be one of the offered solutions.
  2. The “strengthen your financial security” angle: This approach focuses on unexpected life events, and highlights the positive aspects of preparing against these occurrences.
  3. The “build a foundation” approach: This focuses on income as an asset, with the base assumption that (prospective) clients will have an income to sustain their financial path.

To understand consumer perception of these approaches, sales presentations were created to mirror each theme, then sessions were held to gauge consumer response. Results showed that for each of these negatively angled approaches, respondents were skeptical of the validity and motives of the broker.

Rather than using fear tactics or fear to convey the necessity for DI, brokers should instead concentrate their efforts on providing guidance and clarity on the many complicated topics that exist in the marketplace. As with so many other facets of financial services, education is a winning approach.

How to Discuss Disability Insurance Options with Clients

Customers want their insurance agents, brokers, and financial advisors to take more of a positive, proactive approach. They do not want to be scared into purchasing an insurance or disability product that they don’t understand, but they want to know about disability insurance benefits and the different investment options that are available. Below are nine concepts to eliminate from your disability insurance vocabulary, and what you should be saying instead:

  1. acfs-blog-x.pngLose: “Protection against”
    Use: “Protection for”
    Focusing on protection of a client’s income is better and more effective than protecting against a possible disability.

  2. acfs-blog-x.pngLose: “Comparable to auto/home”
    Use: “Complement to life insurance”
    Connecting DI to other forms of insurance that clients already value helps increase its perceived importance.

  3. acfs-blog-x.pngLose: “Shortcomings of group DI”
    Use: “Supplement to group DI”
    Don’t highlight the shortcomings, acknowledge group DI as a good start but explain how individual DI can be an excellent complement for certain clients.

  4. acfs-blog-x.pngLose: Scare tactics and overly aspirational language
    Use: Stability and security
    Prospective clients and customers do not want to be scared into action, this only increases suspicion. Focus on stability instead of an absence-of.

  5. acfs-blog-x.pngLose: One-size-fits-all approach
    Use: Customized, flexible solutions
    If you aren’t suggesting customized, tailored DI solutions to clients then you are doing yourself and your clients a disservice.

  6. acfs-blog-x.pngLose: “Negative financial impacts of not having DI”
    Use: “Minimizing daily disruptions”

  7. acfs-blog-x.pngLose: “Depleting savings and exhausting emergency funds”
    Use: “Maintain long-term goals and strengthen your financial foundation”
    Again, don’t focus on the negative “what if” and instead focus on proactive preparation.

  8. acfs-blog-x.pngLose: Overselling and high-pressure sales
    Use: Leading, educating, empowering clients

  9. acfs-blog-x.pngLose: No disability income sales strategy
    Use: Targeted sales strategies for disability insurance products


What does all this mean for advisors and insurance brokers? It takes a deep understanding of your clients’ individual requirements, lifestyle and circumstances to have productive conversations about DI. Knowing the what to say (and what not to) is useful, but doesn’t eliminate the need for an intimate and thorough comprehension of why and how DI can impact, aid and mitigate risks for your clients. Additionally, a comprehensive knowledge of DI strategies and products available is critical effectively selling them.

The American College of Financial Services offers a designation called Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) to help insurance professionals and financial advisors of all backgrounds be more successful in all areas of insurance. To learn more about the CLU® designation, read our guide "CFP®, ChFC®, and CLU®: Which Is Right For You?"

CFP, ChFC, and CLU: Which is right for you?

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