Many producers agree that income protection is important. However, many do not sell individual disability insurance because they think the product is too complex or feel they do not have enough IDI expertise.

A sales strategy I recommend for producers who want to sell IDI but may not be comfortable doing so is to simplify their approach. This is because it is not necessary to have an intricate knowledge of every IDI product provision to help clients get the income protection they need. The philosophy of simplified selling is rooted in the idea of sticking to the basics.   

Tip No. 1: Rely on a brokerage firm for IDI expertise

A producer can’t be an expert in every product. There are many fine IDI brokerage agencies around the country that supply the expertise producers may lack in IDI case design, quoting and underwriting. You can make one of these brokerage agencies your “IDI back office” and feel confident they will enable you to design and present an IDI plan suitable to your client’s demographic, occupation and income.

With the right experts in your corner, you can concentrate on helping your client understand the need for IDI and preparing him or her for what to expect in regards to the IDI buying process.  

Tip No. 2: Help clients overcome their roadblocks

The first key to selling an IDI policy is to establish the need. There are a lot of statistics about the chances of becoming disabled, and it may be useful to quote those to your clients. But people usually are not swayed by statistics. They are swayed by passion. You need to have genuine passion for income protection — the utter conviction of its importance. This allows you to look your client in the eye and say, “What will you do if you get sick or hurt and are unable to work? As your financial adviser, it is my job to make sure you have adequate income protection.”

Also see: "Elevate your individual disability income sales."

Often, clients will agree with the need, but say that they are covered through their employer’s long-term disability policy. Be prepared to respond with, “Whatever coverage you have through your employer is a great starting point, but most employer-provided group disability plans leave too many gaps. We should take a look at your group policy and see how it is performing for you.”

Tip No. 3: Frame up the plan design very simply

There are a lot of moving parts within an IDI contract, but you can do your client — and yourself — a favor by telling your client, “There are four main questions to answer when designing an IDI plan: How much, how soon, how long and at what price?” Then, let your client know that you will work together to answer these four questions:

1)      How much coverage do you need?

2)      How soon do you want to receive your benefit after a disabling condition?

3)      How long do you want the benefit to last?

4)      What price is the best fit for your budget and will it provide the best value?

That basic framework will help clients see the big picture, which will help keep the conversation moving when you return with quotes provided by your IDI brokerage firm.  

Also see: "5 opening lines to sell individual disability income insurance."

A simplified sale forces you to get to the point quickly, and it frees you to make the case for how important income protection is. If you keep it simple, clients will better understand the need and be more prepared to purchase this much-needed protection. 

Waters, CLU, RHU, REBC, is the second vice president of individual disability income insurance sales at Standard Insurance Company. Reach him at

The Standard is a leading provider of financial products and services, including group and individual disability insurance, group life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, group dental and vision insurance, absence management services, retirement plans products and services, individual annuities and investment advice. For more information on The Standard, visit

The Standard is the marketing name for the subsidiaries of StanCorp Financial Group, Inc.: Standard Insurance Company; The Standard Life Insurance Company of New York; Standard Retirement Services, Inc.; StanCorp Equities, Inc.; StanCorp Mortgage Investors, LLC; StanCorp Investment Advisers, Inc.; StanCorp Real Estate, LLC; and Standard Management, Inc. 

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