This year, the millennial generation is projected to surpass Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living age group, according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials, who also are the most highly educated generation in United States history, according to Pew Research Center, are starting to climb the ladders of their respective careers.   

One of the great unmet needs for this demographic is proper income protection. While many advisers are trying to get in the door with millennials, their conversations often focus on life insurance or financial planning. Few advisers are asking about income protection, which presents a great opportunity for you to stand out by discussing the need for individual disability insurance. 

Also see: "A simplified way to sell individual disabilty insurance."

The risk of a disability is more prevalent than this generation may think. While young adults often see themselves as invincible, the reality is that at least one in four of today’s 20 year olds will suffer a disability before they retire, according to the Social Security Administration. With that kind of risk of losing income at some point during their working years, DI coverage couldn’t be more important to bring to their attention.

Financial advisers should encourage millennials to get their financial house in order now, early in their careers. A big part of that task is protecting their future earnings potential, which is their financial foundation and, without a doubt, their greatest asset. This should be a priority, as many are taking on bigger-ticket financial obligations such as buying homes and starting families.

As this generation also is mobile, and may not stick with an employer for long, another benefit to point out is that individual DI policies are portable. Clients who may have a few employers in their careers can take that piece of protection with them wherever they go.

The time to buy is now

For many millennials, budgets are tight, with student loan payments and new and growing families. It can be difficult for them to spend money on DI. But you can show them two compelling reasons to take action now.

First, for most of us, younger means healthier. DI medical underwriting is an intensive process, and the longer one waits to apply, the more likely an adverse health condition will crop up.

Second, the lower the age of the purchaser, the lower the cost of DI. And your client can lock in the premium for the life of the policy by choosing a non-cancelable contract. As a share of the budget, that initial DI premium will get steadily smaller.

For many young professionals, DI will cost about 1% of gross income. I suggest asking your client, “Isn’t it worth spending 1% to protect the other 99%?”

Also see: "Elevate your IDI sales with guarantee issue sales."

For clients who are struggling to spend even that much, one strategy is to have them buy less than what they qualify for in a benefit. It’s better to own some income protection than none. A person might qualify for a $5,000 monthly benefit, for example, but simply cannot afford the premium. In that case, show the cost of buying half that amount with a future-purchase option. Your client will have some protection in place, and will have locked in medical insurability for the amount of the future purchase.

As millennials strike out on their own, the need for comprehensive financial planning is paramount, and the cornerstone is income protection. Identifying this need to millennials early on will help them achieve financial security, and help you build a client base for the long term.

Waters, CLU, RHU, REBC, is the second vice president of individual disability income insurance sales at Standard Insurance Company. In this role, he leads the IDI sales organization for The Standard and represents the needs of the field to the home office. Doug has more than 25 years of insurance industry experience, including stints as a multilines sales agent, worksite marketing agent and group wholesale manager, as well as several home office executive roles, most recently in IDI sales and distribution leadership. Reach him at

The Standard provides 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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