This income protection coverage can deliver peace of mind and help with family caregiving costs
May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, making it a great time to talk with clients about the value of individual disability insurance (IDI) policies and benefits. To help catch the attention of clients in the sandwich generation, it makes sense for agents and brokers to consider highlighting the new family caregiving benefits some policies are now offering, which can provide peace of mind during difficult times.
Talk income protection
We typically define clients in the sandwich generation as working individuals who are caring for aging parents while also supporting their own children. These individuals often are in the prime earning stage of their career: some may be self-employed, with financial responsibilities related to their business, while others are in an occupation—such as medicine, law or financial services—where the need for income protection can seem to be even more critical.
If a client needs to pause his or her career to care for a family member with a serious health condition, it could significantly impact their income stream and have a negative effect on their ability to financially provide for their family’s needs.
Most people know that IDI products can help provide important income protection coverage to a client who faces their own disabling health condition. But newer products on the market help protect from significant financial hardship when a need to focus on family caregiving responsibilities arises.
In an era with fewer full-time stay-at-home parents, clients find that more and more they need to take time off from work to provide care for an ailing family member. If a client needs to pause his or her career to care for a family member with a serious health condition, it could significantly impact their income stream and have a negative effect on their ability to financially provide for their family’s needs.
For clients in the sandwich generation looking for enhanced benefits or paid leave in a caregiving situation, you’ll want to talk with them about IDI policies that offer this assistance.
Explaining coverage and need
If clients chose an IDI policy that includes a family caregiving benefit, they will receive monthly payments when having a loss of income due to taking time away from work to care for a loved one. Most policies define a loved one as a spouse, domestic partner, or parent or child who is facing a serious health condition, such as a terminal illness, severe cognitive impairment, or extended care in a medical facility. Having the certainty of income protection during challenging times can ease the burden of worry for clients and provide more time to focus on family.
To help make the need for the family caregiving benefit more personal, sometimes it’s useful to ask clients questions. Here are some examples to get you and the client thinking: If the spouse could no longer work and your client had to care for them, what would this mean for the couple financially? Have they prepared for the loss of income? Would your client be able to take the time away from work to be with their spouse, without having it impact their income?
These questions can be challenging to discuss, but it’s important to paint the picture that a family caregiving benefit allows a client to spend time with a loved one with a serious health condition without also suffering a loss of income.
Know how to address claims
Once you’ve sold an IDI policy that includes a family caregiving benefit, it’s important to understand how to help clients file a claim—if the time comes when that’s needed. The process for submitting a caregiving claim is similar to that for a regular IDI claim. Your client will need to provide information regarding the loved one’s condition and demonstrate a loss of time and earnings in his or her own occupation.
One of the most important things to stress with your clients is timing—not only for filing the claim, but for the duration of the loved one’s illness. This information helps to determine how the waiting period will be met. Each policy is different, so the waiting period may be as short as 30 to 60 days or as long as 180 days. But that doesn’t mean that a client should wait that amount of time to inform the carrier.
It’s important for a claimant to connect with his or her IDI carrier right away, and not hold off until the waiting period has been exhausted. This way, the claim evaluation process can begin and the claims team can be prepared to, in a timely manner, share a decision and provide any benefits that are payable.
Dotting the I’s …
Agents and brokers also can help by making sure that their clients are equipped with the following information, which can help expedite the process:
- The phone number of the claims department. This is for initiating the claim and any follow-up questions, discussions or conversations.
- An understanding of the type of information that will be needed. For notice of claim, this generally includes:
- What is the relationship of the loved one to the client?
- What is the cause of the claim?
- When did the condition begin?
- Where should correspondence and benefits be sent?
- An understanding of the forms that will be sent to the client and their loved one for completion. At a minimum, these include the Insured’s Statement, an Attending Physician’s Statement and an Authorization Form.
Income protection and peace of mind are vital, not only during a client’s challenging health situation, but also when they are the caregiver for a loved one. IDI policies with family caregiving benefits can help individuals prepare for those difficult times and allow them to focus on the people who are important to them, without worrying about income.
Sophia Horsman is the senior director of IDI claims for The Standard. In her20-plus years in the IDI claims arena, she has worked as a claims analyst and manager, and spent time in reinsurance as an account representative supporting major IDI carriers. She is a member of the Education and Disability committees of the International Claim Association (ICA) and has presented at multiple industry conferences. The Standard offers 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. Visit www.standard.com/di for more information.