As women continue to excel in their careers and assume the role of breadwinner for their families, it’s important to speak with this demographic about the value of Individual Disability Insurance.
While the conversation around pay discrepancy and fewer advancement opportunities for women reverberates, there’s another gender disparity that many in our industry aren’t addressing: the need and opportunity to work with females to properly protect their income.
Traditionally, we’ve seen male clients approached more frequently about income protection — especially for sales around Individual Disability Insurance (IDI). The reason for this could stem from several misconceptions around women’s roles in providing for their families and status in the workplace. As women continue to excel in their careers and assume the role of breadwinner for their families, it’s important to speak with this demographic about the value of income protection.
Times are changing
Even today, many Americans still place a higher worth on men as financial providers. Based on research conducted with opposite sex couples, although women bring in half or more of the earnings in one-third of marriages, 71% of adults surveyed say it’s very important for a man to be able to support a family. But recent statistics draw our attention to the progress Gen X and Millennial women are making in educational attainments and professional development.
According to Pew Research Center, Gen X women were the first generation to outpace men in terms of educational achievement, with Gen X women being 3% more likely than men to have attained a bachelor’s degree. In 2017, Millennial women ages 21 to 36 were 7% more likely than men to have finished at least a bachelor’s degree (36% vs. 29%).2
43% of women live without a spouse or partner. For single women, the need for income protection becomes even more important.
Additionally, we are seeing women continue to become a larger part of the workforce year after year. Today, 71% of young Millennial women are employed.2 According to Pew Research Center, this shift of more women in the workplace started occurring almost 30 years ago with the Baby Boomer generation. At that point, nearly 7 in 10 young Baby Boomer women (66%) were employed.2
Increase in single, independent women
As women’s workforce representation continues to grow, it’s important to note the number of single, independent women in this demographic. Today, we are seeing more and more Americans remaining single by choice. Among women, 43% live without a spouse or partner.
For single women, the need for income protection becomes even more important. Should a single woman become unable to work, she would lack the additional income support that a spouse or partner could provide. This presents the opportunity to discuss with your single female clients the importance of income protection and how IDI can help ensure they’re protected if a disabling injury or sickness were to occur.
Making the case for income protection
Consider if one of your female clients, who is a surgeon with three kids, were to suffer from a debilitating accident and could no longer work. Without the proper income protection, her family could suffer. But with the proper income protection, your client could have peace of mind that she could still provide for her family, should a disabling event occur.
More than 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching retirement age… While this reality can be challenging to discuss, it’s important for your clients to understand how IDI could help in a tragic situation.
Often, disability is something many Americans, especially younger people, think can only affect others. But the reality is that disability is unpredictable and can happen to anyone at any age. More than 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching retirement age. This sobering statistic illustrates the value of income protection in the event a disabling accident occurs. While this reality can be challenging to discuss, it’s important for your clients to understand how IDI could help in a tragic situation.
Ways to stress the importance of income protection
Consider how you can connect with women about making their income protection needs a priority. Here are a few ways to start the conversation about IDI with your female clients:
Showcase the importance of income protection
While many women may think they have adequate income protection from other sources, such as long-term disability insurance or personal savings, many haven’t thought about how a serious illness or injury could impact their ability to earn an income and make ends meet. Put IDI into context for your client by discussing the income sources they would tap into when facing a serious health condition, as well as considering their overall expenses.
Discuss it as a way to care for family
A common misconception about IDI is that only the policyowner’s disability is covered. Explain to your female clients how an IDI policy that provides a family caregiving benefit can allow them to receive monthly payments for experiencing a loss of income when taking time away from work to care for a loved one – whether it be a spouse, domestic partner, parent or child – who’s facing a serious, long-term health condition. More than 4 in 10 (45%) Americans say that caregiving responsibilities fall mainly on women, while only 1% of Americans say they fall mainly on men. For this reason, it’s especially important for women to have the peace of mind IDI can offer, should they need to attend to family caregiving needs. That way, your client can take the time she needs to focus on her family, without worrying about her income.
Outline how it can help clients plan for the future
Women often think about themselves last. While their needs often take a backseat to those of their career or family, it’s important for you to discuss how they need to think of themselves first in this instance. Stress the importance of putting themselves first by protecting their income, and how other priorities can fall in line from there.
It’s clear that women hold a key part of the marketplace’s buying power. This presents you with the opportunity to focus on strategies to connect with female clients and help them take the necessary steps to protect their income. The trend of women joining, staying and excelling in the workforce shows no signs of slowing, so now is the time to ramp up your efforts for targeting women for IDI sales.
Stats show women now collect SSDI on par with men
To observe that women are just as likely to need income protection, look no further than the current breakdown of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries.
SSDI, which provides modest monetary benefits to workers who can no longer support themselves due to a serious and long-lasting medical impairment — protects everybody who can meet its stringent work-history and medical criteria. For many decades most of its beneficiaries were men, but that’s no longer true.
In the late 1980s, male SSDI beneficiaries still outnumbered females by 2 to 1. But now nearly equal numbers of men and women collect SSDI. In 1980, women past their mid-30s were only about half as likely as men to meet SSDI’s insurance criteria. Now they’re about 90% as likely.
Although women now essentially match men in terms of SSDI enrollment, they lag behind in average benefit. In Dec. 2017, the average woman disabled worker received a monthly benefit of $1,069 — nearly 20% smaller than men’s average amount, $1,320. Nearly 14% of men, but only 5% of women, received $2,000 a month or more.
Compared with men, women SSDI beneficiaries are somewhat more likely to qualify because of a mental or musculoskeletal impairment. They’re more likely to have cancer, but less likely to have circulatory disease or to have suffered a catastrophic injury.
SSDI is an important element of financial security for women workers and those who depend on them.
Source: “Women and disability insurance: Five facts you should know,” 3/14/18, by Kathy Ruffing of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan research and policy institute.
Jill Frohardt is a regional director of Individual Disability Insurance sales for The Standard. Frohardt is an experienced insurance wholesaler who enjoys working with distribution partners to expand their operations, create new markets and grow sales. 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 visit www.standard.com/di.
 Americans see men as the financial providers, even as women’s contributions grow; Pew Research Center; September 20, 2017; http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/20/americans-see-men-as-the-financial-providers-even-as-womens-contributions-grow/
 How millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago; Pew Research Center; March 16, 2018; http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/16/how-millennials-compare-with-their-grandparents/
 The share of Americans living without a partner has increased, especially among young adults; Pew Research Center; October 11, 2017; http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/10/11/the-share-of-americans-living-without-a-partner-has-increased-especially-among-young-adults/
 Gender and caregiving; Pew Social Trends; March 23, 2017; http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/03/23/gender-and-caregiving/