May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month

May 21 | 2020
By: Carol Harnett
President for The Council for Disability Awareness
insurance benefits
We are in the Disability Insurance Awareness Month 2020 during a once-in-a-century time period. Two months ago, few Americans understood the impact this novel coronavirus and COVID-19 would have on our business and personal lives. The good news is that after about six weeks of operating with new precautions governing many of our daily activities, we know more about this virus as well as how people are responding to and behaving during a pandemic.

One positive impact The Council for Disability Awareness found upon our industry is individual disability insurance carriers are reporting extremely strong sales. One carrier indicated they have more applications and more pending applications for IDI than ever before. And some agents reported to one CDA member that their calls are being readily returned and their clients are more engaged and willing to proceed.

We are seeing the same phenomenon with life insurance sales. Many people believe that “COVID-19 has become a catalyst for many people who put off [buying]… insurance.”

We all would agree that interest in buying individual disability coverage is a good thing for consumers. We know far too many stories about the financial devastation faced by people who needed to leave the workplace due to injuries or illnesses without the benefits of this coverage.

So, how do we talk with people about disability insurance in the time of COVID-19?

Peter Sandman, a well-respected risk communication consultant, developed a framework for how to discuss risk. He coined an equation long ago that summarizes how people assess risk:
Risk = Hazard* + Outrage**

*Hazard: how much harm is the risk likely to do
**Outrage: how upset the risk is likely to make people

Dr. Sandman says that, most often when we speak with people about risks, there is an incredibly low correlation between a risk’s “hazard” and its “outrage.” During times like these, however – when hazard is high and outrage is also high – our focus is “crisis communication.” Essentially, we want to help appropriately upset people cope with serious risks with an approach of: “We’ll get through this together.”

During 2020, the recommendation from The CDA and its member companies as to how to approach Disability Insurance Awareness Month is to:

  • Take Action.
  • Provide Information.
  • Give Support.

Take Action: Now is the time to check in with current and prospective clients. The income interruption they are witnessing across our country coupled with their heightened sense of both hazard and outrage makes DIAM a key time to listen to their concerns.

Provide Information: During times of stress and crisis, we must shift our communication tactics. People don’t want to feel as though they’re being lectured; they need fewer details than normal; and human stories are more compelling than statistics – especially stories that are personal to you.

Give Support: Your clients want to know how we’ll get through this time and prepare for the future. Use your well-honed consultation skills to listen and respond with simple steps that lets them move forward with as much ease as possible.

The information provided at the end of this email includes a link that will take you to The CDA’s “DIAM 2020” campaign. We updated all the graphics with the most current information. And, yes, the statistics slides many of you love to use are included.

New to this campaign are graphics specific to DIAM during this crisis. For the first time, we created visuals and materials to discuss business overhead expense insurance. We believed the current times warrant discussing this coverage with business owners.

As in previous DIAM campaigns, we’ve included copy that you may use in your social media channels to accompany the graphics. And we’ve updated our annual fact sheet.

If you’d like even more detail about how to approach DIAM 2020, consider listening to this podcast. Maxwell Schmitz interviewed Fred Schott, The CDA’s Director of Research and Operations, and me recently on Plan Francisco about DIAM and how we should approach talking about disability insurance during this time.


Downloadable Factsheet
Our 2020 factsheet includes up-to-date information about the state of disability coverage in the U.S and can be viewed and downloaded from the CDA website.


Downloadable Social Media Content

We have created a series of infographics you can share and post to highlight the critical data from our fact sheet and spark conversation. We encourage you to share these materials on your social media channels and through your own campaigns. These can also be downloaded from the CDA website.



Also please don’t forget you can reference our blog and its robust library of articles.  Here you can dive deeper on topics surrounding disability coverage including paid leave, social security disability insurance, supplemental income protection, and retirement planning to name a few.

Thank you for all you do to support your clients. Please don’t hesitate to contact me and others at The Council for Disability Awareness during DIAM and throughout the year.