What's on my mind
by Woody Richen,
Vice President Individual Disability Insurance
The economy is on my mind. Not the headline-grabbing stories that will either make you very mad or very sad. But I'm thinking about just two questions: "How does The Standard thrive despite the economy?" and "Will the economic downturn make it harder for you to sell disability insurance?"
Fortunately, I do not have to worry about The Standard's financial health. The article on the facing page by our CEO, Eric Parsons speaks to our financial strength and strong balance sheet. As always, The Standard is managed to be financially strong, and the article describes how this has been confirmed by A.M. Best.
Careful financial management is absolutely critical for a disability insurance carrier because we are making long term promises. Should one of your customers have a disability, you want the carrier's total focus to be on providing service without any distractions from financial problems.
Naturally, we keep an eye on claims. When the economy is good and jobs are plentiful, it may be easier to work through pain or other conditions that might be disabling in some circumstances. However when times are tough, will there be the same motivation to stay on the job? At The Standard, we are not seeing any change in claim patterns that could be tied to the economy. But our claim practices remain consistent. All claimants are treated with respect, and claims which meet the contract definitions of disability are approved promptly.
I don't have as clear a picture on the second question, namely the effect of the economy on your business. I do know that we will continue to improve our services and offerings to try to make your job easier. On page 11 you can read about the premium reduction on The Protector+SM individual disability income insurance (approximately 12%!) and the issue limits increase for The Business Protector disability business overhead insurance and The Business Equity Protector disability buy/sell funding insurance.
At www.standard.com/di you will find quality marketing materials to support your sales endeavors. See page seven to read more about the direct mail piece you can use with your existing customers whose Future Purchase Option exercises are coming due.
Do you prefer customized sales materials? Try our Do-It-Yourself (DIY) pieces, to which you can easily add your contact information and then download instantly for those last minute opportunities with customers.
From the first meeting with your customers, throughout the years of your relationships, we help you make a good impression.
I know that potential customers will understand the importance of protecting their income in this economy and of aligning themselves with an experienced, stable DI company like The Standard. Selling disability insurance has never been easy, but most of your potential customers are still securely employed and despite the difficulty, it is still your job to offer them this valuable protection. Steve Brady's article in this issue offers inspired wisdom for those sales.
Even though my crystal ball is not completely clear, I believe that you will do what you have always done: take care of your customers and The Standard will be right there, helping you do it.