A Conversation with the Council for Disability Awareness


In this episode of Plan Francisco, Maxwell talks with Carol Harnett and Fred Schott of the Council for Disability Awareness about changes in work and life since COVID-19 and how Disability Insurance Awareness Month (DIAM) will look different this year. Listen at our homepage.


The CDA is a virtual organization that raises awareness about the need for disability income and broader financial security. Much like a general agency, they must balance their messaging between two audiences: brokers/ advisors and consumers. “You’re both a person and a company as a brand,” Carol said.


At the beginning of the pandemic, Carol and Fred posted on their personal social media profiles, despite the CDA wanting to publicly stay out of the spotlight on CV19. They felt a responsibility to say something as individuals, however, and their conversation focused on what was happening from a working adult perspective, including advice for employers on how to offset employee concerns.


Then the search was on for credible data sources. They found the COVID tracking project, which among other factors, shows health impact data by state. Fred and Carol needed such data in order to tailor their content appropriately to different regions.


The CDA has a large social media presence (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) with an audience compiled of both advisors and consumers, so they understand the balance they must keep when developing messaging. For the CDA, the rule of thumb is that the consumer comes first. They make a conscious decision to share information that feels fresh, less served or shared, relevant, and positive. They share what consumers want to know or are concerned about in a positive way to relieve worry.


One piece of data they’ve found is that a leading economic indicator by region and population is Social Security Disability Insurance. There was no way to know how many people are covered by private individual disability insurance until the CDA organized an effort to collect that information from relevant carriers and associations. That number is about 51 million.


When Carol asked her network what individual disability insurance applications were looking like since the coronavirus outbreak, she saw an increase. One carrier stated that sales are strong. This suggests that consumers are more engaged and willing to proceed with obtaining IDI. Of course, the CDA (and anyone else in the industry) does not want to appear opportunistic, but it is important to recognize that people are willing to talk about this and are applying. Loosened underwriting guidelines may be helping that uptick.


Finally, the CDA will be introducing BOE and Buy/Sell to their DIAM campaign this year due to the emphasis on helping business owners stay afloat right now. They encourage business owners with current coverage to check with their carriers to see if any of their circumstances fall under the right to a benefit.


Learn more about the CDA at their website and connect with Carol or Fred on LinkedIn.

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