It's hard to a imagine a prospect who hasn't thought about life insurance before seeking out professional planning help. Yet while most have contemplated financial protection in case of an untimely demise, many have done little or nothing in case of an untimely accident or illness. Too many clients believe that a workplace disability policy will be sufficient. Others are put off by the complex process and paperwork that's often significantly more detailed than what's required for life insurance.
When it comes to discussing the potential merits of disability insurance, how many planners practice what they preach? Many, to be sure, but those who haven't or are inadequately protected may find themselves unexpectedly seen as the planner who didn't properly plan for the unknown. Consider these examples:
Adam Leone, principal and wealth manager at Modera Wealth Management in Westwood, N.J., tells us in our cover story that he bought life and disability protection shortly after getting married seven years ago and buying a new home. "It was time to be a grown-up," the 35-year-old CFP says. "If something happens to me and I can't work, I don't want to worry about the mortgage. New clients come in and they want to talk about what investments they should have," Leone says. "We try to put the brakes on that activity and talk about risk management. We can't control the markets, but there are risks we can control."
Another planner recounts the severe constraints after she was hit by an SUV while crossing the street. Sarah Carlson Rieger of Fulcrum Financial Group of Spokane, Wash., says her associate and assistant had to take over the practice and handle client needs, but her firm's dedicated wealth management work had to be put on the shelf. "The income from servicing went toward the business," she explains. "But the business was no longer profitable. All the profit dried up because I was the rainmaker, and I was out." Without disability protection, the financial pressures may have toppled everythiing she and her colleagues were building. Indeed, disability is cited as the leading cause of foreclosures and bankruptcies.
Southern California planner Jim Heitman, president of Compass Financial, notes that "clients are sold on life insurance because they buy the whole 'What if I get hit by a bus?'..." he says. "But what happens if you get hit by the bus and you don't die?"