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Striking the Emotional Spark That Leads to Buying Short-Term DI

Short-term disability insurance was first introduced more than 70 years ago, yet just a fraction of employees are familiar with these products and the value associated with them. It’s no surprise, then, that employees who have access to short-term disability insurance at work are slow to purchase it. For carriers, this translates into a less than 40 percent participation rate by employees and a perpetual headache of trying to figure out how to convince potential buyers to purchase this seemingly inexpensive and exceedingly beneficial insurance policy.

In order to get in-depth and honest opinions from employees about their decision process, LIMRA conducted a series of focus group conversations. Employees from 22 companies met and discussed their concerns with short-term disability insurance, and why they did or didn’t elect to purchase it. It became evident that the reason employees don’t purchase is they don’t understand the product or its value. LIMRA found that the major challenge carriers face is how to create an initial spark — connecting with them emotionally — in order to get employees to want to learn more. 

Focus group participants were not shy about giving their best advice on how to grab their attention and make them more likely to buy short-term disability products. An honest discussion among them presented a simple, but inventive tactic that carriers should consider when approaching short-term disability sales. Here is what employees told us.


» Change the name of “short-term disability insurance,” so I am not thinking about morbid health issues that can happen to me. Instead, focus on the positive things that this insurance will give me at the time of need. Make it catchy to get my attention!


» Originate specific scenarios for someone like me, and explain why I need this coverage. That will “hook me” as an individual.


» Narrate in common language — one that I understand!  Tell me the key details of short-term disability insurance and explain how it works.


» Navigate straight to the point — build communications that are “short and sweet.”  Don’t make me read the entire book on short-term disability insurance!


» Explore a variety of channels to reach me, such as emails, pamphlets, TV ads and billboards. Nothing is off-limits.


» Create an app or other tool to help me investigate more about benefits. I need a techy solution to play out different scenarios!


» Tell me the cost. How much will I spend, and what will I get for my money?


It is clear from the focus group discussions that before making any purchase, consumers want to establish some sort of emotional connection to the product. The emotional bond is followed by a psychological relationship that links abstract short-term disability insurance terminology with each unique individual’s life. Whatever decision the consumer makes, it’s all about feeling good psychologically.

Carriers need to evoke positive sentiments about short-term disability insurance before they call on intellectual content, such as key benefit statistics, to help employees fine-tune their decision process. To purchase short-term disability insurance, individuals need to know benefit cost and what it covers, but to begin the process they must first connect to the product. Emotional, psychological, and intellectual connections are all organic steps of the complex purchasing process and the source of successful employee motivation.


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