NEW YORK--(The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian) has teamed up with the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) and the CDA’s other member companies to launch the Defend Your Income movement, an innovative effort to unite consumers, advisors, employers and insurers in the fight to protect the incomes of working Americans from the financial risks of serious illness or injury.)--
“It’s difficult to convey the risks associated with disability – especially to young people, who assume they’re invincible”
According to the Social Security Administration, more than one in four of today’s new entrants to the workforce will experience an income-disrupting disability at some point during their careers. However, CDA research from earlier this year shows that the majority of Americans significantly underestimate their odds of disability as being less than 2 percent. Worse yet, more than 70 percent of employees are not covered by long-term disability insurance.
“It’s difficult to convey the risks associated with disability – especially to young people, who assume they’re invincible,” said Lawrence Hazzard, Vice President of Product Strategy for Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, the Guardian company that issues individual disability income insurance.
Hazzard – a member of the CDA’s executive board and the parent of two Gen Y college graduates – added that the industry has to take a completely new approach to engage consumers, particularly those just entering the workforce, to learn about their risks and feel empowered to take action. And, he believes, the Defend Your Income movement is an important first step.
“By incorporating a cutting-edge gaming component, this campaign presents a topic that young people – or those of any age – would rather not discuss in a way that is dynamic and easy to grasp,” he noted.
The hub of the Defend Your Income program is a highly interactive web experience. Set in a martial arts dojo, the site invites visitors to actively learn how to protect their most valuable asset: the ability to earn an income. Players can meet their “attackers” (who have names like the Dreaded C), learn about the threat each poses and use that knowledge to fight them off in an interactive game. Through a series of interactive quizzes, they can also earn their “black belt” in Income Defense. And they can calculate their own Earnable Income Quotient to see what’s at stake – namely, their lifetime earning potential.
“Our own research at Guardian shows that younger workers feel strongly about the financial value of their work,” commented Hazzard. “It’s incumbent on those of us who provide income protection solutions to empower them to defend that asset throughout their working lives, and this movement has the potential to reach more of them than a traditional educational campaign would.”
A mutual insurer founded in 1860, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and its subsidiaries are committed to protecting individuals, business owners and their employees with life, disability income and dental insurance products, and offer funding vehicles for 401(k) plans, annuities and other financial products. Guardian operates one of the largest dental networks in the United States, and protects more than six million employees and their families at 115,000 companies. The company has approximately 5,000 employees in the United States and a network of over 3,000 financial representatives in more than 80 agencies nationwide. For more information about Guardian, please visit www.GuardianLife.com.
The Council for Disability Awareness is a non-profit group dedicated to helping the American workforce become aware of the likelihood of disability and its financial consequences. The CDA engages in communications, research and educational activities that provide information and helpful resources to wage earners, their families, the media, employers, financial advisors, consultants and other who are concerned about disability and the impact it can have on wage earners and their families.