Empowering female consumers with benefits education

By Audrey Tillman


By focusing in on the female demographic, selling the advantages of voluntary insurance to this market can become a lucrative part of your business.

Advisors continue to find ways to grow their businesses, often by entering new market niches. One way to help generate growth is to look at segments of the population that have a greater need for specific insurance products, particularly those that have the incentive to take decisive action.

National Women's Health Week (May 13-19) presents an opportunity for advisors to promote the benefits of voluntary insurance, both individual and group plans, to their clients in support of the unique health needs of their female employees.

According to the 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report, only one-third of women agree that their family will be financially prepared in the event of an unexpected emergency.1 Advisors can help businesses empower women with the additional tools they need to prepare for rising health care costs, especially year-round out-of-pocket and unexpected expenses.

Why should advisors target the female market?

Today, women make up 59.5 percent of the workforce.2 And statistics show that many of these women face a higher risk of disability than their male counterparts. In fact, a 35-year-old woman in a professional career is three times as likely as a man of the same age to become disabled for three months or more, according to the Journal of the American Society of Certified Life Underwriters.3

Many women may fail to realize the high risk of disability, or the associated costs, which can be as high as 20 times a person’s annual salary.4

As women start their families, advance their careers and build their homes, protecting their income becomes increasingly critical. If a sudden accident or illness takes these individuals away from their jobs for a period of time, it could result in temporary loss of income and financial challenges for the individual and the family.

Selling critical illness and cancer plans to women

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 1 in 4 women will die from heart disease, and coronary heart disease — the most common type of heart disease — is the number one killer of women in the United States.5 In addition, one-third of women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, according to the American Cancer Society.6

However, most women are in denial about their risk of developing a critical illness or cancer. According to the Aflac study, 55 percent of workers think it’s “not very likely or not at all likely” they or a family member will be diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes. In addition, 62 percent of workers think it’s “not very likely or not at all likely” they or a family member will be diagnosed with cancer.1

Critical illness coverage usually offers benefits for heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other potential illnesses that often have high associated costs, many of which aren’t covered by major medical insurance. With women at such a high risk for heart disease and cancer, purchasing a critical illness or cancer plan could help provide a financial safety net for themselves and their families.

This is important to consumers, because finances are one of the top concerns people have about being diagnosed with a critical illness such as cancer. According to the Community Oncology Alliance, a recent study found 69 percent of Americans are more concerned about paying for treatments if diagnosed with cancer, than actually dying from the disease.7 Thus, it’s essential that insurance advisors educate women on how the right coverage can safeguard their finances.

Women = opportunity

Growing your client base requires thinking creatively and providing relevant solutions to female policyholders and potential customers, even if supplemental coverage is not top of mind for them. It’s crucial to convey to business decision-makers the importance of educating female employees on the benefits of critical illness and cancer plans. By focusing in on the female demographic, selling the advantages of voluntary insurance to this market can become a lucrative part of your business.

1 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report, a study conducted by Research Now for Aflac, February 2012.
2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Women in the Labor Force Databook: 2009 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/cps/wlf-intro-2009.htm.
3 Journal of the American Society of Certified Life Underwriters, cited by U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce Insurance at http://www.uswccinsurance.com/why-do-i-care/, accessed on May 1, 2012.
4 “The Impact of Disability,” a study by LIFE Foundation and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), 2009, conducted by Milliman, Inc., http://www.ahip.org/content/pressrelease.aspx?docid=27016.
5 National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, September 26, 2011, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hdw/.
6 Cancer Facts and Figures 2012, American Cancer Society.
7 Community Oncology Alliance, Opinion Research Corporation survey conducted June 26-30, 2009.