Ad­vi­sors Open a Healthy Di­a­logue

Investment Executive - - ADVISORS’ REPORT CARD -

When he’s train­ing in­sur­ance ad­vi­sors, Jon Cop­ple al­ways sug­gests they ask clients this sim­ple ques­tion: Do you know what you’d do if you couldn’t go to work to­mor­row? It can be hard for clients to wrap their heads around that, says Cop­ple, Direc­tor, Ad­vi­sor De­vel­op­ment, with RBC In­sur­ance. Peo­ple may do a good job of think­ing about how to pro­tect their fam­ily if they die pre­ma­turely, or how to en­sure they don’t out­live their sav­ings. There are plans for those. But there’s of­ten a gap when it comes to men­tal health. “Many peo­ple fail to plan for a health event along the way,” says Cop­ple. “You need to—and men­tal health makes up a stag­ger­ing num­ber of claims.” Any­body’s well-be­ing re­volves around many fac­tors. Chief among them are their phys­i­cal and men­tal health, abil­ity to work, and fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity. Ef­fec­tive dis­abil­ity in­sur­ance with spe­cial­ized men­tal health cov­er­age, like RBC In­sur­ance’s On­ward pro­gram, can sup­port clients’ well-be­ing in a big way. “With On­ward, you have faster ac­cess to sup­port,” says Terry Zavitz, Pres­i­dent of Zavitz In­sur­ance in Lon­don, Ont. “It’s a so­phis­ti­cated men­tal health pro­gram.” Mak­ing the case for dis­abil­ity in­sur­ance gives ad­vi­sors more lib­erty to broach the sen­si­tive topic of men­tal health. Alexan­dria Sham, an In­sur­ance Ad­vi­sor with RBC In­sur­ance in Cal­gary, starts by talk­ing to clients about pro­tect­ing their largest as­set—not their home or an in­vest­ment, but their earn­ing po­ten­tial. The threat to in­come and life­style is big­ger than many peo­ple imag­ine. Sham notes that dis­abil­i­ties are all too com­mon, and not all are vis­i­ble. A bro­ken leg may take six to eight weeks to heal. How long does it take the mind? You can’t put a ban­dage on men­tal health prob­lems, says Sham. You need to get the right help at the right time to treat the con­di­tion, so you don’t up­end your life. Sham calls the On­ward pro­gram for­ward-think­ing in of­fer­ing men­tal health sup­port and ad­vo­cacy as part of a dis­abil­ity pack­age. On­ward ad­dresses a lead­ing cause of dis­abil­ity in Canada, one that’s also un­der­treated. The Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion says 49% of peo­ple who feel they’ve had de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety have never seen a doc­tor about it. Many peo­ple keep work­ing when they should be at­tend­ing to their health; oth­ers take off work with no timely or ap­pro­pri­ate as­sis­tance in place. Zavitz tells clients that they’re far more likely to ex­pe­ri­ence a dis­abil­ity than death be­fore age 65. “No­body ever ex­pects it to hap­pen to them, but when it does it can be fi­nan­cially dev­as­tat­ing,” she says. “But there is a so­lu­tion.” Many peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence mul­ti­ple or con­cur­rent dis­abil­i­ties, adds Cop­ple. He says it’s im­por­tant for ad­vi­sors to con­vey that men­tal health is­sues are not only a pri­mary rea­son for dis­abil­ity claims but also a fre­quent sec­ondary out­come. For ex­am­ple, peo­ple can ex­pe­ri­ence post-trau­matic stress af­ter an in­jury, or de­pres­sion af­ter heart surgery or can­cer.

No­body ever ex­pects it to hap­pen to them, but when it does it can be fi­nan­cially dev­as­tat­ing.


When it comes to men­tal health, rapid ac­cess to care is crit­i­cal. “The longer you wait, the more likely it will be­come an even big­ger is­sue,” says Cop­ple. He says an­other com­pelling ar­gu­ment is On­ward’s abil­ity to de­liver treat­ment at home. As Cop­ple notes, peo­ple with men­tal health is­sues of­ten have real or per­ceived bar­ri­ers to re­ceiv­ing care. For ex­am­ple, the very anx­i­ety that’s cre­at­ing a men­tal health cri­sis for some­one can pre­vent that per­son from ven­tur­ing into the com­mu­nity to seek treat­ment. So home-based in­ter­ven­tions are a huge ben­e­fit. To Sham, rais­ing the topic of dis­abil­ity in­sur­ance and men­tal health opens the door. “If I bring it up, peo­ple feel more open to talk about it,” she says. “That’s when they say they know some­one with a men­tal ill­ness— we all do—or say they’ve had their own bout. Peo­ple don’t have to suf­fer in si­lence. They can get the help they need.”

If I bring it up, peo­ple feel more open to talk about it. Peo­ple don’t have to suf­fer in si­lence. ALEXAN­DRIA SHAM, IN­SUR­ANCE AD­VI­SOR, RBC IN­SUR­ANCE

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