Advisors Open a Healthy Dialogue
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.
TERRY ZAVITZ, PRESIDENT, ZAVITZ INSURANCE
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