Disability insurance has been doing fine, on a rollercoaster. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Insurers, agents and brokers started the 11th annual Disability Insurance Awareness Month campaign today without much ceremony.

Organizers at Life Happens and the Council for Disability Awareness are doing their best to warn employers and consumers about the need for workers to insure their income while the insurance industry rides a policy rollercoaster.

The life and health insurers write that most U.S. disability insurance plans face the effects of prolonged low interest rates on their investment earnings and confusion in Washington about how major medical coverage will work in 2018.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s efforts to impose a fiduciary standard on sellers of indexed annuities has distracted the many insurers and producers that offer disability insurance alongside life insurance and annuities.

U.S. disability insurance sales and profits appear to be holding up reasonably well. Unum Group, for example, recently reported that its first-quarter group disability sales were just a little lower than in the first quarter of 2016, and that operating income was holding steady, at a time when insurers are reporting swings in the performance of products such as annuity contracts and individual major medical policies.

Even though disability units are doing pretty well, all of the other turmoil appears to be eating the time and resources insurers might have invested in the DIAM campaign 10 years ago.

Some of the insurers that organized major DIAM campaigns in the early 2000s are focusing this year mainly on promoting other organizations’ DIAM materials, or their DIAM materials from a few years ago.

The American Council of Life Insurers has tried to amplify the DIAM campaign’s message with a press release encouraging Americans to assess their disability insurance needs.

“Serious disabilities occur more often than people realize,” the ACLI warns. “According to the Social Security Administration, one out of four 20-year-olds in the U.S. will become disabled and unable to work before they reach retirement age.”

The list of insurers supporting the campaign includes Anthem Inc., Cigna Corp., MetLife Inc. and Sun Life Financial U.S. as well as Unum.

Unum posted the Council for Disability Awareness disability risk calculator on its WorkWell website, along with a new article by Chris Winston, a Unum communications article. Winston encourages visitors to use the calculator to calculate their “PDQs,” or “personal disability quotient.”

Some agents and brokers are supporting the effort, by producing their own campaign materials or by using materials from the Council for Disability Awareness or Life Happens.

Market Financial Group is an example of a firm that is posting a two-minute Disability 101 video from Life Happens on its YouTube channel. The video gives viewers basic information about how often disability occurs, why most cases of disability are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance, and how private disability insurance works.