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Lights, Camera, Action!

The Hartford sponsors documentary to encourage business partners' understanding of disability issues.

In hopes of encouraging the hiring and retention of people with disabilities and to raise awareness about the need for disability insurance, The Hartford Financial Services sponsored the New York and Los Angeles premieres and advanced screenings of the documentary "MURDERBALL." The Hartford (Hartford; $22.7 billion in 2004 revenues) provides disability insurance through its underwriting companies Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co., Hartford Life Insurance Co., and Hartford Life Group Insurance Co.

"MURDERBALL," released by THINKfilm on July 7 and winner of the Documentary Audience Award and a special Jury Prize for Editing at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, is a documentary about the U.S. Quadraplegic Rugby Team's quest for gold at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. Quadraplegic players compete in custom-made, armored wheelchairs in a specialized version of the full-contact sport, combining elements of hockey, basketball and football in what was originally called murderball.

"We are mainly reaching out to two audiences - one is with employers to continue a dialogue with them about people with disabilities leading active, productive lives and fostering an attitude that reflects getting recently disabled employees back to work and offering more reentry opportunities," says Dick Mucci, EVP and director of The Hartford's group benefit division. "The second audience is producers and brokers - to help educate them about our philosophy, which is that people with disabilities are out there leading active, productive and meaningful lives, and that disability insurance is an important part of that," he continues. "This way, producers and brokers can carry our message to their clients so they can be effective ambassadors."

The Hartford's ongoing support of elite athletes with disabilities began in 1993, when it partnered with a group of paralympic athletes and formed The Hartford's Team Ability. In 2003, The Hartford became founding corporate partner of U.S. Paralympics. But film gives The Hartford a new way to champion its message to a larger American audience.

The Hartford has linked its corporate Web site ( to the movie's site ( "The paralympic movement - one of world class athletes - and this film share our vision to dispel misunderstandings and misperceptions of what it means to be disabled," says Mucci. "The film, Web site links and sponsorships will help us apply our philosophy and better manage disability claims, working with our business partners to financially support and provide resources for people who are trying to get back to their lives."

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