“And Here’s How I Sold That BIG CASE” – Part 4
Top Producers Share the Secrets Behind Their Hard Won Cases
THE LORE OF THE INSURANCE business is strewn with tales about big insurance cases that fizzled. But some professionals have a far more compelling story to tell: how they landed a really big case despite client uncertainty, complex needs and wants, and very long timelines. Following are examples from advisors who have successfully landed big cases in life insurance, annuities or estate planning. These stories are rich with detail about working with high-net-worth clientele. They show clients who don’t want to plan, others who object and quibble, and still others who don’t want to spend a dime, not even on themselves. They showcase advisors who overcame hurdles with patience, perseverance and sensitivity to each client’s unique circumstances, needs and emotions. The strategies vary from case to case, but most share a few common threads. The big case experts work with, and through, other professionals in the community who serve high-net-worth clients; listen to what the client wants and what the client’s other advisors are saying and then address the underlying need; don’t pander to the clients; do educate the clients; and work on the case for a long time, sometimes as long as a year or more. Each advisor agrees that big cases are complex. It is their job to pull the pieces together into an orderly and effective solution.
For David E. Appel, a referral from a trusted advisor of a client is a very important element in landing big cases. So is involving the adult children and trustees of his clients. The managing partner of Goldwasser Appel Insurance Advisors, Appel cites the following example. The referral came from a CPA. The CPA had asked Appel to do an analysis of eight life insurance policies owned by a married couple. The man, age 70, was a top executive who was just then retiring from a public company. The woman, age 67, had already retired from her work as a physician. The policies had been written by two agents with whom the couple was “not happy.” “The CPA referral was very important,” Appel says, explaining that “the trust you gain when another trusted advisor brings you into the client’s world is huge.” Advisors can’t get in to see highnet- worth clients by cold-calling or even by getting referrals from friends, he says. About the case: “It was important to the couple—though not critical—that they reduce their outlay and increase their death benefit,” Appel says. The combined premium for all eight policies was $500,000 a year, and the combined death benefit was $15 million. Appel examined the contracts and found nothing particularly wrong with them. However, the couple was going to make a significant outlay for the policies over the next 15 years, he says, “and that would impact their cash flow.” The solution: Replace four contracts that had been underperforming which would have required the longest amount of outlay based on current dividend scales. The combined death benefit of these four was $12 million. (Appel recommended keeping the four remaining contracts, which together had a total death benefit of $3 million.) The couple went through underwriting, Appel says, and they qualified for $17 million from three companies. To make it work, the couple rolled over the $2.5 million cash value from the four old contracts into three new UL policies with no-lapse lifetime guarantees. The new policies included two second-to-die ULs with face amounts of $5 million and $2 million, respectively, and one $10 million individual UL on the husband. The result? “We were able to raise the couple’s total death benefit to $20 million from the previous $15 million ($17 million from the three new policies plus $3 million from the remaining four policies). We also lowered the total annual premium outlay to $175,000 from the original $500,000.” The adult children of the couple were the trustees on the insurance trusts, and they were involved in the entire sale, Appel says. Such involvement is important in large cases, he maintains, because it helps build trust. That can help build up business, too, he says, noting that “two of the three trustees have now become clients of mine.” Start to finish, the case took eight months. However, most big cases take 12 to 18 months, Appel says. He believes this particular case went faster because “everyone followed through to a T. Everything I asked them to do, they did.”