Why do your clients need life insurance?

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I work with life insurance agents. And yes, there is always that awkward moment when the person that asked the question is praying you do not start to talk about life insurance. I always feel like a used-car salesman or that door-to-door magazine salesperson we all hide from.

I am curious why people are so afraid to acknowledge the need for life insurance. It must be that the general population has an issue with facing their own mortality. I get that, but at the same time, I find life insurance to be one of the most important quivers in your portfolio, especially given today’s economic instability.

I find it an honor to be able to offer an amazing solution that can keep a family living the lifestyle they are accustomed to when a terrible tragedy befalls them or providing a legacy to pass down from one generation to the next. I look at our profession as bringing a check to a grieving widow instead of a casserole. The casserole may feed the family for a day or two, but the check that we deliver after a loved one has passed away will feed, clothe, sustain and educate the family for years to come. What other profession can say that?

As an agent, you should be proud of what you do. You bring amazing comfort to a widow when everyone else can only offer sympathy. You give her proof that her husband loved her and their children because he had the foresight and intelligence to make certain his family would be provided for if something were to happen to him. That is an amazing gift that we give. I read an article that Ben Stein wrote called, “For the Sake of Your Loved Ones, Get Life Insurance.”

My husband had sent it to me, and it made me cry — not because it was an upsetting story, but because I could feel the heartfelt belief in insurance that Mr. Stein felt. It also reminded me of why my husband and I have insurance on ourselves, which is for the same reason we sell it — to look after each other from beyond the grave. That is powerful. It gets tough out there in the trenches, and a reminder like this article can reaffirm your resolve. If you get a chance, find this article and read it — better yet, give it to clients.

Emphasize financial protection
When you sit in front of a couple, do not be afraid to be direct. Let them know the impact of not purchasing this valuable benefit to their family. Ask them: what will your spouse do if you should pass tomorrow? Will he/she be able to pay the mortgage, pay the utilities, get groceries, pay for extracurricular activities for the children, pay for college all on his/her own, without the other spouse’s income? Can they live with themselves if they do not provide this critical need for the family?

I think, all too often, we as agents are worried about the word no. It is just a word. Don’t be afraid of what your clients will think of you. You are their advisor on very important financial issues. Make sure they understand the significance of their decisions. Give them examples of clients that let a policy lapse or decided not to buy coverage and left their family without any means to support themselves. We all have these stories, and these stories need to be shared.

If you think they need whole life instead of term, explain your stance, but if they still worry about the cost, put the term coverage on them and worry about converting later. The most important thing is to get the coverage in place for the family.

In today’s fluctuating economy, people should be flocking to their life insurance agents to purchase this very important legacy tool. Grandparents can purchase cash value life insurance to provide educational funding for their beloved grandchildren. The policy works whether Grandma or Grandpa lives or dies. That is a great legacy to leave for the next generation — the assurance of a college education.

Life insurance also gives families the opportunity to protect assets that have been accumulated over a lifetime. You should always make sure your clients’ wealth is preserved for years to come. They did not work so hard to accumulate their fortune only to have their beneficiaries pay Uncle Sam estate taxes. This is especially true if your client owns his or her own business.

There is a great deal of work to keep a business afloat; make sure you help your clients with their business continuation planning. Business continuation is usually not on the radar screen of your typical business owner, so it is your job to make sure the discussion is brought to the forefront.

Encourage early purchases
I hear the frustration from so many agents that they have clients who are incapable of making a decision. The agent has explained why coverage is needed, what will happen if the client does not purchase the benefit or why the client should buy whole life versus term. And yet the client will not sign the application or write the check. There are people that just refuse to do what is needed to protect their family and their assets.

For them, you give all of the facts and reasons for life insurance, then walk away knowing that you did your job, which was to present them with a solution to a very real problem. Not every person understands or believes in the value of what you do, and sometimes you have to walk away hoping that, at some point in the future, they see the value of life insurance before it is too late.

I often see clients come back to the agent realizing that their original decision was not the right one. In some instances, the coverage is put in place with no problem. Other times, the client’s health circumstance has changed dramatically, to the point of not being a reasonable risk to any insurance company or the rating on the policy becomes too big of a burden financially. This is usually something the client never anticipated. It happens all too often; I see it every day.

As clients get older, their health can and will change. A person who was once in top shape, running marathons, is now battling cancer, diabetes or cardiac issues. Even if we can find a carrier to insure the client, coverage may be too cost prohibitive. It is always best to purchase as much coverage as possible at a young age to avoid these unforeseen circumstances.

Insurance is far too important not to have in any client’s portfolio. Life insurance gives families the means to sustain their current lifestyle, even in the event of a tragedy. Be proud of the career you have chosen, for it is a noble one. No other profession can give proof of the love that a parent, grandparent, husband or wife has for their family.

Remember that when you sit across from your next prospect. Maybe instead of explaining how long you have been in the industry, explain why you got into the industry and what keeps you here. That may impact your clients more than anything else you may have to offer.

Kim Wilcox is a regional sales manager at Innovative Underwriters, an insurance brokerage agency in Philadelphia. She has more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry with expertise in impaired risk underwriting and advanced case design.

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