Late winter and spring quickly morph into awards season – think Academy Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, sales league tables – so it’s time to the ask the question: Why don’t we hear more about agent programs that have prevented loss and made people whole again?
Not that they don’t exist, mind you.
My former employer, a commercial property-casualty magazine, was no stranger to recognizing loss prevention programs among corporate risk managers.
Every year the educational nonprofit Life Happens singles out life agents for their work in protecting families through life, disability and long-term care coverage. We have even featured some of the honorees on InsuranceNewsNet magazine’s pages.
Still, I bet we can all name who won “best actor,” but can’t name a single agent-generated loss-prevention initiative.
That’s a shame because agents work hard every day to protect their clients but never receive much public recognition for it.
Words of thanks typically trickle in from clients after the claim has been processed or when insureds are asked to speak at national conventions.
Instead, companies and industry spend thousands of dollars to recognize and promote top producers — those who sold the most policies or premium volumes over the previous calendar year.
Certainly, agents appreciate those gestures and I’m not suggesting we do away with them by any means.
No one can deny the industry’s bias – indeed every industry’s bias – toward sales and growth, whether it be from producer groups like the Middle-Dollar Round Table, the National Association for Insurance and Financial Advisors or the latest standings atop the annuity or life insurance league tables.
Who won “best agent” for his or her loss-prevention program that minimized hazards or household risk in the first place? Who took home the national award for the best life-and-annuity-in-retirement make whole award?
Nobody – because such programs usually don’t exist. If they do, these “expense protection” programs can’t compete with programs that reward revenue generation.
We obsess over celebrating and rewarding the rich, those who made millions.
Their success often came at huge personal or professional sacrifice.
Yet we never celebrate the ordinary or the merely happy, those who avoided silly mistakes, steered clear of undue risk, made sure they were protected with a sound backup or “make whole” plan.
Those are the folks who cruised through life with few errors, finished every "race" midtable, yet in the end reached their goals whole.
Insurers and distributors would do well to spend more time recognizing agents’ efforts at minimizing loss as they do celebrating the maximization of gain.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at email@example.com.
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