By Jason Patterson
“We just got a notice that my wife’s life insurance policy premium is set to triple.”
That’s what a friend told me when he realized that I work in the life insurance industry. I’m sure you can guess the issue – it’s a term policy about to enter into the annually renewable term phase. He didn’t understand what was going on and was looking for help, and their life insurance agent was missing in action.
After reminding him that I’m neither a licensed insurance agent nor in sales, I offered to visit their house to verify what was going on and to give them some ideas on life insurance options before they reconnected with their insurance agent. The results of that meeting were a good reminder to me of the importance of this field and of the work to be done in educating and serving those in our sphere of influence.
Kitchen Table Education
When we began our discussion, I knew it would be a fruitful time for two reasons: They were very interested, and we were sitting around the mythical kitchen table that I always hear about! It turned out that not only was her 15-year term policy about to go into its ART phase, but his term policy would do the same in three months. We looked at the ART premiums, which showed them that both policies would soon become unaffordable.
As they were familiar only with term insurance and final expense insurance, I set about explaining how permanent insurance works. It was eye-opening for them in many ways. They were surprised at the options available (whole life, guaranteed universal life, current assumption universal life, indexed universal life, variable universal life), at the flexibility of design and at the plethora of features available.
The idea of having a life insurance policy that can be guaranteed to age 92 but can potentially last to age 121 (which they laughed at), thanks to the cash values, was amazing to them. The increase in cost due to their older age and desire to get a permanent solution instead of another term policy was surprising but not an immediate end to the conversation. Two add-on features really captured their attention – long term care/chronic illness riders and wellness discounts. These features, which they never imagined would be available in a life insurance product, helped them to narrow down the huge array of choices to a few product options.
My friends are the definition of the middle market - they live in a modest home and save what they can. Not to mention they are some of the nicest folks you’d ever want to meet. They don’t have a lot of disposable income for life insurance, although they recognize its value. We talked about what they can afford now and in the future, as well as what other steps they have taken to prepare for retirement. The flexibility of product design helped them to see different ways to structure a policy that could meet many of their needs while fitting into their budget.
My friends have two grown children and two grandchildren, but since they only knew about term and final expense insurance, they hadn’t considered that there could be an opportunity to leave a substantial legacy for their children and grandchildren. This one piece of knowledge, which we in the industry take for granted, made them pause the process because they suddenly had a lot to talk about.
What’s The Takeaway?
Our industry has changed so much in just the past 15 years that your clients might be surprised that some of their concerns can be alleviated with life insurance. Remember that your role as a financial professional should include:
- Keeping in touch with your clients.
- Educating your clients on features they might not expect to find in a life insurance policy.
- Discussing their current and future budget.
- Learning about changes in their lives and in their kids’ lives.
You could solve their issues, strengthen your relationships, and realize new sales.
As for me, my payment was knowing that I helped educate them on their product options, that they began to take a hard look at their budget to prioritize life insurance protection, and that they began to seriously think about what they want to leave behind for their kids and grandkids. My spending time with them filled an educational void from their lack of having a designated insurance professional - and helped them understand the need to work with one to implement solutions. Oh, and I got a delicious Chick-Fil-A meal out of it as well.
Jason Patterson, ALMI, ACS, is a life product analyst at Crump Life Insurance Services. Jason may be contacted at [email protected].
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