Let’s face it, buying life insurance isn’t something someone dreams about doing. It’s not like going out and buying a new car or getting that 65-inch flat screen TV that we’ve all been fantasizing about.
Buying life insurance is more like getting one’s teeth cleaned. We know that we need to, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of us will put it off as long as possible!
Which is why…
We wanted to take a moment and discuss what one should look for when choosing a life insurance agent to work with because the last thing that you want to do is go actually go through the process of “buying” a life insurance policy only to find out later that you ended up paying too much for your insurance, or even worse, you ended up purchasing the wrong KIND!
This is particularly important…
When considering something like purchasing a convertible term life, or something involved like whole life insurance for estate planning, because these “types” of life insurance policies/strategies tend to get a bit more complex than let’s say a first year life insurance agent or someone who simply sells life insurance on the side will be prepared to help you out with.
We here and I&E believe that the key to finding the right policy, at the right price is achieved by first choosing an agent that:
- Takes time to understand what you hope to achieve by purchasing your life insurance policy.
- Understands what health and lifestyle choices you bring to the underwriting process (Which will play a role in determining which insurance carrier may be the “best” bet for you).
- And has access to dozens of different insurance carriers (Some of which may not require a medial exam) so that they aren’t dependent on just one or two options when determining what is going to be the BEST option for you.
Which brings us to…
How you the consumer can quickly decide if you’re working with an insurance agent who is an “insurance professional” vs someone that is simply processing an application in a large telemarketing insurance agency.
4 Characteristics of the Best Life Insurance Adviser
There are a few important things to look for to identify the best life insurance adviser as follows:
- Someone Who Understands You
- Someone Who Has a Depth of Knowledge and Experience
- Someone Who is a Trusted Adviser
- Someone Who Has the Appropriate Licenses
Someone who understands you may seem obvious, yet is critical for your life insurance agent to understand your financial situation and values. This means they should have a seek to learn and get a grasp of things like your attitude about risk, your income and related needs, your level of wealth and things like federal estate tax concerns, and your financial assets and obligations. They also need to be aware of your personal attributes such as your age, marital status, dependents, etc.
Someone with a depth of knowledge AND experience also may seem like an obvious trait. However, there are many “salespeople” that simply don’t spend enough time mastering their areas of expertise.
For a life insurance adviser, this means understanding a wide variety of life insurance products including universal life, whole life, term life, long term care insurance and various life insurance riders AND annuities.
Life insurance experts should also have a solid grasp of non-product centered areas such as estate planning and Medicaid concerns as well as income taxes and estate tax planning matters. They need to have enough understanding to spot issues and be able to recommend the inclusion of other experts such as estate planning attorneys and accountants.
A trusted adviser is much more than a salesperson. You’ll know you’re dealing with one when he or she listens carefully AND explains concepts and answers questions in terms that you can easily grasp.
A trusted adviser should ideally want you (and help you) to get a picture of all of the issues, options and planning strategies related to your life insurance and financial program before you take steps to implement your plan.
An insurance license in your state of residence is a minimum standard that needs to be met. It is also important to look for additional life insurance designations such as the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) or if financial products like variable life insurance are involved, the Certified Financial Planner or Series 65 designations should apply as minimum standards.
A few more characteristics of a trusted adviser are:
- Provides you with a personalized written document that
*records the facts of your current financial and personal situation and
*describes the features of the life insurance and how it fits into your situation;
- Doesn’t pressure you into a decision, but works with you until you’re ready and convinced that you are doing what is best for you; and
- Is prepared to review with you periodically—perhaps every three years or so—whether the product continues to be suitable for your needs and circumstances.
Now you need to ask yourself,
Have you found an agent that meets these standards yet?
Perhaps, there are a lot of great agents out there!
Heck, we encounter them all the time, but what we’ve found that separates us from even the best of them is our access to so many different insurance carriers.
You may be currently working with the “best” life insurance agent in the world, but if they don’t have access to a program that would best meet your needs, there’s really not all that much that they can do for you!
This is why…
Even if you’ve already applied for insurance elsewhere, give us a call, you might be surprised by what we can do for you. If not, at least you know you’ve chosen wisely and you can put your mind at ease!
Feel free to download one of our I&E Pro-Client Guides today and get started designing the plan that makes sense for you and your loved ones.