There are times when it’s obvious that life insurance agents just really don’t believe that service is important and then there are times when the avoid service or drag their feet on a task as a way avoid talking about what’s really going on with your policy.
The latter is the case with a client I am currently working with. Early on in the process I suggested to the client that they get a current in force illustration of their variable universal life policy. I told them just a quick call to their current Hartford agent should produce that document for them in just a few days, a week at the most.
Now, understand that this is a policy that was grossly underfunded and being variable has no guarantee. This is a policy in huge trouble. It started with a single premium that generated $1.6 million of life insurance coverage. Today, as near as we can tell, it would provide a death benefit of less than $500,000. So after two weeks of not receiving anything I suggested to the client that they call the agent and tell them that they were considering moving their insurance to a new company and that if this agent wanted to be considered for keeping the business he needed to produce the in force illustration.
Two weeks later they received a two page letter from the agent explaining the history of the policy and how it appeared to be going down the tubes and suggesting some possible alternatives. All of this in the narrative, none in actual illustration form and certainly not a Hartford generated in force illustration. There was absolutely nothing that the client could hang his hat on. There was nothing substantive enough to be helpful in making a decision.
Understand that if you have a life insurance policy, whether term insurance, whole life or universal life, companies need to provide in force illustrations to you in a timely manner if you request it. The only conclusion that can be drawn by this agent’s actions is that he knows the business is in trouble and he is hoping to drag this out to the annual renewal date and then suggest that they ride it out one more year. He either never requested the illustration, or he requested it, received it and the news is so bad that he doesn’t want to show it to his clients.
At this juncture I suggested to the clients that they pose some questions to the agent concerning the tax viability of making a change in the policy or moving the policy and using a 1035 exchange to move the cash value. 10 days later the agent answered the questions.
Bottom line. Service isn’t about the agent. Service is all about the customer and if, by providing the service, the information, that a client needs, the client finds a better deal somewhere else, well, you did that client a service. It might not feel good to lose a customer, but it’s all about their family and their money and not about the agent.