A Simon and Garfunkel song with the line, “my lack of education hasn’t hurt me none”. Well that may be just fine for most life insurance agents, but the fact that it hasn’t “hurt them none” isn’t really the point. How many clients are financially damaged every day by life insurance agents who refuse to learn about their own business?
You should see the test it takes to become a life insurance agent. It’s not even meant to weed out those that who were too lazy to study. Even the continuing education courses are for the most part a joke.
So it’s just sales right? What do you need to know other than “what will it take to get you to drive away in this life insurance policy today”? Well, allow me to express my opinion on this based on far more years in the business than the average agent will ever last.
If I were teaching the school, closing the sale would be left out. Knowledge of impairments, knowledge of insurance and estate law, and good customer service would be the curriculum.
How can an agent hope to do the best possible job for someone with heart disease or a history of cancer if you don’t know what the results of a stress test or a pathology report mean? How can an agent advise a client who is treated for depression if they don’t know the difference between situational or chronic depression? How can an agent hope to help someone who has been through drug or alcohol treatment if they don’t know how underwriters from different companies view the issue? How can an agent help a private pilot find the best life insurance pilot if they don’t know the difference between IFR and VFR? The answer to all of these is the agent can’t properly help those clients because they haven’t bothered to educate themselves.
How can an agent give proper advice about the use of life insurance in estate preservation if they don’t understand estate tax law? How can an agent advise a client on the need for a life insurance trust if they don’t understand the tax law that applies? How can an agent even represent the products unless they know the regulatory implications of their advice? Again, they can’t!!
A poorly educated life insurance agent is bad for the client and bad for the business. I honestly believe that states shouldn’t take the licensing of agents so lightly. A person should have to prove knowledge way beyond what is currently required before they are ever allowed to give advice to someone about matters that will impact that person’s family in critical ways.
And you ask why does this bother me so much? Because it allows someone with a gift for selling to give bad advice and damage clients and get paid for it. Just my opinion of course.
This post is somewhat dated. Life insurance underwriting is changing and evolving continually. For more updated information check out some of the key word links. If you have a specific question or topic you need information for do a search. If you don’t find the answers you need contact me and we’ll make sure you get the information that is important to you.