What day Ed? It’s a strange thought process I go through some days preparing to add to this heap of my opinion called Ed Hinerman On Life Insurance. I started to write this yesterday and got off on a tangent that was so full of myself it triggered my gag reflex. Thank God for the delete button.

Where I started to go had to do with the question, who are you going to call on that day when the life insurance policy on your spouse or parent had becomes a real, live, tangible document? A life insurance claim needs to be filed. I’ve always encouraged my clients to make sure the beneficiary calls me. My business card is on the policy and, while they could just call customer service, it’s far easier to talk to someone who knew your husband or wife than to talk to a company’s trained sympathetic claims person. And it’s what I’ve been there for all those years, so you would have someone you know and trust handle this matter for your grieving family.

It’s a part of the business that is a carry over from my days with Mutual of Omaha back in the late 70’s. Back then the agent didn’t just handle the claim process, but delivered the check to the family. I know this is a different time with everything happening at the speed of DSL, but there are some customer service values I’ve decided are still important. Actually a step above important.

I also encourage my customers to call me when they have a question on a policy. Again, customer service is just a phone call and four or five menu drill downs away, but if a person needs a form they can call me, I answer the phone or if I’m on the phone my office manager does. We can have the form to you via email within minutes, faxed to you if you don’t do email and yes, we will even mail it to you. We can probably get the form on the way to you before you get to the right person at the home office that might be able to do the same thing.

And questions. Late with a payment and not sure what to do? Considering setting up a trust and want to know how that works with your policy? Again, and it’s just part of the deal when you get an agent with customer service values, we can probably get the matter taken care of before you get through the home office menu and listen to 10 minutes of a recording thanking you for your patience. Of course you know that they are experiencing a higher than normal call volume so you could hang up and call back at a better time. Unfortunately they are only open 8-5 at best and without fail they will always be having a higher than normal call volume.

Very few life insurance customers know how we get paid and how that impacts the way most agents and agencies will service your business going forward. On term insurance we get a percentage of the first year’s premium and that’s it. We don’t get any kind of renewal and for that reason most agents, unless they have something else they want to try to sell you, won’t do annual reviews. What’s the point? Call up a customer and tell them they are coming up on the third anniversary of their 30 year term? The point is that you are keeping your customer informed about where they stand with their policy. You’re not selling anything, you’re just letting them know that you’re still there and reminding them if they have questions or need anything to call. After several years it builds a bond that makes you that person they trust and will call instead of the home office.

I would be lying if I told you future sales aren’t part of why I stay in touch. If I’m there year after year and they, or a family member or a friend needs life insurance, I would like to be the one they think of. But I never push that. As close as it comes to push is when I call someone in the 9th year of their 10 year term life insurance and ask them if they’ve given any consideration to what, if anything, they plan to do at the end of the 10 years or 20. But there are two things I know for a fact that keep me from pushing anything at that point, the same thing I know when I first talk to a person about life insurance. 1. They know better than I do if they need it and 2. They know better than I if they can afford it. You won’t find this guy going any further than throwing the question out there, “What if anything are you going to do beyond that point?”

Bottom line. Look. I’m going to share something that will possibly run off some potential clients, but I believe with all my heart that God called me to serve, not sell. That’s why I never push to close a sale and I don’t treat annual reviews as a chance to get more business. I wouldn’t make it in a company that has sales scripts that lead a client to a place where they would feel foolish saying no. If you have any questions or are wondering why you never heard from agent after you bought a life insurance policy, call or email me directly. Let’s talk.

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