Life Insurance Salespeople and Trust
At the end of a phone call with a prospective life insurance client the other day, he thanked me for my honesty and told me he always had a significant mistrust of life insurance salespeople. I asked him why and he told me that he always felt that the agent/broker was serving his/her own interests before those of him, the client.
Perhaps thats a topic for another post, but his comments definitely got my attention enough to look into how the public felt, in general, about insurance salespeople. I immediately found a survey done by the Gallup Organization on how people rate the honesty of various professions, including insurance salespeople. As I have always taken pride in my honest approach with clients, I must say the response to my profession surprised me.
Well, at least were trusted more than Senators and HMO managers. But less than lawyers? How can that be? Nobody is trusted less than lawyers okay, maybe car salespeople and members of congress, but not life insurance salespeople. How can this be? Bankers are rated higher? Dont people remember the debacle in 2009? I know AIG was partially responsible for the start of the Great Recession, but the Banks were the real bad guys in that story. How can people trust them more than insurance salespeople?
All kidding aside, I think the insurance industry is suffering from an image problem. I think the industry, specifically the life insurance companies needs to work hard to improve its image. First, it must set very high standards of ethics for its salespeople and institute and enforce penalties to those who dont adhere. I have to take an Ethics course every two years to renew my licenses, but is that really enough?
The states insurance commissioners have a rough time of enforcing product suitability standards, but most instances of enforcement I have seen have been related to sales of insurance products to senior citizens. I think all agents/brokers should be tested regularly on the suitability of all the products they sell (i.e., who is the right/wrong client for those products?). I have spoken to too many prospective clients who have been sold the wrong type of policy for their specific needs. This often happens when insurance companies and marketing organizations push certain product with higher commissions or other rewards (such as trips), wile often disregarding the needs of the client.
I love what I do for a living because I get the opportunity to help people in so many ways. Yet, if Im at a social gathering and tell someone what I do for a living, I see a lot of glassed-over eyes and excuses to leave the conversation. The Gallup Poll above explains why that happens.
Most folks I have met who do what I do for a living seem to be honest and ethical people. As is usually the case, a few bad apples have ruined the reputations of the majority. It is the majoritys mission, should they choose to accept it, to clean up our image, which was sullied by the few. I accept the challenge and know that other like-minded insurance salespeople will follow suit.
Then, maybe I can tell someone what I do for a living without them heading for the hills.