“Life insurance isn’t for the people who die; it’s for the people who live.”
Although Ayn Rand, Russian refugee, conservative icon and author of such treatises on individual responsibility and freedom as Anthem, We the Living, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, never wrote about life insurance, it’s a safe bet she approved of it.
Having grown up in the Soviet Union in the early 20th century, she knew firsthand the oppressive and dehumanizing effect a totalitarian state can have on individuals. Those who have read her books know the inescapable logic and power of her passionate opposition to collective—rather than individual—responsibility and the resulting dependency of the individual on government.
I raise this because of the developing trend in the insurance industry to focus once again on life insurance. Everywhere I travel, companies and producers are eager to better understand how to increase their life insurance production. And while the reliability and predictability of future profits is often the main driver behind this, there are other reasons why this trend makes good sense.
Good Social Policy—The life insurance industry does not exist to make money for the owners and officers of its companies. It exists so people can take care of themselves in time of need, instead of relying on a government handout.
A Satisfying Career—Young people today are no different from young people of 20, 40 or 100 years ago. They want something meaningful to do with their lives. Life insurance is all about meaning and relevance.
The tension between the life insurance “need” sale and the “greed” sale has always existed. However, over the last two decades greed has clearly trumped need. No wonder idealistic young people are looking elsewhere for careers. The life insurance business appears to them to be about making money, not helping people. But if we impart a missionary zeal about the essential role our products play in the financial and emotional lives of others, we will attract a whole new type of recruit: the recruit who wants to be in a career in which he can help others when times get tough.
Long-Term Investment In Communities—Because the contractual obligations of a life insurance policy are long-term, life insurance companies can make long-term financial commitments. Unlike banks, which have short-term obligations, insurance companies can lend billions of dollars for 30 years or more. Office towers, apartments, highways and hospitals can all be built with long payback periods on money borrowed from the company reserves that life insurance policies create.
Ayn Rand wrote, “Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom …” Life insurance buys that freedom.
September: Life Insurance
This coming September has been declared Life Insurance Awareness Month. The participating companies and organizations, including NAIFA and LIFE, have big plans under way to help the American public refocus on the most basic truth of our business: Life insurance isn’t for the people who die; it’s for the people who live.
Ayn Rand would surely agree.
David Woods is CEO of NAIFA and president of the LIFE Foundation. Previously a MassMutual agent for 30 years, he has been an MDRT member since 1970. He was NALU president in 1986-87.