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“But You Never Asked”

It is your obligation as an agent to speak to clients about the importance of DI coverage.

By Glenn Stevick, CLU, CHFC, LUTCF

Sam Sloan, CLU, was at a loss for words. Jack Walker, a friend and client for 20 years, had just called in search of hope.

Three weeks before, at the age of 45, Jack had suffered a severe heart attack. After five desperate days in intensive care, he had rallied and seemed on the way to recovery. The doctors determined that stress had played a part in this attack and had prescribed that Jack spend six months away from the pressure of his real estate firm.

It wasn’t easy for Jack to relax. One afternoon, while reading a magazine and worrying about what was happening at his office, Jack saw an ad for disability income (DI) insurance from the company Sam represented. Jack reached for the phone.

“I was just wondering, Sam … When you reviewed my insurance program last April, did we talk about coverage for anything like this?”

Sam blurted an answer before realizing how it sounded, “But Jack … you never asked me about disability insurance!”

It was true; Jack had never asked for income protection. Yet Sam was ashamed of that answer and searched for ways to soften it, but nothing sounded right. There was no other answer to put in its place.

Jack wasn’t aware of Sam’s feelings. He was only aware that no help would be available for the economic crisis ahead. “Well, I was hoping that you might have taken care of it for me,” he said. “I guess we’ll work something out. Thanks anyway, Sam. Goodbye.”

IF THE NEED HAD BEEN DISCUSSED AND THE SOLUTION OFFERED, JACK WOULD HAVE PURCHASED THE COVERAGE.

The situation hits home
Sam hung up the phone and stared out the window. As he pondered the situation, two fragments of the conversation played over and over in his head. One was his answer, “But you never asked me” and the other was Jack’s reply, “I was hoping that you might have taken care of it for me.”

Jack’s plea for help stayed with Sam the rest of the day. Sam had sold DI coverage, and when a client asked about it, Sam was ready with advice on needs, the product, premium and benefits. But Sam had never brought the subject up with Jack in all his years of reviewing and updating his life and business coverage. Jack’s words echoed, “I was hoping that you might have taken care of it for me.”

Sam remembered his first sale to Jack—just after he had opened the real estate office. Jack realized the risks involved in starting a business and wanted to be sure that his family was protected. Sam created a life insurance plan that offered the maximum protection for the money available. Jack appreciated the service and more sales followed over the years as the business grew. Every time Sam had pointed out a need for additional protection, Jack had bought it.

Now Sam wondered what effort would have been required to sell Jack DI coverage. Sam tried to rationalize, but the truth was clear. Jack would not have knowingly put his family or business in jeopardy. If the need had been discussed and the solution offered, Jack would have purchased the coverage.

Betraying customer loyalty?
Another disturbing memory intruded—that of a conversation with Doug Adams, another agent. Doug had approached Jack about insurance and Jack had politely said, “Sam Sloan has been handling my business for a number of years now. I really don’t feel the need to discuss insurance with anyone else.” Doug was impressed and told Sam, “That’s the kind of client every agent wants.”

The memory raised a question: What kind of insurance agent did Jack Walker deserve? His loyalty deserved the best. Jack had put his trust in Sam to take care of his insurance needs. If Jack had died, the family’s future would have been secure. His personal and business life coverages were in excellent order. The economic impact of Jack’s death would have been minimized. But Jack didn’t die.

It’s your responsibility as an insurance professional to draw prospects’ and clients’ attention to the need for DI coverage. Most people realize that health insurance is a necessity. Property and casualty coverage is usually required by lending institutions. Auto insurance is required by state laws. Many people realize the need for life insurance, but they must be sold the coverage. By contrast, only few people know about DI coverage. Some think that Social Security will take care of their DI needs. Others believe workers’ compensation covers everything. Many have not thought about it at all.

It is unlikely that many prospects will call you to talk about DI coverage; so it’s up to you to stress the need and sell the coverage to meet the need.

Glenn Stevick, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF, is an LUTC author and editor with The American College, and a member of Tri-County AIFA. Contact him at glenns@amercoll.edu.


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