Like many of my advisors, I began my career with a captive mutual insurance carrier, thrown into the deep end of the pool and told to sink or swim. At a very young age I was introduced to all aspects of sales and management within an insurance agency. One of my first tasks in the first three months of working in the agency forever shaped my career and has propelled me to do what I do today.
One of my first tasks was to deliver a death claim on a policy that I had inherited. Three months on the job, three months in the industry, and I was asked to fulfill the promise of an insurance company. A longstanding client of the agency had passed and I was asked to coordinate with his widow to process the claim.
I’d done everything I needed to do to prepare for the death claim. I’d had phone conversations with the insured’s beneficiary, his spouse. I worked with my insurance company to produce the death claim check and all the claim delivery documentation. I made arrangements with the beneficiary to deliver the claim. When I arrived at her home, we went immediately to the dining room table. I began the discussion with a canned script in which I was trained by my general agent. My goal was to sell her an income producing annuity as well as to sell her on the need for her own insurance policy. Compounding the emotion and intensity of the moment, about halfway through our conversation I heard the cries and sniffles from her adult daughters, waiting in the other room. Come to find out the widow had invited her two daughters to be there for comfort after our meeting. When I handed her the check for $50,000 and slid it across the dining table, she very politely looked me square in the eye, and said “this is very kind of you to bring this out and make the process very simple. I want to thank you for expediting this process,” she paused and said, “When can I expect the rest of it?”
Taken back, what she didn’t know was the insurance company had researched the file and determined this was the only insurance policy that her late husband owned for her benefit. I responded, “Ma’am this is the only insurance policy that your late husband owned with my company.”
She then, again being very polite, looked me in the eye and said “Josh, you’re my insurance man, figure it out.” In a bit of a panic, I offered to spend the day with her and her daughters to assemble all the pertinent documentation from her late husband’s office. We poured through filing cabinets of statements from old retirement accounts, I helped her with all the additional death claims and transfers. It was the most eye opening experience of my young adult life, and certainly the most powerful opportunity I had in the short three months I was in the business. Come to find out, her husband had her well taken care of, and had amassed quite a portfolio for her benefit.
As a result of this conversation I decided that I was never going to put my clients in the same position again. I had made up my mind that all my clients past, present and future were going to hear this story. This new fire and purpose empowered me to pursue each policy with conviction as I encouraged my clients to carve out the time to perform a policy review with me. For some it was very painful, for others it was welcomed and they enjoyed the process. Within the next three months, I had pursued the entire inherited book of business in an effort to never have that same misinformed conversation again. I was emboldened to ensure that my clients at least knew what type of a legacy they are leaving behind and what it was that they were purchasing.
Fast forward to 2½ years later, I received a phone call from Gary one of my client’s husbands. Gary informed me that one of my clients, Nancy, had tragically passed from the very short battle with a very aggressive form of cancer. As sad as the conversation was, it ended very differently than Gary had ever expected. Little did Gary know, Nancy had left him a Life Insurance policy, a gift that would not only take care of any outstanding debts, but also included several years of her income as well as a significant gift for their two daughters. What may have meant more to Gary was the document that Nancy and I had prepared reviewing her existing insurance. In her own handwriting and initials, she had left a description of exactly how much she wanted to leave Gary and her two daughters. I delivered this document along with the check.
I’ve now been in the insurance and Financial Services industry for almost 15 years. I’ve unfortunately had multiple occasions to fulfill promises made through the policies that I’ve sold. We’re in an incredible position within the families that we touch every day and I don’t take that responsibility lightly.
My “why” is now to empower the advisors that I partner with. The services that I and my team provide, increase and enhance the opportunities and create efficiencies so that they can meet with even more clients throughout their day. I count it a privilege to work with some of the top planners and financial advisors across the country. My motivation every day is to improve each selling opportunity with my advisor, for not only their benefit, but their family’s benefit, their client’s benefit and their beneficiaries. I love what my career has developed into because of the generational impact my team and I have on a daily basis.
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