Caregiver image helps women sell more critical illness insurance

By Daniela Cambone | November 20 2003 02:53PM

The caregiver image of women is helping female brokers sell more critical illness insurance than their male counterparts, say experts.

“Women by their psychological nature are caregivers. Women can emphasize and understand it a lot easier,” says Sean Long, founder of the critical illness insurance (CI) website,

He takes breast cancer as an example and says that women naturally better understand the disease, which has the second highest occurrence in Canada after the United States. “Men will never understand it as much as a woman can. And who looks after a man when he has a heart attack? Again it is the woman, they see what happens and they know the financial, emotional and psychological cost,” he explains.

Women truly emphasize more with the victim and the clients can see it, Mr. Long notes. “The other interesting thing I found with women is that they do not batter their clients with statistics; men do. Women tend to go to the emotional part of a sale.”

Gender tracking is a delicate issue for insurers and no statistics exist to demonstrate that women are selling more CI. However, experts are witnessing that women are doing very well with the product through other signs. Mr. Long adds that when he monitors his CI-based website he finds that 65% of the members are female.

David Benamron, director of living benefits at the managing general agency (MGA), Copoloff Insurance Agencies, points to another signal. He explains that in the various seminars he presents on CI, he finds the women brokers are nodding and asking questions about the product, “I do not see that with the male brokers,” he says.

He adds that a lot of women brokers use CI as a door opener in a sale and will then proceed to sell life. “You have to have a lot of passion for CI and really believe in the product because a client will see through you. And many women brokers are passionate to sell it.”

Women ready to buy

Mr. Benamron adds that not only are women brokers doing well with the product but also that female clients are more disposed to buy the product. Mr. Benamron, a dual-licensed broker, explains that when he sits down with a couple, he usually pitches life to the husband and CI to the wife. “Women are more receptive and women are more caring and in touch with their health and are like, ‘Yes! We need this product, let’s buy it now!’ … Instead the men think ‘I don’t need this now.’”

He adds that many women see younger females with breast cancer and he explains that what the consumer perceives to be a risk is usually what they will buy.

Kim Stanley, principle and co-founder of the consulting firm Canadian Living Benefits Centre agrees with Mr. Benamron.

She explains that in talking to brokers she found that when they are at the kitchen table with a husband and wife, their perceptions of CI are very different. When you present CI to the husband, she said, they usually like to think about it first.

Understand from experience

“Not to paint them with the same brush, but men tend to think they are superhuman…. Until they have lived through it, most people do not understand the impact a serious illness can have on a family, not to mention their business or career,” she points out.

Ms. Stanley also highlights that 95% of the advisors she dealt with at the MGA she previously ran, Mary Lou Taylor Insurance Agency, were men. “Some of them were really good at selling CI, but it was because they were in a professional marketplace and professionals understood the need.”

She adds that some male agents tend to only sell CI to men and they forget the spouse, which Ms. Stanley says is overlooking a market which understands the need more.

“Women are caregivers. Women are doing double-duty. We are juggling so much now and we are getting sick younger. In turn, women see the need for CI more,” she highlights. “So I think for women it is easier to talk about it. It is an emotional sale.”

She stresses that she has no problems selling CI insurance and is very successful at it. “As a woman now selling insurance, I am working with small business owners, and everyone will buy the CI before they buy the life if they qualify because they know they are more likely to get sick than they are going to have an early death.”

Tamara Adamson, CEO of Link Insurance is another broker who has no trouble selling CI. She explains that she sells a minimum of ten CI policies a month.

“We are more empathetic by nature. Women just have more of a sympathetic manner in the way they talk about illnesses. Women are also generally better listeners than men and we ask a lot more questions about the family history,” she highlights.

She adds, “We also have better way of being able to ask questions without seeming intrusive and invading whereas with men it seems more like a sale.”

Overall, Ms. Adamson feels that women are in general better sales people than men. “We are more organized, we do better follow-ups and if you are an attractive female it can be a door opener in a very male-oriented industry like insurance.”

However, Alphonso Franco, CEO of the Critical Illness Insurance Centre, organizing Chair of the World Critical Illness Conference, and author of a recently published how-to manual on selling CI, The Critical Vision System, says that the product is not a question of male or female.

“In this day and age all people know how the medical system works. They know about the long line ups so both men and women are receptive to lifestyle protection.”

He adds, “It is often heard of in the industry that there are more women sellers of CI but I think sales are even. From my experience, both men and women are equally good at selling CI. There is no separation. If clients are presented with facts, whether male or female, it does not make a difference.”

Mr. Franco adds that other variables also need to be looked at. “It depends on the existing marketplace and on existing clients. If the agent predominantly works the family market then it is different than a business market where most of the clients are business owners and brokers will get probably more than 50% of males buying.”

“I agree, however, that women generally look after their health more than men do. They seem to be able to talk more with their medical adviser, compared to men who don’t go for yearly check-ups,” he explains. “In these cases women pay more attention to something pertaining to financial health when an advisor approaches them about the product.”

He adds that the Critical Illness Insurance Centre recently participated in a women’s event in Vancouver.