Eight compelling reasons to review your clients’ life insurance portfolios

par Jim Ruta | March 17 2014 08:36PM

What’s the point of doing regular annual insurance reviews? Does it really matter?

Regrettably, many insurance advisors feel the same way. LIMRA found that 62% of life insurance consumers don’t know what they have or why they have it. But imagine what life insurance consumers are thinking. Life insurance is their largest unmanaged asset. They buy it and then it just sits there and no one really pays attention to it until it is activated.That’s why it has to be reviewed regularly. Consumers need to know that it still suits the intended purpose and is still the best way of meeting their needs. They need to know they are getting best value for money. Consumers already suppose you watch out for their best interests and would come to their aid if a policy missed the mark or there was something better available. That’s why annual reviews “really matter.”

Here are just a few specific reasons you want to review your client portfolios regularly:

  • Products and prices have changed dramatically over the past 15 years or so. An insurable client may be able to make significant price and protection improvements to their insurance portfolio if they get a chance. Uninsurable clients have other things to do. If you do this work before you are asked, you build loyalty. If a competitor does it for you, they build their book of business.
  • Benefits and riders need to be implemented to work. It’s hard to just remember all of these options but when reviewing policy, you can see issues in a contract and make them happen. Your client will love you for it.
  • Policy loans can be a silent contract killer. When you review them annually, you can stay ahead of the trouble and keep protection in force.
  • Insufficient funding of universal life policies is a growing issue. Reviewing policies each year means that you can correct funding deficits before they collapse policies and relationships.
  • Old YRT based UL contracts must be reviewed well before a client becomes uninsurable and their alternatives disappear forever. Protect yourself and your clients.
  • Life changes planning. Policies written 15 years ago are based on 15 year old needs. Annual reviews help keep client portfolios current with current needs.
  • Inoculate your clients against the influence of competitors. Your best clients are your competitors’ best prospects. Don’t let your competitors service your business or let anyone say, “There are only two reasons your current advisor didn’t tell you this. One, he doesn’t know or two, he does know but just won’t tell you.” That’s all bad. Prove you are still on the job.
  • Address other policy issues like beneficiary changes, “agent of record” for business you didn’t sell, no evidence switches, conversion and possible upgrades. It’s all critical to clients.
  • And, don’t be afraid to start today even if you haven’t done this for years. “If you wanted to sit under the shade of an oak tree, the best time to have planted it was 40 years ago. But, the next best time is today.” When you help more, you sell more. Start now.

    Why are some insurers still asking me to do “field underwriting”? What’s the advantage to me?

    It may seem like an unnecessary hassle today, but you are actually fortunate that you are still being asked to do “field underwriting”. Head office underwriters always told me that they depended on the help of good field underwriting to assess risk best. That role still matters today.

    But, there are many other reasons why you want to keep that job. For instance:

  • Asking medical questions is not easy. But when done well and thoughtfully, it helps create a unique client relationship. Many clients say that their life insurance agent knows them better than anyone else. That makes your client relationship closer and more valuable to them. It adds value to the insurance too. Better relationships come from field underwriting.
  • Getting underwriting information early in the sales process means you are on top of possible underwriting issues. Then, you can manage them more effectively. If you discover a health, habits or hobbies issue, you can help position it with the underwriter for best results. But, if you don’t know until after someone else gets the information, you can only react to decisions. Being late often means there is no way to “fix” a problem. It’s like trying to put the ketchup back in the bottle – very messy at best. It’s better to know in advance. When you get the right forms and questionnaires prepared quickly, you get the case placed more advantageously, faster.
  • What’s the point of doing regular annual insurance reviews? Does it really matter?

  • Handling medical underwriting requirements yourself means you can ask questions properly and get better, more complete information for your underwriters. You can order requirements faster. Time is of the essence in underwriting after all. I was surprised to learn recently that registered nurses no longer did all paramedicals. This means underwriting questions are not being asked by professionals with the depth of knowledge you expect. They also have little incentive to do any more than go “by the book”. No one has more of a vested interest in the quality of the medical information than you and your client. That will help get the case placed and even paid later on. You will also likely dig better for the right information than someone with just a small fee attached to the call rather than a commission.
  • Asking medical questions yourself means you can be more sensitive to client needs and problems. You can finesse the process so the job is done properly and professionally, not just “done”. That makes the process easier and more effective for your client. You stay in control of the process. That helps with persistency.
  • You separate yourself from advisors who just fill in the application and hope for the best. The more personal you are with a client as it relates to underwriting, the more professional you will appear to them. You will show you really care about them as people and build a better, more referable reputation.
  • Being a “Field Underwriter” is the essence of being a good life insurance agent. It’s how you provide exceptional client value. Guard that role and be thankful you still have it.