Renowned insurance coach Jim Ruta is looking for fellow insurance believers to help carry the Canadian flag for U.S.-based Life Happens and move life insurance from its current “poor step-sister” role in the financial services business to its rightful place – the heart of the business.
Ruta says he recently met with Panos Leledakis, president and CEO at IFA Academy and the first international ambassador for Life Happens, a U.S.-based organization that promotes the importance of all kinds of life and health-related insurance products to people, their families and businesses.
Leledakis told Ruta that the group was trying to spread the word about the organization and already has ambassadors in nine countries, including Hungary, Australia, Guatemala and Spain. When Ruta told Leledakis that he was more than interested in Life Happens, he was made Canadian ambassador.
“I think it’s an outstanding cause to find a way and make sure people know about life insurance,” said Ruta. “Life insurance to me is essential financial security. It’s a product that needs to get much more play than it has. It’s time.”
He said many financial advisors these days are more money-product oriented first – planning and investing and sometimes only as an afterthought, recommending life insurance.
Life insurance should be top on the list of must-haves
But Ruta said insurance financially carries families through devastating times in their lives and should really be top on the list of must-haves for Canadians.
“Life insurance is more important than financial planning because life insurance guarantees financial planning.”
As well, insurance with a cash surrender value not only provides money when the policyholder dies, but should also be seen as a fixed-income asset, not correlated with the stock market, that can help build a retirement nest egg. “But it hasn’t caught on enough,” added Ruta.
Ruta, a coach to many in the industry, said he has a client in New Jersey who sells no investment products at all, but does know how to use insurance to maximize retirement income.
An organization had been in Canada in the past to try to bolster the importance of life insurance, but it didn’t work. “It didn’t have a champion. It didn’t have someone who would carry it.”
Time for life insurance to take its place front-and-centre
Now, he said, it’s time for life insurance to take its front-and-centre place in the industry and tell Canadians about life products, including long-term care, critical illness and annuities. “As a group, life insurance isn’t in the front of the line because people are embarrassed by it.”
COVID-19 has helped some convey the importance of life insurance to Canadians, noting that those advisors who built their businesses on life insurance are doing well financially.
“Let’s find a way to wave the flag of the life insurance product. We have great companies in this country. Some have products different than others but …the trouble is we don’t sell enough of them.”
The most important aspect is to make the average person aware of insurance, to remind advisors what it’s all about and how to promote insurance products personally and on their websites.
He believes Life Happens should co-exist with groups like Advocis, FP Canada, Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Association of Life Independent Brokerage Agencies.
Life Happens has Brooke Shields as its spokesperson in the U.S. Ruta said he is looking for specialist advisors who are passionate about the products they sell here in Canada to join his committee.
“We need to lead the charge to remind people.”