Protective Life Agents Get Beneficiary Sensitivity Training

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Protective Life Insurance Company’s new producer association gives agents the opportunity to participate in specialized training sessions on how to better work with beneficiaries.

The beneficiary training program consists of a series of videos, workbooks, and a final examination, all of which are intended to help agents be more empathetic toward beneficiaries.

“This program is designed to make our agents better prepared when dealing with beneficiaries,” says John Brennecke, executive director of Protective’s producer association.

“Agents haven’t had this kind of training readily provided to them,” says Alan Watson, senior vice president of individual life at Protective Life, Birmingham, Ala. “But, this is the very heart and soul of the business we’re in.”

Watson feels that “the industry has for years stressed the need for service during the lifetime of the insured, but there’s been very little training on how to service the beneficiary at the time of death.”

Protective designed the producer association to “provide value-added services that producers would use every day in their business and personal lives,” says Watson.

Some of the other benefits that members of the association will receive include: discounts on office supplies, discounted E&O coverage, retail savings, professional development programs, and continuing education credits through WebCE.

Watson says, “The beneficiary program can enrich both [producers' business and personal lives], with the primary focus on how they can improve as professionals and give good service to policyholders.

“There are agents who have had few or no death claims,” he continues, “and this will help them prepare for the death claim situation–for understanding how the paperwork process flows.”

“We want to make sure our producers are very comfortable in this process,” says Brennecke. “We want to make sure we are providing the best service to our beneficiaries.”

Watson feels that “this is a very worthwhile training program for producers with any length of experience in our business.”

In addition to learning how to be more empathetic toward beneficiaries, agents who have gone through the training are eligible to receive compensation for helping beneficiaries through the death claim process.

The problem with the industry today, says Watson, is there’s a disconnect relative to compensation. The services agents provide at the time when they are needed most, when death occurs, usually pay no compensation to the agent.

“We wanted to provide some compensation to the agent,” says Watson. “We wanted to encourage the agent to complete the cycle.”

Watson notes that while some agents are able to do business with beneficiaries, it usually involves the sale of a product, or the charge of a fee for financial planning advice.

“We wanted to create an environment where the agent did not have to be concerned with getting paid, without any pressure on themselves that they should be out making sales,” says Watson.

“You’ll find that agents get compensation when they sell the policy, and when they service the policy,” says Brennecke, “and we feel agents should be compensated as they deal with the death claim process.”

Brennecke notes that the emphasis of the program is not on agent compensation, but on the enhanced service to the customer.

“We’re real proud of the program, we feel its something every carrier should do,” says Watson.

Recent research done by LIMRA shows that a great number of beneficiaries wanted more services from their agent or company, but were never offered them. Protective plans on providing that extra service.

“We’re excited about the opportunity this presents,” says Brennecke.

For the $59 fee, Protective agents can join the association. “There are no production requirements,” says Watson. “In 6 weeks we’ve already had over 200 agents sign up and we’re averaging 20 more every week.”


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, September 10, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.


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