Several days ago one of our neighbors held a meeting in their home. Our street was lined on both sides with vehicles that brought the attendees to the meeting. All of the vehicles were sport utility vehicles (SUVs), so I presumed the meeting was for some explorer or adventure group. But when the meeting broke up and the participants departed, they were all women. I learned the purpose of the meeting was to plan a Halloween party for kids in our end of town rather than a tour into a wilderness area.
Now, one just naturally has to question the “suitability” of all those SUVs. My son lives in the high Sierras where they measure snow in feet rather than inches, and a 4-wheel drive SUV is not only “suitable,” but essential. But we dont have snow in Phoenix, we dont even have mud, and I doubt that many, if any, of the SUVs that lined our street have ever seen a dirt road.
SUVs get lower gas mileage than most regular sedans, they ride harder and are more difficult to get into. One could reasonably argue that by most criteria they are not the most suitable vehicles for family transportation. But the fact is the public loves them and is buying them by the millions. Personal choice and other considerations are clearly overriding optimum suitability in making such buying decisions.
It is a fact that consumers often bring a strong bias into a sales situation. Persuasion or education seldom has much impact upon the ultimate decision in such cases. On a number of occasions, I have been told by a prospect or client, “This is what I want and if you are not willing to write it up, I will find someone who will.”
This kind of bias can often stay with people throughout their life. I remember a conversation I had a few years back with the CEO of a small life company. He told me that all of his life he had fervently believed term insurance was the only life product to buy, but now that he was approaching retirement, he was starting to realize he had been wrong. At a time when death was more likely, he could no longer afford the premiums and yet he still needed the coverage.
In this case, he had no one to blame but himself, but in another setting, with an agent involved, it would not be too difficult to imagine a policyholder denying his bias and seeking recourse from an agent or company under a suitability regulation.
There are many other nuances in the sales process that impinge upon the suitability of non-registered life insurance products. A life insurance purchase cannot be judged based upon a snapshot of the prospects current situation. Rather, it is more like a moving picture being played out over time and with a constantly changing scenario.
No one can reasonably be held accountable for the unforeseen, or for dreams that never materialize. Marriages fall part, jobs evaporate, partnerships end and countless other factors may occur to affect the so-called “suitability” of any life product as time goes by.