It’s really a shame that so many insurance companies knocked themselves out in the 1990s by reinventing themselves as “financial services companies.”
It’s also a shame that insurance agencies followed suit, reinventing themselves as financial services advisors or professionals.
That is, they knocked themselves out of their distinctive identity. They merged into that amorphous business called financial services, and they blurred the edges of what insurance is and does.
The guarantees, the promise of future benefits, the protection against unforeseen risk–all lost their luster in the financial services buzz. Those elements were still offered in the products, of course, but their presence was devalued or ignored.
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The industry didn’t mean to let that happen, but it happened all the same.
Talk to consumers who are not affiliated with the business, and this becomes rapidly apparent. Many with whom I speak have a hard time defining insurance, or linking any of those elements to it.
Some know they need it–health insurance, especially, followed by auto and homeowners–but many are fuzzy on where the products come from, especially if obtained at work, and their respective features (beyond the generalities).
Further, most are not sure where to go for help sorting out their insurance needs from other financial needs.
Some know the term “insurance agent,” but they also use it interchangeably with “rep” and “advisor,” even “bank guy.” It’s all the same to them. A good many have no idea what body licenses these individuals, the types of licenses they have or should have, or if they need licenses at all.
Worse, their expectations of insurance, versus other things financial, are really bollixed up.
Here is the problem with all of this: When financial services “providers” and “professionals” offer insurance, consumers naturally come to link insurance to financial services. (Hey, that was the goal, right?)