Editor’s Note: At the author’s request, this article was updated on Aug. 18, 2016.
Before you talk to clients about life insurance, educate yourself on the different varieties of the product.
The record-low interest rate environment has increased the importance of life insurance products for both advisors and consumers. Many consumers begin their planning process confused, meaning it is imperative their financial professionals understand the differences between life insurance products. The terms, “universal life,” “whole life,” “variable life” and “variable universal life” should never be confusing to our clients. The ability to make suitable recommendations stems from being knowledgeable on the options and being able to communicate them adequately.
The overarching challenge with life insurance products is the struggle in educating our clients on what we are selling to them—what they are buying. First and foremost, we must reiterate the importance of life insurance to a comprehensive financial plan. In most cases, the client’s plan should consist of a three-legged stool composed of:
1) Planning for available income in the event your client becomes disabled.
2) Planning for producing income for family members if your client dies.
3) Planning for your client’s retirement.
A unique protection for those who live
Most clients are well aware of the importance of saving for retirement because of an available 401(k). However, the lack of comprehension of whole life insurance is staggering. Typically, consumers will think of life insurance more as “death insurance.” We currently promote life insurance by saying the product provides coverage in the event of premature death. With this approach, we are inevitably putting the life insurance product on the back burner for our clients. The last thing they want to talk about when discussing their finances is their demise.
Once we are able to convey the importance of life insurance properly, it is critical we consider the misconception of death insurance. A whole life insurance policy will certainly provide benefits for your client’s family if they pass away prematurely. What we must reiterate is that the policy is also designed to provide benefits to those who live, not just to those who die. This product is unique in that it directly protects those family members close to our clients.
Needs vs. costs
A lot of times, agents/brokers will first talk to clients about what they can afford to put aside, and then move on to deciding the amount of death benefit their policy should produce. What agents/brokers should do is analyze and understand not what our client currently has, but what they need—what does the family need for income in the event of an unplanned death? Each client is different, meaning each client’s financial plan should be unique.