When Albert Einstein was on the faculty at Princeton University, it’s said that his teaching assistant came to him one day, panic-stricken.
“Professor Einstein,” he said, “the questions on this year’s final exam are the same as last year’s.”
Einstein replied calmly, “That’s not a problem, because the answers have changed.”
Answers to age-old questions are changing in our industry, too. For years, clients and advisors have asked, what is the right financial product for someone who is diagnosed with cancer, heart attack or stroke?
When I started in insurance 30-plus years ago, the answer to that question was life insurance, because we didn’t usually survive those illnesses. But today, with advances in medicine and medical technology, the chances of surviving a catastrophic illness are greater than ever.
However, our survival comes with emotional and financial consequences. When a person suffers a serious health crisis, his world is turned upside down — and so is his family’s. Even with major medical insurance in place, a critical illness can have a devastating impact on household finances.
The question of protecting our clients in the event of cancer, heart attack and stroke is the same as a generation ago, but now the answer is different. Today, the answer is both life insurance and critical illness protection.
With the advent of critical illness insurance, there is now financial relief to aid patients and their families who are coping with recovery. Yet many people today aren’t even aware that critical illness protection exists.
Starting the conversation
How do you open a discussion of critical illness insurance with your clients? First, help them understand that this concept was not created by an insurance company but by a world-famous cardiac surgeon, Dr. Marius Barnard, in South Africa.
In 1983, Barnard observed that, with advances in medicine, his patients were surviving cancer, heart attacks and strokes that only a generation ago were likely to be fatal. He also saw that financial stress caused by the illness was having a serious impact on his patients’ ability to recover. Barnard started talking with agents, advisors and insurance companies about creating a way to help relieve that stress — an insurance policy that would pay a lump-sum benefit upon diagnosis of a critical illness. The benefit could be used in any way the client wished.
Telling this story to prospects has been a common thread among agents who are successfully selling critical illness policies (other than as a package with health insurance). They consistently explain how and why critical illness insurance was created, and then ask several key questions.