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Life Health > Life Insurance

Jurassic Park: Proof that we still need insurance agents

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In the summer of 1993, I was about to turn nine and cared about just three activities:

1)      Going to horse camp;

2)      Singing Taylor Dayne songs into a Barbie-turned-microphone at my grandma’s house; and

3)      Watching “Jurassic Park” so many times I could (um, can…) recite entire scenes by heart.

My mom and dad — who are clearly movie fans first, responsible parents second — had no qualms about taking me and my then 6-year-old sister to a film featuring lifelike dinosaurs ripping into people … and I’m really glad they didn’t. Because even though it gave me nightmares about a T-Rex eating our family dog, “Jurassic Park” is still easily one of my favorite movies ever.

It felt appropriate, then, to honor the film’s 20th anniversary by attending a screening at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science this week, followed by a question-and-answer session with Joe Sertich, the museum’s paleontologist. Yet, somewhere between raptor attacks and questions about bird DNA vs. frog DNA, I started thinking about another species in danger of extinction — the insurance agent.

There’s no shortage of research and anecdotes out there on the declining relevance of life insurance producers. Sales that used to take place over a series of kitchen-table meetings with a professional can now — for many people — be completed alone, in a matter of minutes, using Google and a quote aggregator website.

But if “Jurassic Park” taught us anything, it’s that even if the technology’s there, it doesn’t mean we should use it. Sure, there’s a big difference between technology that could potentially leave you dramatically underinsured and technology that could leave your body parts scattered around a theme park outhouse. Either way, though, your client ends up in danger.

I’m as Internet-reliant as any Millennial — I used YouTube to teach myself how to caulk a leaky window; my solution to just about everything is “Google it” — but I also know the Internet is full of misinformation, shady scams and “experts” who will confirm your opinion on just about anything as solid, science-backed fact. (Think the Earth is actually flat, for example? You’re not alone.) When you’re dealing with a complex topic with a lot of variables — like insurance coverage can be for many — it makes sense to deal with an expert you know and trust instead.

Jurassic Park’s fate probably would have been much different had John Hammond talked to Alan Grant, a paleontologist, and Ian Malcolm, an expert in chaos theory, before he stocked the theme park gift shop. Similarly, I could have skipped the museum event and read one of the many articles about the science behind “Jurassic Park” on the Internet (like this one, which attempts to explain genetics while misspelling every other word), but hearing answers from an actual paleontologist seemed a lot more credible.

Of course, this doesn’t mean insurance agents don’t have to adapt to technological changes — or that technology won’t evolve to correct these shortcomings. After all, my mom used to be a travel agent — notice the past tense?

It does mean agents, for now, still have a chance. Figure out what you’re offering clients that a web search can’t — and then make sure they know about it.

For more from Corey Dahl, see:

Royal baby prep: 6 financial planning tips for Prince William and Kate

The salesman who doesn’t sell

World War Z: It’s actually about life insurance


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