The first element to uncover with this client is identifying why he might be refusing to talk about life insurance. As many agents and advisors have likely seen, the most obvious reason is that the topic forces clients to address their own mortality, which is never a fun conversation.
Additionally, given the complexity behind life insurance products, clients may also be genuinely confused about life insurance and not understand that it offers more than just a death benefit. Or, perhaps another piece of this is that the client hears the word “insurance” (whether it be life, health, car, etc.) and immediately associates it with another cost, which could prompt the client to avoid the discussion.
Aside from why they refuse the conversation, there are a few tips that insurance agents and financial advisors can consider when working with clients who want to move on from the life insurance chatter.
From an advisor’s perspective — who is looking at this client’s overall financial picture — the conversation needs to focus on the importance of having perfect protection. Aside from asking the upfront, “Why don’t you want to talk about life insurance,” also ask, “What is your experience with life insurance?,” “What do you know about it?” This will allow for context as to what is holding the client back, and shape the rest of the conversation.
Be sure to highlight the living benefits of life insurance — discuss elements like the guaranteed* cash value growth, protection from lawsuits and creditors (in certain states), money growing income tax-free without market volatility influence, chronic illness benefit provided by some insurance carriers, etc. Paint a clear picture with the client and conduct an analysis (especially if the spouse is in the room!) to show the consequences and financial devastation that could occur if life insurance is not at the core of a client’s financial plan.
From an insurance agent’s perspective — the same questions and fact-finding should apply. From there, if the client remains stubborn, offer the “3 philosophies” of life insurance. Explain that life insurance is a product of love (as a protective measure for family and loved ones), a product of privilege (not everyone may qualify) and a product of responsibility (if the client’s income is no longer there, the family could suffer).
In the scenario where a client truly refuses to discuss insurance — whether you are an agent or advisor — consider having them sign a waiver. A waiver will explain that you, as the financial professional, fully explained the gap or need for such a product, and allows the client to acknowledge their passing on the discussion. This is a good measure in the event that the client does pass early, and the spouse or other family members ask why the life insurance discussion wasn’t pushed harder, you can be assured that everything was attempted to have the conversation.
In extreme situations, especially if the client and the financial professional’s values are not aligning, it might be best to part ways. It’s the responsibility of the financial professional to educate clients to the best of their ability, and allow clients to see that without proper life insurance in place, plan failure becomes an option. The financial plan needs to work under all circumstances, so if refusal of the life insurance discussion continues, and creates a value-based dilemma for the professional, it may be time to suggest the client work with another agent or advisor.
*All guarantees are based upon the claims-paying ability of the issuer.
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