A family at dinner (Credit: Thinkstock)

New life insurance agents in training sometimes complain that carriers want them only for their personal contacts, and that carriers have unrealistic expectations about how many policies agents in training can sell to friends and relatives.

Nate Richardson, senior vice president for sales and distribution at Bankers Life, recently turned that argument on its head.

He said, in an email interview tied to the Life Insurance Awareness Month campaign, that the best place to build awareness of life insurance is at home.

(Related: September 11 and Life Insurance Awareness Month)

“Life insurance is a very important aspect of personal finance,” Richardson said.

But, according to a survey by LIMRA and Life Happens, “43% of Americans don’t have any form of life insurance,” Richardson said.

Richardson said reaching out to friends and family is “absolutely the foundation of business-building for new agents.”

“As family and friends find out they have a life insurance agent at their convenience, they come to them, versus the other way around,” Richardson said.

Friends and relatives “might feel much more comfortable asking questions to a friend than to a stranger.”

Richardson said new agents may be able to provide better advice for friends and relatives than other, more experienced financial professionals could, because they may have a better understanding of their loved ones’ needs.

Richardson suggested that approaching friends and relatives can help new agents to overcome their fear of the “no,” and help them learn how to qualify prospects.

“Although friends and family want them [new agents] to succeed, they might be reluctant to say, ‘No, thank you,’ and string them along,” Richardson said. “To help minimize this, it’s important that agents ask detailed questions and figure out what is important to the applicants, to decide on the type of life insurance that best fits their needs and to gauge their interest.”

— Read Life Insurance Awareness Month Approaches, on ThinkAdvisor.

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