It has been almost, but not quite, two years since I last wrote about being harassed by an insurance sales-person in “Pushy Insurance Salesman: How To Fight Back.”
I am not just an insurance agent. I am also a consumer, just like you. I hate it when I am being badgered by a sales-person. As a business owner, I get 3-5 sales-people calling me each week.
I made the mistake of answering a call from outside my area code last August. It was a sales-man who would not take “NO” for an answer. I ended up buying a minimal supply of his goods just to shut him up. However, I learned from that experience and do not answer any calls that I do not recognize.
I have learned that people who want to talk to me will leave a message. Sales-people typically do not take the time. If a prospective client does not leave a message, I figure that they did not want to really talk to me in the first place.
This techniques works well for me as a business owner. However, even the most careful person gets ahold of a “stalker” now and then.
In this post I want to offer some encouragement to you if you have done everything correctly and still end up with what you perceive as a “Pushy Insurance Agent.”
THEY’RE NOT AS COMMON AS THE POLITICIANS LEAD YOU TO BELIEVE
During the last 4 years the politicians have implied that all insurance agents are greedy and evil. That is not true! It just takes a few to make all of us appear in the worst light possible.
Those who regularly read this blog know that I am not a fan of politicians. It would be easy for me to give in to my emotions and label all politicians, “greedy and evil.”
Call me, “Old-fashioned” but I still believe that there are still members of congress and the presidential administration who are good people and trying their best to protect Americans. Unfortunately, they do not get the attention and TV time that the “greedy and evil” leaders do.
The same is true for insurance agents. There are hundreds of thousands of us who really do want to do a good job for our clients. Our time, knowledge and experience can be valuable.
For example, all of the Essential Benefit plans, as well as Medicare, have “cost sharing” features. When you enroll in one of the new plans this October, if you are not careful, you will choose the least expensive plan that is offered and needlessly expose yourself to hundreds and thousands of dollars of medical bills.
There are a few in my industry who are there only to make as much money as they can. They are jerks. The vast majority of insurance agents are trained to recognize weaknesses in insurance portfolios. They can show you what insurance supplements you can purchase if you want to transfer the new risk to an insurance company.
We work with insurance every day. Our familiarity with insurance allows us to recommend policies that will meet your needs. However, the law in most states, forbids us from paying any portion of premium for you.
If the recommendation your insurance agent makes for you makes sense, it is up to you to commit to paying for the policy.
SOME INSURANCE AGENTS ARE JUST JERKS
I do not want to imply that just because someone has been able to pass their state’s insurance licensing exam they are worthy of your trust. The state can weed out felons and dummies. They cannot weed out jerks.
The Laws of Agency require an insurance agent to act in the best interest of the insurance company. However, they do not require insurance agents to be pests.
Insurance agents are no different from any other professional. They are required to be licensed, keep up to date with trends and laws and market themselves to the public.
If there is any difference between them and your attorney or accountant it is in how they get paid. Your attorney and accountant will give you a bill. You will pay them.
An insurance agent gets compensated differently. His compensation comes from the insurance company in the form of a commission. You do not pay him directly. His fees are built into the price of the insurance you buy. If you do not buy his insurance, he did all that work for you and gave you his professional opinion for free. In my state, he cannot send you a bill for his time, knowledge and advice unless he is also licensed as an Insurance Counselor.
The insurance agent may mistakenly think that you “Owe him” for his time, knowledge and advice. Since the only way he can get paid is if you buy your insurance from him, he can pester you with “follow-up calls.”
If you honestly do not want his insurance, be firm and tell him so. Until January, 2014, there is no law that says that you must buy insurance. (Obamacare’s Individual Mandate requires that every American buy a government approved health insurance policy or pay a tax penalty.)
However, if you are going to “lead him on” in order to take advantage of his time, knowledge and advice so that you can buy your insurance from your brother-in-law (just to help him out) or the blonde female agent because “she looks better in a skirt” (I have been told both during my career) the “jerk” is not the insurance agent.
SOMETIMES YOU CAUSE THE PROBLEM
Unfortunately, my 25 year experience is that prospects are rarely clear. They make excuses like, “I’ll think about it,” or “It is tax time, call me later.” They hope that the insurance agent will get the hint. Often we do not.
Unless you specifically tell us that you are not interested, as long as there is any chance of making a sale, we will continue to call.
For example, when an insurance agent hears, “Not now!” he hears, “In the future I’ll buy something.” If you tell an insurance agent that, be advised that your name and phone number will not be destroyed. It will go into his “tickler file.” He will call you again at a later time to, “See if now is a more convenient time.”
He knows that he will eventually wear down your sales-resistance so that you will buy something; even if it is just to get rid of him.
I remember watching a sit-com where the nerd is told by the pretty girl, “The chances of me dating you are 1 in a million.” Rather than take the hint, the nerd replies, “So there is a chance?”
Insurance agents have a touch of nerd in them. Often they cannot take a hint. To prevent any misunderstandings be very clear. Don’t leave any room for doubt.
In, “Pushy Insurance Agents: How To Fight Back” I give some advice on how to get rid of a jerk if you get one bugging you. The post is a couple of years old but the information is still good.
If an insurance agent is just not willing to take the hint that you do not want to do business with him, use the techniques that are in that post.
However, before you go to any extremes, try using the direct approach. Rather than making excuses, “to spare his feelings,” once you have decided that you do not want to use his services, tell him so.
Don’t waste your time or his!