We all get those phone calls where the people obviously have gone through extensive training to be able to ignore anything you say, unless it’s yes, and keep right on talking. It’s called cold calling or telemarketing and the people on the other end don’t get paid for giving up. While we are somewhat out of that kind of high pressure, take no prisoners, sales ballgame in life insurance, we are not completely clean from other obnoxious and dangerous practices that clients should be aware of. We learned a lot about customer service when we worked for a year with a large on line brokerage that didn’t believe in customer service at all. So let’s run through some examples of poor life insurance customer service and what you can and should expect instead.
1. Getting calls from multiple agents in rapid succession and going on way too long. Most on line life insurance quote sites sell their leads (your information) to as few as 3 agents and as many as you can imagine, depending on what the agent wants to pay. Your request for quotes goes out to prepaid agents in real time and you can actually get called within a minute of submitting your request. The online service we worked for recommended no less than 50 attempts to contact before marking it dead. If you take that times a large number of agents it can get stupid in a hurry. Our recommendation. Call individual agents or small agencies directly for quotes. Only submit information on line if you are confident the information isn’t for sale.
2. Receiving best rate class quotes when you have health issues or history that you have a hunch should exclude the best rate class. In the industry we call this bait and switch life insurance quotes. It plays into two things that almost all clients want, the best rate class and to get it done and in force. Unscrupulous, lazy life insurance agents will play one against the other to suck you in and keep you when things don’t appear to have gone as planned. Rather than shop your case or even quote you a higher rate because they know you can’t get the best rate class, the quote it the best life insurance rate they can and act as if it will, of course, be approved that way. That’s the bait. Then, when the rate comes back approved higher for your life insurance they act as if that stuff happens and “since we already have an approval there’s no since going through the process again”, the switch. In almost every case they are lying on both ends of the process. Before applying question the agent about health issues and ask if they have discussed it with an underwriter or can show you in the company guidelines where it garners best rate class. If your life insurance application is approved for a different rate than you applied for, either don’t accept it or put it in force monthly and shop it using the information that caused the change in rate. Any agent that participates in bait and switch doesn’t know if you can do better by shopping and reapplying. You can use the same exam in almost all cases and it will be much easier than they make it sound to redo.
3. Requiring money be sent with the application. Life insurance companies don’t require money with the application but some agents and agencies do. Why? Even though they would have to refund the money if you don’t accept the policy it is well known that when a client gives money with the life insurance application they feel more bound to the process, agent and company than they really are. If you want temporary insurance you do need to pay at the time of application, but there isn’t any other reason to do so.
4. Never receiving any updates on your application while it is in process. The application process can take a few weeks to a few months depending on medical issues and acquisition of records. You should expect to hear from your agent or at least their admin assistant weekly during that process. Leaving you in the dark really isn’t acceptable life insurance customer service. We call clients weekly even if there’s nothing new to report just so they are comfortable with the fact that we are staying on top of their application.
5. Not staying in touch after they’ve spent the commission from your sale. There are two dark sides to this practice. Most agents are just too lazy to check in occasionally and see if you have any questions. A lot of them are never heard from again so when you have questions or need a form you are forced to go through the home office. Abandonment would be a good way to describe it. The other dark side is agents that do call occasionally but always with the agenda of selling you something additional. Our office sends a letter to clients annually updating the status of their policy and we call them annually just to answer questions and let them know they can depend on us if they need service of any kind. This seems especially helpful for our business life insurance clients and those over age 50. If someone wants something additional we leave that in their hands to ask about, just like we did the original policy.
If you have any questions or don’t feel like you’ve gotten any bank for your buck from your current life insurance agent, or if they’ve abandoned you, call or email. We can help.
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