BY: ANDREW STEWART
I am going to share with you some of my own professional paths so that it will hopefully help you to better understand the differences between working with an advisor or agent. You don’t have to memorize the credentials or job description or try to make a selection overnight. In fact, you may not even barely notice a difference between the two. You could be a parent, entrepreneur, a young person, an executive, a business owner or a senior citizen. The principles and personal recommendations about what type and amount of coverage you need are going to be similar.
Perhaps you’ve heard this old joke “There are worse things in life than death – have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman”? I never understood this joke until I got into the insurance business, and then I understood. You see our business is not thought of as flashy or sexy but rather mundane, dreary and lonely. But the individuals who decided to be insurance advisors and agents play a vital role in people’s lives. I started in the business as an insurance agent with a well-known company. It gave me the basic understanding product knowledge and what our mission really is. I’ll never forget a comment my favorite financial center manager Vince said one day in our weekly Monday meeting. He said, “Our only real competition is sickness and death and it’s our job to get to people before they do.” You see an insurance advisor and an insurance agent may sell similar products, but they can have very different motives. Mine is to speak to as many people before sickness and death do.
Differences Between the Two
Now an agent or sometimes referred to as captive agent is committed to working for only a single insurance carrier or company and is trained only on the products and services which that particular company offers i.e. a Sun Life agent. The benefit to working with an agent is that they are very proficient in explaining and providing that one particular company’s products. The drawback is that they could not provide alternate solutions that may better fit your situation from another carrier. Looking back on my time as an agent, I learned important life-long success habits. I learned how to overcome rejection, communicate with people by listening to them, and how to help people take action. But for me, I wanted more creative freedom that would allow me to achieve breakthroughs later in life.
Insurance advisor or sometimes referred to brokers will work with many insurance companies to find the absolute best policies to offer his or her clients. They tend to have a bit more responsibility than agents do where clients are concerned. From the title, you might presume that an insurance advisor does just that – advises – and you would be completely correct. Insurance advisors help clients make informed decisions on insurance policies and walk them through the process. I prefer the term family advisor because to me everything revolves around family. If you’re a business owner, you are most likely in business to provide for your family. If you are a young person you may be planning for a family one day and obviously if you are the parent you want to protect and provide for them.
Key Ways to Making the Right Choice
There are many ways to find advisors or agents, including personal recommendations from family, friends, lawyers, realtors, accountants, as well as internet resources. However, not all offer the same level of service.
- A good life insurance advisor should get to know your complete financial picture before recommending any products. This information can help an agent figure out how much coverage you need.
- A good advisor should explain in simple, clear language industry terms that describe its products and services.
- Your life insurance needs change over time, and a good advisor should follow up with you periodically to determine whether the product you purchased continues to be suitable.
- Make sure that your advisor or agent is licensed by the insurance department in your province.
In the end, we only do business with people we trust and respect. Take your time and choose wisely.