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Opinion: Fear and loathing of life insurance

While most of us need to be optimistic just to get out of bed in the morning, the skilled insurance salesman is working out how to 'back the hearse up to the sitting-room window' – metaphorically speaking. It's an important component of success – nice eh?

Wednesday, May 21st 2008, 6:05AM

by Russell Hutchinson

Generating fear, and the oft-associated loathing, seemed to be the exclusive preserve of insurance people. But no more. Checking out The NZ Mortgage Mag I found an insurance brokerage trying to scare mortgage brokers. Surely not fair! Poor mortgage brokers are being scared enough by double digit interest rates, collapsing house sales, and thousands of unhappy property investors. Hard, really, to top that.

But these folk were trying to scare mortgage brokers out of selling insurance. "Mid Stream Urine Tests" the headline blared. Imagine a mortgage broker's trembling hand clutching a paper cup while some poor bugger is trying to pee. Now that's scary. It's also completely and utterly ridiculous. The closest insurance brokers get to the whole test equation is passing on a form from the insurer which lists the tests an underwriter wants. They don't even have to know what they are.

If you aren't selling life insurance there is plenty to fear, compliance, perhaps. Client underinsurance, certainly. But not mid-stream urine tests. If you are selling it, you shouldn't even worry that you lack significant medical knowledge. To sell, it is frankly irrelevant.

The truth is this – and it's the truth that is exposed by tough times – there are two kinds of adviser (whatever the product - mortgage, insurance, investment): people who can tell their clients uncomfortable truths; and people who can't. The former group will be trusted advisers. The latter will be just plain order takers at best – and apologists for persistently rosy forecasts that accompanied their sales at worst.

« Opinion: Business insurance target – is it the right one?Opinion: Insurance brokers can hold their heads up high »

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