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Dont let life insurance get lost in translation

Help your clients learn to speak life insurance by using these metaphors.

I’ve always enjoyed playing the role of translator for my clients. I pride myself on being able to break down complex problems and make them easier to comprehend.

One of the common financial products I translate for my clients is life insurance: what it is, why they may need it, and how it may help them and their beneficiaries. I’ve concluded that it’s hard for a general audience to understand life insurance, partly because the industry struggles to simplify it, and partly because there are so many misperceptions about the products.

I often hear concerns from my clients that life insurance is too expensive or that it is not a tangible financial asset. While this may be true in certain cases, I do my best to help my clients move past blanket statements in order to recognize how life insurance may be of value to them in their unique set of circumstances. It’s not news to any of us that each client is on his or her own financial journey, and that life insurance may mean something different to any one of them at different stages of life. Personalizing life insurance is a big part of the translation services I provide. To help my clients better understand life insurance, I translate the principles of life insurance using these three simple metaphors:

Life insurance is the glue that holds a financial plan together

When I meet my clients for the first time, I like to ask them what their perfect retirement looks like and what other financial goals they want to achieve along the way. While each client’s vision of the perfect retirement is different, the planning and steps he or she needs to take typically follow a similar format.

Unfortunately, as the saying goes, even the best laid plans often go awry. Too often, unexpected expenses can completely rip apart an otherwise effective financial plan. However, if the client has life insurance, this common scenario doesn’t have to be his or her reality. Depending on the policy, some benefits may be accessible during the client’s lifetime, preventing a total rewriting of their retirement playbook. Life insurance, just like glue, holds a financial plan together even when life is unpredictable.

Life insurance is a safety net

You’ve probably heard the proverb, “It’s impossible to be sure of anything but death and taxes.” Everything in between is uncertain, and bad things can happen. Life insurance can help absorb the impact of the inevitable on those people who depend on your clients. For example, one of my business-owning clients passed away at a young age. Since he had a life insurance policy, the family had the means to continue operating the business, safeguarding the well-being of its employees, in addition to the capital to sustain themselves. Life insurance is like a safety net that can help maintain the quality of life your clients have created for the ones they’re responsible for.

Life insurance is not a religion

When people tell me that they do not “believe” in life insurance, my response is always the same: life insurance is not a religion that can be believed in or not. Life insurance is a real, tangible benefit. Death benefits can and do support families in need. There is no magic wand or other supernatural force that exists to make this happen. Life insurance is a contract between a company and an individual, and as long as that company is stable, viable and able to meet its contractual commitments, life insurance will be there when there’s a need.

However, each client is at a different stage of their savings, careers and lives, and life insurance may mean something different to each of them. Life insurance is a financial asset; it will either economically make sense or not make sense depending on your client’s situation. As a financial planner, it is my responsibility to articulate the pros and cons of life insurance to each of my clients. After crunching some numbers and analyzing the needs of the client, we determine if there is an appropriate product to fulfill those needs. While the formula might look a little different every time, the math always adds up.

In our industry, there is nothing more rewarding than being able to help your clients toward achieving their goals and realizing their dreams, for themselves, their businesses and their families — sometimes even in the face of adversity or the unexpected. It’s what got me into this business back in 1988 and what makes me excited and proud to serve my clients every day.


Gary Katz Picture

A. Gary Katz, CBEC

A. Gary Katz, CBEC, is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Securities offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker dealer. (member SIPC). Investment advisory services offered through Sagemark ConsultingSM, a division of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies.