Thursday, September 13, 2007
posted by PabloPabla at 9:41 am

In my life so far, I’ve come across quite a number of insurance agents. Some are friends who happen to be insurance agents by vocation, some are relatives, some are friends’ or colleagues’ insurance agents, some are fellow church members and some are telemarketers. Even a neighbour of mine is also an insurance agent. Out of all these agents, I chose for myself only 1 insurance agent whilst my wife also deals with just one.

I have no problems or issues with these insurance agents who identify their work when I got to know them BUT do not sell or promote any of their product to me. It’s fine if they ask if I am currently insured but I start getting defensive once they start to probe further and offer to layout a financial plan with insurance etc for me.

I do have problems with those who would only contact me with the purpose of selling or promoting an insurance or financial product. It may be a lunch appointment but invariably, the subject matter of wanting to share the latest insurance product will crop up…most of the time whilst one is enjoying the meal, or even after the meal. As far as I am concerned, any approach of that sort gets a zero from me in terms of relationship building or making connections, whether as a relative, friend, neighbour or whatever. I don’t see any sincerity in their “wanting to get together” or “let’s catch up” pitch because I only see their ulterior motive of wanting to make the best use of that “get together” or “catch up” to try to sell me something. I am not stupid and I am not in the mood to apologize for feeling this way.

So, what led me to choosing that sole insurance agent of mine and not the others? Well, prior to knowing this agent, my auntie bought some policies for me as starters when I was young. She paid the premiums for me. It was a gift. When I started working, I knew I should take over the payment of premiums and handle all these by myself. But then again, my auntie sort of slowed down in this business and furthermore, she is a couple of hundred kilometers away.

I met this agent of mine by chance as I was entering into the LRT station. She was there, book in hand, and she asked if I would be able to spare 5 minutes to answer some questionnaire on financial planning. I obliged because I was not in a hurry and I knew, based on my previous working experience as a data surveyor, it is difficult to get people to cooperate. She took my name card. A couple of weeks later, she called me up and said she would like to share the results of the questionnaire. I happen to have the time and was interested in what she had to share. So, it was a sharing session. It so happened that she works for the same insurance company which my policies were bought from. So, I asked her to check on my insurance coverage.

At no time did she try to introduce any product to me. It was only in response to my questions that she mentioned that there are available products which, if I am interested, she would proceed to share further. Rather than trying to take advantage of having secured an appointment with me by stuffing me with the latest insurance products, she was there to service my needs (which was basically asking her to check my insurance coverage and explaining to me later what it covers). It was relationship building. And it worked.

Later, as my income grew, I had extra money to think of buying more insurance coverage for myself. It is almost automatic that I would reach out for her to assist me. Even so, there was no hard selling on her part. Just sharing of the products and leaving it to me to decide. No telling of morbid or depressing stories of what to expect if I don’t buy those products. She knew I am probably knowledgeable enough to appreciate the risk of being uninsured. She knew I am a lawyer dealing with insurance claims.

The other insurance agents I know are more interested in using whatever opportunities available to talk about the latest products in the companies they represent in. Even this neighbour of mine does not talk to us at all but out of the blues, called us with a smile and asked if we could spare a couple of minutes to listen to some great packages from the insurance companies she represent. Sincerity in wanting to be good neighbours? I don’t see it. As soon as we told her that we have our own insurance agents who deal with our needs from A to Z that was it. No further hellos or good byes when our paths crossed.

Insurance agents? I think they ought to learn some lessons on building relationships first and business later. Less they burn down the bridges of relationships. I understand that they need to sell to earn a living but they should spend more effort building a trusting relationship rather than strictly business kind of relationship.



At 10:39 am, Blogger mumsgather

I think what you've just said apply to any other person doing direct selling, not just insurance. I really do hate those "friends" who call up out of the blue to say "Lets meet for lunch" or "Lets catch up." Yes, lets catch up with the latest product you're selling, thats what!


At 1:36 pm, Blogger Helen

My best friend (oops ex best friend) is an insurance agent. Sometimes she don't mean it but she does get carried away. No matter what we're talking about, it still ended up revolving about insurance. YUK!

I said so and so's mother is in hospital.. and then she'll tell me if only the mother had bought this policy and she'll have nothing to fear. I know it's just harmless conversation, but then, talking about her work is such a conversation killer.

You're so jing geng (proper) I dare not ask.... but will try my luck. Psst, is the girl nice looking? :-P


At 1:52 pm, Blogger pablopabla

mumsgather : Oh yes, the others like Amway, Cosway and other ways sales agents as well. I thought I would reserve that for another post but nvm. :)

helen : My wife looks far far miles better :)


At 3:46 pm, Anonymous mm

Great story.

My view of insurance is, by all means buy medical and life insurance if you have dependents. But buy only pure insurance, throw that investment-link stuff in the garbage. Instead, just buy unit trusts separately.

1) In the first 3 years, a whopping 90 to 60% of all premiums paid (including that "investment" portion) goes to agent and company :( Check your policy.

2) Buying a unit trust separately will be much better. Or, if you do the research, buy blue chip stocks yourself, even better. It's much safer than you think. EPF buys these blue chips - they are the largest shareholders and unless they sell, the price will not plummet to zero. Government is also seeking to reduce unit trust sales charges from the sky high 5-6% now. (Singapore charges only 1-2% if you buy online)


At 4:21 pm, Anonymous ParisB

Woot! Great write up about the bane of my life - insurance agents, direct selling agents and tele marketeers! And you are certified NICE!


At 11:12 am, Anonymous Adino

Exactly how I feel about insurance agents, MLM members and such. It's always a waste to lose friendships for a few dollars of commission. Your insurance agent is really professional. That's the way to do it.

What about those credit card promoters at malls who refuse to take no for an answer and keep following you? More irritating that a barking dog.