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Backing the Hearse up to the Door

  • Aug-05-2010
  • Richard Reich

There’s an old-school method of selling life insurance called backing the hearse up to the door. Using this method, a life insurance salesman vividly paints a picture of what life would be like if the family’s breadwinner were to die before his/her time.  It is a highly-emotional type of sales approach used as a call-to-action to the breadwinner and spouse to purchase life insurance immediately.  I usually don’t use this approach, but I heard some disturbing news this morning that inspired me to dust it off  and use it as an appeal to those who need it.

One of my associates came into my office this morning and informed me that a mutual acquaintance passed away last night.  He had colon cancer that, obviously, was detected too late.  He had surgery last week to remove the tumors and part of his colon.  He didn’t make it.

Being the life insurance man I am, I asked my associate if this person had a life insurance policy (if I had known him better, he would have).  She told me he didn’t (she’s also an insurance person, so she had asked one of the surviving children).  She told me that he had looked into it but decided against it because he was upset that the premiums were so much more expensive for cigarette smokers.  The sad part of it is he could have afforded it.

As he was only an acquaintance, I am not familiar with his financial matters.  However, I do know that he leaves behind a wife who, on top of grieving the loss of a loved one, will now have to figure out how to survive financially – will she have to liquidate assets (house, etc.) in order to continue living comfortably?

Was there a business continuation plan in place that would be used to pay the wife for his share of the business?  As he didn’t have life insurance in place for his family’s well-being, I highly doubt if he had life insurance in place for business continuation purposes.  It’s now up to the business partner to work it out with the deceased partner’s wife.  If there is no business continuation plan in place, will he do the right thing and compensate the wife for the deceased partner’s share of the business?  If so, will he have to liquidate business assets to do so?

Buying a life insurance policy is a selfless act.  Unless you’re purchasing a cash-value policy with the goal of accumulating cash, there is no personal gain to be had by buying a life insurance policy (other than the peace of mind it gives you that you are protecting your family).  In most cases, you are purchasing it to make sure your family survives comfortably after your death.

Conversely, not purchasing life insurance, as shown by the example above, is extremely selfish.  This gentleman could have easily purchased a policy for less than the cost of his cigarettes and other non-essential items.  Now, his family and business partner must pay the price of his selfishness.

I don’t like this approach, but this story has me so riled up that I can’t guarantee that I won’t relay it to others who need and don’t have adequate life insurance. As a matter of fact, I’ll start using it right now – go and make sure you have enough life insurance so your survivors won’t suffer a similar fate.

7/27/17 Update

Well, it looks like I haven’t taken this advice since I posted this.  I recently lost another close associate who didn’t have a life insurance policy.  He was healthy one day and 3 months later, he was dead because of  pancreatic cancer.  He left behind a wife who depended on his income as a building contractor.  She has now gone back to work full-time and will have to sell the home they lived in for 28 years.  Friends of hers set up a Go Fund Me campaign to raise some money for her to make her transition easier.  This didn’t have to be like this.  If he had even a $500,000 policy, she would have enough funds to keep her home and continue living the lifestyle she had been accustomed to.  Life will be tough for her for awhile and, the shame is, it didn’t have to be this way.

 

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  • Intramark Insurance Services, Inc.