Factfinding is fundamental — in-force ledgers

By Brent D. Gardner, CLU, ChFC

Life Solutions, Inc.

Have you ever had a prospective client that would give you annual statements, but refused to sign a letter requesting an in-force ledger? If so, how did you handle it? And did you make the sale?

Agent question: I've been trying to get an in-force ledger from a prospect for about a month now. He has repeatedly faxed me statements from previous years. He sent the current statement today. Should I continue to push for an in-force or just make a recommendation based on what I have and move on?

General agent answer: You don't get an in-force ledger from a prospect or client. You go get it for them. Direct from the company to your email, in your practice.

How? With a letter of instruction. I provide these to my agents and clients. They are pretty simple, really.

So far, your prospect is giving you what he gets in the mail. Most companies do not send out ledgers without a written request.

I get a letter of instruction requesting in-force ledgers signed at the first face to face meeting. I keep blank ones in my folio, right next to the application and rate book I always carry.

There are certain things a professional agent does all the time. One of those things is gather complete facts. The only way to gather complete facts on existing portfolios of insurance is to get in-force ledgers. To practice otherwise is malpractice, in my opinion.

Doctors run tests to confirm a diagnosis. Lawyers do studies and look up case law before offering an opinion. Have you asked a doctor or lawyer a professional question in a social setting, and found them reluctant to answer your question?

They are taught to politely refuse to answer your questions in those situations (and their liability insurance companies remind them on a regular basis to never give out advice outside of a professional relationship).

There's something vital here to learn from how other professionals practice: Do other professionals offer kneejerk advice to a question? Rarely.

The better advisors refuse to. They always require fact finding first.

If you're a professional life insurance agent, or you want to become one, fact finding is fundamental. This means in-force ledgers and declarations pages on existing policies before you offer your prescription for what ails the prospective client.

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