Being in the health and life insurance business one hears a lot about ethics. Maybe it is because we sell a piece of paper and a promise makes people uneasy. There is no doubt that for the unethical insurance agent there has to be a lure of a quick buck on a broken promise. But those of us who have been in this industry for many years just see ethics as a “gate keeper” to keep the con artists out of our space. So, for an insurance agent what does ethics really look like?
Believe it or not we now have a month dedicated to ethics by the American Institute for Chartered Property and Causality Underwriters (AICPCU) along with the American College and the Society of Financial Service Professionals. These two large organizations spelled out the code of ethics for insurance agents. To most of us, this is called “common sense” but let’s take a look at their list of categories.
- Core Beliefs-simply put be honest. Tell the prospect or client the truth about what the product can and cannot do. Don’t lie, twist, misrepresent, omit, discriminate, slander, abuse or be disrespectful. Easy for most.
- Accountability-simply put to be trustworthy. Without morals and ethics, I am not sure it is possible to be a trusted advisor or agent. We are all accountable under the law but sometimes bad agents can skirt the law to be legal, but not trustworthy.
- Integrity-I refer to as character. I believe reputation is what others perceive you as, but character is who you are when no one else is looking. Do you always do the right thing for the client, even if it is impossible to be caught? The “yes” answer here scores one for integrity.
- Leadership-as an agency does your ethics carries down through your organization or is it to each his own? A strong ethical leader’s integrity is felt by the team. The bad agents have to go, no matter how much business they write. Ethics is nothing if not consistent.
- Professional-not just how the agent dresses or speaks but the knowledge of his products and the industry as a whole. Always striving for more education even if it is not warranted by DOI licensing requirements. Always wanting to be better for the clients and agents you work with weekly.
Our industry is an important one. If you promise to take care of that client by protecting their property or their life, you must take every step to be sure the product you put in place will do that very thing. As easy as all of this sounds rest assure it takes time, discipline and effort to become the most ethical insurance agent you can become. Your client deserves that level of ethics.
Image by Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net
Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 27 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.