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  • What do I need to know to find a life insurance adviser?
  • July 25, 2013
  • Tony Steuer

    By Tony Steuer, CLU, LA

    In the past, life insurance was normally sold and serviced by a traditional life insurance agent, but this has changed in recent years.

    In fact, there are very few traditional life insurance agents who only sell life insurance and other related life insurance products. Nowadays, they are often referred to as financial advisers, financial consultants or financial planners.

    Advisers with any one of these titles have most likely expanded into selling and servicing newer forms of life insurance as well as other insurance policies. Also, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are now getting into the business of selling life insurance.

    However, all of these changes have made the process of evaluating a life insurance adviser slightly more difficult. Now there are more factors to take into consideration before making a decision.

    The following are some issues to keep in mind when looking for an insurance adviser.

    The industry of life insurance has changed, so have the methods of finding an adviser.

    The agent system has also changes; historically, almost all agents were once called “captive”. Meaning, they only sold policies for the company with which they were affiliated.

    Today, there are still quite a few “captive agents”; however, a majority of them are brokers who represent multiple insurers. Some “captive agents” sell other companies’ policies, while some can only sell their own policies.

    This is an important regulation to figure out.

    An adviser should represent multiple companies. If they only represent one company, they can only offer you policies from that company – not necessarily the best policies in the market.

    Use an Advisor Referral Service, though most will provide less than optimal results. The following two services are a good place to start.

    Society of Financial Service Professional’s Referral Service

    This organization originally started off as an alumni organization for Chartered Life Underwriters (CLUs) and Chartered Financial Consultants (ChFCs), but has expanded to include many other financial service professionals.

    Again, these other professional’s may be highly qualified in their specific niche and not well educated about life insurance.

    Click here to access their website.

    The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education

    This is an excellent service that provides a wide variety of information on their website, which includes an online agent locator tool. However, it is a database for members of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), which have less stringent standards than the SFSP.

    Prior to using their agent locator service, you may want to check out the NAIFA website to learn more about their members.

About Tony Steuer

Noted insurance author Tony Steuer has spent over 25 years in the life insurance industry. Steuer’s leadership roles include serving on the California Department of Insurance Curriculum board and the National Financial Educator's Council Curriculum Advisory Panel as well as having served as President of the San Francisco Chapter of the American Society of CLU & ChFC, President of the leading Life Insurance Producers of Northern California, and as a board member of the San Francisco Life Underwriters Association. Mr. Steuer is the author of Questions and Answers on Life Insurance: The Life Insurance Toolbook, The Questions and Answers on Life Insurance Workbook and The Questions and Answers on Disability Insurance Workbook - the first two were awarded the “Excellence in Financial Literacy (EIFLE) Award from the Institute of Financial Literacy. Steuer holds a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation and also holds the Life and Disability Insurance Analyst License, a designation that is held by less than thirty people in California.

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Questions & Answers on Life Insurance by Tony Steuer, CLU, LA, CPFFE is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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