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How was your visit to the world of life insurance?

The field of positive psychology can lend us insight into the experience people have shopping for life insurance. This is especially true when they have a medical condition or other underwriting challenge. Why is it that some people become disheartened through the process, while others remain optimistic? Dr. Maxwell Maltz can help us find out.

Dr. Maltz wrote the international best seller, “Psycho-Cybernetics”. This book has for over fifty years helped millions of people, including famous athletes, entertainers, and entrepreneurs. He pioneered the idea of “self-image” and taught us how it is integral to our growth as people – or to our lack of growth. In his words, “Human beings always act and feel and perform in accordance with what they imagine to be true about themselves and their environment”[1].

Dr. Maltz explains that people develop a self-image through a combination of three factors: an authoritative source; intense personal experience; and repetition. He reminds us that most people have developed a poor self-image because of an adverse impression left by one or more of these factors. It is up to us, he emphasizes, to “reprogram” ourselves so as to benefit from more positive influences and form a stronger and more positive self-image.

How does this relate to the purchase of life insurance by people who have had trouble doing so?

Many people come to my firm claiming they are “uninsurable”. They feel this way because a broker told them that as if it was a fact of life. Or, they were dragged through a frustrating and exhausting underwriting process on the hope and the prayer they would be approved for a policy – and they weren’t. If multiple brokers discouraged them, and if multiple attempts to apply failed, then they quite naturally concluded they will never be eligible for coverage. We are their last resort.

I have found that one of the most interesting and enjoyable parts of my job as a specialist life insurance broker is to help people believe in themselves. After all, applicants have to be ready, willing, and able to go through prequalification, and then through underwriting, in order to finally get the coverage needed. How can I keep them encouraged when up to this point they have been nothing but discouraged?

This is where I get to be the perfect host. Instead of telling people they are uninsurable because of a certain medical condition or lifestyle activity, I inform them that they could very well be insurable under the right circumstances – even if the condition or activity is significant. Instead of pushing them immediately through the application process, I prequalify them so the product, company, and price can be determined beforehand. If an unforeseen problem has prevented an approval as applied for, I will make sure a fix is in place before another attempt has been made.

I think it is the responsibility of the broker to make sure clients feel at home in the life insurance world. They should see themselves as honored guests.


[1] Maxwell Maltz, MD, The New Psycho-Cybernetics (New York, New York Penguin Putnam Inc., 2001) p. 45