An insurance agent is more than just an agent

| 14 Jul 2020

What value do you provide as an adviser? Are you taking your clients for granted? Asia Advisers Network's very own Gladys Tan shares her personal experience with two agents as she seeks advice and recommendations on getting her critical illness coverage before the definitions are revised.

Before I joined Asia Advisers Network (AAN) two years ago, I had the usual stereotypical perception of insurance agents and advisers that most consumers have.

But throughout my work, as AAN continues to shine the spotlight on the good that these agents have done, I have been more exposed to what professional advisers do and there is a difference depending on who the agent is.

Case in point: I recently found out that I don’t have a Critical Illness (CI) plan because I thought that I had bought one years ago when I bought my plans with Agent A.

How did I find out about it? No, it was not because Agent A followed up with me or updated me on the revised definitions that will come into effect. I found out only after looking through the hard copy documents of the policies that I have bought so far and then asking Agent A if I had any CI plan, thinking I might have misunderstood or perhaps did not get the correct picture given the various documents on hand. 

It was quite a shock when it was confirmed that I did not have any CI plans, as I have been seeing the news of the updated definitions in CI plans shared from the many agents/advisers that I follow on social media.

So I got Agent A to give me a quote and at the same time, I also approached Agent B, because a consumer should always have options right? And this was what happened:

Agent A

Churned out two proposals within a day and assumed the sum assured was what I wanted. He didn’t ask what my current salary was even though I have changed jobs since I knew him seven years ago. 

He gave me the 2 proposals in an image via Whatsapp and then he stopped there.

I had to go back to him with many questions to clarify. What does the plan cover? What is the difference between the two plans? Is there a surrender value and what is the surrender value? Will the plan end once there is a claim or continue?

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And then he said, “Let me send you the bi”. I didn’t know what did ‘bi’ meant but reckoned it’s the terms and conditions. I replied ok and he sent me a 64-page document! 

I read halfway and went back to ask him on the illnesses that the plan covers. And he told me “page 39”.

I like reading, but who has the time to go and read through 64 pages?

The thing that irked me the most? He misspelt my name as ‘Glady’ in the document. Yes, I’m one of those annoying customers that dislike it when people misspell her name.

The whole communication was via Whatsapp messages.

However, I also got to acknowledge that Agent A was responsive to my messages/ queries whenever I had them in the past seven years and had helped me in any claims that came up. Perhaps his replies to me were causal and short since we are friends? Perhaps his focus now is more on growing his team?

Agent B

Gave me one proposal within 1.5 days. He sent the proposal via email and started by thanking me for waiting for his recommendations. He had asked for my annual income and in the email, he gave me a range of the sum assured so that I can have different options.

The information given was in bite-sized format with a simple flow chart of how the plan works and why he was recommending the plan.

I went back to Agent B with some of my many questions and he suggested to arrange a Zoom call so that he can better understand what I wanted and needed.

Are you adding value?

There is nothing wrong with what either agent has done so far and I know that I am not an easy customer. But my point in writing and sharing all these is that, in today’s day and age, where the consumer has so many options (Robo-advisers, getting a plan online etc), an agent/adviser should provide more.

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The products seem to be more or less the same for all the companies. What sets an agent apart for me, is the service and value that he/she can add to me and the genuine care shown. 

I haven’t made any decision yet and I am still considering the options. And for those of you out there who haven’t gotten your CI plan, or you're still thinking about it, go contact your agent or find one before the new definitions kick in on 26 August 2020!

Gladys Tan is Senior Marketing Executive at Asia Advisers Network. She first shared her experience with the two agents here


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