The business of life insurance, all insurance really, has been declared to be a public trust. All agents therefore, regardless of their company affiliations, are to work together to serve the best interests of the insuring public. They do this by:
- understanding and observing the laws governing life insurance in letter and in spirit;
- presenting accurately and completely every fact essential to a client’s decision;
- being fair in all relations with colleagues and competitors; and
- always placing the policyholder’s interests first.
The Code of Ethics of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) demonstrates these principles in much the same language. Individuals in the financial services industry have a duty to both their clients and the companies they represent. To avoid conflict between these two obligations, agents are required to:
- hold their profession in high esteem and work to enhance its prestige;
- fulfill the needs of their clients to the best of their ability;
- maintain scrupulously their clients’ confidences;
- render exemplary service to clients and their beneficiaries;
- adhere to professional standards of conduct in helping clients to protect insurable obligations and to attain their financial security objectives;
- present accurately and honestly all facts essential to their clients’ decisions;
- perfect their skills and increase their knowledge through continuing education;
- conduct their business in such a way that their example might help raise the professional standards of those in their profession;
- keep informed with respect to applicable laws and regulations and to observe them in their practice; and
- cooperate with others whose services are constructively related to meeting the needs of their clients.
Agents with these standards really do exist. Seriously. Keep looking until you find one that asks questions and learns about you and your needs and goals; then you do your part: be honest, respect their knowledge and input; ask questions back (Really! Be sure you understand what you are buying – do not be afraid to look stupid. Insurance is complex and defines things in its own special way. Ask for explanations. Assume nothing!).