UPDATE: Both the review and my reply are gone!
Imagine that. Maybe two hours after I publish my reply, they decided to pull the review. Huh.
I’m leaving this post.
My first goodreads review is posted below. She wasn’t exactly kind. I debated as to whether to respond. Goodreads recommends against it. Still, it bothered me. Then I read their author’s guidelines. The pertinent one is posted below.
In the end I decided to post a comment. I am posting both the review and my comment here also. My decision was based on several factors. First, she really didn’t review the book itself, nor was her assessment all that accurate. It’s almost like I ticked her off somehow. Second, I felt anyone reading her review who might pass on it due to her skewed critique deserved more than what she offered. Third, I’ve decided not to promote this book. At least, not at this time. Part of the reasons you’ll find below. The short version is, as valuable as this book it the right hands would prove, it stands little chance any decent return on my investment. Most people simply don’t want to spend money to learn about life insurance. After all, they can get all this information for free… right? Actually they can but they won’t. What most people will do is rely on the first life insurance salesman whom they take a liking to. They might be better off putting their money on Red 27 on the Roulette wheel. Bottom line: my time and efforts are most likely better utilized elsewhere.
Thank you Goodreads, author and publisher for the free copy of this book.
The author has one main reference blog that he sites over and over. The book does not appear well researched. He admits to failing out of the insurance industry in the book. I would be cautious of following his advice without looking into additional resources.
Note: Goodreads guidelines state: “Reviews of the author. Mentioning the author in the context of a review is always acceptable, but reviews that are predominantly about an author’s behavior and not about the book may be deleted.”. I believe this guideline pertains to this review and asked for it to be removed before posting the following reply
While I appreciate this reader taking the time to post a review, I struggled as to whether to reply. The deciding factor is I feel her review is misleading.
Before I address her concerns, I feel I should clarify what groups would best benefit from this book.
Those who would benefit most are young couples who either have children or are planning to have them. Why? Because they are in the best position to benefit from life insurance overall.
The other group consists of those who already have life insurance. Most life insurance is either sold or “given away”, as in workplace insurance. For reasons you will find here and, in a deeper sense, in the book, it is often hit or miss when one is “sold” life insurance. Unless one dies during their current employment, workplace insurance is of little value.
Now about Ms. L. E.’s review. Overall, her statements may lead one to believe I am either daft or a dishonest writer. Why else would I write a book that was “not well researched”? Did I write it just to make money? Knowing the industry as I do, I’d consider this foolish. Why? Because of all the topics to write about, life insurance is just about the dullest knife in the drawer.
Few people wake up in the morning thinking “I need to buy life insurance today!”. Most people don’t want to deal with it. Some don’t even want to think about it. They have to be “sold”. In other words, they wait until an agent catches them in the right frame of mind and, if the agent presents well, they will buy what the agent offers. It is a rare person who will talk to a total stranger who happens to call or stop by about life insurance.
Marketing wisdom states “if you want to sell hot dogs, find a hungry crowd”. As much as life insurance is needed as well as a very, very smart buy if bought correctly, the hunger is not there.
That said, just how enticing would you expect a book about life insurance be? It would likely be more attractive if sold as a cure for insomnia. Why would anyone be foolish enough to write such a book? Well, I might be foolish but I felt this book needed to be written.
She points out that I admit I failed in the industry. Indeed I do. I make no bones about it. The question is why? WHY did I fail? I’ve sold one thing or another for most of my life – anything from shoes to securities to hammers and nails – with varying degrees of success. Yes, I’ve had failures, including life insurance, but I’ve also had tremendous successes. I often found myself at the top echelons. So why did I fail here?
It wasn’t just one thing. First, understand the nature of the industry. Nine of ten life insurance sales agents fail in the first year, according to one source. Other sources mitigate this somewhat but really, it’s hard to come up with anything definitive. My own experience may be more telling.
I got into life insurance out of desperation. At the time, I couldn’t buy an interview, any interview, despite submitting hoards of applications. The one interview I did land was with a life insurance company, a well-known one at that. They ended up offering me a job. What I later found out is my primary qualification was my ability to fog a mirror. Seriously. Let that sink in. I had no experience selling life insurance. I did not even have a license. They said they help me get licensed. Finally! An employer more desperate to hire me than I was for a job. In the end, I turned them down, got licensed on my own and became an independent agent.
To my knowledge, there are no definitive studies on whether captive (works for one insurance company) or independent (contracts with several companies) agents have better success rates. I suspect captive agents may have a slight edge as they have more support and better training. Even so the captive agency I interviewed with was scrambling for bodies to fill their chairs. What does that tell you?
No matter which way one goes as an agent, the process of selling life insurance is the same. It is how life insurance is sold. From observation and personal experience, I’m convinced “how insurance is sold” is part of the problem with the entire industry. What I mean by this is the focus is on selling life insurance rather than helping consumers buy the exact protection they need.
Then there is the consumer end. Is this another failure of the insurance industry or are we consumers also culpable? I’d say both are true. Look at it this way. Everybody has auto insurance. Why? Because the law requires it. Nobody is legally required to buy life insurance. While there is a good chance you’ll need your auto insurance if you drive enough, you will certainly die and dying doesn’t come cheap. Nearly everybody can see the need for life insurance, few actually understand the value. A properly purchased life insurance policy can be the very best bang for anyone’s financial buck. Yet the life insurance industry makes almost zero effort helping people to understand this. Those that do want to focus on things such as “income replacement.” While income replacement is not a bad thing, the most dire need for most families is a good basic policy. The bells and whistles can come later.
So, yes, I can and do point to the industry for part of the blame and to consumers for a minuscule bit. On that last note, it’s not really the consumers fault for not understanding what has become an increasingly varied and complicated range of products and offerings. Yes, the information is available but it is often buried in mountains of useless irrelevant junk of interest to only a few.
My own choices carry the brunt of the blame for my failures. If I could turn back the clock while retaining what I now understand, I’d take an entirely different approach. However, I did the best I knew how with what I knew then. My choices pertained to the types of insurance I sold, how I found prospects and what prospects I sought. Along the way I learned a lot. I learned from my own mistakes and also from the mistakes of the people I talked to. I also learned from those who experience success on both sides of the table and from my own success. Yes. I had successes also, even in the life insurance biz. I wasn’t a total failure. For the most part I did not have the financial staying power to ride out the low spots and I refused to go into debt. Add to that the utter despondency that comes with an extended slump and, well, it can be a very difficult hole to crawl out of. This is especially true in sales.
Per the references, there are seven in this short book. Three of them refer to the one blog she refers to. This blog is geared towards those who are interested in utilizing life insurance as a wealth-building tool. While I believe them to be the best in this niche, such is beyond the scope of this book. So for the two times I mention wealth-building with life insurance, yes, I refer to them. The third time I referenced this blog was due to their insight on what percentage of life insurance policies actually pay a death benefit. This information is closely held and most difficult to find. From what I’ve been able to ascertain, their intelligence is likely accurate. The other four references point to various sources to back up what I feel may be otherwise difficult facts to believe.
Most of this book was written from direct personal experience both as an agent and as a consumer. In other words, I lived it. A great deal of said experience was derived from performing policy reviews for prospects who “already had insurance”. Once in a while a review produced some astounding information in a good sense. Far too often the reviews were heartbreaking. It’s been said 7 out of 10 insureds do not have the insurance they think they have. If one includes some of the issues I often found with policies, you could say the above figure is actually on the conservative side.
The bottom line is, anyone who owns one or more insurance policies should really, really have them reviewed on an annual basis. While I include a basic outline of the questions to ask so one could do it themselves, I highly recommend doing this with one’s life insurance agent.
Finally, about the caution advised about following my advice without further research. This makes me wonder whether she actually did anything more than skim the book. I make no specific recommendations other than what to look for in a policy. This is based on the type of policy best suited for those who can best benefit from a sound policy. Then I show how to find a suitable policy with a solid company. In other words… I show you, the reader, how to do your own research to find the policy best suited to provide the basic coverage most people really should have. While I do touch upon other types of polices for other needs, my focus is on the basic need because without securing this first, the rest is often worthless unless you actually plan on dying. Here’s what I mean by this:
A young couple who chooses to protect their family with sound, basic policies is making a sound financial choice from the start. The goal here is two-fold.
The first goal is to obtain basic financial protection from an unexpected death. By “basic”, I mean minimal. The objective here is to provide enough funds to weather a financial storm. It is not intended to cover everything. Those issues should be considered separately depending on the resources and needs of the family. The advantage here is the basic policy can be maintained should a family fall into financial difficulty. Too often I’ve seen people let policies lapse because they can no longer afford the premium of large policy.
The second goal is to build some modest cash-value over the years. How modest or substantial this value grows to be depends on too many factors to accurately predict. Everything else equal, the cash value should grow to retirement age where the policy can be converted to a smaller amount of paid up insurance to just cover final expenses while freeing up the rest for whatever purpose one chooses. This is just one option, however it demonstrates how a simple policy can serve more than one purpose.
In the end, I’m choosing not to heavily promote this book. While I feel it offers great value, the “hungry crowd” doesn’t exist. Even so, I responded here because I would hope those who might pass on this book on L. E.’s review might reconsider, particularly if one falls within one of the two groups described above. While her points are not entirely in error, they are somewhat misconstrued. As you may have guessed, there’s more to it than this. Hopefully my reply here can help those who really need this information to make some informed choices.