Insurance Review

Here is how to conduct your own insurance review.

Look for what's left out

This is difficult to do unless you know what is supposed to be there. Think of what you think should be included.

What risks are covered?

This isn't a question about what the insurance policy but the underlying need. You face different risks: disability, morbidity, longevity and mortality. Are you protected against each risk? Did you decide which risks are more important to you or did your advisor decide for you?

Some clients have permanent life insurance for estate planning but lack protection against bigger and closer risks related to health (e.g., income replacement insurance, critical illness insurance).

Examine the quality of the information

What your advisor provided aids or obstructs your review. Some advisors restrict what they give you, which makes an independent review difficult. Sometimes you're shown things but not given printed copies. Sometimes you're given printed copies but nothing by email. Sometimes you're given a high level summary without the working papers that show how the figures were calculated. Why is information withheld? Advisors may be worried competitors getting copies.

In school exams, you were asked to show your work. That mattered more than the final result. That's true for insurance too. The skill shows in the process. The work pages can easily be emailed to you as a PDF.

What options were you shown?

Advisors can produce numerous alternatives for you. They can even perform "what if" calculations in front of you on a computer or tablet. That doesn't mean they do. Your advisor may decide for you rather than help you decide.

What options were withheld?

Like anyone else, advisors have biases and vary in skill. If you aren't shown the options, how can you make the optimal decision?

Example

For example, you might not be shown a leveraging strategy because your advisor is

  • not personally comfortable with leveraging
  • not knowledgeable about leveraging
  • inferred that you are not comfortable with leveraging

You might not be interested in leveraging unless you see the pros and cons.

What add-ons did you get?

Add-ons are sometimes called riders or benefits. They can be pricey even though they look like good values. You may not realize that some of the features you're getting have an additional cost.

Your Advisor

You can't do a proper insurance review without examining your advisor also.

Skill

This is difficult to gauge since the education and experience may be outdated. As a consequence, you may get yesterday's solutions instead of today's.

Frequency of contact

How often does your advisor contact you? Are the contacts to service what you have or to sell you something new?

Your Insurer

An insurance policy is a promise to pay you money. How good is that promise?

Keeping promises

Corporate governance is a measure of the quality of the promise. Unless prices are very different (and perhaps even if they are), look into the insurers.

Financial strength

There are trade-offs. Larger insurers tend to have more financial strength. Smaller insurers may be less expensive or more innovative.

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