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Insurance Agent as a Profession
The insurance agent is bound by the terms of appointment of the insurer as well as is expected to procure business for the insurer. It is not a job that he has to do at fixed hours, in prescribed ways and under close supervision. Once licensed and chosen, he is an independent professional. He is the master of his time. He is not prevented from pursuing any other interest or vocation. Many agents see the agency as a means to earn a living. They may spend only part of the time on insurance, being busy on other work the rest of the time. Some agents however, try to study and understand the business in great details and to improve their skills. They are trying to become the best in the profession. They would be known as experts in the field.
To the majority persons, life insurance is just one of the many avenues for financial outlays. When an agent approaches a prospect with the proposal for life insurance, the chances are that the prospect will not know much about the benefits under a variety of plans. He may be vaguely well-known with the alternatives available, but is unlikely to be sure of the details of all of them. He would need expert advice. If he sees the life insurance agent as one who is keen to divert his money to life insurance to the exclusion of other alternatives, then that agent's intentions and expertise would be suspect. On the contrary, if he sees the agent as one who knows about other alternatives as well as who is willing to take note of the needs of the prospect, then that agent would have a better chance of persuading the prospect one way or the other. In other words, a life insurance agent, while dealing with the prospect, should be thinking of his interests as well as requirements and the best financial arrangements that would be suitable in his situation. Thus the life insurance agent, is an agent of the prospect too.
As an agent of the insurer, the life insurance agent is likely to obtain life insurance business and contribute to the revenues of the insurer. He is also depended upon to carry in business that would be profitable, to report attempts to commit any fraud, to report on relevant features that affect the risk of the subject of insurance. He is in touch with the person to be insured. Having met him at his place of work or residence and observed his life style and habits, he would be aware of the nature and characteristics of the risk, beyond what is contained in the proposal form. He is for that reason, called the primary underwriter
As an agent of the prospect, he is expected to take care of the interests of the prospect. Even people who are generally experts in financial matters, may not be aware of the implications of insurance, in relation to terms and conditions, warranties, exclusions, tax provisions, rights of parties, etc. Agents have the dual duty of being true to the interests of both the parties in the transaction. He is obliged to reveal to the prospect all the important terms and conditions of the policy, even if they are restrictive and unpleasant. He is also obliged to report to the insurer all the true facts about the prospect as well as the subject of insurance.
To be able to advise the prospect on the great financial arrangements appropriate to his situation, the agent needs to be familiar with the alternatives available in the market. He is also expected to know in full the benefits and limitations of the various plan being offered by his insurer. A fine agent is a fine financial planner, taking into account not merely the plans offered by insurers, but by the innumerable schemes on offer in the market. This needs study on one's own. It also needs conviction that life insurance policies do not meet all the needs of all the people. Other instruments have their own advantages
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