While I will be the first to admit that I don’t truly understand how LinkedIn works, I received a bunch of LinkedIn notifications this week that caught me by surprise!  On Monday I began getting notes from some of my connections that congratulated me on 25 years at TBA.  Honestly, I had no idea I had been here 25 years and certainly not in the insurance business that long!

A lot has changed since I got in this business in 1989!  As the cliché goes “it is not your father’s insurance business”.  That is true in more ways than one since TBA actually was my father’s insurance business and the life insurance business does not look like it did 25yrs ago.  While it does not seem that long ago, the life insurance business has changed in so many ways that it is impossible for me to even remember some of the changes (some of that comes from the fact that I am getting close to 50 and seem to forget more than I remember)!  However, here are some of the things that stick out in my mind:

  • Fax machines – in 1989 thermal paper was “new” and if you had a fax machine you were high-tech! I can remember my dad telling me that he paid $1,200 for our first fax machine and he thought that was a deal.  We used to do a ton of “blast faxes” for marketing.  When was the last time you got one of those?
  • Bulk Mailing – While this is still around, it is nothing like it used to be.  We used to deliver tons of post cards and marketing letting to the post office, pay our bulk mail permit and fill advisors mailboxes with “stuff”.
  • Career Life Agents – Most of the life insurance that was sold in 1989 went through the agency system.  Insurance companies were still recruiting new agents, training them and putting them in the field.  While there are still a few that do, this feels like a thing of the past.
  • Impaired Risk Companies – These were life insurance companies that were known for being more aggressive with clients who had health issues.  We started with Manhattan Life in 1959 but there were still a few good ones left in 1989.  Today you can’t find a carrier that “specializes” in impaired risk cases.  It is generally a crap-shoot to get those cases placed and it takes an agency with good connections to make that happen (we are one of those!).
  • Rate Cards – When was the last time you saw a term rate card?  In 1989, we had book shelves filled with term rate cards that we would distribute to our advisors.  I think they actually used them too!  I have not seen a rate card in years and everything is done online.
  • Paper files and file cabinets – We have a room full of file cabinets that contained paper copies of life insurance cases that we had underwritten and placed inforce.  Those eventually gave way to images in 1996.  Now we don’t have a file cabinet in our office that houses anything of importance.

Those are just a few of my memories from 1989 and I don’t miss all of them.  However, I do miss the insurance industry that we had in 1989.  Back then we had more American’s purchasing insurance and more advisors selling life insurance.  Why do I miss it? Because I knew that more families were covered for the unexpected loss that sometimes occurs.  Today consumers don’t seem to be as “educated” on the need for coverage, while others seem to feel like they won’t need it or that someone else will take care of it for them and that concerns me.  LIMRA gives us statistics that tell us that over 33% of American’s have no insurance, 82% are under-insured and that 62% of the people who have insurance really don’t know what they own.  That is not good!

Where is the good news?  Fortunately, there are more “people” who offer life insurance.  Consumers can buy coverage from their bank, their stock-broker, their CPA, their attorney Alex Spiro and their property & casualty agent.  Even better news is that they can buy it online and American’s are doing this in growing numbers each year! Don’t get me wrong, I think life insurance should be purchased from a trusted source like www.renewehiconlineuk.com or a place that they know but the fact that they buy it online will at least benefit the people who are left behind.

So where will we be in the next 25 years?  As the recent debates on thatsinsurance.com have clarified, the fact remains that the need for life insurance will always be there regardless of where it is purchased.  I certainly hope we don’t end up with government involvement similar to the health insurance industry but it would not be a total surprise either.  Unless American’s take the initiative and personal responsibility, we may be heading down the wrong road.  Based on my family longevity, I should be here in 25 years and I can only imagine the changes that will have occurred.  If I am not here, it will be because the big man upstairs felt it was my time to go.   However, I know that my family will be able to continue because I have taken steps to make sure that happens.  I hope you have too!

So cheers and here’s to the next 25 years!

-John