MDRT Annual Meeting 2017

Present ‘Get-Well’ Cheques, Not Stats and Data

Selling critical illness (trauma) insurance is not about statistics nor policies and premiums but about providing for clients when they need help, according to an adviser who made claims against his own critical illness policy.

Sun Life Financial's Darren Ulmer

Sun Life Financial’s Darren Ulmer

Speaking at the recent MDRT Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, Darren Ulmer from Sun Life Financial in Saskatoon, Canada said critical illness insurance (CII) does not take away medical problems but removes financial stress and its effects from policy holders.

Ulmer, who was successfully treated for a cancerous growth behind his ear, asked attendees if they sold CII or whether they held it themselves and said it can be presented to clients through natural conversations and without having to quote statistics or present cold data.

He said he created a scrapbook of personal stories about the financial and emotional stress of being diagnosed with and treated for a critical illness, such as cancer, which he kept in the waiting area of his office, and which client often used to start discussing their CII needs with him.

“The conversation usually starts by us talking about something they found interesting in the book,” Ulmer said.

“I explain to them that this is one of the greatest things I get to do. You see, I deliver get-well checks.”

“Then I ask them, ‘What if you couldn’t work for a year or two because of a serious health issue, something such as cancer or a heart attack, where even if you wanted to go back to work, you physically couldn’t?”

“I would like to show up at your home with a get-well card and a get-well check. How big would you like that check to be” Ulmer said, adding that this approach allowed the client to determine their need for insurance and level of cover without the adviser raising the issue of premiums and policies.

Ulmer said clients who have experienced a critical illness within their family already have an understanding of the need for CII and he asks them what level of cover would have eased the emotional and financial stress around medical costs and treatments and the impact on family income and savings.

He said he presents the need for CII as a question around what amount of money would be required to cover the time it took to recover from a critical illness and asks clients to sign blank checks for those amounts, with Ulmer promising to bring a real check for that amount if they ever made a claim.

“I explain to them that this is one of the greatest things I get to do. You see, I deliver get-well checks. If you are diagnosed with one of the covered illnesses and you have a critical illness plan, I get to deliver this check to you. If you don’t get to use the plan because of a tragedy, I will give your family this check, You see, if you get sick, you get a check. If you die, your family gets a check,” Ulmer said.

  • Old Risky

    Great article. Simple concept. Reminds me of the approach of procedural surgeons- “you can walk in pain with a limp for the rest of your life, or I can replace your knee” Patients do not ask about the cost !
    Long time since I delivered an actual cheque, probably not allowed by our impersonal insurers anymore, but I will remember the impact on the family forever.
    Can you imagine the reaction from ASIC if that story was put in a SOA ?

    • Warren B

      Do you think ASIC would have a problem if real life stories were included in SoA’s?

      • Old Risky

        Warren the answer is YES. Just read ASICs appearance at PJC on 16 June. Scary !!
        These guys are on a different planet to the rest of us. But its all OK, they engaged a professor of behavioural economics to help with the latest SOA

    • Technical View

      Old Risky, it’s not a case of insurers being impersonal, everything’s done by direct credit or electronic funds transfer these days. It’s much better for the customer as they don’t have to wait 3-5 days for the cheque to arrive by snail-mail and then another 3-5 days for the bank to clear the funds.