How to Do a Life Insurance Policy Review (A Shortcut and Real-Life Examples Included)

policy review

A great way to snag new clients is to offer a free life insurance policy review.

We’d coin an acronym for that — LIPR? — but I think we can all agree that there’s way too many already.

If you’re already doing life reviews, please just skim over this article as there may be a few things you aren’t currently aware of.

If you aren’t doing these yet, this will give you everything you need to start, even if you don’t know how to evaluate an existing life policy.

We will cover the following together:

 

The Shortcut

If you don’t want to know everything that goes into a life insurance policy review (or you’re short on time), you can still get started very easily.

All you need to do is get the client’s most recent statement and give me a call. Don’t worry — this is still your client, and you still receive all of the commission. I can begin the process for you, and you can learn everything else as you go.

I can’t stress enough that you don’t have to know everything! We are your support team, and we’ll be alongside you every step of the way.

The bottom line: If you don’t want to know every detail just yet, all you need to do is find out why the client needs life insurance and get an annual statement of what they currently have.

I’ll partner with you to do the rest.

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OK, if you are interested in the full-blown process, keep on reading.

 

When should I do it?

While you can do a life insurance policy review for any reason and at any time, we find that doing it while you fill out the Client Needs Assessment (CNA) is the best.

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When you get to Question #7 — “Are you currently carrying any life insurance, and are you still paying premium on it?” — the conversation should start up naturally.

Your clients might feel a little defensive when you ask the first part of Question #7, but as soon as you add in the latter half — “are you still paying premium on it?” — they start to perk up.

And yes, there are definitely cases where a client can get the same death benefit without paying any additional premiums. We’ll get to that later when we show you an example.

 

What do I need?

In order to do a life insurance policy review, you need to get a statement.

This can be:

  • the latest annual statement or
  • an in-force illustration.

It’s important that you have the actual statement, and not just the general policy information.

In essence, you’re looking for 4 things:

  1. Policy number
  2. Premium
  3. Cash value
  4. Death benefit

In addition to these 4 things, you need some other basic information. That includes:

  1. Name of client
  2. Date of birth
  3. Concept of client’s general health
  4. Tobacco or non-tobacco

You want to be able to have a good idea if the client is insurable or not. If there are any major health issues, please make sure to note them so that we can determine insurability from the start.

We also need to know if they’re tobacco or non-tobacco so that we can run up the most accurate quote possible.

It’s also very important that you ask why the client has a life policy.

I can’t stress this enough. You need this bit of information before you make any recommendations.

  • Are they wanting to cover funeral costs?
  • Are they wanting to leave an inheritance to their children?
  • Are they wanting to use a life policy to cover long-term care expenses?

Make sure you know the answer before moving forward.

If your client doesn’t have an annual statement, call their insurance company right then and there. It’s important that you do this with your client, because the company will not give you any information if you’re not the agent on file.

The company will need to speak to the policyowner. All your client needs to do is ask for an annual statement or an in-force illustration.

 

What do I do with the statement?

Once you have the statement and can see…

  • what the client is paying on premiums,
  • what the cash value is, and
  • what the death benefit is

… you can determine if they’re getting a good deal.

Keep an eye out for when the policy will lapse as well.

For example, we recently helped an 82-year-old man whose policy was set to lapse at age 90. He was in pretty good health, so we moved things around based on that information. (More on lapsing later in this article.)

If you have absolutely no idea if the client is getting a good deal or if you can offer a better solution, don’t worry.

That’s what I’m here for. Call me when you have the statement, and I will help you from there.

 

Why should I do it?

You’re not doing a life insurance policy review to put more cash in your pocket.

The only reason we do these reviews is to help the client. That’s my goal, and that should be your goal as well.

Sometimes, we can’t help someone. Perhaps their policy is just as good as what we can offer. Often times, their health isn’t good enough to be insurable.

It happens, and that’s OK.

No matter what, it’s important to make sure that your focus is on benefiting the client, not yourself.

 

How often should I do it?

Just like a regular annual policy review, we do suggest doing these about once a year.

If you’re an agent with a really large book of business, this may not be possible, but if you can, one year is excellent.

You can work in the appointment when you receive the annual statement. Most insurance companies will send both you and the client a statement.

You can go over that statement together, and while you do this, you’re going to:

  1. Reinforce the good work,
  2. Encourage your client to not miss any premiums,
  3. Remind your client of what they have and why they have it.

An annual review works to build loyalty with your client, and it can help reduce the number of people who cancel their policies (lower risk of chargebacks).

 

What about lapsing policies?

There are some old universal life policies from the 80s and 90s that didn’t perform like everyone thought they would. Interest rates dropped, and they’re not as high as they were when the policy was issued.

It’s very possible that the premium the client is paying isn’t supporting the current interest rates.

In short: a client could have bought a policy that should’ve lasted until age 120, and now it only lasts until age 79.

In general, a whole life policy shouldn’t have this problem, but keep an eye out for those UL policies.

 

What about taxes and taxable events?

We can transfer the cash value from one company to another using a 1035 exchange. This ensures that your client will not face any tax penalties.

If the thought of a tax form has you feeling uncomfortable, don’t worry. We also take care of that for you.

 

Are there any issues that might come up?

One big thing you need to take care of is really educating the client on what you’re doing.

If you do end up making a suggestion to switch their policy out for something else, explain very clearly why you’re suggesting it.

Here’s a real-life example of why this is so important.

The 82-year-old I mentioned earlier in this article had a policy that was going to lapse at age 90. He was in good health, so we wanted to switch that out for something that would last until the end of time.

He was paying over $300 semi-annually for a $159,000 death benefit.

After a little research, we were able to offer this solution:

  • The policy would last until age 125,
  • He could use the cash value from his current policy to fund the new one, meaning he wouldn’t have any premiums,
  • The death benefit would be lowered to $90,000.

We can see that the two big benefits here are:

  1. The policy will outlive him, and
  2. he doesn’t have to pay any premiums anymore.

The big drawback is that the death benefit is almost $70,000 less than before.

If you don’t educate your client on every aspect of this type of situation, and they happen to pass away, you’re going to get nasty calls from family members. They’ll be wondering why you lowered their father’s death benefit by $70,000.

In short, educate your client on exactly what you’re doing, and encourage them to explain this to their family members.

 

2 Real-Life Examples

Client 1: Betty

For the first example, we have a retired physician that we’ll call Betty.

She was all set on her health insurance, so we couldn’t really help her with that. We could have just walked away, but instead we were able to uncover that she has some life policies.

We offered to do a free life insurance policy review for her to make sure she’s getting the best deal.

We got a hold of her statements, and here’s the breakdown of what she has:

Policy #

Premiums (SA)

CV

DB

Policy 1

$9,379

$237,791

$560,184

Policy 2

$3,029

$118,937

$262,223

Policy 3

$0

$36,788

$49,092

TOTAL

$12,408

$393,516

$871,499

SA: Semi-Annual; CV: Cash Value; DB: Death Benefit

In sum, Betty is paying almost $25,000 per year for almost a $900,000 death benefit.

We asked her what the purpose of her life insurance policies are (very important!).

Betty doesn’t have any close family members other than her sister who lives a good distance away from her. And as you can see, her current policy is enough to cover a funeral 80x over.

So, then, what is the benefit of having a life policy for Betty?

She agreed that looking into a life with long-term care policy was a great solution.

I ran some numbers considering her age (born in ‘42) and her health status (Standard NT).

Here were her new options using her current cash value to fund them.

Policy Description

DB

LTC monthly benefit

Everything the same (apples to apples)

$1,475,209

None

NO PREMIUM, Life only

$835,992

None

NO PREMIUM, Life with LTC

$786,640

$31,466

$3,183 SA premium, Life only

$1,000,000

None

$4,513 SA premium, Life with LTC

$1,000,000

$40,000

As you can see, even just switching out what she currently has — the same $25,000 per year in premiums — it gets her a policy that’s $600,000 more in death benefits.

That’s always a great place to start, because the client immediately sees that even without switching the type of insurance, you’re able to offer a better deal.

Now, we usually try to keep the options down to 3, but in Betty’s case, we decided to also offer some options for paying no more premiums and adding in long-term care benefits.

In the end, Betty ended up choosing to pay no more premiums for the life with long-term care.

Policy Description

DB

LTC monthly benefit

NO PREMIUM, Life with LTC

$786,640

$31,466

While her death benefit is slightly less than what it originally was, she no longer has to pay into it, and she’s reassured by the fact that she’s covered in a long-term care situation.

Client 2: George

George has 2 life policies, and we offered to review them for him for no charge.

Here’s what he has:

Policy #

Premiums

CV

DB/Additions

Policy 1

$1,113 (internal)

$38,415

$100,000/$1,557

Policy 2

$1,603 (paying)

$35,864

$100,000/$19,349

TOTAL

$1,603 (paying)

$74,279

$200,000/$20,906

CV: Cash Value; DB: Death Benefit

George was interested in seeing how much it would cost to also get long-term care benefits.

Just like we did with Betty, we ran the numbers and did an apples-to-apples comparison to show that we can do better right off the bat. From there, we showed some options that include long-term care benefits.

George knew he would probably need more insurance than $200,000, and he knew that he would need more long-term care benefits, so we also ran the numbers for a larger policy.

Policy Description

DB

LTC monthly benefit

Everything the same (apples to apples)

$319,398

None

Apples to apples, add LTC

$294,570

$11,783

$4,005 annual premium, Life with LTC

$400,000

$16,000

$7,062 annual premium, Life with LTC on a 10-pay

$400,000

$16,000

A 10-pay is when a policyholder pays a higher premium for 10 years. After those 10 years, the policyholder no longer has to pay any premiums.

After considering these options, George actually chose the 10-pay Life with LTC.

Policy Description

DB

LTC monthly benefit

$7,062 annual premium, Life with LTC on a 10-pay

$400,000

$16,000

It’s so important to show multiple options as well as that apples to apples scenario. Even if you think the client would never pay 5x more than what they are now, you can see that that’s exactly what George ended up doing.

Sometimes, it’s not just about the annual premium. It’s about the value in the product and the need for the product.

A life review can uncover both of those — the value and the need — on your behalf.

At the end of the day, offering to do a life review can lead to a great deal for the client, but also a great payday for you.

Also, please take advantage of me (when’s the last time you heard that?).

I’m here to help you with complicated life and annuity cases, and I review life statements all the time. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me for help.

Contact Kirk for Help


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