What Role does the Insurance Specialist have in Estate Planning?

Many advisors use life and long term care insurance as tools in an estate plan. Life insurance may be used for income replacement at the death or disability of a breadwinner, as a way to create an inheritance, to replace assets that are given to charity, or to pay estate taxes. Long term care insurance is used to offset the high costs of medical care during long illnesses that can lead to wealth erosion.

With the many choices of insurance plans available, an insurance specialist is necessary to make sure you obtain the most appropriate coverage based on your personalized needs and purposes.

What Questions Do I Ask the Insurance Specialist When I Interview Them?

  1. How much experience do you have in the use of insurance for estate and financial planning?
  2. Have you ever worked with a team of advisors before?
  3. What is your typical case and client profile?
  4.  Are you captive to one insurance company or can you represent several?
  5. What are the industry ratings of the companies you are recommending?
  6. How do you get compensated?
  7. Do you have a CLU or ChFC designation?

What is the Difference Between an Insurance Agent and an Insurance Broker?

An insurance agent is typically a representative of the insurance company. Agents must be licensed in the states in which they do business and licensed with the various companies they represent. Captive agents typically do the vast majority of their insurance business with one company and may be contractually prohibited from selling other companies’ products. Some agents can be licensed with multiple carriers and make products from all of those companies available to their clients.

Insurance brokers differ in that they represent the client. Brokers typically have additional tests they must pass as well as bonding requirements that may be determined by the state in which they are licensed. Most often a broker will represent many companies and offer multiple alternatives to their clients.

When contemplating an insurance purchase consider asking the person you are working with whether they are an agent or a broker, or both. Also ask them for a list of all of the companies they have done business with in recent years and what percent of their business has gone to each. There are a wide array of choices, prices, products, and financial strength of companies, which should all be taken into account during the insurance acquisition process. Generally, the more options you have, the better.