Insurance is not a Ponzi scheme: Day in the life of an insurance agent

“[…] Many people in Trinidad are apprehensive about insurance. This is because there is a belief that all insurance agents are just salespeople who are only interested in one thing: the commission. They don’t care about you—you’re just a sale.

“[…] Not all insurance agents are like that… The genuine sense of fulfilment I get when I see the smiles on my clients’ faces when they leave with a plan that secures their future is priceless…”

Nice to meet you…

Wired868 sheds light on the everyday lives of Trinbagonians in our ongoing series: ‘A day in the life…’ Today, we speak to an anonymous insurance agent:

How long have you been in the insurance industry?

I have been an insurance agent for over 14 years. My journey began in the early 2010s and since then, I have experienced various facets of this dynamic profession, from client service to claims to clawbacks.

Why did you choose this profession?

That’s a great question! I decided to become an insurance agent because I have always wanted to help others.

My decision was really solidified when I witnessed the relief of someone who lost a loved one, when they received a cheque for $2 million. Seeing firsthand how vital insurance is in this time of need showed me the critical role that insurance agents play.

As an insurance agent, I can be a reassuring presence and helpful advisor during life’s unexpected moments.

Would you like protection?

What qualifications do you need to become an agent?

It’s pretty simple to be honest. To become an insurance agent, you must usually have between five and seven CXC or CSEC passes. However, further education at the university level and accredited certification are helpful.

Insurance companies also offer training and specific certifications you must obtain throughout your career.

How do you start your day? Do you have any morning routines before the workday officially begins?

My day usually begins at five in the morning with prayer and meditation. Prayer sets the tone for the day, while meditation helps me clear my mind. After meditation, I work out at the gym—it energizes me.

Then, I eat a healthy breakfast, usually fruit or toast with peanut butter and a smoothie, while I skim through my emails.

Good hands?

Do you work from 8 to 4? Or do you work on your own time?

The typical 8-to-4 workday is not always the norm for an insurance agent. Many agents, like myself, work outside of normal business hours because we are on call at the client’s convenience. This often includes evenings, weekends and public holidays.

I remember one evening when I had to visit a client at 11.30pm because he was working offshore and could only meet me at that time. I left his house at 1am the next morning.

What is a typical day for you?

A typical day for me varies depending on the day of the week. Monday, for example, is a planning and strategy day, while Friday can be considered an administrative day.

However, a typical day usually starts with a look at my schedule. On the agenda are things like team and branch meetings, client appointments, banking, the dreaded paperwork and sometimes unexpected urgent client matters that must be dealt with immediately. But it all depends on the day.

Image: The lighter side of insurance.
(via Cartoonstock.com)

By mid-morning, I may already be on the road driving to visit a client, or I may be at home or in the office having an in-depth conversation with a client. That’s when the real magic happens: I get to demystify insurance policies for my clients and help them understand how a particular policy can protect themselves, their families and their loved ones.

Depending on the day, afternoons are often devoted to bank work and processing claims. On days like these, I have to ensure that all standing orders are delivered and all new applications and claims are submitted to be processed so that my clients can have peace of mind.

As the day draws to a close, I take time to deal with emails and prepare for the next day.

An insurance salesman.

How do you decide which type of policy to sell a potential client?

Every potential client is different and it depends on the client’s needs. I believe everyone needs life insurance, but it depends on the need at the time.

A potential client may not need life insurance but may need health insurance, a pension plan, or endowment insurance.

I also have to consider what the customer can afford. These are the most important points I must consider when selling a product.

Image: A satirical take on insurance.

How do you approach the challenge of selling insurance in a world where many are skeptical of insurance agents?

Many people in Trinidad are apprehensive about insurance. This is because there is a belief that all insurance agents are just salespeople who are only interested in one thing: the commission. They don’t care about you—you’re just a sale.

Unfortunately, there are actually a few bad apples out there who put their interests ahead of the clients’, so people automatically put up a wall that makes it hard for them to trust us.

An insurance salesman.

Not all insurance agents are like that. There are agents like me who really care about their clients.

My approach to selling a policy and getting over this wall is to sell myself. Before I say a single word about my services, I sell myself as a person. Transparency is key.

I focus on building trust through honest communication and not being pushy. The more comfortable a potential client feels with me, the easier it is to discuss their needs and wants.

An insurance sales agent talks to a family.

What’s one myth about insurance that you’d like to debunk?

I would like to make it clear that insurance is not a Ponzi scheme. I have been an insurance agent for 14 years, have paid out four death claims, and can justifiably say that life insurance, in particular, works.

Once the policy is paid, I can assure you that your beneficiary or beneficiaries will be paid out—no matter what the sum assured is.

Lunch break! What’s your go-to meal on a busy day, and why?

A beef soup—it’s hearty and nutritious. It keeps me from feeling lethargic in the afternoon and I can rally until dinner.

A grieving mother and daughter.

What is the most satisfying aspect of being an insurance agent?

That is a no-brainer: helping people. It’s like being a superhero without the cape. The genuine sense of fulfilment I get when I see the smiles on my clients’ faces when they leave with a plan that secures their future is priceless.

Helping people at critical moments in their lives is very satisfying for me.

Could you share a particularly memorable interaction with a client?

I would say a couple who lived in Fyzabad. Although I was a complete stranger, I was amazed at how much love and hospitality they showed me. They treated me as if they had known me for years.

It’s lunchtime!

I remember how the wife offered me roti for lunch and went to the kitchen for more than two hours to cook roti for someone she had only known for five minutes.

After eating, I looked at my watch and realised I had spent more than four hours just talking. The most interesting part was that I only spent about 20 minutes discussing insurance.

They are some of my best clients and I will never forget that experience.

How do you wind down after a long day of work?

Honestly, before I go into my house, I sit in my car for about 10 minutes and think about how the day went, what I did right and what I could have done differently.

I’m a big music lover, so I listen to music to relax before bed. Disconnecting is essential for work-life balance.

Image: A rookie sales person prepares her pitch…

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a career as an insurance agent?

Be ready to do the groundwork. Don’t cheat the process or look for shortcuts. Trust the process because Rome wasn’t built in a day.

You won’t become successful overnight. But if you have a genuine desire to help others, willing to be a lifelong learner, be disciplined, and never give up, the insurance industry can be very rewarding. Pay your dues.

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