My father was an old-time insurance salesman who did not hesitate to criticize the way the industry was evolving. As I build my own career in the business, I find many of his beefs to be spot-on.
One in particular is relevant today: the issue of needing a license to sell the product.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I do understand there is some benefit to be gained by this requirement. Brokers and agents need to conduct themselves professionally. They need to keep learning the field. Consumers need recourse if they are dealt with in an unethical or illegal manner.
People need to feel comfortable and confident doing business. But whose responsibility is it to provide that?
My father always felt that these concerns could and should be addressed by the companies and the buying public working together. A mutually-beneficial collaboration.
What exactly would government bureaucrats bring to the table that buyers and sellers could not work out among themselves?
And would the incessant regulation prove to be not even helpful, but harmful? Is the threat of fines or license forfeiture the best way to get salespeople to behave ethically?
These words come to mind as I see more and more insurance activity becoming regulated under the guise of “consumer protection.” Exactly how much additional proof do regulators need that salespeople are placing the client’s interest first? When you get to the point where the sale of every single product has its own compliance overload, you know that the only people benefiting are the people getting paid by taxpayers to file the paperwork.
I am also mindful of my father’s warning: “What Big Brother gives, Big Brother can take away.”
We can all see that today as state and municipal officials revoke the licenses of businesses they claim are imperiling public health. The livelihoods of gyms, restaurants and other establishments are being threatened by people whose only real motivation is flexing the authority we give them.
It is entirely in the self-interest of business people to make sure their customers are comfortable and confident buying from them.
Let them go ahead and provide that without threats and coercion.