12/17/2012 3:45 PM ET|
How to read your insurer's mind
Resist emotional appeals
A knowledgeable, helpful agent can be a true ally. However, Rae Jones, the author of "How to Buy Insurance," says some agents are not above making a direct appeal to your emotions to gain an advantage. They may try to make you feel guilty by asking how your children would survive if you suddenly died and left them without life insurance.
"I have seen it all," says Jones. "I have seen 'I am selling you life insurance and you need to buy it because you do not want to die and leave your family with nothing. Do you want to see your wife and kids out on the street? Your house will go into foreclosure.'"
Agents who use such tactics do not have your best interests at heart, she says. "They are not looking out for you and your family. They want the commission. . . . As soon as people get wrapped up in their emotions, the salesperson has the advantage."
Pay attention to the voice
In addition to hearing what your agent is saying, you need to focus on how he or she says it, advises Driver. A sudden rise or drop in volume could mean the agent is hiding something.
"Over 90% of people, when they are being deceptive, have a change in their voice," she says. "All of a sudden they are being inaudible."
Keep them on their toes
The best agents help you buy policies you truly need. Reading body language can help you determine if your agent is on your side. One of the best things that can happen during a meeting with your agent is if he or she stands on tip toes while explaining the benefits of your policy, says Driver. That means your agent is extremely happy and positive.
"This is defying gravity," she says. "This is someone who is extremely excited. They believe in their product. This is genuine happiness, genuine enthusiasm."
Look for crossed arms
If your agent's arms are crossed during the discussion, it could be a good sign, says Driver.
"When you cross your arms, you use your right and left brain," she says. "You right brain is creative; your left brain wants to play it safe. People who cross arms will stay on difficult tasks 30% longer. Crossed arms could be a blessing. They could be finding a solution."
Driver says an agent with crossed arms may be trying to figure out how to work within your budget or give you a smaller premium.
Some consumers have trouble standing up to high-pressure sales techniques. They need to stick to an agenda to avoid being led astray.
"I see a lot of people buying insurance they don't need," says Jones. For example, "They are buying flood insurance when they are not in a flood zone."
If you come prepared, even an accomplished mind reader won't be able to sway you from your goal. Make a list of the things you need in an insurance policy and bring it to your meeting with your agent.
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This is about sales techniques, not insurance- you could end up with a car, a refrigerator, or a house because someone did these things. Also, a smirk may indicate something other than contempt- a stroke or nerve damage for instance. Anecdotal, rather than statistical, but better to not jump to conclusions.
As for the shrug, well...if you ask a question like "Will this policy cover what it says it covers?", you should be prepared for your agent to be thinking "Yes, but not necessarily what you THINK it covers (or should cover)." Consumers have very few responsibilities when it comes to insurance, but they include things like paying your bill, reading your policy and asking questions if you have them, and giving your company timely notice of a claim or potential claim.
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