On Life and Love

Shenanigans with an insurance salesperson

So I’m trying to get life insurance. Just 20-year level term life insurance. It’s supposed to be cheap and easy to get.

Some of the big dogs won’t do online quotes, New York Life in particular. So I agreed to meet with a local agent yesterday morning and let him talk at me over coffee. Yes, coffee, which I don’t go for often. Luckily, it was at Panera Bread, so the coffee was pretty good, although a little aged.

We go through the usual rigmarole of “Oh, you used to be a teacher? So did I!” After the meeting, I think I knew pretty well why he ultimately left teaching, if I may be catty.

Mmm, blog. Yes, I can be catty. Tasty.

I knew insurance is a sleazy business, and this guy certainly isn’t the worst I could imagine dealing with, but it was still hilariously smarmy.

We sat and he mentioned that he’s also a financial adviser, and wanted to offer his services. He mentioned that a lot of people my age don’t quite know how to save effectively, etc. He asked if I had a plan, and when I rattled off my usual — student loans gone by such and such a date, Roth IRA, blah, blah — he acted impressed.

Then he asked what my sources for information were, which, in retrospect, is where things went bad. I mentioned that I’d read and agreed with many of the practices of Dave Ramsey, but that I’d read my fair share of personal finance books. He gave a sage nod and moved into insurance.

I had an inkling that whole/universal life insurance would carry a bigger commission for a salesperson than term insurance, but I was smacked in the face with it that morning. He sat me down and rattled on about the more expensive varieties, asking me if I understood them, what I thought of them. When I told him that they seem to be scams, that I could do better with my own money, he chuckled and said, “Boy, you really are a fan of Dave Ramsey.”

Hm. No, I’m really a fan of common sense and good research, but I sure appreciate being called a parrot, thanks.

When I asked him return rates on his offerings, he said, “Well, this one invests in bonds. Do you know the return rate on bonds?”

Whoa, Socrates. Halt ye on the stupid-ass questions. “Pennies after inflation,” was my response, I think. I scoffed equally at his offering of a (variable!) 4% return. In fact, he said 4%, I jokingly said, “Monthly yield?” He said “yes,” then had to backpedal. Sorry, guy, I’m going to need something closer to your A-game.

Here’s a weird statistic he gave me: he said that this year, New York Life has had their best year in dividend payments on their whole life insurance in the last 65 years.

…If your best returns are when the economy is eating itself alive like a sadomasochistic cannibal, I think something’s wrong.

Second thought: he offered to be my financial adviser earlier, right? Why in the hell would I want a financial adviser who would suggest I (almost-not-yet-25-years-old) invest a significant amount of money in bonds (not even of my own picking!) now? Sorry guy, that’s not objective; that’s salesperson bullshit.

Once I redirected him back to term insurance, how about he used the same f’ing calculator that I’ve used online for State Farm and other companies? Age, gender, and smoking preference. Why the hell was I at that table, with this idjit trying to make to me feel ignorant? Then again, maybe I’m the idjit for agreeing to meet with him.

(You can believe that later that day when I returned a call from a MetLife agent, I left a quick and to the point message — “I need a quote for 20-year term life insurance at a value of xxx. I’m 24 and don’t smoke. Call me back.”)

Oh, and the value I wanted: another obnoxious point. I gave a number, and he said, “Where’s that number coming from?” and I said, “It’s 10 times my salary.” Again, he scoffed and mentioned Dave Ramsey, and only nodded condescendingly when I mentioned I’d read that number in about five independent sources. At this point I was down to the dregs of my too-bitter coffee, it was maybe 10 minutes until 09:00, and I was thinking about the fact that my boss had probably been working for well over an hour churning through sales stuff while our sales guy is out on maternity. (It’s been a fun week in our world.)

So kicking and screaming, he gave me rates for my number and nearest big marks surrounding it. Finally. But he wanted to sell me that shit right there. After all this bullshit, does he think I do things on a whim?! When I said I’d think about it, he started in on how I’d find lower rates elsewhere, but that New York Life is a AAA company, etc. Yes, yes, I know how to evaluate a company, thanks. Congrats on being a bad data point in NYL’s graph, though.

When I wasn’t budging, he actually offered to research other companies for me — he apparently doesn’t just rep NYL. With my luck, he’d probably try to charge me for his time, and I bet my own time is cheaper. Plus, of course, a metric shitton of things in the preceding conversation convinced me that I wouldn’t trust his research as far as I could throw him.

I took his literature (why did he only have literature for non-term insurance? I wonder why…) and told him he could call me in a week — maybe my continuing research would suggest that NYL is a better option for term life — and left.

I don’t think I’ll be meeting with any other agents.


  • Steve

    4% per MONTH?!?! Sign me up!!! 😀

    I know definitively that they have *NOT* had thier best year …..

    I can think of no reason that I’d ever want to get life insurance ….but I *DO* wish I had the $$$ to get a Goldman Sachs mutual fund — those guys rock some serious socks

    • Lissa

      I know, right? I’d eat up 4% a month.

      It seems to me that if you have enough savings in place, you don’t need life insurance, although maybe I’m wrong. But that’s why I’m looking for term insurance while I grow my savings and such.

  • Don Weir

    Is your next stop going to be a used car salesman (gender specification intentional) or a dentist?

    A quote I heard in a work meeting I a few weeks ago – “…I’d rather have an enema than perform a … assessment…”

  • Lissa

    Actually, I have a dentist appointment coming up in about a month… Luckily, I take pretty good care of my teeth, and my hygienist loves me.