Let’s be totally honest.
Public perception of insurance is generally awful.
You must have heard of or even contributed to some of these unsavory comments.
“Agents and brokers are self-serving crooks.”
“Insurance companies are playing the hide-and-seek game with their terms & conditions.”
“Claims personnel are sleeping on their job and are not making payment promptly.”
We believe that these sentences are not true.
The insurance business is not as cold-blooded and unethical as you might have imagined.
Why do we stereotype?
Stereotyping is a categorization process that our brains engage in so that we can deal with unfamiliar people and situations better.
We all do that, even if we are unaware.
When you are asking for directions, do you seek the advice of a young girl in school uniform at the bus stop?
No, you would probably seek help from that smartly bespectacled working dude.
Based on our previous experiences, we have generalised that adults male may have a better sense of direction than a young kid.
We associate spectacles with wisdom or intelligence.
All these are stereotyping, whether it is good, neutral or bad.
By grouping people into more categories, we make our lives a little easier.
However, it will also make us bigots when it is done to the extreme.
When stereotyping is alright and when it isn’t.
In Singapore, multi-racialism has been ingrained into most of us.
Despite our government’s refusal to drop ethnicity from the President Election issue, we probably could agree that we are less racist than many other nations.
We denounce people who claim that Islam is a religion of violence and terrorism because we have Muslim friends and colleagues.
When Kong Hee and his colleagues were charged in Court, we did not judge all Christians unfavourably.
Our near-blindness towards race and religion is something that we should be proud of.
However, we like to stereotype insurance people as self-seeking and unethical even when we may not have met one.
Often, we form our own negative impressions from media that we consume or rumours we hear from our friends.
Crooks are everywhere.
Let’s face it head on.
There are definitely some bad advisors out there that may have acted out perfectly according to your worse expectations.
Here’s one case of a screwed up agent.
Look, there are crooks in every profession.
There are doctors selling Codeine for personal gains, lawyers absconding with their clients’ money and even principals embezzling funds.
Recently there was even a yoga instructor who alleged molested his student.
It is not reasonable to stereotype these professions based on the actions of a few rogues.
Likewise, it is only fair not to assume a negative impression of insurance and its practitioners.
Good people are around
Financial Advisors are not the only ones involved.
They are the faces of their respective companies, but behind them, there is a whole bunch of other back-end staff working hard to provide their best service.
There are the underwriters who decide to accept or decline your insurance proposal.
You may hate it when they ask questions about you.
However, underwriting is what keeps premiums low for all of us.
The branch or call centre staff always try their best to give you the best information possible despite facing abusive clients from time to time.
We take them for granted even while they assist us with our incessant questions.
Contrary to common misconceptions, the claim handlers are not sleeping on their job.
They are simply burdened with too many claims and too little time.
The insurance industry will not operate well without these good hardworking folks and more.
Right, they are doing their job and you do not need to feel thankful.
Nonetheless, we could all give them a little consideration the next time we feel like berating an insurance practitioner.
The industry is changing.
Insurance companies are often viewed as authoritative and not transparent.
After all, they do not disclose their prices like all other retailers.
If you wanted to buy a policy, you had to get the quotations through their sales representatives.
With the recent changes, you can now compare prices online before meeting the advisor.
In fact, you can skip the advisory part if you are confident and get your insurance fix directly from the source.
InsurTech is the next thing that will change the industry.
Insurance companies are going digital to try to better reach customers.
Their products are evolving to meet the ever-changing protection needs of the clientele.
Please try a new perspective.
Stereotyping really hurts all these good people.
When we view them negatively, we tend to deal with them more harshly.
We brush them off at the bus interchange, cut off their calls and berate the customer hotline officer for mistakes they personally did not make.
If you think that stereotyping does not affect the way you act, we want you to reconsider after reading about this research.
A study by Harvard University in 1999 shows that people act according to their stereotyping.
Asian-American women were given a math test but they were divided into three groups.
One was reminded of their Asian roots, the female identity was highlighted in the 2nd and the last group was a control one without any psychological emphasis.
The group that was Asian-identity salient performed the best while the one associated with being female did worse than the neutral group.
People actually do act out, according to their stereotypes.
People in the insurance industry are normal people like you and me.
We tend to stereotype them negatively and treat them like dirt.
Stop doing that.
Give everyone an equal chance.
What is worse is not giving insurance a chance just because of negative profiling.
Insurance is an important part of life.
We certainly hope that changing your perspective will allow you to accept insurance into your life.
From my personal experience, the insurance industry is full of good people.
Don’t let a few bad ones dominate your perspective.
Give them a fair chance to do their job and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised with how good the service can be.
www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.