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TheStreet Open House

You're Going To Give Your Insurance Agent A Heart Attack!





Considering all the things consumers do to make their insurance agents' lives difficult, it's no surprise that the job can be highly stressful.

You may not realize is that failing to be open and upfront can do more than frazzle your agent's nerves. It could end up costing you money when it's time to file a claim.

Insurance agents have slightly higher than expected rates of death from ischemic heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), from 1984 to 1998 such deaths for white males in insurance sales occupations, age 64 and younger, were almost 6 percent greater than expected. Could the behavior of insurance customers be shortening agents' lives?

Here are five things policyholders frequently do that undermines their own coverage while raising their agents' blood pressure.

Failure to admit you don't understand your insurance

Kevin Foley, a New Jersey-based independent insurance agent, says his foremost stress-inducing "bugaboo" is with insurance customers who are afraid to admit that they don't understand their policies.

Foley has a problem, he says, "When I say to you, 'Do you understand what I'm explaining to you?' and you say, 'Yes,' but your eyes tell me 'no.' . . . The decision you make today could be affecting you years from now, so I need you to understand what I'm saying. If you don't understand, I'll go over it again, that's not a problem. . . . I don't mind if people don't buy the more expensive option, but I mind when they buy the cheaper option without understanding what it means."

Foley was recently asked by an auto mechanic if he could beat the mechanic's current auto insurance price. "I looked at it and realized I couldn't," Foley says. "But I told him I believed the policy needed a tune-up."

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