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Introducing the concept of protection

Elizabeth Diffin

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Advisors in China educate prospects and clients on the value of insurance.
When the word “insurance” is written out in Chinese, the very first character is one that means “protection.” Perhaps that is why the concept of protection is significant to China’s insurance professionals —so significant, in fact, that a recent government regulation underscored that role.

“In Document No. 134 issued by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, it was emphasized that the protection function should be the focal point of insurance products,” said Zhang Yantao, a six-year MDRT member from Beijing, China. “Such change has impacted how clients view insurance and consequently the development of our business.”

Historically, Zhang said, there has been a misunderstanding of the need for insurance and a high aversion to risk that is embedded in the culture. But he is finding that with education, and even some coaxing, his clients are coming to realize the importance of the protection insurance offers.

“This population mostly has no, or insufficient, ability to respond to risks. As a result, it gives me a tremendous sense of achievement helping them establish full protection for themselves,” he said. “Now people around me are more aware of their need for insurance, and their concept of insurance is also slowly transforming.”

Yue Feng, an 11-year MDRT member from Dongguan, China, agrees with that assessment. “The market is huge, and people have an increasing awareness of insurance,” she said. “Over the time I’ve been in the business, I’ve seen people transformed from buying no insurance to some insurance and now, multiple insurance policies.”

Feng said at least some of this increased awareness is due to a newfound acknowledgment of the risk of having an accident. But a bigger reason is that clients are beginning to think about their own futures — retirement in particular.

But helping clients with retirement planning can be a challenge for Zhang. He said there tends to be a lack of urgency when it comes to preparing for the future. So his approach is to highly personalize his offerings, relying on case studies and his own powers of persuasion to perfectly suit the client’s needs.

“The only solutions that could withstand any test are those that take care of a client’s needs,” Zhang said. Deciding what a client’s specific needs are and finding ways to meet those needs is a highly personalized process. That’s why Zhang’s advice to other agents is to “Think from the perspective of what a client needs and build the type of protection that really fits the client.”

"This population mostly has no, or insufficient, ability to respond to risks. As a result, it gives me a tremendous sense of achievement helping them establish full protection for themselves."
— Zhang Yantao
He has put this philosophy into action many times in the past, particularly with a client who had signed a policy but then impulsively decided to cancel it. Zhang carefully analyzed the client’s current situation and needs and used this information to win back the business.

Similarly, Feng uses her own personal knowledge of clients to overcome another substantial —and universal — obstacle: clients who drag their feet when it comes to making a sale.

“Not being able to make a sale immediately is the challenge I regularly face,” she said. “That said, selling is about addressing constant rejections from one’s prospects. I use my professional knowledge and good service to handle these situations.”

Ultimately, Feng and Zhang both believe that this sort of personal connection and understanding of a clients’ needs is what is most important.

“I enjoy talking about the role insurance plays in people’s lives with old and new friends,” Zhang said. “I like to learn about people’s families and their dreams. It makes me happy to help them establish the most comprehensive protection for their lives at that point in time.”

And with new regulations in the industry, not to mention an influx of brokerage firms that represent increased competition, this back-to-basics approach is what will keep their businesses afloat.

“By going back to what insurance really is about, people can eventually get real protection for their lives,” Zhang said. “This also shows the real value of insurance agents.”

Feng agreed that, even with an uncertain future, offering such protection cannot be undervalued. “Professionals like us who have been in the industry for many years should persist in serving those who are in need and to guide and affect changes in those who have not yet recognized the importance of our services and products,” she said. This approach, in turn, can lead to true optimism about the coming days and years. “We need to be confident about the insurance industry as well as its future.”

Zhang Yantao
Yue Feng

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