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No, I can't do that

Guy Munro Mankey

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Don't cancel the policy until you say these words to a client.

WHAT DO YOU DO when a client says, “Could you cancel my policy?” or “Could you reduce my sum assured?” Some of us have been taught to respond with a question — something like, “May I ask why you want to do that?” or “Has something changed that led to that decision?”

Others will restate the value: “Do you remember why we arranged this cover?” Then it comes down to whether the client can sell you on doing as they’ve asked or you can sell them on keeping it.

Typically though, most people have a good reason to ask for a cancellation or reduction. Their minds are usually made up, and the business is lost.

Next time you get that call, say, “No, I can’t do that.” I always leave a little break here to hear their reaction. And the reaction doesn’t really matter, because it’s what you say next that’s important.

I say, “I’m not going to do that because I have no idea what’s going on inside you right now. What will you do if there is something bad happening that you don’t know about? In six months, you may realize what you just asked me to do was the worst financial decision you will ever make.”

I go on to tell them that before we make any changes, I’d like them to have a comprehensive medical exam, which will do two things. First, something might be found. It might be catastrophic or might not be too bad, but it gives the client the opportunity to make the decision knowing all the facts and possible consequences. Second, if all is well, it allows them to make changes knowing they’ve done the right thing.

Sometimes though it will do a whole lot more, like it did for my friend Cam. He called one day and said, “Guy, my trauma insurance is costing too much. I want to reduce it from the current $720,000 to $250,000.”

So I responded, “No, I can’t do that” and I explained it to him. Cam understood it was good advice, so he scheduled a medical exam. About three weeks later, I got a text on a Thursday from Cam saying, “I don’t have cancer. I’m booked in for an EKG next Monday and then we can reduce the cover.”

On Monday evening, I got another text. All it said was, “My quadruple bypass is scheduled for Wednesday.” I called him in his hospital bed.

He told me he’d been on the treadmill for about 45 seconds when they shut it off, sat him down and said, “This isn’t good.” After a few more tests they told him they had no option but to operate and wheeled him straight into a bed in the adjoining hospital.

So Cam got his wish to have his premiums reduced. His premiums and cover both disappeared, and a short time later we arranged for $720,000 to be transferred into his bank account.

And why did all this happen? Because I said, “No, I can’t do that.” But do you know what the real reward was? Cam took me for a nice lunch, and at the end he said, “Guy, there’s something I haven’t shared with you. The surgeon told me that if I hadn’t had that EKG, within six months I would have been dead.” How cool is that? I got him lots of money and saved his life.

Guy Mankey is a 17-year MDRT member from North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Contact him at


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