Overcoming objections to permanent life insurance

Based on positioning and messaging research by maslansky + partners, people are often put-off by a discussion of permanent life insurance, simply because they don’t understand what it is and how it can benefit them.  Using the right language can really help.

The Language of Life Insurance – Part 1

It's not what you say, it's what they hear®. Listen to this 30-minute webinar by language experts maslansky + partners to help your clients truly hear you, encourage trust and teach the importance of life insurance.


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Talk about protection first

How do you talk about permanent life insurance in a way that matters to people? By first talking about permanent life insurance’s protection features, you hone in on something that people are familiar with and understand.  Then, you can transition to the other benefits of permanent life insurance, such as investments and potential access to cash value.

Language to use

You can use the following language with clients to introduce permanent life insurance:

Permanent life insurance offers two main benefits.

First, the life insurance benefit itself protects your family when you can no longer provide for them.  That means real peace of mind knowing your family will be taken care of.  It means their financial needs can be met.  It means lost income can be replaced.

Second, it gives you access to cash surrender value, and tax-deferred growth which can build equity over time.  So whether you’re saving for retirement or want to leave more behind, you have the flexibility to use the earned value of your policy in the way that’s best for you.  And, you can feel confident that your family is getting all of the money they deserve, with the income-tax-free life insurance benefit.

Think of it this way:  Permanent life insurance is for you and your family, so you can enjoy the benefits if you need them and know your family is protected no matter what.

Common barriers

After telling the story of the overall value of permanent life insurance, clients will most likely have specific questions, which boil down to three main objections:  affordability, education and procrastination.

Affordability – Many people haven’t bought permanent life insurance because they think it’s simply too expensive.

What’s the strategy?

  • Emphasize that they can start small and increase their payments over time. 
  • Give them a tangible figure they can hold onto, such as a cost of, on average, $40 a month for $100,000 of coverage. 
  • Clarify that if their life changes, they can make adjustments to their coverage.
  • Highlight the tax advantages of permanent life insurance which can actually save your clients money.

Education – Many people don’t buy permanent life insurance because they think it’s too complicated or they become overwhelmed.

What’s the strategy?

  • Give them a basic understanding of the different kinds of life insurance: term and permanent.
  • Emphasize that the cash value in a permanent life insurance can be used in a variety of ways
  • Highlight the tax benefits.
  • Emphasize the difference between permanent life insurance and other investment vehicles – and explain that it can make a smart addition to many financial plans.

Procrastination – For many people, buying life insurance isn’t a high priority.

What’s the strategy?

  • Establish a sense of urgency:  Let them know that permanent life insurance is most affordable the younger and healthier you are.
  • Demonstrate that permanent life insurance offers more than they might think:  It’s a tool to help them achieve financial goals throughout their lives.
  • Highlight the flexibility and living benefits, such as using the cash value to help pay the mortgage, their children’s college education or retirement expenses.
  • Give them a reason to start as soon as possible, like the tax-deferred cash value accumulation potential.

Words to lose

You may be surprised to know that there are certain words and phrases that can affect how your clients view life insurance – giving them a highly negative or positive emotional response.  Here are a few examples: 

  • “Death benefit” – Clients often react very negatively to this phrase because it reminds them of their own mortality.  Using the words “financial security benefit” or “life insurance benefit” not only sounds more positive but also describes the value of the benefit itself.
  • “Loan” – People simply don’t like the idea of having to borrow against their “own” money.  Since it’s their money in the policy, they don’t think you should charge them if they need to use it, which is what “loan” implies to them. Try using the words, “access to your cash” or “access to your money” instead.1 By focusing on access, you make clear they can get to it if they need it, without signaling that there may be a fee. If the discussion does go into the topics of loans, you must fully disclose and explain how the loans work.

Financial Professional materials

 1 Loans and withdrawals reduce the policy's cash value and death benefit and may increase the chance a policy may lapse. The client may need to pay higher premiums in later years to keep the policy from lapsing.

Please be advised that this webpage is not intended as legal or tax advice. Accordingly, any tax information provided in this article is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The tax information was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed, and your clients should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. Neither AXA Equitable nor its affiliates provide legal or tax advice.

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