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A Look at Level Life Insurance Commissions!

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Will It Ever Happen?

[By David K. Luke; MIM]

Investment Advisor

www.NetWorthAdvice.com

The current structure of the life insurance industry regarding cash-value life insurance policies with most major insurance companies is to reward the selling agent with the entire commission upfront on a newly issued policy.

The criticism to this practice is that this of course reduces the needed client-agent reviews and interaction and generates more “churning” and “flipping”.

Unscrupulous agents are tempted to sell clients another policy for another commission rather than encourage them to maintain and keep their existing policy, which most likely would have lower costs than any new policy considering the client was younger and most likely in better health with the existing contract. A model in which the insurance agent would have a financial incentive for their client’s continued patronage could create a win-win for both parties. We see this “pay as you” model currently operating successfully with wealth advisors and property/casualty agents, why not life insurance agents?

A Flawed Argument

There are some flaws to this argument. The reality is that the captive life insurance industry and their agents prefer this form of lump compensation. The claim is that selling an individual a life insurance policy (the ultimate intangible product) is hard work, and likewise the 70% – 105% of the first year premium is fair compensation for the efforts.

For existing agents to reduce their current income to a fraction of this commission upfront, but convert it into a trail over a multiyear period is actually quite distasteful. Therefore, this change will likewise not be initiated from the Insurance agent or insurance industry side unless other forces prevail.

Consumers [Even some Doctors] are Un-Aware

The drive by the consumer to change this up front lump form of compensation has not yet presented itself in full force. After all, why does the consumer care about how the agent is paid if the consumer is satisfied with the end result? One must acknowledge that the drive to reduce commissions and up front loads in the investment advisory business was driven by the consumer that insisted on lower fees and costs.

However, the relevant costs of a life insurance policy are not quite as obvious. Only by comparing a quote from different companies can a consumer compare costs, and even then it is unknown and not understood how the pricing mechanisms used by the insurance company work. The advent of non-agent sold policies however is decreasing the cost of life insurance (there is no big commission check written to the selling agent) and is hitting the radar of consumers. The consumer can notice this difference if the consumer compares the proposed agent sold policy premium with one sold directly by a financial institution such as USAA or AARP. These companies have a work force of sales people that are compensated primarily on salary. Likewise the company can structure more competitive pricing, and in effect offers a levelized cost (in place of commission) insurance product.

A Personal Opinion 

Mark Maurer CFP® of Low Load Insurance Services believes that a levelized compensation basis will not occur unless all the insurance companies were to go to such a plan all at once. If an agent can “pick and choose” he/she may use a “levelized compensation” policy when in a competitive situation, as such a policy should in theory make a policy more inexpensive. An agent would then use the higher “front-end” policy when there is a large up-front premium or in a scenario with limited competition.

Mark believes the answer to the whole argument is full disclosure. Both agents and home offices would not want the purchaser to know that 100% or more of their premium is going to sales costs and that products would then get better.

Assessment

The insurance industry has a powerful lobby in Washington. I believe that only market pressure will cause a change in this decades old insurance industry practice that has made many life insurance policies expensive and inefficient. Pricing from non-agent sold life insurance companies will be the impetus that drives the old-line Insurance companies to restructure their commissions to agents.

I remember the days of 8% load mutual fund commissions and minimum $60 dollar commissions on stock trades in the late 1980’s when I first became a stockbroker! That is an inflation equivalent of more than $130 a trade minimum commission. The current investing world would laugh at these costs [charges] today. When the consumer realizes, through full disclosure and outside competitive market pressures, that life insurance protection can be more affordable from other non-traditional channels, then the consumer will insist on a better, more affordable product. Then the big agent driven life insurance companies will have to change their commission structure. The transition is currently in process. Only time will tell now.

Editor’s Note: David K. Luke is currently enrolled in the online http://www.certifiedmedicalplanner.org chartered professional designation program.

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White House Rejects Petition To Legalize Marijuana

Initiative to Stop State Interference Fails

[By Staff Reporters]

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The White House has rejected several marijuana legalization petitions, one of which called on the federal government to stop interfering with state marijuana legalization efforts.

The ONDCP

“As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem,” wrote Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in a statement released late last Friday. “We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.”

The statement came in response to a petition submitted by retiredBaltimore narcotics officer Neill Franklin as part of the White House’s “We The People” project, an effort to allow ordinary Americans to gain the attention of policymakers through an online portal at the White House website. Any petition garnering 5,000 signatures within 30 days of submission is guaranteed a response from the White House;Franklin’s petition received more than 17,000.

Failed Prohibition Policies

“It’s maddening that the administration wants to continue failed prohibition polices that do nothing to reduce drug use and succeed only in funneling billions of dollars into the pockets of the cartels and gangs that control the illegal market,” said Franklin, who serves as executive director of advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, in a statement released last Saturday.

Franklin’s petition comes as federal prosecutors have escalated enforcement actions against medical marijuana dispensary owners inCalifornia, vowing to shutter state-licensed businesses and threatening landlords with property seizures for violating federal drug laws.Franklinhas also called on the president to remember his campaign promise not to waste government resources interfering with state-regulated marijuana dispensaries.

Rejected by the White House

The White House’s rejection statement was directed at seven other marijuana-related petitions, which together garnered more than 150,000 signatures. One such petition, which called for marijuana to be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol, received almost 75,000 signatures.

“Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses,” the White House wrote in its official response. “That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine. To date, however, neither the FDA nor theInstituteofMedicinefound smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.”

Read the full response from the White House below:

When the President took office, he directed all of his policymakers to develop policies based on science and research, not ideology or politics. So our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug’s effects.

The National Institute of Health

According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health — the world’s largest source of drug abuse research — marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment. We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms. Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about what this means for public health -– especially among young people who use the drug because research shows their brains continue to develop well into their 20’s. Simply put, it is not a benign drug.

Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses. That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine. To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.

A Balanced National Drug Control Strategy

We recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.

That is why the President’s National Drug Control Strategy is balanced and comprehensive, emphasizing prevention and treatment while at the same time supporting innovative law enforcement efforts that protect public safety and disrupt the supply of drugs entering our communities. Preventing drug use is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences inAmerica. And, as we’ve seen in our work through community coalitions across the country, this approach works in making communities healthier and safer. We’re also focused on expanding access to drug treatment for addicts. Treatment works. In fact, millions of Americans are in successful recovery for drug and alcoholism today. And through our work with innovative drug courts across the Nation, we are improving our criminal justice system to divert non-violent offenders into treatment.

Assessment

Our commitment to a balanced approach to drug control is real. This last fiscal year alone, the Federal Government spent over $10 billion on drug education and treatment programs compared to just over $9 billion on drug related law enforcement in theU.S.

Thank you for making your voice heard. I encourage you to take a moment to read about the President’s approach to drug control to learn more.

Source: Dawn Dearden

More Info:

Drug Enforcement Administration

Section Chief, Public Affairs

Phone 202 307-2402

Fax 202 353-1628

dawn.n.dearden@usdoj.gov

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