The members of any profession, since they constitute a specifically trained group of people, are looked upon to assume the responsibility of leadership in work allied to their own. The doctor is looked upon as the leader in public-health campaigns, and the lawyer in campaigns for civic betterment.
You, like every other successful insurance agent, should be interested in any movement which works toward human betterment; but there are certain fields in which your profession enables you to do particularly valuable work:
1. As a Promoter and Teacher of Thrift.
The social significance of this function of the insurance agent should be praised. Think what the ability to reduce poverty means. At the bottom of almost every social problem there is a financial one. The elimination of poverty would certainly take with it many of our most puzzling and difficult social problems.
Many people would be well off today if they had not given up their savings plan at some time. Nearly everyone at some time begins to save, but relatively few stick to the plan until they acquire the habit. After the habit has been developed, people become prejudiced in favor of savings and it is then that we say they have developed ideals of thrift and become careful with money. In other words, an ideal is an emotionalized habit. The insurance agent is really a teacher and promoter of frugal ideals.
In the present after-the-recession period, too, thrift is not only a question of individual welfare, but of the welfare of the country.
2. As a Promoter and Teacher of Health.
The insurance companies have played a vital and important part in the betterment of public health. By their careful and collective analysis of vital statistics they have been able to make clear causal relations between disease and social conditions. By their classification of different vocations with regard to hazard,they have brought out evils which needed correction and which have resulted in a condition of improved health. They have used their resources in fighting epidemics, in enforcing sanitary regulations, in pushing bills for better working conditions, and in publishing educational literature on health and hygiene. More than that, many companies provide direct medical aid, arranging for free physical examinations and supplying free visiting-nurse service.
Of course, the amount of public-health service that the life-insurance agent can render will depend to a large extent on the amount of assistance he receives from his company. He is a connecting link, however, between his company and the community which he serves, and it may be largely through him that the company will receive information which will enable it to render the particular type of service which would most benefit his particular community.
3. As a Promoter of Good Citizenship.
Our democracy is based on the theory that every person is entitled to an equal opportunity to develop his individual abilities. It is often only through the protection that life insurance affords, however, that this ideal is approximated in an individual case. The child who is forced by poverty to leave school before completing his high school by no means has an equal opportunity of developing his individual abilities with those who have enjoyed greater advantages. It is the life insurance agent who points out ways of making certain that individuals shall have this equal chance.
The possibilities of promoting good citizenship through group insurance, too, are very great. The problem which faces the country today can be solved only through better cooperation between employer and employee, and probably few persons have done more to promote better relations in the business world than those who have established systems of group insurance through which the wage earner feels the interest of the employer in him and his affairs.
4. As a Promoter and Teacher of Ideals.
Earlier we mentioned that ideals of thrift have been brought about because of the establishment of habits of thrift. The life insurance agents are probably more nearly responsible for thrift habits in America than any other profession or business. Ideals usually start as habits. When prejudice and emotion become attached to habits ideals result.
You have a glorious opportunity to discuss with your client the most intimate of all relations-his own and his family affairs. You have the opportunity to discuss the most precious relationships which your clients have. If you are a real insurance agent, you can share with your client opinions, information, advice, and experience which may do much to develop and help him. All such sharing of experiences must be absolutely confidential.
All people are actuated by motives of some sort or other. Not many of the other professions offer quite such an opportunity to discuss a person’s objectives in life. Life insurance cannot function properly unless it is closely related to life objectives.
No other profession offers quite the opportunity to share such true idealism as does the insurance profession. Of course this is all based upon the assumption that the insurance agent has something to share with his clients.