Honesty, Ethics, and Openness

I talk with about 5 insurance agents every day in my work for clients. There are some agents I have known for 20 years. Others, I’m talking to for the first time.

Today I spoke with three agents whom I had never met. I did not know them and they did not know me. Two of the three were not convinced that I was not some kind of shadow agent looking to take their business away. I tried to assure all that I never accept fees or commissions from agents or insurers in my work for insurance buyers. I have no ties to any agents. I will not invest in a stock of an insurance company (though, full disclosure, I do own some investments through mutual funds that have small stakes in an insurer or two.)

Several years ago I owned stock in a large bank. The bank bought an insurance agent. I sold the stock.

Agents try to buy me lunch. I politely refuse. Agents send me sporting event tickets. I return them. Several times I have received gifts from agents. They are returned or, if perishable, donated to my local fire department.

The UPS guy knows to check with me this time of year when a gift box comes as I have refused several deliveries.

I’m not trying to put myself out as some paragon of virtue. Frankly, having firm rules of conduct make things easier for me. I know what is right and what my clients expect of me.

Also, frankly, I have wondered on more than one occasion if an agent isn’t testing me by sending a modest gift. I picture the sender waiting with baited breath to report any indiscretion to my client. Try me and you will be disappointed.

Some say that true character is what you do when nobody is looking. I just assume that ethical lapses will always come to light.