Please Read This!
“There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?” – Woody Allen
“Will my accident plan cover my pregnancy if I got pregnant accidentally?” – A client
AM I ON THE RIGHT SITE?
Good question. I’m Alan Canton the owner of A.N. Canton Insurance Services, and yes, we’re a small, two-person, one-dog (an Australian Shepherd,) two-cat agency located in Fair Oaks, CA (just east of Sacramento, CA) that provides term life insurance, critical illness, Medicare supplements, and final-expense coverage to families in Fair Oaks, Folsom, Gold River, Carmichael, Roseville, Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova, El Dorado Hills and Sacramento. I have a fair number of victims (oops, I mean clients) throughout the rest of California (and Virginia… I went to U.Va (BA ’69) and William and Mary (MA ’74) a hundred years ago but still have many friends/clients in that state.)
Yes this is a site about insurance. So, how come you are not seeing the usual pictures of the happy family at the park, or the robust seniors on the cruise ship, or the group of children at the circus?
I don’t have them because most insurance agencies don’t want you to THINK about what you are buying. They would rather you be in some idyllic frame of mind and to think of all the ‘fun’ things in life… family, friends, health, and happiness. They want to “con” you.
Well, I want you to HAVE all of those things, and that is why I am IN the insurance business in the first place.
Unlike others, with me, it’s not about the money. Yeah, everyone says that, but for me it’s true. I already have money… I don’t need to sell you something to eat tonight (but I do have a very expensive wife!)
And it’s not about trying to ‘snow’ you with a lot of hype and sales bull-%$#@.
With me it’s about getting you the right Medicare supplement or life policy or critical illness plan at the right price. Those are serious issues and I want my customers to understand that having the wrong plans can COST them their future or that of their family. How do you put THAT in a picture? You can’t do it with a clown and a happy-face!
There are three, and only three, things you must know about me.
1. I am honest.
2. I know what I’m doing.
3. I am not a crook.
When it comes to health and Medicare I will tell you what no other agent will tell you, but which you already know. The entire healthcare system is broken… and you can’t fix it and I can’t fix it and Obamacare won’t fix it. The best I can do is “mitigate” it for you.
When it comes to life protection, I won’t try to make a quick buck on a cheap term plan from a crap company that pays a high commission.
I will take the time to educate you on what is “right and proper” for your age and stage in life… and that often means venerable “whole” or “permanent” life. (Yes, it is expensive… because it is worth it!) I won’t often write impossible-to-understand Universal Life because most plans end up screwing the client! (Other agents won’t tell you that!)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
I know (and you know) that you need insurance. I also know that you don’t want to pay for it (And you don’t even want to TALK to me about it!) And I know that the lure of ‘cheap’ insurance is appealing. There are lots and lots of agents and web sites out there who will sell you crap-insurance that will just waste your money.
I want to tell you the truth. The truth is this. Cheap insurance is never good insurance and good insurance is never cheap. This is why I sell plans from the best of the best in the insurance industry. This is why I like Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Ohio National, Genworth, John Hancock, Forethought, Oxford, and especially Assurity to name a few. You won’t find me selling that multi-level-marketing life insurance company or that “association” health plan or any of the other %$#@ out there. (I’d name names, but they would sue me! Call me and I’ll tell you who sells crap.)
There are cheap plans in the life, Medicare, and critical illness sector that will bankrupt you if something really bad happens. I won’t sell those… even if you want them.
However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get good protection. You just need a good agent (but good luck finding one these days!)
There are many, many affordable plans that will protect your assets… your life-savings, the college fund, and your equity (stock and bond) holdings. That’s what I provide: Good, affordable critical illness, Medicare, and life plans. In a word (actually three words) I sell peace of mind.
WHY USE AN AGENT?
You’re thinking: “Do I really need an agent? Can’t I just buy something online?”
The answer is NO. Life insurance… hell, all personal insurance… is not like car or home insurance. Most of those are pretty much the same. But personal insurance IS complex and you must have someone on your side who can sort it all out for you. Yes, you could do it yourself, but why would you want to… especially when it cost you nothing.
The big carriers would love for you to go to their pretty web sites and buy coverage online and never talk to an agent. If you buy this way they don’t have to pay a commission to agents like us, and they KNOW from experience that most people (like you?) will buy the wrong product at a high price. It’s a great deal for them… a crap-out deal for you. You want to gamble at craps? Do it with dice at the casino, not with your life and other personal insurance and surely not with a Medicare supplement. If you want to do a really dumb thing, buy insurance online all by yourself. (Anyone who has done this and been burned, will tell you the same thing!)
Look. I have one and only one goal and that is to get you the right plan for your budget. If I do that I do a good service and I earn a good (but not large) commission.
I hear it again and again. “Al, you want us to buy the most expensive plan because you make more in commission.” Sorry to disappoint but it’s just not true. Why is it not true? It’s not true because if you can’t afford the plan you will drop it. (And people say you have to have a Ph.D in quantum physics to sell insurance!! :-))
It is important to know that you do not pay any fee or commission to any agent. That is the law in this state. I’m going to tell you something no other agent is willing to: what we agents get paid. For individual and family health policies, agents usually get paid by the carrier 9% of the first year premium and a small “renewal” after that. Regular high-benefit life insurance pays us anywhere from 50% to 90% but often no renewal. LTC, is about 60%, no renewal. Group health pays a flat 7% each year. Disability pays 50% the first year and a “good” renewal after that. Annuity pays from 4% to 6% of the amount invested, no renewal. Medicare Supplements pay about 15%. Medicare Advantage plans pay about $500 and a nice renewal. (I don’t write Medicare Advantage anymore… I don’t like the plans that are out there now.) Medicare drug plans pay us almost nothing and are not worth my effort.
Most of the time carriers pay agents “as earned.” That means when you pay your monthly premium, the company sends us X% of it… be it 20%, 50%, etc. If you drop the policy, our commission stops. If the agency was paid a year’s commission in advance (a few carriers do this,) the agent has to pay back the part not earned. That’s also the law. There is zero incentive for me to put you in a plan that you will drop.
Final Expense is a popular product for a large segment of the population. These are low death-benefit whole life plans, in the area of from $5,000 to $25,000 designed to pay for your funeral/cremation and/or to leave a small legacy to a favorite relative or church or charity.
I can sell these up to age 80!
These plans are what we call “simplified-issue,” meaning that except in a very few circumstances you won’t be turned down. Heart attack survivor? Cancer survivor? Have diabetes? No problem. I can get you approved with one of a number of companies. They are not the cheapest plans in the world… and if healthy or younger I will suggest traditional carriers, but for basically old, sick people, final expense is what they need and will get.
A 65 year old woman would pay around $40 a month for $10,000 of coverage.
Who buys these? You’d be surprised. Most people think these policies are bought ONLY by poor people living in trailer parks, on welfare, and with no assets. While that is part of my customer base, a large part of it are people who never made a lot of money in their lives… office workers, teachers, janitors, etc., and who are not in great health but who don’t want their family to have to “pass the hat” when they leave this planet. Or they want to leave a little gift to a favorite grandchild or to their church or charity.
The beauty of these plans is that they are do NOT require a medical exam and people are approved (most often) by the company via phone. I come to the house, we write up the short application, we make a phone call, you talk to someone at the company who will check to make sure you don’t have dementia and they will tell me right then and there if they will accept you… and most often they will.
If they don’t there are some “guarantee-issue” companies who will take everyone… but for a price. However the price is more reasonable than you might think.
There is a small set of companies who work the Final Expense market and I write for most of them.
People get mailings all the time about these… especially from AARP and other organizations. Sometimes these plans look good, but they aren’t. Some won’t pay in the first two years, some are term plans that “run out” after a few years, and some raise rates every few years.
I will only write plans where the premium never changes and which never run out. Beware what you buy… and if you have a Final Expense plan now, call me and I’ll tell you if it is crap… or if I can get you a better rate for the same benefit.
LIFE: PLANS AND PLANS AND MORE PLANS
We both know there are a zillion life plans out there from ten-zillion companies. I quote a lot of Ohio National, Midland, and Assurity. Why? Because they are all honest, they are financially strong, and they have great service. I can (and do) sell other carriers, but Assurity, ON and Gen “fit” for so many clients in so many good ways. I also like the Lincoln Moneyguard plan which is a life/LTC combo… two products in one… good value.
Yes, I sell term, lots and lots of it… but I don’t really like to. Term has its place and is “right” in certain situations, but it is a “wasting asset.” You have heard “Buy term, invest the rest.” Fine. I’m all for it. However, most folks either LOSE the rest or they SPEND the rest.
I believe that whole life is still a sound method of savings and protection. If that can’t be afforded, then Guaranteed Universal Life (GUL) is the next best thing. Last comes term. It’s cheap for a reason. 95% of term policies expire worthless. The carriers take all your money and never pay a claim. What a deal (for them!) I’d rather see you get something for your money, not just a letter of termination.
But in this economy term coverage is all that people can afford and term life is so much better than no life to your widow(er) or children!
MEDICARE: LOTS OF CHANGES
I do a lot of work in the senior market with Medicare (Medigap) Supplements. I don’t write any Medicare Advantage (MA) plans anymore.
I don’t care what anyone tells you, the tried, true, and venerable Medigap Supplements are better than Medicare Advantage. However, they cost money and many MA plans are zero-premium. I always try to put someone in a Plan-F Supplement if they can afford it.
If not, there are a couple of Medicare Advantage plans that may work, but I don’t write them because as I said, Supplements are better… and I’d rather see someone give up cable TV and get a Supp than take a “free” MA plan.
If you don’t know the Medicare mess, talk with someone like me… who does! You’d be really stupid to try to figure out the Medicare-maze on your own because you will make a poor choice. Ask me how I know this. I’ll be happy to tell you some horror stories!
As for Part-D drugs… there are a zillion plans out there and most agents won’t write them… because the liability is too high and the compensation is too low. I get paid maybe $5 a month for Part-D and it can take me 5 hours to decide what is “best.” For folks who are not taking any meds, I’ll write a Part-D. For others I tell them how to make their own decision by using the www.medicare.gov website.
CRITICAL ILLNESS: DISABILITY FOR THE REST OF US!
Critical Illness (CI… sometimes called “dreaded disease”) coverage is the fastest growing coverage in the US. It is being brought down to the U.S. from Canada where it has always been very popular.
I call CI “DI for the rest of us. Now, it is not as good as disability coverage but it is far better than nothing. DI benefits are based on your income. CI is a flat-amount deal. There is a whole laundry-list of illnesses (cancer, heart attack, stroke, etc.) that will pay you if you are diagnosed… and live! (Your beneficiary will get your premiums back if you die.)
I have $100,000 of CI with a company called Assurity on myself and my wife (who is already on Social Security disability.) CI is far easier to get than DI. No, it won’t cover you for an accident, but if you have, say a $50,000 policy and you have a heart attack, I’ll bring you a check and you can use it for anything you want. (Get well and go to Rio!)
CI is affordable (especially when young) and I can write you up until age 65. Here is a link to some info on this excellent coverage. CI is “sleep BETTER” insurance. I know I do.
DISABILITY: IF YOU CAN GET IT… YOU SHOULD GET IT!
A word about disability insurance (DI): This protects your paycheck if you can’t work. It’s that simple. Everyone in CA thinks that the state plan (SDI) will cover them. Wrong. It’s for one year and has a low pay-out. It’s crap, but no one thinks so… until they see what the (bad) deal is.
Here is how agents are taught to sell DI… and it works because it is true: DI will cost you about 3% of your gross pay a year and will pay you about 60% of that gross if disabled. You are offered two jobs. One pays $100,000 a year and if you get disabled (you wreck the car) you receive a get-well card from me. The other job pays $97,000 a year and if you get disabled you get a check each year for $60,000 from me… for as long as the policy runs and you are still unable to work. That’s my entire sales pitch. Either you “get it” or you don’t. (And DI is hard to get so get it when you are healthy and have it for life… benefit stays the same even if laid off or you change jobs. And guess what… you can’t get it when you need it! Duh!) As they say where I grew up (NY), “Whadayawant?” A check for 60 percent of your pay… or a Hallmark card? Your choice. Don’t be an idiot. If you can get DI, get it… and sleep better at night. I wish I had taken it when I could have.
VOLUNTARY BENEFITS (QUACK, QUACK)?
These are plans offered to you at work and paid by YOU on a voluntary basis. You know the leading company in this area! For a small segment of the working population these plans can be OK, but very often they are overpriced and the carriers are not the easiest of companies to deal with if a claim is made.
Voluntary benefits (usually term life, short-term DI, hospital indemnity, accident) are great if you are an employee and if the boss is paying for ALL of it, but often these are not “portable” when you leave your job. These days very few bosses pay even 75% for anything, much less overpriced voluntary benefits.
I used to write for one of the two largest voluntary (employee paid insurance) companies… no, not the one with the water fowl… the other one… so I know what I’m talking about. Most often you will get a better policy from your OWN agent instead of some insurance-drone who sits with you for 15 minutes (that’s all the boss usually allows) and high-pressures you into taking a term life or accident plan… that you don’t fully understand! Yeah, that’s how that business is sold! “Get ’em in, sell ’em hard, get ’em out!”
I’m sorry if you disagree and you have one of these plans, but in my experience it’s a crappy way to get coverage and is expensive to boot. But if it makes you feel better to pay what they ask… knock yourself out! Just don’t cry to me when you have a claim and they don’t pay it because of some loophole in the contract that was never explained to you. It wouldn’t happen if you had REAL coverage from a REAL agent (who’s neck you can always strangle if things go “bad” at claim time!!)
CHOICE IS GOOD
One size does NOT fit all. This is why the really good carriers have a plethora of plans, sometimes too many! And this is another reason you need an agent.
In the life sector there are ways to tailor a plan to fit each budget, often by offering the client a mixture of term and permanent (whole or UL)… with often complex concepts that would never occur to the average person… but which professional agents are trained in.
There is also the choice of carriers that agents choose to write for.
Yes, I could write for second and third-tier life, critical-illness and Med-Sup companies; carriers who have cheap plans, low coverages, huge deductibles, and who make you go through root-canal to get a claim paid. Sure, I’d sell a ton of them. I could make a lot more money because a lot of them pay better commission.
I could sell the cheapest plan-of-the-week term policies from “B” rated companies. Lots of agents do that. Why? They pay better commission.
But I won’t do it. Scroll up and re-read the 6th, 7th and 8th paragraphs again.
A FEW MORE WORDS OF ADVICE
I advise clients to find an independent agent, one who is not beholden to only one carrier. It’s the only way to get an objective opinion and a fair choice.
If you want to pay through the @$$ for the “blue company from a large state” or for “that cute cartoon dog” or for some similar company where the agents can ONLY sell that company, fine. Your choice. They are all good carriers. They all advertise a lot. Guess who pays (through that same @$$) for it? Yeah. You.
As for agents who might call you, there are a lot of crappy insurance peddlers out there. Most could not spell “CAT” if you spotted them the “C” and the “T.” Why? Because in most states anyone who can fog a mirror can get a license. You have people who never got past junior college because they have a 10th grade reading level giving advice on serious financial issues… to people who don’t know what they don’t know about insurance or finance. So choose your agent wisely. If they screw you, you only have yourself to blame… assuming you have read this far!
And whatever you do, do not, do not, do not buy insurance online or from one of the “we-sell-all-carriers” sites (I can’t mention the name but you’ve probably seen their ads on the web and TV… they often start with the letter ‘e’.) Most are phone-bank operations where you will get pressured into buying whatever “the deal of the day” is, and you will probably pay through the lower part of your anatomy to get it.
Saving money by “buying direct”… like for books and household items is generally possible – but it is not with insurance! Many online sites say that you are “buying direct” and “cutting out the agent”. The truth is, you aren’t saving a dime! The truth is… you are being screwed.
Any entity that offers insurance must be licensed as an agent/agency by the State in order to offer insurance. The only thing you ‘cut out’ is knowledgeable input and personalized service.
No agent or agency can offer you a “special price.”
Regardless of what agent you use, you pay no more… so don’t be fooled by the “Buy direct and save” bull$#@!. You need to focus on the bottom line – what the policy is going to cost you compared to another company with similar benefits and features… and you need a good agent to sort it out for you (especially if you have medical issues (aka impaired risk.) You ALSO want to work with someone you LIKE… someone who will educate you, not pressure you.
Most agents will just SELL you. I won’t. I’ll QUALIFY you and if you are a good candidate I will EDUCATE you. You will sell yourself… or you will walk away… and we’re still friends.
I don’t use high-pressure tactics… they don’t work anyway. You talk, I listen… then I make a suggestion and you take it or leave it. It’s not all that difficult to make that decision… and I try to make it as pleasant as I can.
Look. Reality check here. This is not fun. This is why I don’t have the pretty pictures and bright colors and the hype and ‘excitement’ on this website. This is all about protecting your ASS(ets.) This is serious business, and I treat it so. If you want an agent who will sugar-coat all of this, there are plenty of them out there. Find one and don’t waste my time… or yours… because I take it all very seriously.
If you are just looking around or just want to “kick some tires,” call someone else. I have a busy practice with serious clients. When you are ready to hear the truth (and sometimes it is not all that pretty) and ready to move forward… call me. I use a method called High-Probably Selling. Maybe you’ve heard about it. You can learn it yourself by reading this.
Bottom line, I only work with clients who are serious.
I can’t make it fun, but I can make it easier because I have a simple system that is written down and which I read each day. That system is:
1. Find the best options for risk-level of client.
2. Educate the client on his or her options.
3. Never let client buy a ‘bad plan’… even if they want it.
PLEASE CHOOSE ME
If you give me the opportunity to serve you I will do an excellent job. I will assess your needs, find you several options, and I will help get you through the underwriting process. That’s the service…. it’s what I do.
I don’t really sell insurance. The carriers do that. I educate you and you make your own choices. I sell me. You buy me.
Twenty-four/seven, I’m here.
Need to change your policy? I’m here.
Get sick and need help with a claim? I’m here.
Want to call and just chat? I’m here.
Anyone can (and will!) SELL you insurance. I won’t SELL you “a policy.” I will give you the opportunity to BUY what I REALLY sell… peace of mind… knowing that you received the best plan for your money, one that will cover your assets and which you can keep from year to year.
I will earn your business and referrals to your friends, family, and colleagues.
I’m good at this, I like doing a good service for my clients, and if you choose me, I will be proud to have you as a client… and a friend.
Alan N. Canton, Owner
A.N. Canton Insurance Services
“I don’t have clients… I have friends.”
Fair Oaks, CA
CA Lic # 0F31110