Does Clark Howard Really Give Bad Advice About Life Insurance?

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When I started in the insurance business 13 years ago, I heard a few experienced agents mention Clark Howard and why I should learn to overcome the “Clark Howard objection”.  In case you’re not aware of this, Clark Howard is a consumer advocate who has a very popular radio show.  He is well known in Atlanta and his popularity has grown considerably over the years — in Georgia and all across the nation.

The company I worked for taught new agents to promote variable universal life insurance (permanent insurance) as a way to solve all our clients’ financial and protection needs.  Well, as a new agent, many of my clients were young parents on a limited budget.  When I would attempt to show them how universal life insurance would provide protection, retirement and college savings, they would often object to the high price tag. And yes, on occasion I would hear people say, “I heard Clark Howard say that universal life insurance is a scam” or something along those lines. Well, I’d do my best to overcome the objection and explain why my product provided a great solution.  I’d then tell them that Clark is an expert in the travel industry and many other areas, but he isn’t the expert on life insurance.

After a short amount of time, I learned that most of my clients simply needed a good term life insurance product to provide protection for their loved ones.  I realized that my employer (at the time) and agent managers stood to benefit much more if I sold expensive permanent life insurance products. The “red alert” button went off in my brain!

I would listen to Clark regularly in those days, and as I describe in the “About Us” section of my website, I was heavily influenced by Clark Howard’s show.  He not only helped me to get my own financial house in order, but he helped me to become a better insurance advisor. Thanks Clark!

I soon became an independent agent, offering all the best term life carriers.  I started offering individual / small group health insurance and became an expert in Health Savings Accounts. Clark also provided (and provides) very good advice on disability income and long-term care insurance. This information helped me along in my early years in the business. I became “client focused” rather than “product focused”.  I heard the callers needs and questions on Clark’s show and determined that I would be a part of the solution!

So, does this mean I am a huge Clark Howard fan and agree with all of his advice? Well, let me say that Clark provides a great service to people.  He really does care about people and sincerely hates to see people scammed by money-hungry companies (or agents)!  Yes, I am a fan, and like Clark, I hate to see people get ripped off.  However, I have heard Clark offer advice that makes me cringe. Sometimes he gives insurance advice that applies to most people, but not everyone, and I say to myself, “Clark!! Please stop!!”.  So yes, I’m a Clark Howard fan, but I also realize he really isn’t the expert in every area.

Let me also say that although I think term life insurance is usually the best product for most people, there are a few good reasons why permanent life insurance (whole life or universal life) can make sense in some situations and for some people. I elaborate on this subject in my other posts on term and permanent life insurance.

Since we’re talking about life insurance, let me say that I’ve also heard Clark rail against “Mortgage Life Insurance” and for good reason!  See my post on Mortgage Protection Life Insurance for details about this product.

In my next post or two, I will cover a few areas where I think Clark Howard gets it wrong with respect to life insurance advice …. and those areas don’t have anything to do with “term vs permanent” life insurance. Stay tuned…