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Course Overview

Ethics are subjective of course.Not everyone will view it the same way.Even so, it is primarily a matter of what is right and wrong.We look at the common-sense view in this chapter, pointing out that each path taken must be a personal choice, rather than driven by what others tell us to do (our insurance agency, for example).It would hurt the womanís feelings if truth was so important that she must be told her dress was ugly.On the other hand, if she were entering a contest where the dress would be judged by many, then perhaps the woman should be told. The point here is to get the reader thinking about the choices they make every day.When it comes to their profession, each choice must be made personally so that proper products are placed or, in some cases, no product is placed because it is not appropriate to do so.


We show examples of agents ďbeing soldĒ on selling products besides insurance products and point out the pitfalls of doing so, especially as it applies to E&O insurance.Even being pushed to sell certain insurance products when they are not appropriately placed is discussed.

Course Schedule




Chapter 1

Definitions in The Real World

We look at why conformity, even without laws to enforce it, might be necessary in the insurance profession.There was a time when no special education was required for long-term care or annuity presentation and sales.Because too many agents either did not understand what they were doing or because they didnít care how it should be done, the states eventually mandated special education to protect consumers. Even this ethics course and others like it was mandated due to the lack of expected procedures when selling insurance products. The states did not mandate ethics just to fill an otherwise boring day on the job; the states mandated ethics because too many agents and financial planners were causing financial harm with the products they placed.In other words, accepted ethical standards were first mores in the insurance industry, but became law because not all agents were conforming to social pressure to perform ethically in their job.

Chapter 2

Why Be Ethical?

Chapter two looks at why a person might choose to be ethical.Unless there is a compelling reason to practice ethics, most would agree that it is easier to go for the sale every time, even when it should not be made.We know that long-term care and annuity product education is being mandated by many states.The states are hoping to eliminate unintentional errors made by agents when placing the products, but without an ethical compass this additional education will make no difference with agents simply determined to earn a commission.I donít believe most agents behave unethically, but the point of an ethics course is to sway the typically unethical individual into becoming ethical. Agents who already practice ethics in their profession will continue doing so with or without mandated ethic courses. We want to reach the salespeople that are not currently practicing ethical conduct by presenting reasons that ethical conduct will benefit them in the long run.

Chapter 3

Ethics in Action

The third chapter looks at the actual meaning of being ethical.Does it mean we must tell our coworker when she wears an ugly dress (because that is truthful)?Does it mean we must always give to the poor?What is ethical behavior on an individual basis?

Chapter 4

When Views Differ on Ethics Who Will Decide What is Right?

The fourth chapter discusses differences of opinion on ethical conduct.Since each person must take responsibility for their own actions, it looks at what makes a decision ethical or unethical.Specifically, anytime a person does what he or she believes is right, it is an ethical decision, even if it goes against current law or current opinion. The question then becomes, how was the decision made that caused the person making it to believe it was the right course of action to take?This can be applied to many circumstances in our history, including slavery, child labor laws, the right for all to vote, and more recently, the right for same-sex couples to adopt children.It was just now, in 2016, mandated legal across the country (Mississippi was the last holdout).That does not mean everyone believes it is ethical; there is a difference of opinion.As it applies to insurance, each person must take the time to (1) research the product or way of selling the product that is being promoted; (2) determine if he or she agrees with what others are saying; and (3) make a personal ethical determination.

Chapter 5


Next, we look at mores, which are those customs that are enforced only by social pressure. In some cases, mores eventually become law because not everyone is following the social pressure to do something in a particular way.Mores applies to insurance more than many other industries. When agents do not follow traditional rules (mores) the states or even the federal government may take steps to mandate conformity.

Chapter 6

When you Really Want to be Somebody

Chapter six looks at those who want recognition.This is not necessarily bad since wanting recognition often enhances performance.Oprah Winfrey once said that everyone wants to be validated.Wanting recognition is often simply a way of receiving validation for who we are and what we do in life. Job satisfaction may come from a sense of accomplishment and should, but satisfaction also comes from recognition.When ethical behavior is honored by those around us (coworkers), then ethical standards will become the norm rather than the exception. Perhaps it is time to begin rewarding ethical behavior instead of the number of insurance applications written. This chapter looks at the freedom agents have to be ethical in the sales field and why ethical behavior is a responsibility of that freedom.

Chapter 7

Ethics in Selling

Chapter seven is on selling products ethically. Some of it is more review than new information, since agents surely know that copying signatures and using a clientís money is not only unethical, but illegal as well.Still, to give a total picture it was necessary to include it.Additionally, it never hurts to reinforce current knowledge.

Chapter 8

Ethical Investing - Is It Possible?

Chapter eight looks at whether it is possible to invest ethically.Actually, many people do so today by choice.Whether it is avoiding investments that use animals to test their products or seeking out companies that are employing environmentally favorable methods of production, many people know where they do and do not want to place their dollars. Agents will be drawn into this if they work in the investment or retirement planning fields.Therefore, they need to understand the motivations and investment opportunities available.The past years have actually demonstrated that investing in desirable companies has been quite successful financially.

Chapter 9

Finding the Right Professional

Chapter nine looks ways to find the ethical professionals. One professional consumers will need is an insurance agent, but agents will also be asked to recommend others.If that is requested by an agentís policyholder, he or she should only recommend others that they find are trustworthy and ethical.We look at why that is important and how agents can make such a determination.

Chapter 10

Who or What is Ethical?


Chapter 11

Looking for Promising Small Companies

Chapter 12

Living for Today as well as for Tomorrow


Chapter 13

Can the Ethical Investor Not Consider Retirement Planning?


Chapter 14

Ethical Insurance


Chapter 15

Shareholders & the Proxy Vote


Chapter 16

Agent Due Diligence

The book looks at due diligence issues relating to insurer stability. This is not covered in great detail, but it does provide basic information.

Chapter 17

Insurer Solvency


Chapter 18

Determining Who We Are


Additional Information