Why My Insurance Salesman Deserves Kindness

Dean Nelson

It was one of those phone calls where I knew if I timed it right I could be done with it in a minute or two. The guy who carries our family’s insurance needed some additional information about my daughter’s car. I think all he needed was the odometer reading. I was trying to get a lower rate since she was driving it less. To be honest, though, when the Volvo is reaching close to 300,000 miles, does anyone really care about the specific odometer reading? The insurance guy did.

I finally got my daughter to text it to me so I could call it in. I didn’t want to talk to his assistants – I wanted to talk to him. He’s the one I have dealt with all of these years. I knew he’d do something useful with the information.

*Photo Credit: kamshots, Creative Commons

*Photo Credit: kamshots, Creative Commons

He hadn’t been in all morning. All of my calls had gone to voicemail. I tried his cell, his office and even his home. No live person anywhere. What was he – a bank? I didn’t want this information getting lost in his many recordings, texts or emails.

I wanted to speak directly to him. I wanted to hear him pull up my account on his computer and put the information in. I wanted to witness it with my ears. Too many times I have left specific information with people, and they claim to have never received it. This was going to save me some money. Not a lot, but why waste a few extra bucks on an insurance company when you can waste it on yourself? Oh yeah – I could also give it away. Sure. I could do that if I remember.

Note to self: Give away money you saved on car insurance.

But where was he? I tried to think like him. If he played golf that day (a distinct possibility. I’ve played with him a few times), then he’d probably take a long lunch to recover and re-hydrate, then he might run a couple of errands. Then he might head to the office to see if there was anything he needed to do in the remaining hours of the business day. Yup, I figured, that was it. So I called at 3:45 in the afternoon. He answered. Bingo! (I could be a private investigator.)

I launched right in, told him how I wanted the policy changed, asked if he was sure he understood. He sounded a little tired (golf and sun – it wears you out!) but he accommodated me. I thanked him for his immediate attention to the matter, and was about to hang up. After all, I was done with him.

He said something, though, before I could wrap up my business.

“Something you should know,” he said. He paused.I figured he was going to say something about rates going up.

“My mom died this morning,” he said. Now it was my turn to pause.

“I am so sorry. Why are you even in the office?” I asked, in a much less business-like tone. “Why aren’t you home?”

“I was looking for some papers for her, and thought they might be at the office. Then I saw that you were calling, so I picked up.”

There is a quote attributed to John Watson in the 1890s that says,

“Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.”(tweet this)

Even insurance salesmen.

Dean Nelson

Dean Nelson

This is a post by Dean Nelson, one of the Storyline Contributors. Pick up a copy of his latest book, God Hides in Plain Sight: How to See the Sacred in a Chaotic World on his website and make sure to follow along on Twitter (@deanenelson) for regular updates.