An Insurance Agent Reaps the Integrity Advantage

September 8th, 2011
Jim Thomas

In their book, The Integrity Advantage, Adrian Gostick and Dana Telford relate an incident from the world of insurance. They describe a powerful example of integrity in action and the monetary and professional benefits that can flow from it. Here is what happened.

One Greg Smith, an agent in San Antonio, was in the process of writing an application for a new policy holder. As he filled in necessary information on the form, the client made a request: would Greg fudge the policy effective date to cover a small claim that had occurred a few days earlier. If so, this would save the client hundred of dollars.

The agent refused. He asked the client, “Well, when is the next time that you will me to lie to you?”

The agent had prepared for such an event long before. He determined that when and if in the course of business a client made such a request he would deny it. This was a line he would not cross—at any price for any party. The cardinal virtue of integrity dictates adherence to the right standard even when it is unprofitable and inconvenient to do so.

Greg Smith exercised integrity, went on to sell the policy in question, and won a lifelong client. The client not only purchased the one policy but went on to purchase additional polices, including business insurance, life insurance, and estate planning.

Why? Because the client realized he was dealing with an agent whose trust he could count on. His agent had an intangible more valuable than prestige, power, or money. He had integrity.

For a free copy of The Alliance for Integrity’s “Integrity Checklist” and/or its “Model Integrity Credo” e-mail your request to

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