Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 26, 2004
A prince amongst Knights
Total dedication to family give this Knight his impetus
By GLEN ARGAN
For Dan Dean, Knights of Columbus insurance salesman extraordinaire, the last five years have been one success piled on top of another.
It was in June 1999 that Dean, now 47, went to work for the Knights. In his first year, he was ranked among the top 75 salesmen (known as field agents) out of 1,200 in the order. The second year, he was third and he sold the highest volume of insurance. In 2002, he was ranked first. And last year, he sold a record $32 million worth of insurance and was ranked number three in the order.
But ask Dean what his greatest accomplishment is and he'll tell you it's his family. He and his wife Patricia have six children, three grandchildren and two more grandchildren on the way.
"That's more important than the work I do," says the hard-working field agent.
He works evenings four nights a week, often not getting home until after 11 p.m., but says he is at almost every meal with his family and wouldn't dream of missing a family celebration.
A knight for 23 years, Dean refuses to become one-dimensional. He's active in his parish and was chair of the parish council. He and Patricia lead marriage preparation courses and he is now on the board of the Foundation of Newman Theological College and St. Joseph Seminary.
"I'm involved in stuff other than going out and flogging Knights of Columbus insurance."
His entry into "flogging" insurance was improbable. He saw an ad looking for field agents in the Knights of Columbus magazine Columbia and, for some reason, sent in a coupon in response. "I never do that sort of thing."
A month later, Marc Bouchard, the chief field agent for Alberta and the Northwest Territories, phoned.
"I was a regional manager for a company," recalls Dean. " I got sick of the travelling. "I liked the independence of working for myself and of helping people. It also appealed to me that it was Catholic."
He became part of Bouchard's team of star agents. Although Dean was ranked number three in the order last year, he wasn't even number one in Alberta. That honour went to Bouchard's brother Dan out of Camrose. And a Calgary agent, Bill Lewchuk, ranked eighth overall.
"That's pretty remarkable for Alberta," says Marc Bouchard.
The Knights in the province have gone from $400 million of insurance in force when Bouchard took over in 1999 to $1 billion at the start of this year. "That's due in no small part to the work of the agents in the province," he says.
So it's little wonder that while Dean's top priority is his family, he loves his work. "You've got to believe in what you're selling. I do. I'm passionate about the product and about the Knights of Columbus."
He's motivated by his encounters with widows whose husbands were inadequately insured. "It's devastating for them," he says. "We don't want to see a situation where a family has to dramatically lower their standard of living."
"Most families are under-insured," Dean maintains. Yet, rarely do people realize that.
So his job is to educate his potential clients and to motivate them. "Life insurance is a selfless product. You will never see the benefit of it. It's for other people."
People won't always face up to their mortality, Dean says. Yet, if you're a family breadwinner, that's the responsible thing to do.
He believes the Knights provide a better life insurance product for their members than private insurers can.
The Knights' costs are lower. They pay no taxes and their advertising costs are a tiny fraction of those of private insurers. They have little money tied up in assets like buildings and all field agents work out of their own homes.
As well, he says the "mortality experience" of knights is better than that of the general population. Most are married, attend church regularly and take part in few high-risk activities - all factors that point towards greater longevity. "It's a unique market," Dean says. "Statistically, we tend to live longer."
As well, the Knights of Columbus' investments are low risk. Less than four per cent is invested in the stock market. Because of those factors, the Knights are now the only AAA rated insurer in Canada.