Andrew Allentuck

Saturday, April 19, 2003

The Facts of Life: How to Build Wealth and Protect Your Assets with Life Insurance
by Paul Grimes with Susan Goldberg
241 pages
ISBN 0-470-83325-4

It's an old saying that life insurance isn't bought, it's sold. In that vein, Paul Grimes, a life insurance sales executive, leads what he presumes is a reader innocent of knowledge of life coverage through the intricacies of permanent life, term life, universal life, and the use of life insurance to fund trusts.

The analysis is good, the advice Mr. Grimes offers is sound and current, but the presentation of the book via a dialogue given by "Uncle Charles," a retired insurance industry "veteran," is condescending.

It has become commonplace since the successful publication of The Wealthy Barber to serve up financial information via dialogues. This style supposedly appeals to readers who would otherwise doze off. So Mr. Grimes invents the story of Uncle Charles, who regales the family with insurance lore. One could just bring up fairly gripping cases from law reports of families devastated by lack of proper insurance arrangements, the agony of annuitants who feared losing their monthly cheques when Confederation Life failed, etc. More research and less confected drama would improve this book, which is actually good on substance.