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  • Writer's pictureDavid H. Kinder, RFC®, ChFC®, CLU®

Spreading Myths Simply Pays More

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

In a private Facebook group for insurance professionals, after I shared my article on debunking the myth that the insurance company keeps the cash values when you die (not true), I was asked: "David Kinder You need to go over and straighten out Investopedia, and countless others because they haven't read your Myth Buster page. Those companies aren't as smart as you."

"Read "The Bottom Line": Read "Misconceptions" at end of page: Read the answer to the question: Read "What is Cash Value in Life Insurance". The list goes on." "Please send these companies your FACT page and correct them."

I could spend YEARS online finding misinformation and contacting authors to see about them correcting or amending their articles to bring greater clarity.

Well, I found another article with that misconception... and it's an article for agents and advisors... so I contacted the author.

Pamela Yellen is a prolific best-selling New York Times author regarding using cash value life insurance while you are alive to enhance your personal situation. She wrote this article for Think Advisor: The 6 biggest myths about dividend-paying whole life insurance

In that article, under myth #2, "The company “keeps” your cash value and “only” pays you the death benefit." she said "Technically, that's true." (It's not.)

So I wrote her about it and gave her my link to my article.

Here's her response back to me:


Hi David,

Thank you for taking the time to write and send me a link to your blog post, which I did read.

I do understand the idea of the net amount at risk, which you explain well in your article.

However, the actual concern that people have brought up to me dozens of times is that they do not understand why you do not get a check for BOTH the death benefit PLUS the cash value in the policy at the time of death - combined. Meaning, if your death benefit is $500,000, and the cash value at the time of the insured’s death is $100,000, they think you should be getting a check for $600,000, which as we both know ain’t going to happen!

And that is the issue that I address in my articles about this.

I commend you for having written at least one textbook for advisors and insurance agents. That is quite an accomplishment. (My note: I never wrote a textbook. I referenced the fundamentals of insurance textbook from The American College in my article.)

But my strength has been to write for the general public and the average layperson, to help them understand concepts that are complicated and often involve a lot of technical jargon.

Apparently, I have been pretty good at it, because I do have two New York Times best-selling books on the topic.

Here is a link to one of the articles I have written addressing this concern and a few others in layperson terms, in case you are interested:

But the bottom line is that even though you and I write for different audiences, we have the same goal and that is of helping educate people about this wonderful product!

I wish you all the best!


Pamela Yellen


In my opinion, she's justifying writing technically incorrect information and believing that the general public won't understand and comprehend... so she can continue to sell her books!!

And I wrote my article for the public, not necessarily for agents. I guess using, defining, and explaining proper terminology isn't worth her time?

No, I'm not going to bother writing her back. No use.

It sure is hard to clarify things when prolific authors won't take responsibility for what they say and write, even when it isn't true.

I never set out to be a blogger/writer on these topics. But with so much misinformation out there, I needed to clarify these topics for me, let alone others.

If you have a question about life insurance or annuity contracts, please contact me. I can, at least, give you my opinion.

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