How P&C agents can profit from the health insurance boom
By Adam Stohlman
Stohlman Financial Services, LLC
In a down economy such as we've been experiencing, the P&C side of the insurance business has suffered severely, and probably will continue to do so for some time to come. For many agents, relying on more aggressive marketing or trying to wait-out the current economy simply are not viable options. Meanwhile, many P&C producers are life and health licensed, but not able to cash in on the current boom in health sales -- individual as well as group -- due to inexperience, the time it takes to quote coverage with each carrier, and lack of knowledge of the complex features of myriad health plans available in the marketplace. So, what is a P&C producer to do under such circumstances?
The answer is simple: Extend the traditional P&C agent's business model to include more life and health revenue. But how, given the obstacles above? You may not have many options, but in this article, I propose a few potential solutions.
Solution No. 1 -- As I mentioned in my previous article, "Making the Most of a Challenging Year"), partnering with an active or life and health-only agent provides the P&C producer with a resource for referring life and health prospects in exchange for a fee or commission split in states where such arrangements are allowed. Not only does the agent retain a valuable P&C customer in a highly competitive and price-conscious market, he also receives revenue on the life and health business referred. Furthermore, the agent may have an opportunity to cross-sell P&C business to the clientele of the L&H agent.
Solution No. 2 -- If you have the space, rent out an office to another financial professional and share referrals and cross-sales of your products and services. Depending on your situation, it may even be worthwhile to move your own office in order to go in together with another professional. More than likely, in both the short- and long-term, you will increase your opportunities to extend your P&C business model to include life and health sales, while growing your business and staying ahead of your local competition.
But what if such alliances are hard to come by in your area? What if the life and health (L&H) agents around you already have such associations with your competition? What if you are a newer agent and have not yet established the credibility needed to make such alliances with your L&H brethren -- especially the successful ones?
Solution No. 3 -- Consider Web sites like LifenHealthQuotes.com and LifenHealthQuotes.net. Such sites are one way for life and health licensed P&C agents to survive in the short term and succeed in the long run by extending their business model to include life and health insurance without the added hassles. LifenHealthQuotes.com provides life and health licensed P&C agents with an online resource to which they can refer life and health prospects in exchange for a small referral fee or large commission split (again, where allowed), while retaining their P&C customer. The agent simply refers their suspect to the Web site, and LifenHealthQuotes.com does the rest. When a sale is made, the agent gets paid -- it's as simple as that. LifenHealthQuotes.com can handle all forms of life, health, supplemental health, disability, dental and vision, Medicare supplement and long term care, all group benefits and even annuities. If you are licensed in life and health in a state in which LifenHealthQuotes.com is licensed, and fees or commission splits are allowed, you're able to use the service, and you can benefit from life and health sales without worrying about appointments, applications, underwriting or follow-up. LifenHealthQuotes.com even gives you your first 50 referral cards to place on your front counter or mail out to prospects free of charge. And they may be looking for agents to associate with in your area to handle in-person sales -- another great selling and cross-selling opportunity.
LifenHealthQuotes.net takes the concept one step further, utilizing only the generic quote request forms from the .com site and providing them for agent use. For a small initial start-up fee, you can actually market the .net name and advertise for life and health insurance business, adding to and extending your P&C agency business model. Once a suspect goes to the LifenHealthQuotes.net site, they simply fill out the quote form for the type of insurance they want, indicate which agent or agency referred them, and upon submission, all information on the form is forwarded by LifenHealthQuotes.net to the referring agent on a pay-per-lead or pay-per-month (for maximum number of leads) basis. While they are not filtered, the quote information is highly detailed, and both the cost-per-lead and monthly plans are very inexpensive compared to buying leads elsewhere, since the agent does his or her own advertising. The agent can then write the business for themselves with one of their own carriers for 100 percent of the commission. Plus, the name is easier for consumers to remember than "firstname.lastname@example.org," for example. A limited number of carriers, MGA's and GA's can even get their own sub-domain (such as "LifenHealthQuotes.net/ProspectCo) and have an exclusive multi-quote form site all to themselves, with their own branding included and with leads forwarded directly to the company via e-mail when a suspect clicks "submit." The company can then immediately distribute these exclusive leads to their local agents nearest the suspects. As sites such as these become central destinations for life and health quote prospects, you may find in time that you have more sales opportunities than you can handle.
Solution No. 4 -- Life and health licensed P&C agents can opt to take time away from working to maintain their P&C business, and devote themselves to studying up on life and health, getting additional appointments with carriers that have the latest products, and then attempting to market and sell life and health on their own. Again, probably not the wisest or most viable option, especially when agents are struggling to keep the P&C side of their business going until the economy improves. But if you have the time, inclination and ability, this is an option for you, nonetheless.
In today's difficult times, one of these solutions may work for you, and be the catalyst you need to help your P&C agency not just survive, but succeed. If you are a P&C agent that wants to profit from the current health insurance boom, or if you could use the additional revenue from life and health insurance sales, you may want to implement one of these solutions to increase your agent income and agency revenue.
Copyright 2009 Adam Stohlman All Rights Reserved
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