For well over a century life and health insurance providers held golden handcuffs on their agents and brokers. Independent life insurance brokers became fighting mad at these insurance providers trapping them inside giant Jell-O molds. This provided independent brokers little flexibility in prospecting, selling skills, choice of clients, and pressed inside a tight income range.
FINALLY, independent life insurance brokers are electing to challenge the insurance companies, seeking independence, and running their personal sales like their own business instead of like a textbook copy of what the company wants. A talented insurance agent quickly learns that the insurance provider needs them, and must offer more to hang on to the producer. An observant health or life insurance broker has over 600 independent insurance company choices to work out a winning combination with.
Sure insurance companies have cast heavy thunderstorm hurdles for the agents to overcome. A very high percentage of agent manpower gets lost along the way. However, each year, a larger group of agents is seeing the rainbow that lies ahead if they manage their own future. These are the independents, heroes to other agents that have not yet mastered the selling skills, or self-determination to join them. Here is some factual data on how the selling field has changed.
If you read insurance publications subsidized by major insurance company ads, you would think this is an easy money field. Obtaining the realms of information you need to learn, plus constantly changing sales regulations, disclosures, and mandated features you quickly become a walking encyclopedia. For two reasons insurance companies dominate. First, they write OVER 60% of the premiums themselves (internally), as appointed agents and independent brokers bring in the remainder. A newer agent convinces his client to put his $4,000 in savings into an annuity. The agent is compensated at 5%, $200 for the annuity sale. Instead, had this broker written a $50.00 monthly life insurance policy the provider would have paid out about $400.00.
Before a policy is written, a broker is going to write coverage that is profitable to himself and the the company. Listening to the training of life and health insurance providers, can cost a producer half their income.
The major shift in power from company appointed agents to independent life insurance brokers starting in the year 2000. The individual life market share revealed the following distribution percentages. 48% by Career Company appointed agents. Likewise, independent life insurance agents wrote 48%. The remaining small balance was picked up others, mainly stockbrokers.
Insurance Companies attempted driving most agents out of the business, especially the independent ones who commanded higher commissions. The home office wanted to receive 100% of the profits. With internet ads, phone telemarketing, direct mail bypassing agents, emails, and television ads, they thought they could prevail. After millions and millions of dollars spent on trying to sell insurance without using large numbers of agents, the whip came down. The got back lashed with a severe beating reminder that read, “insurance is a product, filling emotion needs that needs to be sold by human people.” A robot, cut out the middleman approach was a burning backfire.
INSURANCE COMPANY REALIZATION – ONE WAY OR ANOTHER
Health and life insurance company providers learned the hard way that business could be obtained by used television, internet, and direct mail advertising to attempt to get consumers to buy from them. Sure they saved a little on commissions, but their high overhead was bombarded by less healthy applicants, poorer claims communication, and less loyal clients. Career agents are enraged when they see their company want to sell insurance without their services. Life insurance broker agents are not in-housed, so they are paid higher commissions to sell the same coverage.
The word became clearer. Cater heavier to independent agents or lose market share. Since 2007 the big shift drifted in. Not only were there sideline marketing efforts not creating new marketing trends, but career insurance companies saw less sales from their own agents. Life insurance sales by captive, exclusive, and multi-line agents combined dropped from 48% in 1999 to 35%. Greatly gaining were the higher skilled and higher paid independent agents, now writing near 58%. Stockbrokers and banks maintain an 8% share, further eroding career agent sales.
Without the direct sales efforts of insurance selling agents, look at this fact. Home offices write less than 30% of life, health, retirement, group, and medical policies. This is why a two step ladder emerged. First the captive career life insurance providers started offering similar products to outside independent brokers at higher commissions. This was quickly trumped by independent insurance companies specializing in smaller product niches. Why not pay everyone the same? Let the career agency start training them, and then take over and show the producer how to really sell and at respectable income levels?
TONS OF INSURANCE BUYERS
If life and health insurance companies could exchange the word “greed” for “need” they would be in a better position. It is a well known fact that 2/3 of Americans do not carry enough life insurance. However most companies twist their agents’ necks to focus on the wealthy. Liberty National, a company, you might not know of, is worthy of recognition. Of well over 600 life and health insurance companies, they have written by a wide margin, the largest client base of whole life insurance policyholders.
The top eight term policy writers are NOT known big life insurers Nor do they constantly bombard television commercials with a term life insurance quote opportunity. They know that excessive insurance television advertising to get a quote, or trying to bypass their own agents is unethical. One super-large insurer that got caught trying to entice customers with the lowest rates and enabling phone purchases is in a financial mess. This well-known company is costing the American government and taxpayers, billions of dollars in bailout provisions.
Most states have around 300 active annuity, health, and life insurers. Here’s a few thoughts to toss around. Are you satisfied with your currently earnings? Do agents with the major branded companies really sell more insurance? Could you survive a career switch? Does a term insurance sale provide you with 50%, 70%, or 90+% commissions? How long do you want to wait before becoming a career professional. Could you run a business, yours, or is the guidance you are receiving far too valuable?
It is what your insurance provider can do for you? What you can do for your insurance company? Alternatively, it should be what you can do for yourself and your clients.