Step 4: How to Select WINNING Final Expense Carriers
SPOILER ALERT!!! PRICE DOESN’T WIN
Access to multiple carriers is a given unless you choose the captive route. Captive agencies will most likely limit the number of carriers you have access to and quite possibly only allow one carrier. Although captive carrier options should be a consideration, I know from first-hand experience that the value of the total overall package should be the deciding factor when going captive.
How to choose carriers to work with as an independent agent
I love lists…so let’s make one
1. Telesales process- You need to find carriers that offer a telesales process that YOU are comfortable using. The two basic processes are online application or total phone application. Online apps will almost certainly still require a phone interview but the client’s information is entered into the app online. Total phone application is exactly as it sounds. You provide all the application info to the carrier over the phone. You should always use carriers that allow voice signature and give an immediate underwriting decision on the call.
2. Underwriting- Predictability is the most important factor here. I like liberal underwriting like any other agent but what is more important to me is being 100% confident that the carrier follows their underwriting guidelines. Believe it or not…some don’t. They should stick strictly to the app and RX guide and approve on the initial call 99% of the time.
3. Ease of doing business- Granted the telesales process is important but so is fixing mistakes,conserving business and customer service. You want carriers that allow you to fix mistakes with an email or additional voice signature. When you're required to get wet signatures, or have the client jump through hoops to get a policy issued or back on the books you’re setting yourself up for failure.
4. Billing options- True social security billing is the latest and greatest thing to hit the industry. Companies that use this method draft the exact day the client receives their money NOT the next business day assuming payday is on a weekend or holiday. I recently spoke with the president of one of the largest final expense companies in the country and he told me when they implemented this method their NSF dropped by nearly 50%! Outside of social security billing the only other consideration is Direct Express and credit card options. I am in favor of more flexible companies when it comes to billing methods and modes.
5. Price- That’s right folks…price came in a distant 5th place. Price is more of a factor in the agents mind than the clients. Sell on value not price. People that buy on price will replace the coverage to save a few cents. When they see the value they will not shop any longer.
6. Ratings- I like to use companies that have a strong rating. In final expense this is not as big of a deal as other life products but it is a good selling point.
7. Compensation- I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much you get paid. We are not volunteering here, folks. However, I used a company as my go-to for years that paid 15% lower compensation than several other options I had. Why? They killed the competition in all the items listed above so I simply liked working with them better then any other company in the industry.
Who's Best interest in carrier selection is being served?
Does your prospective IMO offer multiple carriers or do they push all their agents to place business with one company? (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) To place all your business with one company is not a bad idea. In fact, I recommend agents attempt to place all their business with one company. It’s all about your comfort level and what you want. Don’t let an IMO talk you into using a sub-par company for their benefit. I tell my agents what company I like to use and why. I then tell them to try a couple of different companies and see who they like. Once you find a winner, only stray from your go-to when it is in the best interest of the client. An example would be your go-to would only offer graded and you have another option that would be immediate.
You need to watch out for IMO’s that direct agents to use a company that is not in the best interest of the client or the writing agent BUT is in the best interest of the IMO. To troubleshoot this issue simply ask the IMO why they recommend the carrier. Test their recommendations against your personal preference and the list above to find out if the carrier is right for you.
Your IMO should help guide you to carriers that are true players in the Final Expense telesales industry. Once you have found a carrier that you are comfortable working with it is time to pump up the production!