In 2019, it was reported the average 65-year-old retired couple would spend over $250,000 on healthcare alone over the rest of their lives. As a newly licensed insurance agent, it’s your responsibility to help clients make the most informed decisions they can about their Medicare health plan selection, and any additional plans they may need to help with unexpected out-of-pocket expenses like hospital stays. In order to do this effectively, knowing what they can and cannot afford is crucial to devising a customized protection plan for your beneficiaries. Below are a few things you can do to gather knowledge about your prospects and clients and help them more effectively.
Conduct a Needs Analysis
The first step any newly licensed insurance agent should take is conducting a true needs analysis. Using a needs analysis can help you uncover information your clients may not voluntarily provide in conversation. For example, it can be awkward talking with someone about finances; many people view it as a deeply personal subject. However, when it comes to purchasing a Medicare health plan, money will play a role. Some of the topics of conversation should include how much your clients are paying for their prescription drugs, their monthly premium, their deductible, or any other out-of-pocket expenses. Uncovering their budget doesn’t have to be a direct question about their income, it can be subtle and professional.
Keep your meetings conversational and actively participate in the conversation. Don’t be too hard with your questioning, you don’t want to come off as judgmental or make it feel like an interrogation when asking for personal details. Everyone’s situation is different and developing a positive relationship is just as important as the information gathered. We have several needs analysis templates you can download to help you navigate the conversation around their budget.
Use Quoting & Enrollment Technology
After you’ve got a sense of the client’s budget, you can utilize your quoting & enrollment tools to enter their information (e.g., prescription drugs, providers, pharmacies) to help find plans tailored to their medical needs and finances. It’s common practice to look at multiple plans with varying ratings, types, associated costs, and enrollment statistics. If you use a quoting and enrollment tool like MedicareCENTER, you have the option to select up to three plans for a side-by-side comparison.
When it comes to finding a plan that is a good fit for your beneficiaries, you should be prepared to discuss a range of options after you’ve collected a Scope of Appointment.
For example, you want to cover if the prospect is interested in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan; they will also need to review a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan to avoid any penalties for not having qualified prescription drug coverage. If your client is interested in discussing Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans, you will want to review all of the ‘living benefits’ included in the health plan such as dental, vision, and hearing coverage, transportation services, over-the-counter (OTC) catalogs, and remind them there could be unexpected expenses with hospital stays.
Help Medicare Beneficiaries Uncover Gaps in Coverage
Most beneficiaries who are new to Medicare, and even some beneficiaries who worked with other insurance agents in the past, may still be very unfamiliar with Medicare. Unfortunately, we run into beneficiaries who have not had an in-depth conversation with a licensed sales agent about things like premiums, deductibles, maximum-out-of-pocket (MOOP), and how sometimes they may find unexpected expenses. While Medicare Supplements, plans are standardized and defined by a letter of the alphabet, Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans must cover all Original Medicare covers but can set different deductibles and other numbers for each expense. There is nothing worse than getting an unexpected medical bill.
Take advantage of the magnitude of resources available nowadays to help you out as a newly licensed insurance agent. You know what you’re talking about regarding all this information, however, it may not be getting through to your clients. Education materials are readily available in carrier portals or from your upline, that can assist you with explaining the basics. You can leave behind many of these resources for beneficiaries to look over in their own time, or you can both look over them together. Giving your clients access to learning materials will also improve your relationship and develop trust as it gives the impression you see them as more than a Medicare health plan purchase.
Diversify Your Insurance Product Portfolio
Many newly licensed insurance agents stick with one insurance company to represent. They can often become comfortable with the product designs, and prefer one carrier’s customer service department. However, if you want to grow your business, it’s best to provide a wide variety of insurance company products, as Medicare Health plans are not “one-size-fits-all.” Offering a variety of carriers will equip you with the capability to serve many different needs across a variety of budgets. Take a hard look at your area and determine what carriers are competitive. Working with an FMO or upline can help you with market research and industry insights.
(Pro-Agent Tip: $0-premium Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs), and some Medicare Supplement Plans are all great options you can consider when building out your portfolio to cater to many different budget concerns.)
In addition to Medicare Health plans, you will also want to consider including ancillary products such as Dental, Vision, and Hearing or Hospital Indemnity products. Offering ancillary products and having a wide variety in your portfolio is important because you can help beneficiaries secure health care coverage that is formulated specifically for their unique situation.
As a newly licensed insurance agent, it’s also important to cross-sell your clients to help retain their business.
Being a newly licensed insurance agent can be tough, especially as an independent insurance agent breaking into the Medicare space. Some of the best insurance agents in the industry have said their success was a direct result of focusing on a client’s unique situation, offering a wide variety of products to meet their needs, and taking time to educate their beneficiaries. Working with an FMO, or upline who can provide you guidance on sales approaches, new product opportunities, and other training resources will be imperative to your success.
If you have any further questions regarding how you can tailor your sales approach to a variety of different budgets or would like any other guidance regarding your agency or the insurance field, Agent Pipeline is here to help newly licensed insurance agents get a jump start on their career! To learn more, contact us at 800.962.4693.