If you’re just beginning your career as a sales professional, getting appointed with your preferred insurance carriers is an important next step. Here are some useful tips.
If you’re not licensed yet, you’ll need to decide what products you will be selling. Are you interested in Individual and Family Plan (IFP) sales, or the sale of employer-sponsored Group Health and Ancillary plans? In either case, you’ll need an Accident and Health or Sickness license. If you want to sell Life Insurance, too, you need a Life License, too.
Are you interested in working with a single company? Or, would you like to sell products from a range of insurers? For additional guidance, read our blogs, A 6-Step Guide to Getting Your Health Insurance License and Understanding the Difference Between Captive and Independent Health Insurance Agents.
Captive or Independent
It’s your choice whether you become a captive agent or an independent broker. If you work as a captive agent (rather than as a broker), you most likely will be asked to commit to selling only insurance company’s products. If you’re an independent broker, you are able to sell products and services from a variety of insurers.
Getting Your Appointments
You must be appointed with each company for whom you plan to sell. However, before making application, you have some other things to consider.
1: Who are the market leaders, and what opportunities are available to you?
In deciding what health plans and carriers to write business for, it’s helpful to know the popular plans in your region. For example, in California, Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, CaliforniaChoice, Cigna/Cigna + Oscar, Kaiser Permanente, Health Net, and UnitedHealthcare write coverage statewide. Regional California plans include MediExcel Health Plan, Sharp Health Plan, Sutter Health Plus, and Western Health Advantage. If you’re a California agent or broker, you’ll want to keep this in mind based on your service area.
If you want to offer Dental, Life, Disability, Vision, or other Ancillary or supplemental coverage, you will want to look at what options are available from your health plan partners and what specialty carriers serve your market niche(s). Do any of the companies you’re considering have production requirements? Are they actively recruiting new producers? How do other agents and brokers rate their customer service? These are all factors you should consider.
If most of your competition writes Anthem Blue Cross, you may want to choose Blue Shield of California instead. Or, if your focus is Northern California, maybe Sutter Health Plus and Western Health Advantage in combination with at least one statewide carrier will offer you more sales potential. In San Diego, Sharp Health Plan has a lot of appeal. In the cross-border (California/Mexico) marketplace, you have two choices: MediExcel and SIMNSA.
In Nevada, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Prominence Health Plan are market leaders, but other options exist, too – especially in the Ancillary market.
To succeed in insurance sales, it’s critical that you have confidence in your portfolio, the carriers you represent, and the pricing on products and services you offer. If you pick the wrong carriers and products, you run the risk of undermining your confidence (when you lose out to other brokers and companies because they offer more competitive products).
2: Do your preferred carriers have a record of success? Another thing to think about is your carriers’ history – not just in how much business they’re writing, but whether they are profitable and growing. Look at several years’ results. The California Department of Insurance offers some carrier market share reports online. Other information is available from the California Health Care Foundation. The Nevada Division of Insurance offers comparable information in its annual report to the state legislature. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) publishes an annual “Experience Report” for Accident and Health. The 2021 report is available in pdf at the NAIC website.
3: If you plan to work with a General Agent (GA), what carriers and health plans does your GA work with? This could factor into your carrier choice and your selection of GA partner. General Agents can help relieve you of the more routine administrative tasks associated with our business. That includes quoting and enrollment. The more carrier and administrator partners your potential GA works with, the greater the number of options you have to choose from to address your clients’ diverse needs.
A word about “Just-in-time” (JIT) appointments: States allowing JIT appointments permit carriers to delay an appointment until the producer is actively writing business or has executed a carrier contract. Timelines vary by state.
In California, JIT appointments are allowed for agents and brokers writing Life, Health, and Annuity business only. Carriers must submit JIT appointments within 14 days of the agent’s or broker’s first business submission to the carrier.
In Nevada, JIT appointments must be submitted either, (a) within 15 days of when the agent/agency contract is executed, or (b) within 15 days of the first piece of business submitted to the carrier.
We’re Here to Help
Word & Brown works with nearly 20 Small Group Medical carriers and administrators and more than a dozen Large Group carriers. When it comes to Ancillary (Dental, Vision, Life, Disability), you have dozens of options from which to choose for your clients. In Nevada, Word & Brown offers an array of Small Group and Large Group Medical carriers as well as two dozen Ancillary carrier and administrator partners. Link here to see our carrier rosters.
Health Insurance Broker
For a sneak peek at what you can expect to earn as an insurance agent, get a copy of our “Insurance Broker Salary Guide.”