While each year’s open enrollment period (OEP) stands as an opportunity for insurance agents to grow their book of clients, it can also be quite challenging. During this crucial period, it’s your job to help people select or make changes to their health insurance plans. With that being said, the influx of clients needing help, paired with other unexpected daily tasks, will test your limits and ability. Like any other major event though, there are steps you can take to ensure that the OEP goes smoothly and that all of your goals are met.
One thing that we want to encourage every agent to take full advantage of this year is…technology. While we often take technology for granted, in today’s world we have access to a plethora of tools, all of which can make your life easier during OEP. By successfully adapting to your environment and using the proper technological resources at your disposal, you will be able to conquer health insurance’s busiest season, and become more efficient than ever before.
Open Enrollment Background
If you’re an insurance agent you probably already know, but in case you don’t, the open enrollment period is a time for individuals and families to enroll in a new or modify their existing health insurance coverage. For individuals under the age of 65 in most states, the open enrollment period runs from November 1st to January 15th. For individuals over the age of 65, things are slightly different. Medicare open enrollment is actually called the annual enrollment period or AEP and generally goes from October 15th to December 7th (in this article, while we are using “OEP” as an all encompassing term, we are actually referring to both OEP and AEP). Regardless of one’s age, this time serves people as an important opportunity to secure health insurance, while providing agents with a time to establish and uphold relationships with clients.
Commonly Faced Challenges During OEP
OEP can be overwhelming for insurance agents as they will face an influx in meetings with clients, consumer inquiries, policy changes and more. Before delving into some of the most helpful technological tools for agents to tackle OEP, it is important to understand some common frustrations faced by agents.
- Information and Data Overload: During OEP you will be forced to deal with large amounts of client data, applications, and other forms. Without the proper tools, it can be easy to lose important documents, or get things mixed up. Additionally, you will have to keep up with all of the most recent policy changes, prices, and other plan options. In short, with so much information at hand, relying solely on your brain power can be a big mistake.
- Client Meetings and Education: While you may have some established, low-maintenance clients who simply renew their policy from year to year, there will be other clients who have questions and need your help or recommendations. These clients can be very time consuming, as you’ll probably need to break down complex insurance information or terms to them. During these meetings, you’ll want to be as precise and efficient as possible.
- Time Management: Having sufficient time to complete all of your tasks can be a major concern during the open enrollment period. Since you’ll likely be in the weeds with administrative duties and client appointments, relying on certain automation and scheduling tools will be a must.
Some Helpful Tools
Now with some of the more common agent challenges laid out, we can get into the actual tools that everyone should be using this OEP!
1.CRM Systems or Other Insurance Software
Whether it’s OEP or any other time of the year, one of the most necessary tools for insurance agents are CRM (client relationship management) systems or other similar software. The whole point of a CRM system is to help you streamline your day-to-day responsibilities. Insurance-specific CRM systems have a variety of uses all of which can help you save time and stay organized. There are a lot of different CRM software available, so we’ve compiled some key features to look for when shopping for one:
- Quitting and Comparison Tools: Most insurance CRM systems will offer functions allowing you to quickly generate accurate quotes, and compare policies and prices to help your clients find the most suitable coverage package.
- Policy Tracking: Allows you to receive the most recent status of applications and policies in need of approval submitted by clients.
- Client Management: Have the ability to set appointments, organize client data, segment clients, and communicate through voice, text or video all in one centralized location.
- Electronic Submissions: Many of these softwares allow integration with insurance applications and other documents that are submitted by clients online. Instead of having to use multiple different systems or websites, view all of your applications and forms in one place.
- Automated Communication: Many CRM systems have features that will automate and personalize email and text message communications for you. Set your schedule and segmented groups up and the software will do the rest, ensuring that you never forget to connect with a consumer in need.
- Analytical Functions: Another great aspect included in most CRM systems is the ability to track and keep data on things like your sales performance, client interactions, your marketing efforts, and more. By providing analytics in real-time, you’ll be able to take account of areas that need improvement and then make adjustments.
2.Document Management Software
With more clients, will come more paperwork and a smart way to handle the influx in sensitive documents is with a document management system. WIth a document management system you will be able to organize your documents and make digital copies of any physical paperwork such as applications or contracts. Rather than having to search through file cabinets or unorganized digital folders, these systems bring a focus to security and time management, letting you safely store your documents, pull them up at any time. Document management systems also foster easy collaboration, as you’ll be able to quickly share documents with other colleagues or clients. Some popular document management systems include DocuWare, SharePoint, M-Files and Zoho.
3.Online Scheduling Tools
Since the majority of your OEP will likely be made up of client appointments, the need for an online appointment scheduler is crucial to stay prepared. While some CRM systems (discussed above) have scheduling integration features, many agents prefer to use specialized planning softwares such as Calendly, Calendar.com, Hubspot Meetings and more. These types of resources generally allow you to integrate your schedule into other commonly used calendars like Google or Microsoft. Additionally, the automated reminders will ensure that you never miss an appointment.
You’ll want to serve your clients as a beacon of information during this OEP. Selecting the right coverage and walking away feeling confident is no light task for the average consumer, so it’s your job to make sure everything goes smoothly. While it may work for some people to simply explain insurance concepts in verbal conversations, for others providing educational materials will be more suitable. Technology can help you tackle this task in the form of video tutorials, webinars and other visuals.
Hosting live webinars, or creating pre-recorded videos to discuss commonly asked questions or policy breakdowns can be very useful for clients on the verge of making a purchase. You could also create visuals like an infographic and send it out via email in the months preceding OEP. Some specific tools include Canva for design and video creation and Piktochart for infographics. When it comes to live webinars, most social media platforms have functions to hold these meetings.
Since insurance agents wear so many hats, there will probably be a time during this OEP when you need to access information on-the-go. We suggest investing in a number of different types of mobile apps such as:
- Note Apps: Quickly capture information about clients or products through voice recording or by typing on your mobile device.
- Communication Apps: While you’ll probably talk to most of your clients via text, phone, email or in-person, it might pay off to offer other messaging options such as WhatsApp or Slack.
- Insurance Quoting: We discussed quitting features offered in most CRM systems, but while away from your computer, you may still need to use this tool. These apps let you compare policies and generate accurate quotes on a smartphone or tablet.
- Document Scanning: With these apps you’ll have the ability to scan and upload documents with your phone’s camera, making it easy to make finalizations immediately no matter where you are.
Even though the Open Enrollment Period can be stressful, hectic and busy, by using the proper technology and other resources, you’ll be able to get more accomplished in less time, without compromising customer service. By taking advantage of tools like CRM softwares, document management systems, online scheduling resources, video editors and mobile applications, your daily routine will be streamlined and you’ll become more organized. While it’s great to rely on technology, don’t forget that the insurance industry is all about personal connection and relationship building. So even though we encourage everyone to use the tips and tools we’ve discussed, you must also be personable. When you pay attention to detail, listen closely to your clients needs, and leverage technology when it’s necessary, you will in turn be able to have a more successful open enrollment than ever before!
If you are an insurance agent who is on the hunt for more qualified consumers in need of insurance, Benepath is here to help! We specialize in generating high quality insurance leads that are both exclusive and produced in real time. We offer both data leads and inbound phone calls in the following verticals: individual health, group health, Medicare, life and commercial insurance. If you want to learn what our leads can do for you, fill out a form today or give us a call at 888-684-3121.