Selling to seniors via video conferencing

The unaddressed truth behind Covid-19 is that until we get a vaccine, those of us who have an increased risk of serious health problems are going to need to remain socially distant even after the spike subsides. While a therapy for the virus could be found as early as June, a vaccine is much further away, with most experts looking at the end of 2020.

Adjusting to the times

For a variety of reasons, many of you prefer to sell face to face, and right now you can’t, for the safety of yourself and your clients.

You are left with one of three choices:

  • Stop selling
  • Sell over the phone
  • Sell over video

Why Video Conferencing

Seniors are not as tech-illiterate as many people think. In a study done by Amwell Health Solutions, data showed that 45% of American seniors have participated in video calls using FaceTime, Skype, and/or Google Hangout. Some seniors are even catching up to the new Zoom movement, using it to talk to their family and friends.

73% of seniors claim that faster health related services, such as insurance consultation, are the driving reason for their willingness to use video conferencing. Seniors have the will to participate, you just have to add this to your toolkit.

While calling could get the job done, you are missing an important layer – the visual cues. With phone calls we miss 50% of the conversation because you can’t see how the person you are talking to is responding. Video conferencing eliminates that limitation.

How do you do it?

So, how do you get seniors on the screen, not just on the phone? The first secret is that you have to make it easy. Best practice is to just have them click on a link you emailed them. You’ll probably need to include instructions on how to find the link, but the more simple you make the process, the more success you will have.

Ask the senior if they have used to using Hangouts, FaceTime or Skype. These popular systems are the most common, and you should adapt to their preferences. By adapting to their preference, the success rate of your calls will be significantly higher. While this may involve more flexibility on your end, it will undoubtedly benefit you in the long run.

The question “why you are taking meetings this way?” will come up, and be honest with them. Tell them it is to keep them safe in today’s environment. This expresses that you care about them as a person, not just a client, helping your overall rapport.

In conclusion

By incorporating live video into your sales process you’ll be able to:

  • See your customer’s visual cues
  • Share and go over your quality presentation materials
  • Build a deeper relationship with your customer
  • Make more sales!

And if you need help matching with Medicare insurance prospects, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 866-368-0377.

What the Payroll Protection Program means for insurance agents

 

Congress recently signed the CARES Act to help relieve Americans of the economic impact COVID-19 has had in the US. As part of this stimulus package, there has been a Small Business package included. This $350 billion dollar program is called the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), and independent contractors can begin applying on Friday April 10th!

We put together this video and article to help guide you understand what this program is.

Are you qualified?

Most insurance agents in the US are paid as independent contractors. You’ll know if you are one if you are given a 1099 each year or a W-2. If you were receiving 1099’s, you are an independent contractor and are eligible under this program.

If you are paid by a W-2, your employer, if they have less than 500 employees, can apply and pay you an average of what you earned in commissions over the last 12 months.

Here are the important details of the PPP:

  1. The maximum amount of the loan is 8 weeks of your average previous 12 months earnings (up to 100k), plus expenses for rent, mortgage interest and utility costs – which are no more than 25% of your 8 weeks earnings.
  2. You have to certify that you need the loan due to the impact of the Coronavirus.
  3. The interest rate is 1% and payments are deferred for 6 months.
  4. The loan can be forgiven based on how much you pay yourself plus your actual expenses
  5. There are no personal guarantees or collateral requirements
  6. Whatever isn’t forgiven has to be paid within 2 years

To apply for a PPP loan, you need to contact your bank. Make sure they are a Small Business Association lender, or a SBA lender for short. The SBA is the only association that will be writing the approval for these loans through member banks. The total amount of these loans are limited to $350B, and while that sounds like a lot, it is expected to run out quickly. This means you will want to take advantage of the Payroll Protection Program quickly.

Get Ready For The 2020 Health Insurance Tax

Insurers were given a pass in 2019 by Congress regarding their annual health insurance tax. The reason was that the government was concerned about consumers’ out-of-pocket costs. However, if the ACA’s health insurance tax resumes as planned, this ‘free pass’ might be over and insurers will face a $15.5 billion tax bill in 2020. The health insurance tax was created to fund the implementation of the ACA’s marketplace exchanges. For consumers, this means that insurers will raise premiums by more than 2% if the tax is implemented by the IRS.

Health Insurance Tax Over The Years

Oliver Wyman Actuarial Consulting recently analyzed the projected impact of the health insurance tax on health insurer premiums over the next 10 years. They found that premiums are likely to increase by 2.2% in 2020.

The tax started at $8 billion in 2014, increased to $11.3 billion for 2015-2016, and had a suspension in 2017. The tax was then reinstated at $14.3 billion in 2018, and then given another suspension for the year of 2019.

Who It Applies To

A fully-insured health plan is the more traditional way to structure an employer-sponsored health plan. With a fully-insured health plan: The company pays a premium to the insurance carrier. The health insurance tax applies to all insurers offering fully-insured coverage. This goes for :

  • on-exchange and off-exchange individual markets
  • large and small group markets
  • insured public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

The Rise In Premiums

Premium increases will vary by state. However, premiums are expected to increase annually anywhere from $154 to $479. A person in the individual market can face a $196 increase. A person in the small group market can expect a $154 increase, while a family of 4 faces a $479 increase. As for families in the large group market, the increase for an individual will be about $158, while a family faces a $458 increase.

The Outcome Following The Tax

If the tax is implemented and is as high as almost $16 billion, then increased tax burdens on small employers will follow. Fully-insured small employers will face the repercussions, while private and self-insured public employers will not. Employers are not the only ones who will have to pay for the tax increase. State taxes will go up for everyone in order to cover the increased tax on Medicaid.

More importantly, many people might opt out of insurance due to the increase in premium costs. Healthier individuals opting-out will cause an imbalance in the risk pool, meaning higher premiums for the (less healthy) people who are insured.

As of now, there is no definitive answer if the tax will be implemented in 2020. Congress is considering bipartisan legislation that would suspend the tax through 2021, but it is not a guarantee. If the health insurance tax is implemented, insurance rates and premiums will be more expensive than it already is.

Commercial Insurance Rates are Rising. Here’s Why

No one wants to pay more for insurance, but it is our unfortunate reality. Commercial insurance rates are rising, meaning higher premiums across the board for many businesses. Coverage affected ranges from Business Owner’s Policy to Worker’s Compensation. It is projected that prices will continue to rise throughout the rest of 2019. From underwriting to pricing, these changes come from two major sources: cars and catastrophes.

Vehicles

Auto insurance aside, vehicles have become a major factor in the rise of our commercial insurance rates. You may think “why does this matter to me?” It matters because vehicles are our main source of transportation, influencing our economic structure deeply. Everything you have as a business owner is brought to you by some type of vehicle. With more production and vehicles on the road come more opportunities for accidents to occur. This involves more than just passenger cars.

With our economic boost, we see an increase in areas like construction. Motorized vehicles operate in these zones, causing more concern for insurance companies. More work means more workers are needed to operate these vehicles. It only leads to an upward climb in insurance rates.

There is no easy solution for the car aspect contributing to this climb. We can only wait for legislation to step in.

Catastrophes

We’ve recently experienced a lot of natural disasters. In November 2018, California was ravaged by wildfires. While it is accustomed to fires, these were the worst in years, affecting areas as far north as San Francisco, and areas as richly populated as Malibu. The Woolsey Fire destroyed over 1600 structures (including most of Paradise, CA) and caused the death of three individuals.

Besides fires, hurricanes are a force to be reckoned with annually. In 2017, Texas’ southeastern area, including Houston’s almost 6 million people, were decimated by Harvey. This storm solely caused $125 billion worth of damage. Not to mention the opioid epidemic, which is heavily affecting our medical industry with 60,000 people dying from it in 2016. All of these things only scratch the surface of the disasters our country is experiencing.

This is causing rates to climb between 1-5% for insurance deductibles depending on how close you are to at-risk areas. As people scramble to make sure they are covered more for potential disasters, insurance companies raise their rates. At the same time, claim payouts are in the billions of dollars, forcing the capital in insurance companies to deteriorate. It’s simple supply and demand affecting the market.

While it may not provide much comfort, the reality is that an increase in productivity added to the disaster influx is causing inflation for commercial insurance prices. While it’s mostly liability markets that are affected, the results can be felt by everyone.

Medicare’s “3-Day Rule” Lawsuit Goes To Trial

There was confusion and misinformation regarding the 3-day rule for skilled nursing facility coverage. In order to get the 100 days of skilled nursing coverage from Medicare, the mandate states a beneficiary must spend at least 3 days in the hospital as an inpatient. However, doctors and hospitals can admit elderly patients on an “observation stay,” which does not count as an “inpatient.” A class-action lawsuit, filed back in 2011, challenged Medicare’s eligibility rules for skilled nursing coverage. Trial over the lawsuit is finally being heard in a federal courtroom.

After an “observation stay,” senior patients are then discharged to a skilled nursing facility, complete with a bill. Because a substantial number of hospitals follow these routines, seniors are often forced to pay these bills out of pocket. Medicare will not cover the costs since it does not qualify as full admission.

In recent years, Medicare imposed strict limitations on hospital admittance. This explains why patients who are admitted are put under “observation.” Medicare pays one-third less for an observation patient than one who is in full admission. While Medicare benefits from these cost-saving tricks, it’s the patients that suffer.

Another way Medicare saves itself money is by shifting the cost of hip and/or knee replacements onto the beneficiaries. Medicare encourages doctors to perform these replacements as outpatient surgeries so that discharges happen within a few days.

This has caused an uproar with patients because many of them simply cannot afford sky-high medical costs. So in turn, about 14 patients filed a class-action lawsuit. If they win, Medicare might have to reimburse almost 1.3 million beneficiaries.

President Trump’s Medicare chief, Seema Verma, listened to the complaints and voiced that something does have to change in order to help the beneficiaries. She stated, “We’ve talked a lot about the operational changes that we’re making, the policy changes that we’re making, but at the end of the day, this is about putting patients first.” If the 3-day rule does in fact change, the costly bill following a hospital visit will be alleviated, and many beneficiaries will be happy.

Is Your Insurance Marketing Eye-Catching or Boring?

If it’s boring and even you don’t really recall the last campaign you sent out, it’s time to make some changes to your marketing strategy. If you want to figure out why your last perhaps not so successful marketing campaign, was a bust, ask yourself a couple of questions (we have more for you in later posts).

The first question you want to start with is “Aside from a policy feature you happen to provide and promote, what is unique in your marketing letter that makes it stand out in the marketplace?” Be brutally honest in your answer, as an honest assessment of a campaign lays the groundwork for a future successful one.

The second question to ask yourself is: “Was my insurance marketing letter only about features and benefits?” If it was, then you missed a golden opportunity to create a memorable piece by relating to potential conversions in a personal manner. This is relationship marketing and it is quite successful in selling not just a “product” but also the person selling the product.

If a potential buyer can relate to the person behind the insurance policy and come to trust and rely on them, selling a policy is not that difficult.

Yes, Technology Is Still The Leading Way To Market Online

But now, it’s technology that you want to be more “personal” or you may wish to consider using. Face to face conversations seem to be so rare today that mothers are texting their teen, upstairs in his or her bedroom, that it’s time to come down for supper. Talk about degrees of separation. Do not fall into that technological trap of conducting all business online.

People still need to be connected with one another or we lose a whole whack of information about a person by not speaking to them in person. That directly hampers your ability to sell a relevant health insurance policy. It also affects how you handle a claim.

If you do not see the person/customer in the flesh now and then, it’s easy to depersonalize them and perhaps not make as much of an effort to be personable, helpful and caring. And if you aren’t familiar with them as “people” rather than a name and file number, going to bat to rectify an insurance claim may not be that important or get much detailed work done it because you don’t really “know them.”

Know your customers on more than one level and that includes in person, online, at meetings and via social media. The customer is a multi-dimensional individual and its pays for you to know them relatively well. This kind of a connection can help grow your business. The personal touch is never out of vogue.

Could Medicare Lead Calls Be Your Answer?

Medicare enrollment is on the rise across the country. According to Mark Farrah Associates research, as of March 2019 there are over 22 million Americans who have at least one Medicare plan. From 2018 to 2019, the total number of participants has grown 7.4%.

In addition to that, the retention rate for Medicare consumers is exceptionally high. According to our current clients, Medicare insurance account retention rate is anywhere from 75%-92% year over year. That means at least 75% of the clients in your book will renew the next year with little to no work on your part.

Lastly, a tip to a higher close rate, get people on the phone. No surprise, a client on the phone is much likelier to close than one that is not. For this reason, we offer Exclusive Medicare Calls as one of our lead services. With this program, you receive a call that you can accept if available to chat with a consumer in your territory already on the phone.

For all these reasons, we believe that Medicare is a great product to get into if you are not already selling it, and when you need Medicare leads, think Benepath, because together we succeed!

Are you busy or productive?

While you might think being busy must mean you are being productive, you would be wrong. There is difference between being busy and being productive.

The greatest difference between busy work and productive work, is passion. If you have passion and drive for your job then you will find that you are productive. On the other hand, busy work will often feel like tasks that you have to do, not want to do. Often busy work is what keeps you from being productive. We have all been there, checking emails every ten minutes, getting ready to start working, filing and editing. Such behaviors is also known as procrastinating.

To avoid procrastination it helpful to reevaluate your time spent at work. Identity the areas of your time that need improvement, and then take practical steps to shift from being a busy person to a productive one.

Time management is an important quality for productive people. Take the steps to identify what is distracting you. Focus on results and not multitasking. In the case of insurance sales, focus on the sales and conversion numbers. Focus on obtaining leads and schedule your goals. If your goal is to gain 10 new clients in a week, implement a plan.

If you love what you do and take pride in growing your agency, changing your work habits should come with ease.

How to Stay on Course Marketing You and Your Insurance Agency

Insurance marketing is not as simple as it may seem. And to get where you want to go, you need to make a step-by-step plan to get there.

Right from the moment you decide to open your insurance agency, you need to know why and how you will accomplish your goal. Many reasons for opening an insurance agency exit. Maybe you want to work independently, be your own boss. Or maybe you want to work solo. Once you make the decision to start your own agency, you need to know how to get there.

Once you take care of the logistics, like finding the location of your office, completing the necessary paperwork and finding the right team members it is time to think about your marketing strategy.

Not so sure you want to market online? In the age of the internet a business without an online marketing strategy will not make profit. Using a well-established marketing strategy to your advantage will allow you to unleash the potential to reach an infinite audience.

When it comes to planning a marketing strategy you are bound to find numerous pieces of advice on the best strategy for your business. In fact, there is no one golden rule for successful marketing. Depending on what your business is, what is sells and who its target audience is, your marketing strategy will differ. The best piece of advice is for you to try the various marketing strategies available one at a time to see what suits your marketing plans and communications style. Just remember, be consistent once you find your niche.

Next, give some thought to personal branding or attraction marketing. You are not just selling insurance policies, you are selling yourself first. How do you sell yourself? This can be done by employing various marketing strategies like blogging and using videos. Both these options allow you to showcase you and well as your product. They allow you to demonstrate to others your knowledge and expertise, that you are reliable, have a good product and provide great customer service.

If you set out with a clear and attainable goal, then you should see that your new marketing agency will flourish. Remember that first you have to establish a marketing plan. After trying out and testing what works find the strategies that are best for your business. In the process of marketing your agency, do not forget that in sales, the product is only half of the equation. You and how you market yourself make up an important factor in sales. However, if you take some of this advice and stay the course every day, working on building your company, you will see success.

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