Getting started in health insurance

Crabcake Johnny

5000 Post Club
I'm getting A LOT of emails asking how to get off the ground as an independent health insurance agent so maybe this can be made a sticky.

Unless you have at least 6 months of your household bills in the bank you'll need a commission advance. Companies that offer them are Assurant, Unicare, Golden Rule, Continental General, World and American Republic. (If I'm missing any just ask.) So your first step is to see if the companies that advance are competitive or even write business in your state.

Count on 4 to 6 full weeks before you start seeing regular checks. Also count on working a full 8 hours a day every day. If you put in 2 or 3 hours a day then failure is almost guaranteed.

Most of the agents I talk to don't have marketing money. That's fine because health insurance is one of the few products you can easily and successfully telemarket.

Get a list of small business owners - under 9 employees. You can use sources like Reference USA which is free or - single user account - which is $9.95 per month.

Cold call small business owners and say you'd like to send them information on the newest health insurance plans for individuals and families.

Unless you have a lot of money to play with I'm not a fan of spending a lot of money on marketing when you're new. The learning curve is bad enough without having hundreds of dollars a week in expenses.

Here are some numbers that you should be hitting:

*Calling 40 business owners per hour
*Generating 2 leads per hour
*Closing 1 out of 15 leads

Then you can do the math. Your commission will be 20% and the average annualized premium is $3,500 - that's $700 per deal.

If you're calling 3 hours a day that's 6 leads a day or 30 leads per week. That's two deals per week or $1,400 a week with zero lead cost. Once you're off the ground you can farm out the cold calling to telemarketers.

Be honest with yourself. If you're not gonna cold call yourself and you don't have money to market then I'd look into other jobs that pay a base.
Good "cut to the chase" advice, John. However, I have never been able to call 40 businesses or residences an hour. That's 1 call every 90 seconds. Unless your not talking much I think 25-30 is more realistic. Maybe I talk too much.
There are time when I can only call 25 in an hour if I'm getting ahold of business owners who want to chat a bit. I've tried to learn to cut out the chit chat and realize that the initial cold call is really just to generate leads.

You can play your cards wrong, only make 20 or so calls an hour and get caught up talking to people. Great, but then you're probably only getting one lead an hour and that person you talked to for 20 minutes isn't a buyer. You closing percentage will be the same regardless of how long you spend on the phone chatting - 1 out of 15. You can't spend 15 hours generating 15 leads - it doesn't work.

I'm to the point now where when people want the information I just say "I'll get that out to you immediately and follow up with you later."
John, if you are calling businesses with up to 9 employees don't you oftentimes write multiple employees in each business?

Your numbers reflect only 1 individual health sale per business. Or are you counting your leads as each quote that you give in each business?

What is your personal number of individual health policies for each lead that you sell to a business on average? My guess would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3.

So sales to 2 different business in a week would net somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 individual policies?
With the initial cold callÂ’s main goal being to get the lead, what does that actually entail and where do you go from there?

Are you trying to set up an appointment for an office visit or a sales presentation on the phone?

Do you just get their basic information? (Similar to what would be provided from an internet lead.)
I've had very poor results dealing with picking up employees. Normally I'm dealing with an employer who either has zero to three employees. Most employers with around five and over have group and I'm off the phone.

What I end up with in an interested owner and I might sign them up. Then I get "I'll pass your info onto my employee" who never get in touch with me.

I've tried asking for their employee info but most owners are reluctant to give out their info to me. Not to say that I never pick up some employees when I sell the owner - but not often.
DHocott said:
With the initial cold callÂ’s main goal being to get the lead, what does that actually entail and where do you go from there?

Are you trying to set up an appointment for an office visit or a sales presentation on the phone?

Do you just get their basic information? (Similar to what would be provided from an internet lead.)

Step 1: "Hi, I'm John Petrowski, the owner of the Health Solutions Agency. The reason I'm calling is to let you know about new health insurance plans for individual and familes. I'd like to send you out the rates and plan details so you can see what's available."

Then it's either "sure, send it" or "no thanks."

Step 2: I send an email that introduces myself, my services and the links to my agent websites through Assurant, Aetna and Golden Rule.

Step 3: I call the client back the following day - let them know I sent the email. Do a quick warm up and pre-qual and set a specific phone appointment: "Give me a time to call you when you'll have about 10 minutes to give me so I can go over some options with you."

Step 4: Call back at the appointed time and go over all their options. This is also a thorough pre-qual for health conditions and finding out what they want changed with their current plan. I run network searches for doctors and go over plan options. If it's just a single person I go for an online application then. If it's a family deal then most likely they don't have all the info I need - kids socials, specifics of medications and conditions of the spouse, etc....In that case I set a time to call and do the application.

My goal is to work no less than 8 leads per day - I have three telemarketers all working part-time from their home.

Rather than asking for the owner (many don't take telemarketing calls or are out of the office) why not just pitch whoever answers the phone? Or are you having your telemarketers ask for the owner and if he/she isn't in then working whoever answers?

Unlike most products health insurance can be bought by anyone, not just the owner of the small business.
The lead list we use has the name of the owner - so if it's "Bob Smith" I simply ask for him. Again, not too many gatekeepers with 9 and under employees. Most of the time "Bob" is the one who answers the phone. I'd say around 60% of my business are sole proprietors or independent contractors - zero employees.
John, sounds like you are using telemarketers so there is an extra step involved. The telemarketers are gathering information to send an email so you can follow up. When you follow up that is when the real sales process begins.

If the agent is calling himself he would gather the specifics so he can send a custom quote. If the prospect doesn't want to take the 1 minute to give you age or birthdates then that is the way you screen them up front.

Have you tried having your telemarketers get the age/birthdate info, zip code, etc. so you can send custom quotes ? I think it would get people's attention a lot better if they get an email with custom quotes readily available to them rather than having to go onto assurant or Golden Rule's websites and figure out how to create their own quotes.

Sure you may miss one every now and then by requesting a little information so you can do a custom quote but you can waste a lot of time sending out emails and following up with people who offered nothing more than an email address up front and aren't really interested.

I'm getting ready to embark on a telemarketing campaign myself. Sounds like you have a good system that works for you, everyone's situation is different tho based on if they are calling themself or if a telemarketer is doing it, the technology they have available to them, the area they are calling, etc.