Original Content From Senior Benefit Services, Inc.
SBS blog is a compilations of all Senior Benefit Services Blogs posted over the years. These blog vary in topic from tech help, productivity, to selling opportunities and other related insurance needs. Scroll through to check out our blogs and discover something new!
If you have any question, contact our Marketing Department here.
Summer of 2021 Might Be Looking a Little Different
Each year we warn agents to fend of the impending “summer slump” – that time of year when it seems like everyone is on vacation and it’s too difficult to conduct business as usual. As the country inches closer to “normal” following the current pandemic, avoiding the summer slump this year may be especially difficult for some agents, but it may also be easier than ever for others!
Don’t forget the lesson’s you learned in “lockdown”!
During the 2020 lockdown many agents adapted their business to work remotely and shifted away from meeting their clients face to face. We recommend you use this mentality to continue to work even though you’re not at the physical office. There are even agents we’ve talked to who continue to take phone calls from clients while sitting on the beach! That’s right! With agents becoming accustomed to doing business remotely and over the phone, taking a phone call while away from the office allows them to capitalize on those calls from referrals even while on vacation. Of course, we always encourage our agents to take a break, but don’t be afraid to work remotely. Remember, the same lessons agents learned about working at home can apply to the condo at the beach instead of the office. This even may allow you to extend your time away without putting your business completely on hold.
‘Ride the wave’ back to normal
As vaccination numbers increase and COVID-19 cases decrease, more state restrictions are being lifted. Many people are attempting to return to “normal” after such a time of uncertainty. Some people may be excited to get back to doing routine activities that they’ve had to avoid for so long. Others may be anxious or unsure about their future and have concerns regarding their health care coverage. Either way, you can help out with that! Capitalize on this pent-up energy and let your clients know you are there to help them however they need.
Continue reading for some of our other tried and true tips and tricks for avoiding the summer slump!
Set a Goal for the Summer Months
Setting annual goals are always a great idea when you want your business to grow, but setting smaller goals can be more digestible. Reflect on your past sales from the previous year to compare how much you wrote (while not living through a pandemic-filled environment) and compare that to what you have done this year. Add the number of missing policies to your sales goals for June through August. Focus on these newly established short-term goals. Staring at an annual goal you set for yourself may feel incredibly overwhelming, especially if you’re a little more behind than you’d like to be. Focus on short term monthly or weekly goals to stay on track and avoid getting discouraged. Are your annual numbers all over the place from the chaos of the past year? Set a short-term goal based on something else, like selling enough policies to cover the cost of your upcoming vacation! Ultimately, the amount of money you want to make is up to you and your sales. But don’t fall short of your personal goals due to misconceptions of the summer months along with dealing with after effects of businesses being shut down.
Look At What Carrier Benefits You
Take a look at what carriers are in your portfolio to see what benefits these carriers have for you as the agent. One benefit from some carriers offering senior supplemental products is their adaptation of utilizing eApplication (eApps) and rapidly improving the process of submitting applications online. Hearing some of the problems agents and clients faced during lockdown, some carriers have adjusted their signature process, making it easier to collect a voice or email signature from the client. With some clients still not comfortable being face to face, make sure you work with a carrier that offers an easy to use eApp process to help your client.
Besides improving the eApplication process, another benefit carriers are offering are even bigger cash bonuses for underwritten applications, which can help boost your income for the summer. Make sure to check out what’s available through the agent portal of the carriers you’re contracted with to see if there are any cash bonuses for the summer. Or check out our Agent Incentives page to see what’s available right now! Reaching out to your current clients and helping them find a better Medicare Supplement rate is a welcomed savings for them and a boost to your sales goals and income.
Reach Out To Your Existing Clients
This is always something we recommend with every agent. COVID-19 aside, you should always reach out to your clients at least once a year for a policy review to offer new or additional coverage that will benefit them. With pandemic restrictions changing at a rapid pace, it is a good idea to reach out to your clients to let them know how you will continue your business operations safely and their options for continuing to do business with you in a way in which everyone is comfortable. Send a letter, email, or a newsletter (or email newsletter) stating that you are available through the summer months and include how you will safely conduct business. Regardless of how you work with your existing clients (face to face or remotely) helping them find a better rate may be a way to quickly shake off the dust and build up some momentum to get you back on track to reach your sales goals. If you find that people are still enjoying the summer, then offer to schedule a meeting in September and get a jumpstart on your sales and your competition!
Start Marketing Your Business
Let your clients and prospective clients know you are open for business this summer! The easiest (and most inexpensive) way to do this is through social media. To stay engaged online post content daily on your Facebook business page such as an interesting blog, quote, or daily greeting to get a conversation started with others. Another popular feature are Stories – available on Facebook and Instagram. Here, you can post something about your business that will be available to view for 24 hours. Some agents like to post their business hours, links to new posts or status updates, or even poll questions where your clients can cast their vote, anything to get a dialogue started with current or potential clients.
Other ways you can reach out to people are through emails, email newsletters (as previously mentioned), your own blog posts, or even a simple letter or postcard out to new prospective agents asking them if they would like a FREE policy review. This is a great way to let potential clients know you are available, local, and “reopened” for business. While other agents might be continuing their summer traditions (and making up for some lost time last year), allow yourself to stand out and be available for those who might need your insurance services.
We’re Here to Help!
Don’t forget that we’re here to help! Our offices are open and operating on our normal business hours (Monday-Thursday: 9am – 5pm EST, and Friday: 9am – 3pm EST). Feel free to contact our Marketing Department for more information on what carriers we offer or CLICK HERE to see what we offer our Producing Partners.
E&O Coverage For Insurance Agents: Common Questions
What is E&O Coverage?
Errors and Omissions Insurance, also known as E&O Coverage, is a Professional Liability Insurance. The purpose is to protect businesses and individuals against claims made by client for inadequate work or negligent actions.
Most insurance agents will not need to use their E&O coverage, but if they do, they can expect this insurance to pay for:
- Lawyer fees
- Court costs
- Administrative costs
E&O Coverage will NOT cover:
- Customer injury or damaged property
- Damaged property or vehicles used by the business
- Employee injuries
- Employee discrimination lawsuits
Is E&O Coverage Required to Sell Insurance?
Independent Insurance agents can successfully run their business without purchasing E&O Coverage depending on what carriers and products they are selling. Life Insurance typically requires E&O Coverage, however other ancillary products and Medicare Supplements sometimes do not require this type of insurance.
Why Should Agents Purchase E&O Coverage?
E&O Coverage offers liability protection for the agent’s business giving them assurance of financial protection in case something unexpectedly happens. Senior Benefit Services believes that having E&O Coverage is a great idea for every insurance agent to purchase. Especially since agents are in the business of offering products to protect their clients. So, it only makes sense for agents to protect their own business the same way.
What Should Agents Should Ask Themselves When Looking For E&O Coverage?
- What is the cost?
- What is the liability coverage?
- What is the deductible?
- Do I have employees to cover?
- Does it require only ‘A’ Rated carriers
- Is it thru a carrier that I’m required to sell (i.e. BlueCross BlueShield)
Where Can Insurance Agents Find E&O Coverage?
There are many different companies offering E&O coverage. As we mentioned above, some carriers will offer their E&O Coverage if you sell their products. However, here are some other websites to help you get started:
How Much Does E&O Cost?
The cost of purchasing E&O Coverage depends on the carrier selected, the amount of coverage, and if the coverage extends to employees. However, with our research, we have found the average cost agents will pay for E&O Insurance is about $500 a year.
Errors & Omission Carriers Our Independent Brokers have used:
- Continental Casualty (CNA) – cna.com
- Everest National – https://www.everestre.com/
- BCS Insurance – http://bcs-eo.com/anthem/errors-and-omissions (price listed on website)
Protect Your Business With E&O Coverage
Remember that E&O Coverage is optional for the independent broker. However, we do recommend that every agent purchase coverage to protect themselves and their business.
Medicare and Veterans’ Health Benefits
Insurance agents will most likely come across a client new to Medicare that is also receiving Veterans’ Health Benefits (also referred to as VA Health Benefits). Agents and clients alike commonly ask if these two benefits coordinate with one another. To help insurance agents explain how Veterans’ Health Benefits and Medicare work together, we have provided information on how both benefits can help your client.
What is Veterans’ (VA) Health Benefits?
Veterans’ Health Benefits are available for those who have actively served in the military, naval, or air services and did not receive a dishonorable discharge. The benefits provide service members with preventive care, inpatient care, specialty care, mental health services, and other health services. These types of care are typically provided only in VA approved hospitals, facilities, and networks available around the country.
Medicare and VA Health Benefits
Your clients with Veterans’ Health Benefits can also enroll in Medicare when they are eligible. Both Medicare and Veterans’ Health Benefits can be used, however not at the same time for the same service. Typically, Medicare pays for Medicare approved services and items, while Veterans’ Health Benefits will cover what they are approved to pay for.
For example, if your client typically goes to a VA approved facility for their annual doctor’s appointment Medicare will not pay for their doctor appointment. Instead, the cost associated for that doctor appointment will be billed to the client’s Veterans’ Health Benefits.
The office of Veteran Affairs (VA) recommends that beneficiaries should always sign up for Medicare when eligible and not avoid enrollment because of their Veterans’ Health Benefits. Since the VA is heavily reliant on Congress approving adequate funds, anyone that is receiving care for one of the lower priority Veterans’ Health Benefit groups could lose their coverage, causing issue with them enrolling in Medicare in the future and facing possible penalties. With the threat of Veterans’ Health Benefits being lost due to lack of funds, the VA always recommends the client enrolls in Medicare even if they primarily use their Veterans’ Health Benefits.
Should your client receiving VA Health Benefits enroll in a Medicare Supplement?
While the VA recommends that beneficiaries should enroll in Medicare when eligible, the option of a purchasing a Medicare Supplement is up to the client. A substantial benefit from your client purchasing a Medicare Supplement is having insurance coverage anywhere Medicare is accepted and covering the remaining 20% not covered by original Medicare (benefits will vary by Med Supp plan). However, the downside is paying for a monthly premium that might not be in the client’s budget.
Should your client receiving VA Health Benefits enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan?
Medicare Advantage or Part C could be an option for your Veteran client. Rather than having Medicare Part A and B, the client will present their Medicare Advantage card anywhere that is in their plan’s network. Part C plan options could have a restrictive network, but Medicare Advantage will pay for their approved costs if the client goes to a location that is in the plans’ network. If the client goes to a VA approved health facility, their charges will be billed to their Veterans’ Health Benefits.
Should your client receiving VA Health Benefits enroll in Part D?
Medicare beneficiaries can delay their Part D enrollment since Veterans’ Health Benefits is considered creditable coverage. However, there are benefits for a client to enroll when they are eligible. One significant benefit is your client will have access to prescription drugs that are not approved on the VA formulary and can be filled at pharmacies in their Part D network. Remind your clients there are affordable Plan D options available in case they need prescriptions not approved by the VA.
Emergency Use of VA Health Benefits
Veterans’ Health Benefits may cover the cost of an emergency room visit in a non-VA approved facility. However, one stipulation is, “…the client has no other coverage under a health plan including Medicare.” If a Medicare beneficiary goes to the hospital for accident or injury that is life threatening, they could be responsible for the majority of out-of-pocket costs Medicare doesn’t cover, like the Part A Deductible, and other remaining 20% of the costs.
Who Pays? Medicare or VA Health Benefits?
Your client can have coverage from both Veterans’ Health Benefits and Medicare. The big stipulation is both plans cannot be used for the same service. Medicare cannot pay for the same coverages as Veterans’ Benefits, nor is it a secondary payer. If your client’s doctor’s appointment is at a VA hospital or approved facility, then they will use their Veterans’ Health Benefits. If, for example, that same client needs to have surgery at a facility not approved by the VA then Medicare will cover that cost if preformed in a facility where Medicare is approved.
With all this being said, there might be a possible scenario where both Medicare and Veterans’ Health Benefits will be billed for the same service. For example, your client is having surgery at a VA approved facility. However, only some of the expenses from the procedure being performed are covered by the client’s Veterans’ Health Benefits. In this case, Medicare should be billed to cover the remaining medical costs that their Veterans’ Health Benefits will not approve. But only because the Veterans’ Health Benefits never covered that cost initially.
If you are an insurance agent working with a Veteran, let them know they can have both their Veterans’ Health Benefits and Medicare as their health insurance. Explain to your client why it’s important to have both options available to them, and additional coverage options like a Medicare Supplement, or enrolling in Part C or Part D plans are up to the individual. Finally, remind your client to never drop their Veterans’ Health Benefits, as they might not be able to return to the coverage later.
For more information and to help your client about “Who Pays First” check out: https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/02179-medicare-coordination-benefits-payer.pdf (page 26).
There are plenty of sources available for you and your client about Veterans’ Health Benefits. Here are some of the sources we referenced in this blog post:
Contact Senior Benefit Services with any additional questions about using Medicare and Veterans’ Health Benefits.
“May The 4th” Be With You
A long time ago…. in a galaxy far, far away… FMOs originally started to help agents in the Senior Insurance Market. For some agents, this gave them A New Hope and an ally. While other agents enter into agreements and quickly felt The Empire Strikes Back. FMOs all follow the ways of The Force in the Senior Insurance Market, however some embrace The Light Side of the Force, while others have fallen to The Dark Side! Which side will you choose to follow? Check out our infographic below to see the differences in how FMOs on the Light Side vs the Dark Side operate.
Don’t go Solo, find true force and avoid the Dark Side of dealing with other FMOs. Contact us today to find out more about what we have to offer!