Foremost disability insurance field authority Daniel C. Steenerson, CLU, ChFC, RHU, is the founder and principal of San Diego-based Disability Insurance Services—the nation’s leading disability brokerage agency that’s earned the distinction as the largest wholesale distributor of disability insurance products in the United States. Steenerson imparts his success, wisdom, principles, and philosophies through his proprietary “Science of Visioneering” approach to help companies, entrepreneurs, executives, and other professionals realize business greatness. He may be reached online at www.DanSteenerson.com
Q) How did you get your start in the insurance industry?
A) Ironically, I never intended to land in the insurance business. I grew up in rural Minnesota and attended a military academy. In my senior year of high school, I completed a vocational test which indicated that my number-one career choice should be working as an insurance agent. I didn’t believe it. However, a few short years later, I was recruited by The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company, and that was the beginning of my insurance career. It turned out that my vocational test was right on—the insurance industry has been a great place for me!
Q) What, in your opinion, do agents look for in carriers, IMOS, etc.? Do carriers and IMOs usually deliver? Why or why not?
A) First, agents want access to carriers with strong brand recognition and quality products backed by financial strength and stability. Once that goal is achieved, agents want distribution partners who make it easy for them to acquire and service new clients. Generally, agents suffer from time poverty. They don’t have time to take on administrative functions, and many don’t have staff to manage it. They need distribution partners who can close the gap on the back end, following up on quotes, underwriting, and policy issuance.
In the life/DI insurance industry, the delivery of “ease of acquisition and service” is spotty. Some carriers have adopted electronic methods of policy delivery on the back end. Others have automated front-end acquisition through online enrollment, but very few have automated every step of the process to completely remove the hassles inherent in writing and servicing business.
Q) Now that ACA enrollment is over, do you feel that impressions have changed over the legislation? Why or why not?
A) I’m not sure about changing health reform impressions. What I can say is that life and health agents have been distracted by health reform for two years now, and their commissions are suffering as a result. In addition, some agents’ commissions were impacted by ACA MLR requirements. Now is the time to refocus. Agents should be cross-selling products such as disability insurance, long term care insurance, and critical illness insurance to close earning gaps. Many health insurance policies now have higher out-of-pocket expenses, so supplementary products are more important than ever.
Q) What do you think is the next big insurance product out there and why?
A) I think the next big insurance products will result from a hybrid approach involving the cross-pollination and bundling of features between products. For example, some carriers are adding long term care living benefits to life insurance policies, and some DI policies now feature catastrophic care provisions. Going forward, I believe the biggest innovations will come in the form of product delivery (policy acquisition and issuance) and policy cross-pollination—not necessarily from entirely new products.
Q) What is the best part about your job?
A) The best part about my job is teaching brokers about income protection options and how to best protect their clients. A person’s most important asset is the ability to earn an income. Yet, there are so many people going without disability insurance, leaving their paychecks exposed to the risks of illness or injury. I feel passionate about this important issue and welcome every opportunity to educate and advise others.