As insurance professionals we have for some time had to adapt to the rapid changes that face our industry. Agents are forced to deal with the major cuts in health commissions in both the underage and overage markets, major structural changes to core plans, and the fear created by health care reform. As a large health insurance brokerage operation, never before have I seen an influx of inquiries from life, health, property and casualty, and even financial planning agents looking for products to fill gaps, add to diminishing portfolios, and reclaim lost commissions. We believe that a remedy to this growing problem can be found via stand- alone dental/vision plans.
The importance of good dental and eye care with respect to overall health is becoming increasingly apparent. Dental problems can now be linked to much more serious medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and even strokes. What’s worse, many Americans may be unaware or ill-equipped to face an issue like this. Most people do not have good dental insurance.
Having represented various dental plans over the decades, we’ve refined the process of selecting such a product that best helps the client & agent alike. The best results have come from plans that have an extensive age range to include young people, families and seniors, as well as major and preventative services, and that allow clients the freedom to go to any licensed provider. Clients want a plan that provides fast claims service and treats benefits the same for major and preventative services. They also want guaranteed issue and guaranteed renewability for life. We have agents who still get renewals on dental business from 25 years ago, without any claims service work. A combination of these features and benefits make for a much more attractive product, which is easy for agents to sell and simple for clients to understand. The need for this type of plan is significant, especially if the policy pays on actual, usual and customary charges as opposed to scheduled benefits, which leaves the client feeling like they are limited on their care options.
Other important features that boost the quality of the plan are factors like outstanding customer service and fast-pay claims. Taking advantage of technology, some companies now offer easy enrollment options like online submission, or telephonic application, while still offering paper enrollment. Electronic quoting and applications help agents find the edge they need to succeed in this evolving industry, because it cuts time spent traveling and opens up a direct sale without the face-to-face interaction. It’s also important to find a company that prides itself in giving back to local communities in areas like helping homeless vets, Special Olympics, or establishing grants and scholarships because this increases the agent’s and insurance company’s credibility to the client and community. Most of all, it shows the agent cares and is not just there to make a sale.
Once a suitable product has been selected there are many ways to effectively promote it. Over the years we have had success from the simplest of efforts; “Take Me” cards placed in dental offices, service clubs, senior centers, churches, and the meet and greet with small, medium, or large business owners are all efficient marketing approaches. Another great way to prospect is through the use of a free discount card to groups of all types because it creates a quid pro quo setting in which an agent can offer discounts on Rx, dental, vision, hearing and other medical services in return for some time with the client to discuss benefits. All you have to do is walk into the business, retirement center, place of worship or other organization and tell the decision maker, ”I want to offer your employees, parishioners, residents or members some relief from their high cost of prescriptions, dental, vision, hearing and other medical expenses at no cost to them or to you. I am in the insurance business and want to offer the best dental and vision plans anywhere and cover your employees and their families. Is that fair?” When combined with a true dental insurance plan that covers them with any licensed provider, the discount card will optimize and maximize the client’s benefits, providing a surefire way to win over the employer or other organization. I might mention that the market is open to sell the dentist, at whose office you’re placing your take-one cards. Above all, dentists should love you because their biggest problem is usually collection. It might behoove you to talk at the local dental association meetings.
In closing, the techniques above and the features of great products can lead to your success, not just in selling dental insurance. Once they see you’re not just after the sale but want to help them solve their problems, it’s easy to offer the financial solutions your other products in the underage market offer, such as critical illness, accident medical coverage, supplemental health, disability income, and gap health insurance. For those over 65, it leaves the door open for other needs, like short term care. For all clients, under 65 and over 65, you’ll sell a ton of life insurance just by asking them if they’re interested in increasing their estate today.