Until the arrival of guaranteed issue in 2014, many states around the country will continue to require that individual health insurance is fully underwritten. Insurance agents are challenged with taking clients through the underwriting process to obtain health insurance coverage – a task that prevents many producers from marketing these plans in the first place.
But for those who are actively involved in the individual health market, there are a few tips that can be helpful once the client’s application has been submitted.
Tip 1: Conduct effective field underwriting
Agents marketing major medical insurance plans must quickly gain the client’s trust when gathering information as part of the field underwriting and data collection phase. Asking clients to disclose their personal health information is critical in identifying an individual’s insurability, product selection, and quote preparation – and can help you customize coverage to move a client to action and turn them from a prospect to an applicant.
Tip 2: Identify the best option for application submission
Once a client has selected a health plan and they are ready to apply for coverage, there are many submission options from which to choose. While paper applications are still a possibility, they are no longer the norm. With many insurance companies, agents, and consumers embracing technology, applications can also be submitted online and over the phone. Although these newer methods don’t enable you to serve as a true field underwriter, reviewing or “scrubbing” an applicant’s submission, electronic applications can streamline the applicant’s information and deliver it to a carrier’s underwriting department in a much more efficient and easy-to-read format.
Tip 3: Educate the client on the health insurance underwriting process
Agents should educate their clients on the type of information required by each carrier, and such details as the number of prior years a carrier will consider on an applicant’s health history. This can prevent them from disclosing health information beyond the look-back period. Let your client know that they may receive a verification phone call from the carrier or third-party paramedical company to confirm information on their application or to clarify certain answers. Some underwriters may even order a paramedical exam for certain clients based on the information provided on their application.
Tip 4: Submit multiple applications