Compass (Image: Thinkstock) (Image: Thinkstock)

Here Jan Dubaskas, an executive at The IHC Group, an issuer of health insurance products other than individual major medical, talks about what she saw when she went out in the field and spent some time at insurance agency.

No matter how hard we try to learn about our marketplace and keep up on latest trends, the glaring reality is that as an insurance executive, we are not the agents on the ground who are working with consumers to help fit their needs.

During these times of constant change in health care, it is even more important for health insurance companies to stay grounded with advisors and insureds to ensure that we are providing products that fit the needs of this ever-changing marketplace.

(Related: 5 More Things to Know About the New Short-Term Medical Final Regs)

Recently, it was my pleasure to visit Paige Mattice’s growing agency in Tempe, Arizona, to spend some time with her advisors talking about the many regulatory changes that are going on at the federal and state level and I was pleased to make the visit.

Much to my chagrin, I walked away with many more lessons than I imparted — which was a strong reminder that those who are on the ground meeting with our insureds are the best teachers of trends in the marketplace as well as identifying needs and opportunities.

  1. Face-to-Face Presentations Matter

Sue Pepper, who’s been with the agency for two years, provided a presentation on the impact of in-person presentations versus phone calls and emails. Ms. Pepper said she was struggling to close some sales and other sales didn’t have the persistency level that she would have expected. When she asked more experienced colleagues for assistance, they all told her the same thing — get out of your house and meet your clients face-to-face.

In the era of technology and blooming call centers, it can be easy to discount the value of face-to-face meetings. However, as Ms. Pepper notes, when she made the change and started scheduling in-person meetings, clients began to ask her many more questions. She realized that health insurance is confusing. and in-person meetings are a great way to help clients understand the products better. These questions and her answers lead clients to greater comfort with the products and her close ratio increased while her persistency levels increased as well.

  1. Each Advisor Markets Differently

Marketing and leads are key to effectively managing and growing a book of business. Many struggle with how to find new, quality leads. Buy leads from vendors? Paige Mattice reminded me that each person has their own network of interests and professional networking. Lead sources can come from hobby groups or professional networking activities.

Ms. Mattice recommends each person evaluates their personal interests and professional networking opportunities and then pursue those opportunities. By developing relationships and engaging with the community in your unique way, it is possible to glean leads from multiple sources; and more importantly, these leads will not be the same as those leads that may be churned through many lead vendors before they end up on your desk.

  1. Advisors Help Change Lives

Not to be corny, but these advisors really are providing information that changes family decisions and creates financial freedom. They take their work seriously and ask Ms. Mattice stated, “A life without work is a life without growth.” During my visit, I heard several stories about the impact of skyrocketing ACA premiums on families and how providing affordable health insurance solutions other than the ACA allowed a family to make major financial decisions.

Just that week, David Owens an advisor for four years share a story about working with a family who was paying $1,700 per month for an ACA-compliant plan. By the conclusion of the appointment, the family decided to purchase a non-ACA compliant hospital indemnity plan with an underlying network for $1,700 per year – a total annual savings of $18,700. The family had put off retirement due to the high ACA costs and with that savings, the family decided to retire! Mr. Owens feels proud of his positive impact.

The Teacher Became the Student

Regulatory changes are constantly occurring and don’t look to slow down any time soon so I’m sure I’ll be back out to visit Ms. Mattice’s agency soon. However, the lessons I learned about face-to-face meetings, marketing and helping families will stick with me long after my presentation has faded from their memories.

— Read Trump Administration Recognizes Important Contributions of Short-Term Medicalon ThinkAdvisor.


Dubauskas

Jan Dubauskas is a blogger for HealthHotshot.com and is general counsel for Healthedeals.com, a division of The IHC Group.