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Meet the Life Insurance Case Manager

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What You Need to Know

  • A case manager can help an agent or advisor present a client to the carriers.
  • One case manager job is to understand how different different case design and case type scenarios might affect the underwriting process.
  • Another job is to know how to avoid issues that could slow the process down.

When asked about the experience they want to provide their clients, most financial advisors will tell you they want to serve their clients’ needs through comprehensive planning, personal relationships, and honoring their role as a fiduciary. Protecting a client’s lifestyle, assets, and legacy is an important part of that process.

In serving the risk management needs of clients, the life insurance case manager is an essential partner to financial advisors.

Case managers, whether employed in a local independent firm or at a home office, help advisors gain efficiency, scale, and guidance in the risk management process.

Case managers help financial advisors objectively shop the insurance marketplace and steer a client’s needs towards the most advantageous underwriting offer or carrier.

Why Use a Case Manager?

Although some financial advisors and professionals could go directly to an insurance carrier to place business, many choose to work with a brokerage general agency (BGA). Working with a BGA, advisors gain efficiency by leaning on the objective and unbiased expertise and consulting brokerage firms provide. BGAs do not have proprietary obligations to a particular insurance carrier; instead, they represent the marketplace. Like other insurance operations, BGA case managers oversee all aspects of the case and navigate different requirements across different carriers to help ensure a case is placed.

As a critical link between financial advisors, clients, insurance companies, and other parties involved in the case management process, the life insurance case manager is instrumental. With client applications requiring more data and involvement in recent years, advisors need knowledgeable professionals they can turn to.

While marketing and business development may be what initially encourages financial advisors to engage with a brokerage firm, the case manager and operations team keep advisors happy and push things over the finish line to deliver on the advisor’s value proposition.

The case management team makes certain that the business brought in gets pushed through at the carrier level as expeditiously as possible. The quicker a BGA can process business, the more likely advisors and financial professionals will be to use that firm again. In addition, case management is vital to continuing the relationship-building process between advisors and their clients.

To process and place life insurance cases in the most effective, accurate, and efficient way possible, case managers must ensure life insurance applications are submitted in good order with a thorough assessment of initial field underwriting risks. By triaging and steering a case at every stage, the case manager can catch potential submission issues early and reduce unnecessary bumps in the road.

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Case managers often help financial advisors gather necessary underwriting requirements and negotiate with carriers to secure the best offer possible for the client. Therefore, they must be skilled in navigating the underwriting process, delivering a policy, and having it placed in force.

What a Case Manager Needs

A good case manager needs a strong knowledge of life insurance products, the purposes of insurance, and different case design and case type scenarios, as they often work closely with paraplanners and other specialists to solve client needs.

In addition to possessing knowledge and expertise, successful case managers must:

  • Communicate professionally, concisely, and consistently to resolve issues and negotiate underwriting offers as appropriate.
  • Work independently and interdependently with other members of their team and with insurance carriers to foster a desired outcome.
  • Have meticulous analytical skills. Case managers must be detail-focused to catch mistakes across multiple platforms.
  • Identify, troubleshoot, and resolve problems throughout the case life cycle from submission through policy delivery, and all points in between.
  • Embody an attitude of delivering exceptional client service and relationship management, with a goal of providing an elevated experience for advisors and their clients.
  • Reach strong proficiency with using business software programs and other technology.
  • Consistently and thoroughly document all aspects of the insurance cases they touch — whether by conversations, emails, or status updates.
  • Hold others accountable to promised deadlines to ensure the entire process is managed to completion on behalf of their advisor and their clients.

Case managers also need to be willing to adapt — and have patience with advisors who are faced with adapting at the same time. With the surge in technology that advanced and accelerated underwriting platforms have created, case managers must adjust quickly and be patient with financial advisors and professionals who may not have insurance as part of their core business.

By embracing automation, case managers can process business faster and more efficiently, allowing financial professionals to solve more protection needs and enhance their relationships with clients. The goal is to help financial advisors complete their financial planning and honor their fiduciary role, with minimal interruption to the advisor. Understanding technology — and how carriers use it in their processing — can help move cases along faster and with fewer complications.

Organizations with well-trained case managers will be more successful, and education and training are key to ensuring that case managers continue to add value in a technology-focused environment. Through professional growth, such as acquiring a designation, or by becoming more knowledgeable about the various changes within the industry, case managers will continue to be instrumental to a successful BGA and all insurance operations.

(Image: Shutterstock)


Tiffany Markarian and Kelly MaheuTiffany Markarian is managing director and founder of Advantus Marketing.

Kelly Maheu is the senior director of communication and professional development for the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies, an insurance industry organization that promotes financial security and consumer choice through the use of independent brokerage distribution.

Maheu and Markarian are affiliated with the NAILBA Certified Case Manager (NCCM) designation program.