Expanding Your Health Insurance Business Across The Country—Without Ever Leaving Your Desk
An agent from Long Island, NY, sits in his home office and sells to health insurance shoppers in Kentucky. Another agent sits in his business park office in Houston, TX, and places applications for clients in Florida and California.
The Internet has transformed the industry and is creating top producers in large cities and small farm communities throughout the nation. Will you be the next one? More importantly, can you afford not to expand beyond your local community?
Why You Need To Expand
The #1 reason agents and brokers are choosing to expand their business goes back to the old adage: “Don’t put your eggs in one basket.”
When all your business is limited to one community, state or even region, you’re at the mercy of the economics of that area. If your community experiences a downturn or people start migrating away for better job opportunities, guess what’ll probably happen to your business.
And as more agents and brokers enter your local market, your “basket” is going to get a little tight. By expanding your business to other states across the country, you’ll have a bigger pool of potential customers.
That last benefit is a big reason why even newly licensed agents are immediately expanding their reach beyond their home state – so they can build up their client base faster.
National Insurance Producers Registry
The traditional method for getting licensed in other states has been to locate and then contact each state’s insurance regulator. You then had to fill out their particular application forms and follow their specific requirements. That’s still the way with other professions.
Insurance producers have it a lot easier. Just log into the National Insurance Producers Registry at www.NIPR.com, and you’ll get quick links to the insurance regulatory departments of all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
You’ll also be able to complete one online application to get registered in as many as 45 of the states and the District of Columbia. The only requirement is that you be currently licensed and in good standing in your home state.
And the cost? NIPR charges $6.18 for each state transaction, on top of the state’s licensing fee.
So which states should you target? Unless you’re a big office, it’s probably best to expand to one state at a time. And you’ll want to focus on states that can complement your current business. For example, if you live in a northern state but see a lot of your health clients retiring in the Sun Belt, you may want to consider getting licensed in Florida, Arizona and Texas – so you can help them wherever they decide to move.
Signing Up With Carriers
As you register in other states, you’ll need to make sure that you’re signed up with carriers who operate in those states.
The best place to start is by asking your current providers. They may already be servicing your target states, which will make getting signed up that much easier. If they’re not in those states, your RSMs may be able to hook you up with an affiliate or carrier contacts who can help you.
Lastly, consider joining an association such as the Independent Health Insurance Agents Association (www.IHIAA.org), so you can ask agents and brokers in those states directly for advice about their preferred carriers.
The Tools You’ll Need
You won’t need an office or a staff in your new states. You don’t even need to ever step foot inside those states. But you will need the right Internet tools to make sure you can successfully market and sell to clients in those states.
- •WebsiteSince your faraway clients will never see your real office, your website is how they will come to know you. Make sure your website is designed to build trust, provide clients with the information they seek and have the usability to help you convert leads and prospects into actual submissions.
- •Quote EngineThe #1 tool for turning your website into a lead-generation and sales machine is to embed a multi-carrier quote engine. It literally turns your website into a 24/7 sales assistant to help prospects compare detailed multi-carrier quotes in seconds.
- •E-ApplicationA “smart” online application allows prospects to complete and submit applications directly to your carriers. Because smart e-apps automatically check for errors, your commission checks can arrive faster – and require less effort from you.
- •Search Engine LeadsExpanding your business no longer requires a huge marketing budget to announce your presence in those new markets. High-quality Internet-generated leads let you skip over the usual marketing hurdles and get straight into closing sales.
Another reason why so many agents are expanding their businesses is that these powerful tools are now very affordable. For example, the Quoter Pro website provides a professionally designed website with embedded quote engine costs less than a morning coffee and breakfast sandwich combo.
In addition to generating and converting leads while you sleep, it can slash your quoting time by 96% – letting you run multi-carrier quotes in seconds instead of half an hour or more.
Waiting Is No Longer An Option
With the barriers to expanding and succeeding in other health insurance markets rapidly coming down, it’s no longer a matter of “when” but “how quickly.”
There’s one final reason why you need to overcome your hesitancy, if you haven’t already decided to expand. Agents from other states and regions are already using the Internet to enter your community. That’s in addition to the local agents already in your area.
So if your “basket” is getting crowded, isn’t it time to get a bigger basket?