Every insurance agent has a crucial choice to make in order to make the most of their chosen career path. Should you become an independent or captive agent?
While everyone is different and has unique preferences, we think being an independent agent has the ultimate perks. Let us tell you why.
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What’s the Difference?
The main differentiating factor between the two types of insurance agents is that captive agents are contracted to work with a single company. This means that they exclusively sell products from the insurer who employs them.
Independent agents, on the other hand, have a bit more freedom. Because they’re not tied down to one specific company, they’re able to sell products from a multitude of carriers.
1. Greater Options, Happier Customers
Having numerous products from a handful of carriers is one of the best things you can offer your clients. Every person buying a Medicare plan has different wants and needs. Even spouses can have separate health insurance! By not being confined to plans from one company, you’ll have a better chance of helping your client select a plan that truly works for them.
Independent agents have the freedom to decide which carriers they want to work with. Not only can you offer your clients more options as an independent agent, but you can also offer different types of products, such as Medicare Supplements, Medicare Advantage, Part D, ancillary products, and more! With an abundance of plan options, you’ll also be able to ensure your clients that they’re getting the right plan for them at the best value.
Additionally, as an independent agent, you won’t have to put all your eggs in one basket. Captive agents may be pressured to push certain products over others, regardless of if it’s something your client actually wants. We believe you’ll have more success if you gain the trust of your clients rather than focus on just making a sale.
As an independent agent, you won't have to put all your eggs in one basket.
Get Creative with Med Supps
Your clients will also be happy to know that working with an independent agent can help prevent them from getting locked into a plan they don’t want anymore. For example, say last year, you sold your client a Medicare Supplement policy from a carrier whose rates, at the time, were inexpensive, but this year the rates have gone up drastically.
If you were a captive agent, you could only offer them plans from that carrier, leaving them stuck paying more money for a plan they don’t want. As an independent agent, however, you can find them a quality plan from a different carrier for a cheaper price. Your clients will appreciate how, as an independent agent, you can help them avoid being tied down and save them money.
Make the Most of MAPDs
The same goes for plan review around the Annual Enrollment Period. Rates for Medicare Advantage and MAPD plans don’t always stay the same from year to year, and you may find your clients would prefer to switch plans. If they are dissatisfied with the carrier they currently have, and you can only offer them plans from that carrier, you may lose them as a client altogether. That’s why it’s beneficial for you and your client to provide them with varying options, and the only way you can do that is to become an independent insurance agent.
Having a versatile portfolio requires that you’re knowledgeable about your market and the networks around you. It’s a bit of a given, but people like to buy from agents who know what they’re doing. Listen to your clients’ needs and take them into consideration when presenting plan information — don’t just list off facts like a robot.
Listen to your clients’ needs and take them into consideration when presenting plan information — don’t just list off facts like a robot.
An agent who takes the time to develop lasting relationships with clients, and has the expertise about the industry to offer satisfying and rewarding plans, is much better off than the competition. Plus, having happy clients means more referrals for you. It’s a win-win!
2. Unparalleled Support
As an independent insurance agent, you’ll have the opportunity to work with the full support of a field marketing organization, or FMO — something captive agents can’t do. We recommend working with a top FMO like Ritter Insurance Marketing to help you get started on the right path. And don’t worry — your commission levels will remain the same (or potentially increase with independence) whether you’re working for a carrier or partnered with a professional organization. You’ll just get even better perks with the latter!
FMOs can offer you support and resources that a carrier might not be able to provide, such as webinars, additional training, and even marketing materials to help boost your business. And while being an independent agent requires knowledge of more products and processes, Ritter provides tools to make sorting through them fast and easy.
The Medicare Quote Engine allows you to search for plans based on your client’s age, zip code, county, gender, and marital status. Agents can also utilize Medicareful when helping clients find a plan, and even use it as a marketing tool by creating their own personalized Medicareful website.
Field marketing organizations can also help you contract with carriers whose plans you want to sell. If you’re just starting out as an independent agent, you may find that you’ll hit some roadblocks when trying to get contracted. This is because carriers need to know they can trust you to effectively sell and promote their products. This is where FMOs come in! Organizations like Ritter can vouch for you and let carriers know you’re a reliable and trustworthy agent. You may find that you have a much easier time contracting when you have someone going to bat for you and helping you move along the right path.
Organizations like Ritter can vouch for you and let carriers know you’re a reliable and trustworthy agent.
It’s always nice to have someone in your corner, advocating for you and helping you move forward. Be sure to take advantage of all the resources available that will aid in your success.
3. Freedom to Choose
Is the nine-to-five workday not for you? Independent agents don’t have to operate around that lifestyle. In fact, you can pick your own schedule. Because you won’t be working for one company, you’re truly your own boss. You have the liberty of choosing when and how often you want to work.
You can decide to only hold meetings on weekdays or in the evenings, or you can still choose to devote yourself to a 40-hour work week. But that also means it’s up to you to put in a sufficient amount of effort. What works for one agent may not work for you, but the bright side is you can experiment with hours until you find a steady routine.
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Ultimately, the choice is yours when it comes to what kind of insurance agent you want to be. Each type has its pros and cons, but if you choose the independent route, Ritter is here to assist you. Being an independent agent means you’re in business for yourself, but it doesn’t mean you’re by yourself.