If you’re wondering what exactly an FMO is and why you should join one, you’ve come to the right place! We have the answers you’ve been looking for to help you determine if you should join an FMO and how you can benefit from doing so!
What Is an Insurance FMO?
A field marketing organization (FMO) is a company that supports independent insurance agents in their sales endeavors and client retention. FMOs provide an extra level of support to agents through excellent customer service and state-of-the-art resources and tools.
How Does Joining an FMO Help Me as an Insurance Agent?
Extensive Medicare Support Services at No Cost
Wondering how to join an FMO? First things first! Some FMOs do not charge a fee for their services, and Ritter Insurance Marketing is one of them! There is no charge or obligation to partner with us. Simply register with Ritter (which is also free)! Doing so will grant you access to all of our exclusive tools and resources that will enhance your engagement with your clients. Find out more below to see if Ritter is the best FMO choice for you.
More Than Medicare
Of course, we can’t speak on behalf of all Medicare FMOs, but here at Ritter, we are more than Medicare. Beyond offering a vast array of health and life products, we have knowledgeable and energetic support staff ready to help you through every step of the sales process.
Ritter partners with many preferred life and health insurance carriers, so the plans your clients want will likely be accessible. Our account specialists know your target market and will inform you about the carriers best to partner with or new and competitive products that you could benefit from selling. Additionally, our carrier representatives can help you with topics like trainings, certifications, and completing enrollments. Support with ordering marketing and sales supplies and assistance with commission inquiries are also benefits available to you!
Online Contracting Assistance
Another advantage to partnering with an FMO is contracting assistance! Completing contracting for any carrier can be confusing. You have to find the paperwork, fill it out correctly, and know where to send it. Luckily, most FMOs offer contracting assistance to help ease the stress and confusion of this process.
At Ritter, we use prefilled contracting and the links are sent directly to your email. Our licensing representatives will work with you to ensure your paperwork is complete the first time you submit it. Then, they put it into the right hands at the carrier, so processing is as fast as possible.
Opportunities for Generating Medicare Leads
Co-op or lead opportunities are incentives some FMOs may offer to agents. Ritter, specifically, offers both! You can learn more about our marketing programs and incentives here. We want to help you have great sales success and expand your book of business.
With Ritter co-op, we split costs up to 50 percent with qualifying agents! This benefit allows you to stay in budget while putting out great marketing materials to generate leads.
Access to Exclusive Technology
Many FMOs produce technology that agents can benefit from by spending less time preparing and getting organized and more time making connections with clients.
Ritter has a number of tools for agents to use that help them reach their sales goals with ease, like the Medicare Quote Engine! This system allows you to quote multiple plans from several carriers simultaneously for faster rate generation. Its easy-to-use platform was developed with three initiatives in mind: efficiency, speed, and intelligence! And since the data on the quote engine is updated monthly, you can be confident that the information you give your clients is accurate!
Medicareful is another top tool that is exclusive to Ritter! This CMS-approved, consumer-facing quote engine allows agents to collect electronic Scopes of Appointment and enroll clients directly online. There is no financial commitment to create a site, only the benefit of marketing with your own personal URL for easy lead generation. Creating your own Medicareful site is quick and easy and will greatly benefit your sales process!
We’ve also launched our Ritter Platform, which was developed exclusively for agents registered with Ritter. Revamped with our agents in mind, the Platform provides agents with more user-friendly features and easy access to the tools that improve the way they do business. Our comprehensive agent dashboard does it all, by providing insight into your clients, contracts, enrollments, downlines, and commissions, just to name a few! If it’s important to your insurance business, you can track it in the Ritter Platform. You can also try out the Drug Cost Estimator tool, which allows you to easily enter and save prescription drug lists for each client and run a quote directly from the data collected in your Shared Client Record. Use our Tasks tool to conveniently cross of to-dos and keep your day running smoothly.
Behind our website and tools, Ritter Insurance Marketing is powered by friendly, knowledgeable staff whose primary mission is to help you succeed. We’re constantly developing programs and resources to be the best insurance FMO in the industry. Ritter has more than 200 team members spread out across the country. Our headquarters office is in Harrisburg, PA, and we have branch offices in Nampa, ID; Bayside, NY; Omaha, NE; and Scottsdale, AZ. Our team is committed to helping independent insurance agents succeed, during AEP and all year long.
Staying Up to Date on the Latest Insurance News
A number of FMOs have blogs and podcasts to relay important information within the market. These topics can include compliance updates, new products, helpful, year-round tips for selling insurance and much more! Additionally, FMOs will often inform you of market changes, such as a new carrier in your state becoming available, product rates decreasing, or the expansion of a network or service area.
At Ritter, we have the Agent Survival Guide blog, which is updated frequently with informative articles on a variety of insurance topics geared toward the goal of success for agents. We also offer the Agent Survival Guide podcast, which you can listen to while you are on the go! We know your time is precious, so we offer versatile ways for you to keep up with recent news!
Another way we distribute information to agents is through webinars! Our CEO, Craig Ritter, annually hosts his State of the Senior Market, which includes news on Medicare regulation, enrollment statistics, and trends within the industry!
What Does an FMO Do?
Traditional FMOs recruit agents to contract with a new carrier, and the relationship ends there. In contrast, leading FMO insurance companies realize that partnership is about much more than contracts.
FMOs that view their relationships with agents as true partnerships are driven to provide tools and services to assist them with all aspects of their businesses, including contracts, marketing dollars, commissions, education, technology and back-office support.
Many FMOs spend the majority of their resources on recruiting new agents, but few focus on helping their existing agents grow their businesses and rewarding their partnership.
FMOs that believe in partnering with their agents are more likely to devote the majority of their resources to supporting existing agents and less to recruiting new ones. Why? Because FMOs aren’t making money if agents aren’t! When choosing an FMO, agents should look for one that invests 75 percent of its resources into providing their agents with sales tools and services and 25 percent into recruiting new agents.
FAQs About FMOs
To give you a better understanding of what FMOs do for their agents, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions agents have about working with FMOs.
Q: How would an FMO describe the relationship between itself and its agents?
A: It’s a partnership. An FMO’s existence is dependent upon its agents, so it should provide more than a contract to an agent in order for it to be a true partnership. An FMO doesn’t succeed unless the agent is succeeding, so the agent really is top priority.
Q: If I use an FMO, will my commissions be reduced?
A: No, FMOs use a hierarchy system that allows them to offer the same commission level to general agents that they would receive directly from the carrier. The commissions you’d get with an FMO are the same you’re getting without one. But with an FMO, you’re also getting a full support staff and various other perks.
Q: Did I hear perks?
A: Yes! FMOs offer additional value that you may not receive from a carrier. For instance, Ritter Insurance Marketing) offers online contracting, Medicareful.com, the Agent Survival Guide, one-to-one support, supplies, and co-op marketing dollars. We also offer the exclusive Ritter Platform, as mentioned above, to help you keep track of your clients’ data. You can even use Ritter Docs to view our carrier pages, certification center, and more! You must be logged in to RitterIM.com to view Ritter Docs and use the Ritter Platform.
Q: Do I have to assign my commissions to an FMO if I go through them?
A: In most cases, you would sign a direct contract with the carrier and get paid through them. There are some situations in which an FMO would want you to assign your commissions to them (for example, if they provided you with an office, leads, or appointments).
Q: What happens to my commissions if I choose to leave my current FMO and go through another FMO or direct through a carrier?
A: Since most contracts are between you and the carrier, you would continue to receive renewal commissions from the business you issued through the previous FMO. If you were contracted with a carrier that pays your commissions through the FMO, the contract between you and the FMO would end and you would be paid your renewal commissions.
Q: How does an FMO make money?
A: FMOs receive compensation from the carrier above the general agent level to perform a variety of functions in service of that carrier, including recruiting, training, commission payments, application processing and submission, etc.
How Do Insurance Marketing Organizations Differ?
When it comes to the insurance industry, there are a lot of acronyms! There’s FMO, IMO, NMO, MGA, and GA, just to name a few.
FMO stands for field marketing organization, which is very similar to an independent marketing organization (IMO). FMOs provide independent agents with perks and resources and help them get contracted with carriers to sell plans. Ritter Insurance Marketing is considered an FMO. IMOs offer this as well, but FMOs generally are more focused in the health insurance industry, whereas IMOs may focus on life insurance. However, this is not always the case. Also, FMOs tend to be bigger than IMOs and pay more in commissions. NMO stands for national marketing offices, which is a generic term for both FMOs and IMOs.
You can check out our post, FMO vs. IMO vs. NMO vs. MGA vs. GA: What’s the Difference?, for more complete information about the similarities and differences of each.
Want to Join an FMO? Read This First!
FMOs can offer agents paramount support and helpful perks so they are standouts in the insurance industry. Consider the following when trying to decide which FMO is right for you and to see if Ritter is a good fit.
Contracts and Releases
When it comes to carriers, you need options. Ritter works with carriers all over the nation to give your portfolio a large variety of plans. Also note that before you join an FMO, you must either get a written release from your uplines or refrain from writing business for six months. Most agents choose the former, as the latter is not always realistic for full-time agents. Ritter has an open release policy for agents. For information on how that works, check out our post, Ready to Join an FMO? 10 Things to Consider.
Staying compliant with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is a crucial part of being an insurance agent. Make sure your FMO puts a large emphasis on helping you stay compliant during AEP and all year long. Ritter offers supreme advice and support when it comes to staying compliant. We’ve even created Medicareful — a free, CMS-approved website where agents can gain leads and help their clients find a plan that’s right for them. You can even enroll your clients in a plan directly on Medicareful.
Affinity Partnerships and Co-Ops
FMOs can help you market yourself through affinity partnerships. Affinity partnerships with places like pharmacies or hospitals can greatly help agents generate leads. Co-ops are also a great way to gain leads! Ritter offers both national and local co-ops, as we are Top of Hierarchy for most major Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plan companies.
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There are independent agents that “go it alone,” but having an extra level of support can make a difference. By partnering with an FMO, a whole organization is in your corner eager to help you through your sales process while you’re out in the field. You’ll be able to put all of your focus on your clients and help them choose the right plans to achieve the best possible outcome. Register with Ritter to get started today!
Editor’s Note: Some of the content in this article was derived from previous Agent Survival Guide pieces, which have been written by various authors.