BGA Concern: Agents Keep the Sales Dial on Term Life
PHOENIX – Term life insurance is a big seller at brokerage general agencies but it’s not exactly a big money maker, according to brokerage general agents attending an agency roundtable here.
“Our term insurance is up here and everything else is down here,” said one BGA as he uses his hands to demonstrate the production levels. He indicated he is looking for ways to interest agents in writing other types of life insurance, too.
That comment set the tone of the hour-long peer group roundtable at the 30th annual meeting of National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies. The discussion flowed back and forth between many topics but always seemed to circle back to how to entice agents to move the dial away from selling only term insurance. The attendees did not identify themselves and spoke freely.
A veteran BGA who has been in the business for 35 years says that term life insurance has always been the big seller.
No matter what new products come out, “it always comes back to life insurance,” he said. “That is what they want (to sell).”
The problem is, he added, “you can’t make money on it.”
Many heads in the room started nodding in agreement. The veteran BGA added that he has been trying use of tele-apps to help streamline the process.
Another BGA commented that been he has been trying to gain efficiency by using "short cycle time processes” to assist with term sales. The problem he has found is that, although younger producers have no problem adapting to the technologies — “they pick it up right away,” he said -- the older producers, age 50 and up, are having a harder time with that.
One BGA cautioned that, “if you only sell term insurance, you are basically an order taker. There is no sales to it.”
The industry needs to get back to selling life insurance that way it used to be done—selling to the customer’s need and emotion, responded another BGA. “It can’t just be a transaction.”
Another mentioned a different kind of problem. He has a large health brokerage operation and a smaller life and annuity business that was established a few years ago. He said he has tried to interest the health insurance agents in selling life insurance, but that they are not interested — not even in selling term.
Another said he has had the same experience. In response, he said he tried bringing in an annuity specialist to help the agents — just with placing the annuity part of the business. But he said the agents did not want the annuity specialist to have access to their customers.
Some of the BGAs said more education might help agents become more willing to sell other kinds of products than the ones they know best. As one BGA put it, “if a product is too complex for them, we need to help the agents understand the product. Otherwise, they will just sell term.”
He said his firm has done webinars to spark interest in other life products. But apparently that is not enough education. He said he has learned “you need to talk with them one on one, to get them to understand.”
A BGA who does mostly larger life insurance cases with premium financing supported the idea of education. “The agents who are educated and understand the products can then educate the clients,” he said, “and we find they do better” altogether.
Not incidentally, the moderator of this breakout session had invited the group to pick the topic the BGAs wanted to discuss during the hour. She had made several suggestions ranging from regulation and legislation to staffing, recruiting and several other areas. But the topic that most BGAs in the room wanted to discuss was … sales and marketing.
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