2 Areas Americans Need Their Insurance Agent The Most

2 Areas Americans Need Their Insurance Agent The Most

See a need, fill a need.

This basically sums up the life and job of an insurance agent.

You are the helpers, the go-getters, and the life-savers for your clients. You have the power to go from zero to hero in a matter of seconds in your ability to change your clients’ and prospects’ lives.

How can you do that? Strike where it matters most.

One way to do this is by honing in where a majority of your prospects are most nervous—aging.

Aging is hard. Your bones ache more, hangovers take days, and your metabolism doesn’t burn like it used to. Many Americans find themselves ill-prepared for aging and the responsibilities that it requires.

Areas of target in aging:

  1. Retirement Preparation
  2. Medicare, Medicaid & LTCI Planning

Retirement Preparation

Let’s be frank, Americans as a whole are not ready for retirement. Best Life Rates reported that 66% of American consumers are concerned with a comfortable retirement. They haven’t saved enough, they haven’t planned it out, and many aren’t really aware of how unprepared they truly are.

One of the main issues is money—but that shouldn’t come as any surprise.

Here’s a rough benchmark of where Americans should be versus where they actually are in their retirement savings.

Retirement Savings Benchmark - Time

Time

The Washington Post reported that 71% of Americans say they do not have enough retirement savings. This means they can’t fully retire and will have to continue working at least part-time, if not more.  To make matters worse, 31% of non-retired adults report they have zero retirement savings and/or no pension plan whatsoever.

However, it’s not just younger people who are failing to have retirement savings—although 42% of Millennials have not started saving for retirement. Time reported the following statistics:

  • 52% of those 18-24 have no retirement savings
  • 36% of those 25-34 have no retirement savings
  • 30% of Gen Xer’s (34-54) have no retirement savings
  • 28% of those 55+ have no retirement savings

For a more complete breakdown, check out this chart:

Generational Retirement Savings - Time

Time

Additionally, women are 27% more likely than men to say they have no retirement savings whatsoever.

“The trends exhibited in these figures paint a picture of increasingly inadequate savings and retirement income for successive generations of Americans—and growing disparities by income, race, ethnicity, education, and marital status.”

EPI

Some do have savings, but it’s not enough. Fifty-six percent of Americans have reported they have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. Sixty percent of women and 52% of men fall into this category.

In 2013, The EPI (Economy Policy Institute) reported that the gap between the retirement “haves” and “have-nots” had grown substantially creating a real crisis for potential retirees:

Retirement Haves & Have Nots - EPI

Now, it’s important to note that the issue of money isn’t because the majority of Americans are fiscally irresponsible.

Times have been hard on investments, and The Great Recession definitely didn’t help. In fact, Time reported that 52% of Gen Xer’s have less than $10,000 in savings in large part because of The Great Recession.

Whether they lost in the market or had to use their savings for other means, the financial instability of recent years has taken its toll on U.S. Citizens’ retirement plans.

Life Expectancy

Another key factor is the lengthening of life expectancy. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reported in 2015 that the average life expectancy is 78.8 years. Although that’s slightly lower than previous years, it’s still incredibly high. Men will live approximately 76.3 years while women tend to live 81.2 years.

“Women, who by some measures are narrowing gaps with men, remain much more vulnerable in retirement due to lower lifetime earnings and longer life expectancies.”

EPI

This creates what Think Advisor refers to as the “longevity risk”. Basically, it’s the chance that retirees will outlive their savings since most Americans underestimate their life expectancy.

They note that most Americans can now expect to live 20-30 years in retirement. Most people don’t realize that, thus, don’t plan for that.

Let’s put this into perspective.

Say someone saves $1M (which is an unlikely bet). That sounds like a chunk of change, but if you divide that out for 20 years, it's only $4,166 a month. For 30 years, it’d be roughly $2,778 a month.

Now, look at the graph above. The 80th percentile of Americans aged 32-61 in 2013 had $116,000 in savings. Say that’s what they actually retire with; that means they’ll have $322 a month for 30 years or $483 a month for 20 years.*  

*Please note: these are rough estimates and don’t include taxes or other fees.

Forced Retirement

The term above may be one you’re unfamiliar with, but it’s something that happens quite regularly in the U.S. Voya Financial reported that 60% of retired U.S. workers said they had to stop working unexpectedly. The top 4 reasons were:

  1. Had to retire because of health challenges/change in health status
  2. Lost their job/laid off
  3. Left to care for a spouse or dependent
  4. Retired involuntarily because of their age

This is another circumstance that could take a drastic hit on someone’s financial preparedness for retirement. Especially the first three—the situations you have no control over and don’t usually see coming.

So what can you do?

The best thing you can do is help them be prepared. Use the calculations from above to show them what a monthly payout will look like and then help them understand if that’s substantial enough or not.

Create Partnerships

You may be saying, “well I don’t do financial.” That’s all fine and dandy, but consider creating a partnership with a financial advisor or two that you can recommend your clients to and vice versa. This will help you grow your book of business because you’ll be the top go-to recommendation for that financial advisor.

Maybe it’s your own personal advisor, or maybe it’s one you’ve met. If you’re not sure where to start, then look to your current clients and prospects. Ask who they trust and build from there.

Another option would be to join a local association. You’ll be able to network and speak one-on-one with like-minded individuals who could be assets down the road.

Educate Them on Life Insurance Options

Many of your clients and prospects won’t be aware of the options to borrow against or cash out their life insurance policies. They may not even know what a term policy or a whole policy is or why it matters.

Or maybe they will have heard rumors about borrowing against their policies, but are nervous of where that would lead.

This is where you would come in. Swoop in and reassure them of the pros and cons so they feel more comfortable when it comes time to making a decision. NerdWallet does a great job of laying out the advantages and disadvantages in plain, simple language that any prospect or client of yours would easily understand.

However, the most important factor is to be there for them during the journey. Call and check in on a semi-regular basis. The last thing you want to do is be the agent they only hear from during renewal.

Responsiveness matters in the insurance agency. This isn’t a business to business industry; it’s a person to person one. Read more in our blog Making Good Agents Great: Responsiveness Matters

Medicare, Medicaid, & LTCI Planning

Another way to help reduce their retirement woes it to help make sure their health is protected.

Health coverage gives many people anxiety. Especially as of late due to the constant ups and downs of how health coverage is going to work, what will be offered/covered, and how much it’s all going to cost. It’s really no wonder why so many people have a glazed-over expression or panicky eyes when it comes to talking about health insurance.

It’s a lot for the average joe to take in. We have a vague idea of what we want and how much we want to pay—but those two rarely correlate.

It gets even more complicated when we get older. Trying to understand the differences between Medicare vs. Medicaid (40% of Americans confused the two or admit they didn’t know the difference), what Part A covers vs. Part D, where long-term care comes in, the importance of cancer insurance—it’s enough to make our heads spin.

Many of your clients will have preconceived notions of what they all mean, but the likelihood of them being completely right is pretty scant. Remember, 96% of Americans grossly overestimate their knowledge of health insurance.

Also, keep in mind many haven’t taken action on these still. Only a third of Americans have taken steps to be prepared for long-term care expenses, and many of those individuals belong to an age group you would least suspect—Millennials.

“Millennials were the most likely to say they had taken an action that would enable them to pay for future long-term care expenses . . . millennials were the most likely to say they did not expect the government to cover any part of their long-term care services.”

Think Advisor

Where can you start?

Again it comes down to helping them and aiding them in the journey.

Perform a needs assessment. New Horizons Insurance Marketing explains a needs assessment as psychologically-charged questions that will:

  • Help your prospects open up
  • Cause your prospects to really consider additional insurance coverage
  • Make your job of “pitching" much easier and much more natural

What are the benefits? Well, this is two-fold. It’s extremely useful in helping you identify cross-sell opportunities, and it will help prove to your clients why they need different coverages they’re lacking.

This can work for both prospects and clients. Your clients, since they already trust you, will be more inclined to purchase the additional needed coverage from you because you’re helping illustrate the necessity of the coverage.

For prospects, you can help show them where their current provider may be letting them down. Show them where the gaps are, how to fill them, and why they should seriously consider doing this. This will help lead them to trust you more and (hopefully) move to you.

Does this really work? It does. Michael Sams, an agent for Sams/Hockaday & Associates, Inc., has found that since implementing a needs assessment 2 years ago, his sales have increased by 76%!

If you’ve never seen a needs assessment, here’s a general overview of what would be on it:

Question

Yes

No

Do you have a Medicare Supplement policy?
Do you have Part A and Part B Medicare Benefits?
Do you have any other health coverage?
Do you have out-of-pocket medicare expenses currently?
Are these expenses manageable for you?
Do you have Long-Term Care or Short-Term Care insurance?
Do you have the resources to pay for a nursing home stay?
Do you have an insurance plan to cover the costs of a cancer diagnosis?
Do you have dental insurance?
Do you have vision insurance?
Do you have hearing insurance?
Do you have life insurance?
Do you have the resources to settle debts and cover funeral costs?

Not all needs assessments will look the same. Some won't have all of these questions, and others will have follow-up questions to help you dive deeper into what their current coverage looks like. You can take notes on the side that go more in-depth than a simple yes or no, or your copy can have those additional questions added in.

New Horizons provides an excellent one that is comprehensive and simple to use. It’s only 9 questions! Download their needs assessment and start using it right away.

Putting their health into perspective and showing them the reality will go a long way to helping you, not only make the sale, but also keep the client. This is a perfect opportunity to build retention.

They’ll be happier because of your honesty and help—and what do happy clients do? They refer. In fact, they’re 3 times more likely to refer. Learn more about growing your book of business with cross-sells and referrals in our free eBook The Agency's Guide to Identifying Cross-Selling Opportunities, Gaining Referrals, and Maintaining Happy Clients.

Putting Clients & Prospects First

If you’re going to go through the work of identifying cross-sell opportunities, performing needs assessments, educating your clients and prospects, and converting them, then you’ll want to keep them, right?

Well if that’s the case, then look at your different processes to see if you truly are putting them first.

For example, when they call in. How quickly can you answer policy-related questions they have? If you’re using paper files or Excel Spreadsheets, then the answer is probably “not all that quick.” How long do you have to put them on hold while you search for the correct file? 30 seconds? Or is the answer in the minutes?

It may not sound like a lot, but a few minutes on hold on the phone can seem like an eternity—especially if the wait tone is elevator music. And you may not even be their first call. Maybe you’re the third call and the third one to put them on hold. They may be a bit disgruntled at this point and that won’t bode well for you.

So what if you could avoid the hold and have the information you need almost instantaneously? It’s possible.

Client detail screen in AgencyBloc

Client Detail Screen in AgencyBloc

AgencyBloc stores all of the data and information in your book of business in a centralized system that is accessible from any location at any time. All you have to do is type the client’s name into the search bar, and their entire record will come up. You’ll be able to see what policies they have with you, their demographics, and all of your notes and correspondence.

You’ll have a complete picture of the client/prospect and your relationship, so you’ll be able to answer their questions in a more timely manner and allow them to get along with their day. Not only is it more professional since you won’t be asking them questions you’ve asked a couple of times already, but it will do wonders for the growth of your agent-client relationship.

Remember, 52% of insurance consumers are relationship buyers. That means they aren’t purchasing the coverage from you; they’re purchasing the peace of mind, the trust, and the security you provide them with. In their mind, they can get their insurance from anyone. What’s making you stand out from the rest?

Another way to make them feel special is to be communicate with them. Automated Workflows from AgencyBloc help to keep you on track with your client-specific communications. You can set up emails that are automatically triggered to send them emails about things like:

  • Policy expiration dates approaching
  • Policy approvals/denials
  • Becoming a client
  • Happy Birthday

This way they’ll feel more a part of the process and more connected. They’ll be more up-to-date with what’s happening. Stronger and more open lines of communication will lead to happier clients. Happier clients are more likely to stay and refer, so it’s all good things for you.

Check out AgencyBloc for Yourself!

See how AgencyBloc can help you identify cross-sell opportunities, manage your growing retention, and help you put your clients first.

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Allison Babberl

By Allison Babberl on November 21, 2017 in Selling

Allison is the Marketing Content Specialist at AgencyBloc. She creates educational content and designs videos to promote AgencyBloc's resources to help you organize, automate, and grow your insurance agency. Favorite quote: “Conversation is the bedrock of relationships. Without it, our relationships are devoid of substance.” -Maribeth Kuzmeski  More articles

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