We’re getting more and more questions from agents asking what they can sell right now. We know that the fourth quarter is the busy time of the year, but the other nine months can leave brokers twiddling their thumbs.

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the “slow time” of the year provides a great opportunity to make plans for the next selling season. You can learn about new solutions that could be a good fit for your clients; line up prospects and pre-schedule appointments; and implement processes that will help make you more efficient.

Of course, you can only do so much planning, and it would be costly and irresponsible not to use the nine months between open enrollment periods to make some additional sales. Here are a few ideas:

Take advantage of Special Enrollment Periods

In every market segment – group, individual, and Medicare – there are special enrollment periods for people who lose other coverage or who have certain qualifying events. If you can find a way to locate these individuals and reach out at the correct time, you can sell a lot of business. Some of the best targets are people losing their employer-based coverage, either because they’re retiring or quitting or being terminated.

Here’s an idea: why not approach employers and let them know that when they lose an employee for whatever reason, they and their dependents have multiple options, including COBRA or state continuation, HIPAA enrollment onto a spouse’s plan, or special enrollment in the individual market? Let them know that you specialize in helping people with these decisions and ask that they contact you whenever someone quits, is terminated, or retires.

Sell products that don’t have enrollment periods

The Medicare Annual Election Period is October 15 – December 7. The individual Open Enrollment Period is November 1 – December 15. And a lot of employers renew their group coverage on December 1 or January 1. Yes, the fourth quarter is definitely the busy time for brokers and their clients.

That said, there are products in each market segment that do not have to be sold at the end of the year. Here are a few examples:

  • Medicare: While Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D plans can only be sold during the AEP, people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid and people who qualify for Extra Help on their Part D drug plan can switch plans any month of the year. Outside of open enrollment, you can target these folks. Also, Medicare supplements can be sold all year long. While not everyone will qualify, many will, and there is no annual election period for Medigap plans.
  • Individual: Yes, individual plans are only available during the AEP or during a Special Enrollment Period. However, short-term plans can be sold at any time. These affordable plans are a popular solution for healthy individuals who would like to save some money on their health coverage, and they will be even more popular when the individual mandate penalty goes away.
  • Small Group Plans: It is true that many group policies renew December 1 or January 1, but there’s no law that says they have to. You can set up a group plan any month of the year, and with the growing popularity of level-funded plans, you really should be selling group business all year long. You don’t have to wait until a group’s normal renewal date; if a level-funded solution makes sense, go ahead and sign them up.

Sell other lines of coverage to your existing clients

Seriously, this is the easiest type of sale because all you have to do is let your current clients know about another solution you offer. No, it won’t be right for everyone, but if it is a good solution then a certain percentage of your clients will be interested in learning more. Insurance is still a relationship business, and if you have a good relationship with your clients they will be open to listening to what you have to say if you tell them you have a product that can help reduce their financial exposure.

So what products can you sell to your existing clients? The broad answer is anything your license allows you to sell. More specifically, the solutions fall into one of three categories:

  1. Products that supplement and fill in holes in the client’s medical coverage, such as accident or critical illness policies.
  2. Products that are ancillary to the health plan, like dental and vision. These are certainly related to health coverage but generally are not included in a health plan.
  3. Products that address other insurance needs the client may have, like life insurance, disability insurance, and long-term care insurance.
  4. For clients who may have allowed their ACA policy to lapse mid-year, help them get health coverage until the next OEP with a short term medical plan or fixed indemnity plan.

Team up with other agents and sell to their clients

This idea is related to the previous suggestion, but instead of contacting your own clients to let them know what other products you sell, you can focus on a single solution and team up with other agents to market that solution to their clients. The trick is to pick something that not a lot of agents are familiar with, like Medicare Premium Reimbursement Arrangements or Long Term Care insurance. You may or may not want to split the commission with the other agent or provide a finder’s fee (if allowed for the product you’re selling). Either way, it can be a win-win. You sell some additional business, and the other agent is able to help address a client’s need.

Acquire clients through agent of record letters

Every agent competes with other agents for the business they sell. Hopefully you engage in friendly competition, winning clients when you can without disparaging the other agent in the process. That said, there are times when it’s clear the previous agent is no longer doing a good job for the client, and even if you wouldn’t recommend a replacement product at this time, you can see that the client would do better if you were servicing his or her account.  This is when an agent of record letter might be appropriate. You can promise to shop the market at renewal time and suggest a plan change when it makes sense. In the meantime, make sure you take excellent care of the client so he or she doesn’t regret the decision. Also be sure to make our new clients aware of any additional solutions you sell and let them know how those solutions might help reduce their claims exposure.

Purchase blocks of business from smaller agencies or retiring agents

We hear about mergers and acquisitions all the time in the news. Insurance companies are buying medical practices; pharmaceutical chains are buying insurance companies; and big national agencies are gobbling up smaller ones and quickly becoming huge players in the industry. Acquisitions aren’t just for big companies, though. If you want to grow your client list quickly, consider purchasing the block of business from an agent who wants to exit the industry or who is ready to retire. Often, what these agents are looking for is not a big payout but rather the assurance that their clients will be taken care of. If you can offer that, you might be able to get a good deal on the business. You will want to work with the other agent to make sure there is a smooth transition and the clients do not start looking around for another broker. You will also want to let all of your new clients know about any other solutions you offer that may benefit them, their families, or their employees.

One last thing…

Hopefully this list has given you a few ideas that will help you make some additional sales this summer. One last thing that is worth pointing out is that you probably already have a great list of prospects you can approach to make some additional sales. Maybe there are individuals you have quoted in the past who could not afford an individual plan but who might be interested in learning about expanded short-term plans when they are available. Maybe you sell group business and a large number of employees initially waived coverage.

The point is that if you can re-craft your message or identify new solutions, you can approach individuals and employees who may have told you no in the past and see if now is a better time for them to purchase health insurance.