The Latest In Sales Illustrations, Paramed Exams And Client Engagement

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Published in Broker World Magazine in October 2020

 

There has been a lot reported on the impact of COVID-19 to the life insurance industry. I wanted to research this from a different perspective. Starting with sales illustration vendors from changes to carrier projects to how BGAs and agents are engaging with their clients. Next, I was curious about the truth regarding paramed exams. You will be surprised at what the paramed vendors revealed. Also, there is a growing trend for life insurance carriers using solution platforms to remotely engage with their policy owners.

 

Sales Illustrations
Let’s take a look at two types of illustration vendors to see how their businesses have changed since COVID-19. The first is illustrate inc. who works with carriers. They have modular point of sales solutions that run quotes, illustrations and eApps on both mobile and desktop devices for life insurance agents and consumers. illustrate inc. works on carrier digital point of sales projects customizing their solutions to integrate in the life insurance sales experience. The second type of illustration vendor is Ensight who focuses on the distribution side. Ensight has a modern multi-carrier intelligent quoting platform with a presentation solution used by BGAs for case design and analyzing permanent products like index universal life to visually help the agent explain the benefits of the UL product to their clients.

 

The feedback we received from illustrate inc. is that their business continued uninterrupted due to COVID-19, however they did see an impact on short term projects with some life insurance carriers as they shifted their immediate attention towards their own operations. Carriers recognize the impact COVID-19 has had on their distribution channels, clients, and operations, which has led them to start to reevaluate and review their current digital strategies to ensure that they’re aligned with the new business environment. Lyndon Edwards, president of illustrate inc., stated, “We’ve experienced a significant increase in conversations, largely due to COVID-19, with carriers who are ramping up their digital capabilities. This ranges from those just starting to look for a practical solution to those who see this as an opportunity to expand on their existing capabilities, as the pandemic has reinforced the need for automated and digital services from both a sales and business continuity perspective. Vendors, like us at illustrate inc., must be flexible, nimble, and innovative to deal with the changing requirements, immediate needs, and long-term scalability and sustainability of our solutions in order to support carriers and provide continuous value.”

 

From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ensight has seen a dramatic shift to the remote sales engagement model on virtual meetings such as Zoom and Go To Meeting—whether it is BGA case designers and wholesalers virtually supporting producers and financial professionals on key cases or providing product training, or life and annuity producers engaging with prospects over the Zoom to help fulfill the increased demand driven by the pandemic, or financial advisors, almost 50 percent of whom were already moving to a virtual client engagement model, interactively walking clients through the benefits of life insurance. Bill Unrue, CEO of Ensight, commented, “At Ensight, we have seen a dramatic shift towards the virtual sales experience with growth of 155 percent in just the last three months. We have also been supporting hundreds of wholesalers and financial professionals on a weekly basis via webinars and interactive training sessions to enable interactive client engagements on remote meetings. The pandemic has acted as an accelerant in the march toward digital transformation for the life and annuity sector. The rapid and agile response over the last seven months to COVID-19 bodes well for returning the sector to long-term growth and wider financial protection in society.”

 

Paramed Exams
APPS Paramedical Services has been able to not only “make it through” the initial stages of the COVID-19 crisis, APPS has seen significant paramedical exam order volume increases, and completions that are exceeding year over year projections. Joe Klein, SVP of National Accounts at APPS, was eager to provide some details, “As we entered mid-March, Coronavirus and uncertainty were at an all-time height in the U.S. Markets were shaken, neighborhoods were rocked, and many people hunkered down in isolation. Life insurance sales fell sharply, and paramedical exam orders were only half of what was expected. Fortunately, APPS responded by pulling together non-N95 masks and other PPE. Exam services continued, albeit slower, but fortunately in line with the speed of sales. Only four to six weeks later Americans were back in the saddle. The paramedical exam orders were flowing full force. Sure, some carriers deferred exams in lieu of higher rating offers, but those that saw their applicants’ continued desire to be fully medically underwritten had their exams completed and completed safely. Thus far into the pandemic the number of exams completed by APPS eclipses half a million. Paramedical exams are getting completed safely every day in the privacy of applicants’ homes. APPS is proud to not only help more Americans secure the financial security of their families, we are proud to serve our underwriting customers as they ensure the correct decisions are being made.”

 

As some actuaries are predicting, the mortality impact of COVID-19 will stretch far past the missed doctors’ appointments for preventative health and skyrocketing binge drinking. Just take a read of the newly published Hank George article titled Dire Diagnosis—COVID-19, the Great Recession, and the coming underwriting apocalypse. You will find it a sobering reminder that right now, more than ever, the value of fluids results cannot be replaced.

 

I spoke with a second paramedical service provider, MediPro Direct. Ryan Janeway, president and CEO, stated, “The impact of the SARS-CoV2 virus (COVID-19) on the insurance industry is significant. As a paramedical service provider, we experienced an immediate decline in exams being performed due to state and community shutdowns, economic uncertainty, and an increase by carriers in the policy amount requirement for these exams. We also experienced the demise of one of our largest competitors due directly to the impact of this virus on their business. As an organization MediPro Direct was well positioned to respond to these market shifts, having already established a virtual office environment for our entire national team and utilizing secure and redundant cloud services for our case management systems. Our multifaceted business meant we were also able to hire some of the top talent made available by the sudden shut-down of our competitor, further increasing our ability to exceed client expectations.” In addition to operational consistency and data security, MediPro Direct was able to provide its field examiners with immediate access to PPE, as well as PCR and antigen testing through MediPro Direct’s genetic and clinical lab. This meant the safety for examiners and the applicants they service was never in question. Ryan continued optimistically, “Looking forward, we see the future of the insurance industry requiring a more data conscious and capable paramedical network, including access to data on the health of the examiners in the field. With one the largest examiner networks in the nation, real-time reporting through our Quality First system, and examiner health tracking, MediPro Direct is ready to lead the way.”

 

I reached out to IMS-Insurance Medical Services to see if there was a change in the number of examiners being recruited. IMS offers a full array of services to assist with the pre-underwriting process such as paramedical examinations, attending physician statements, criminal background checks and motor vehicle reports. IMS is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. They have a national network of over 5,000 paramedical examiners nationwide. Bilal Saeed, VP of Operations at IMS, Paramed Inc. responded, “In spite of COVID-19, we have observed our business has grown due to increased awareness of life insurance and in result we have fully prepared our field staff to wear complete personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times during all examinations in the field. Our recruiting efforts of field examiners has doubled to meet the demands of the life insurance industry.”

 

Life Insurance Consumer Engagement Platforms
Sureify, a leader in digital enablement in the life insurance arena, has spent the past several years preparing carriers for a moment such as this. The pandemic has illuminated blind spots in the industry, especially reliance on disjointed, disconnected legacy systems that are proving wholly ineffective for remote selling, service and engagement. The Lifetime Platform is focused on helping carriers sell, engage and service with one enterprise platform that was developed to empower insurers and their agents to act, interact, and react in real time—via digital means. Sureify’s LifetimeEngage uses a collection of data and analytics to create robust engagement programs (financial education, health and lifestyle) that foster a life-long relationship with policyholders, while LifetimeAcquire drives placement rates via quoting, e-application, automated underwriting and new business transmission, and LifetimeService offers in-force customers a comprehensive self-service portal and native applications. CEO Dustin Yoder says that, “Sureify has seen significant growth as traditional insurers come to realize the positives (cost savings, functional improvement, and the enhanced ability to meet policyholder expectations) that come with the new digital landscape.”

 

As expected, the initial month of COVID-19 stalled businesses across the industry. Soon after, digital point of sales projects with carriers picked right up. Vendors used innovation to adapt sales illustration solutions to help agents virtually sell to their clients. Paramed exams, contrary to what many believe, are busier than ever today, and life carriers are looking to consumer engaging platforms to service their policyholders.

 

Filling The Gap With Human Capital Getting The Most Out Of Your System

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By Ken Leibow

Published in Broker World Magazine June 2020

 

Life insurance and annuity carriers figured out a long time ago that speed to market and reducing operational costs with a combination of outsourcing and technology for new business and claims, for example using third party administrators like SE2, EXL and Infosys-McCamish, was significant in allowing for more product launches and focusing on growing sales. A hybrid of this model offered by firms like Employee Pooling and eNoah has been hugely successful in the BGA space. I had the privilege to learn more about the value proposition these firms bring to the table for a life brokerage general agency (BGA) by talking with Tom Gray, founder and Michelle Anderson, head of marketing, L&C Division, at Employee Pooling, as well as Manoj Sherman, SVP, and Stacey Paulsen, director of insurance services, at eNoah.

 

A BGA Increases Focus on Sales with a Seamless Extension of their Team Using Employee Pooling
While daily operations for most agencies follow the same basic blueprint in processing, managing, and capturing new business opportunities, there is no one-size-fits-all in meeting a company’s needs to get the job done. The reasons to right-source your agency by seeking support from an offshore firm are diverse, but the expectations are the same–to extend operating hours through the U.S. nighttime and get the job done accurately and on-time without breaking the bank.

 

Companies like Employee Pooling can certainly position an agency to bring scale and bring stability to daily operations while increasing revenue, especially during these trying times when work volume can erratically ebb and flow. Agencies are also taking advantage of outsourcing options when faced with time restraints, or they simply lack the bandwidth to handle everything piling up on their plates. Why wouldn’t you turn to a BPO who’s seen and done it all, knows the intricacies of every major technology platform like Agency Integrator, SmartOffice, OneHQ, and SureLC, who knows all the rules and nuances of dozens of carriers, and has mapped out processes for every departmental task with care and detail? This level of skill and swiftness almost can’t be matched by any new office member. The bonus is these BPOs cost about the price of an intern.

 

According to Tom Gray, founder and president of Employee Pooling, LLC (EP), in addition to removing obstacles getting in the way of sales, the most important element for establishing a successful relationship with his customers is trust. “We treat every task that we do as if it were our own, whether it’s seeing an agent appointment through or handling comprehensive case management and commission build outs, we take ownership of the task at hand.” The EP team is literally woven into the fabric of a customer’s operations, and because they already know every component of the software technology that’s used in our industry, along with processes and best practices for every agency department from agent appointments, new business and commissions to inforce policy management, onboarding is swift and seamless. Gray adds that the customer relationship reaches a mutually meaningful level when EP earns their trust by assuming full responsibility for the tasks at hand.

 

In addition to onboarding customers who are looking to maximize their software performance or get more out of their current workforce, EP has taken on countless cases of “What now?” situations from customers who are faced with an unexpected circumstance that could significantly impact the overall flow of operations and their livelihood.

 

“These immediate employee departures can impact a company overnight,” says Gray, “And even the most dialed-in companies are not equipped to handle the workflow, do not know the ins and outs of software platforms like Agency Integrator, SmartOffice, OneHQ, or SureLC—or worse, they do not know the details of what’s involved in the process of that particular position that is suddenly vacant.” A recent example of the latter occurred when an EP customer suddenly and tragically lost their one and only case manager. They were at a complete loss and needed a case manager to step in overnight. EP was able to escalate from providing basic support to assuming all new business responsibilities in an instant.

 

Imagine having to step in and fill that role overnight…but EP rises and shines day in day out because of their expertise in every major technology platform, best in class processes, 24-hour service, and their customers’ trust.

 

BGAs Faced with Operational Challenges like COVID-19 are Using eNoah
The learning curve to onboard new talent is long, and finding experienced talent is not easy. It’s an extremely competitive space and with each BGA’s unique culture, finding the right person can be challenging not to mention costly. To add to the learning curve, the diversification of products coupled with state and federal regulations and the carrier’s own interpretation of compliance and the requirements that go along with them, have created a spiderweb of different processes. All which the BGA space has to consume and assist their advisors with. This role often falls on case management to be the “expert” for not only their advisors, but internally within their organization. They are also often involved in pre-sale activities to ensure paperwork and compliance is handled properly before the application hits their desk. eNoah has been successful in helping their BGA customers take on certain tasks so they can prioritize what is most important for their internal team members to focus on.

 

eNoah’s contingency plan ensures there is always an additional resource who knows your business and it’s needs. “We have resources ready with little to no onboarding to support our BGA customers. This also served us well with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Because of our proactive service model, we were able to support our customers during a transition to work-from-home without a drop in quality or time service,” says Stacey Paulsen, director of insurance services at eNoah.

 

In this “want it now” environment, providing consistent and timely customer service is table stakes. The ultimate challenge is how one maintains time service commitments with excellent quality, all while still being fiscally responsible. eNoah helps juggle these three pain points for their BGA partners by utilizing industry experts who are knowledgeable in all areas of the life of an application while bringing cost savings. eNoah uses a blended approach with a Stateside account manager who has over 20 years of experience in the BGA space. They understand and appreciate the unique differences each BGA brings to the table and work with them to create their own customized onboarding process to make it as seamless as possible.

 

“We want to be an extension of your office, supporting your culture and contributing to your goals and mission statement,’” Paulson stated. “It simply cannot be a one-size-fits- all approach. I love developing strategic partnerships with our BGA customers and truly understanding where they are today and where they want to go. We can help whether that is with a specific need, such as application scrub and entry into your AMS, to full end to end case management and beyond. We customize and support to your unique needs with a delivery team who has over 25 years of experience in the insurance services industry.”

 

Unique Projects for IMOs/FMOs/BGAs
I have been directly or indirectly working on some unique projects to help solve pain-points for IMOs, FMOs and BGAs. As a co-chair of the ACORD Life Inforce Product Working Group, I am helping build out standards for messaging life inforce policies like pre-lapse notifications, policy owner service change requests, term conversions, and inforce illustrations just to name a few. One of the popular inforce policy management platforms is offered by Proformex. As great as the system is in managing an agent’s book of business and discovering new sales opportunities, the critical fuel to function is “data” that gets inputted into the system manually and/or through a data feed. I learned that ePooling plays a key role working with BGAs to manage that data and get it into the inforce policy management system. Another unique project is around commission accounting. The commission accounting systems out in the market today are focused on the BGA commission workflow. These vendors have not directly addressed the needs of commission management for an IMO or FMO. eNoah, with a combination of technology developed internally coupled with using personnel to set up contracts, commission schedules and hierarchies, has been able to remove the commission pain-points and automate what was a very manual process for IMOs and FMOs.

 

With the need for a scalable professional workforce, a BGA’s back-office is servicing agents for licensing/contracting, new business, commission accounting, inforce policy management, and sales illustrations, while also providing product and underwriting expertise. Typically, BGAs are using just a couple of solution platforms, specifically an agency management system, to manage their business. Partnering with a firm like Employee Pooling or eNoah to reduce operational costs and improve efficiencies with the integration of experienced people and faster processes while leveraging the BGAs existing technology is available today.

 

 

Employee Pooling Operations Readiness COVID-19 Pandemic

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Life Insurance Brokerage Agencies and Financial Institutions are making Employee Pooling (EP) as part of their business interruption contingency plan. Business interruption due to the pandemic has made Right-sourcing more important than ever. Whether your business is interrupted by a virus that affect humans or a virus that affects a business’s systems, our customers have found that a relationship with EP gives them a resource they can count on to bridge gaps caused by large, unexpected events. Over the last couple of months, EP has been called into action.

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Success! EP is maintaining “business as usual” operations during mandatory work-from-home strategy

Overnight, our entire New Delhi team did a spectacular job transitioning to a secure work=from home environment withour missing a beat!

 

As the Delhi government gave word just yesterday that all facilities were ordered to close until further notice, EP New Delhi upper management and employees embraced the opportunity to come together and seamlessly alter the path of operations with no impact thus far on the usual daily tasks performed. We are proud and amazed.

 

I’d also like to share something even more unbelievable. Currently, of 1.25 billion Indians, there are only 400 confirmed cases…the same number as Tennessee. India is on lock-down, Delhi’s borders are sealed, the people are staying home.

 

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but right now we are happy to report that we are operating “business as usual” and India is doing the right things.

 

EP is committed to getting through these difficult times together while continuing to provide our very best support to you.

The following steps have been taken to ensure workflow is not interrupted.
 
  • Employees will be connected to the office network behind SonicWall Firewall via Virtual Private Network (“VPN”) in order to perform their responsibilities.
  • Our employees will only have access to work-related websites; employees will not be able to access any other website or application with their company issued laptops.
  • Our IT team will follow a Zero Trust policy by tracking all employees’ system activity and frequent log checks. System activity includes keystrokes and print shots at an interval of every 10 seconds and browser history.
  • Employees have signed an NDA which is specific to IT policies and they have been warned of serious disciplinary actions involving any security breach.
 
Kindly be patient with us Monday (23rd) and Tuesday (24th) to allow our employees to adjust to this new work arrangement.
 
  • EP Team Leaders will stay in close contact with their counterparts in agencies they work with.
  • Customers are urged to use their dedicated email support IDs to communicate with their Delhi teams.
  • If you have anything urgent that needs to be handled, please reach out via text to the Nashville department head. 
 
New Business – Alice Pratt 615-970-9061 
L&C – Michelle Anderson 615-500-6961
Commissions – Marshall Gray 615-887-1082
Security and IT Concerns – Matthew Johnson (615)-610-5585 x204
Other Departments & Concerns – Tom Gray 615-300-7126
 
 
For IT and security concerns, please email IT@ep-insuranceservices.com
For service-related concerns, please email execmgmt@ep-insuranceservices.com
 
You may also call 615-610-5585 ext. 301 for Harmeet Singh, CTO, New Delhi or
ext. 201 for Tom Gray, CEO, Nashville. When you reach voicemail, press # and it will roll to our mobile phones.
 
Thank you for your continued support. We are here for you!
Employee Pooling, LLC | www.employeepooling.com

Distributors, Marketing Organizations and Financial Institutions Gain an Edge by Outsourcing Repetitive, Costly Tasks to Employee Pooling

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24-hour support cycle and fractional staffing keep costs low and service standards high

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Nashville-based Employee Pooling® (EP) provides small and midsized American companies with innovative business processing solutions and systems that simplify workflow, boost productivity, and drive revenues. EP founder and CEO, Tom Gray, was driven to find solutions for obstacles that were getting in the way of sales. Gray tapped his own experiences as a BGA owner with the objective of strengthening customer relationships and driving revenue.

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“I experienced many administrative and time-consuming obstacles firsthand and decided I was going to find solutions for my own BGA,” says Gray. “I founded Employee Pooling with the right people and processes that could deliver tools and options that had been previously unavailable. When other BGAs saw the power of this model, they wanted to participate, and EP grew to accommodate the demand.

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“We’ve grown in eight years from one client to more than 130, serving carriers, distributors, marketing organizations and financial institutions with solutions for every department, and we have evolved to deliver complete process management systems in a straight-through processing manner,” says Gray.

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