Did you just get your Life & Health Insurance license?
Or maybe you’ve been an agent for a while, but you aren’t getting what you expected from your FMO.
I know how that feels.
Whether you knew it or not, it’s time to start making some decisions. Which carriers are you going to contract with? What products will you sell? Which of the 300+ marketing organizations will you choose?
It can be pretty overwhelming to decide which FMO is right for you, so I’ve compiled a list of seven steps to make the process easy. Feel free to jump around using the links below:
- What is a marketing organization?
- Available Carriers
- Vested Contracts
- Training & Support
- New Business Processing
- How Long Have They Been in Business?
- Release Process
What is a marketing organization?
Commonly referred to as FMO (Field Marketing Organization), IMO (Independent Marketing Organization), or NMO (National Marketing Organization), a marketing organization is a third party who works in between the independent insurance agent and the insurance carrier.
The insurance carriers lean on the marketing organization to provide recruiting, contracting, training, licensing, and support at no charge to you.
What carriers are you looking for?
In order to be successful, you need to sell the best products available for your area.
Use sources such as medicare.gov and run quotes in the area you will be working to make sure your FMO has these contracts.
You should also check what product lines they have available. If you sell Medicare plans, does the FMO offer other products that you can cross-sell, such as Dental, Hospital Indemnity, and Life Insurance?
You need to make sure the FMO is diverse in the products they offer.
Fully Vested Contracts
Simply put, having a fully vested contract means you own the business you write.
This is extremely important!
FMOs work by making a percentage of commission on top of the full commission you make. If you ever decide to leave your FMO, make sure your business will go with you.
You should also speak to the organization about potentially obtaining a higher level contract in the future. Most insurance carriers have requirements on this (such as minimum of 5 agents in the agency, or production and oversight requirements) to receive a higher level contract.
If this is something you are interested in doing, make sure the FMO is willing to work with you.
Training & Support
Does someone answer the phone when you call? Do they respond quickly to your email?
When you need a quote or have a question when you are with a client, you want your marketing organization to be there for you. They should be available to visit with you one-on-one to answer any specific questions or train you on a particular area of the market.
You should also make sure the FMO is regularly hosting seminars & training to help agents throughout the year.
New Business Processing
While most carriers offer online applications, sometimes you need to use paper due to a malfunction or you’re without internet access.
Make sure the FMO is able to not only handle you sending in new business, but can also scrub your application for any potential errors, and follow up with the carrier should you need proof of submission.
How long have they been in business?
While a start-up organization may look good on the surface with a nice website and big promises, the FMOs who have been in the business a long time generally have the experience and knowledge to lead you in the right direction.
Not to mention the higher contracts, and relationship with the carriers who give them leads to pass on to you!
If you do decide to change direction and switch to another FMO, be sure you know the release process from your potential up-line.
Some FMOs will not allow you to change organizations during open enrollment, and carriers have release policies as well.
You’ve got hundreds of options, but hopefully this guide helps you narrow it down to just one or two.
Once you’ve narrowed it down, treat the decision like an interview. Make sure the FMO has the right carriers, contracts and support to meet your standards.
You should also be cautious of any “too good to be true” promises you’re given, especially when it comes to providing “free” leads, and make sure you know your commission levels up front.
In the meantime you can reach out with any questions and I’d be happy to help you make a decision.
Gillan Boyer | Digital Marketing Director