Five Advantages of Using an Independent Medigap Broker

Independent Medigap brokerThere are many advantages to using an independent Medigap broker. These may not be readily apparent to someone who does not fully understand how the back end of the insurance “business” works, but these advantages are significant and they can help you save even more.

First of all, let’s establish that there are two basic ways to sign up for a Medigap plan. Unlike Part D, you cannot sign up for a Medigap plan directly through Medicare or on Medicare’s website. The two ways to sign up for a Medigap are directly through an insurance company or through an independent agent who represents that company (among others). Signing up directly through the company is certainly an option, and either way, you’ll receive the same rate, same benefits, same claims processing, etc. However, here are five advantages of using an independent Medigap broker that may make that option more advantageous for you.

1. The independent broker is just that, independent, so they can assist in compiling and comparing all options in a centralized place. While this seems like it would be easy for a consumer to do on their own, anyone that has attempted it can tell you, it is a tiresome task. First, all rates are not published online – some may be, but there are questions about whether the website is up to date and whether all options are reflected. What an independent broker can do is compile and present all options in a centralized place.

2. An independent broker can also provide virtually unlimited and unbiased expertise from their dealings with the various Medigap plans. For us, we represent 30+ companies in 40+ states, so we have clients with many different companies. We have seen how stable companies rates have been over time, what problems/issues clients have had and which companies have maintained a strong position in the marketplace.

3. Once you have the rates and information, an independent broker assists by answering questions that you have about how the plans work and what they cover. Again, this is information that can be obtained by thorough reading of Medicare’s materials, but anyone who has done it can tell you, that again, that is not an easy task.

4. After you have understood the plans and chosen one, an independent broker can provide service after the sale. This can take many forms, but the certainty is that, because agents are compensated on an ongoing basis, it is to their advantage to consistently “service” you and your policy. Many other brokers, including us, also offer added services for clients. For example, we offer annual Part D plan reviews, Medicare informational newsletters, and periodic rate snapshots of Medigap rates.

5. The fifth advantage of using an independent Medigap broker is one many people do not realize… You are already paying for a broker, whether you use one or not – it doesn’t cost you anything to use one – so why not capitalize on your premium dollars and use a broker’s expertise. In other words, companies build in the broker’s pay into their premiums, so all policyholders “pay” agents as part of their premiums.

Whether it is us or someone else, it is unquestionable that using an independent broker has many advantages and facilitates and more informed decision. Signing up directly through an insurance company is an option, but by doing so, you would not have access to the unbiased comparative functions offered by an independent broker. Additionally, in most cases, you would be dealing with someone who is not as qualified/experienced specifically in this market. And, lastly, the likelihood that you would deal with the same person over time is not nearly as high (higher turnover and usually you’re calling an 800 to a call room somewhere for service/questions).

If you have questions about this or how using an independent Medigap broker works, please contact us at 877.506.3378 or on our website.

Who Are These People – The Differences Between Captive, Independent, and Sales Reps

While it may not seem ultimately important to you, who you talk to or use to sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan can be very important. Most people, for good reason, have no reason to understand the inner-workings or classifications of various positions with the insurance industry. However, it does have some impact on you. So what are the differences between the different types of agents?

The “captive” agent is just what it sounds like. This agent sells only for one company and is only authorized to “pitch” or sell for one company. Most companies that employ captive agents place some restrictions on them to prevent them from going out to get contracted with other insurance companies. Captive companies typically place the focus, in our experience, a little more on salesmanship. Agents go through a lot of sales training, teaching them how to explain the products and sell the products that their company sells.

Independent agents are not tied in to one particular insurance company. An independent agent can sell any company in the state that he is contracted to represent. There are a few companies who do not allow independent agents to sell their products at all – these are typically priced more highly (possibly they don’t want their plans compared with more moderately priced options?). An independent agent can enable you to compare all of the options in a centralized, unbiased place.

A sales rep is a representative that works specifically for an insurance company, usually in a call center. These are very similar to captive agents – they are just usually a little less personal because they work remotely in many cases.

If an agent you speak with is not presenting multiple companies/options to you, it is highly likely you are dealing with a captive agent or a sales rep. While you can certainly sign up for a plan through one of these agents, and they are licensed agents, you will not get hte opportunity to compare plans in an unbiased way. Also, and maybe more importantly, after you sign up for a plan, if you are dissatisfied or have questions, the captive agent or sales rep has ultimate loyalty to the company, whereas an independent agent can place your needs in a more prominent place, since they can simply enroll you in a different company.

Choosing a Medigap plan can be a very difficult or overwhelming thing to do. It is important to have someone who is knowledgeable to guide you along the way. This doesn’t cost you anything and is very helpful. Who you use is important too – and it is certainly important to understand whether they are presenting one of your options or have the ability to present all of the options.