Made to Care: an Agent’s Journey Into Medicare
By Alexi Papandon
There are many things to look forward to in our golden years. Who doesn’t want to retire or hold a grandchild? But most probably wouldn’t add making choices about Medicare to the list.
For many Americans selecting the best Medicare program for them can be confusing. How does Medicare work and what’s best for me given my unique situation? Who can a person approaching 65 years old turn to?
If you live near Deltona, Florida, the answer may be Ron Silverman of the Ronald N. Silverman Insurance Agency.
Seizing a New Opportunity
Carl G. Stoecklin, President PIA National, left,
presents the PIA National 2004 Professional Agent of the Year award
to Ronald N. Silverman, Silverman Insurance Agency.
What would you do if you read article after article about America’s growing wave of retirees (10,000 people per day!) and you live in an area that many of these retirees call home? Ron was doing just that and decided to take stock of these retirees’ insurance needs and get to work.
About four years ago Ron saw an opportunity to help these current and future retirees navigate the Medicare system. He knew it was a confusing process for many and that the available resources were often limited in scope. Seminars that soon-to-be-seniors were invited to were often too general in nature. Companies that offered to counsel individuals wouldn’t spend enough time with them to answer all of their questions and put their minds at ease.
Ron saw an opportunity and decided to get more engaged in selling Medicare Advantage Plans, Prescription Drug Coverage and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap). But at the heart of his plan was a desire to help people through a difficult decision. The sales would follow.
Ron approached one carrier who requested he sign an exclusive contract. As an independent agent Ron balked at this. He ended up talking to United Healthcare, taking a few required classes and embarking on a new chapter in a long insurance career.
Prior to Medicare open enrollment that year Ron sent direct mail postcards to individuals in his neighboring zip codes: individuals who were approaching eligibility for the initial enrollment period in Medicare (which starts three months prior to turning 65 and ends three months after turning 65).
The response was staggering. Longtime clients and brand new prospects began contacting Ron. They were eager to speak with someone who would sit down and speak with them about this very confusing yet extremely important topic: so eager that many would have gladly paid him for his time.
A Person People Trust
Seniors coming to Ron’s office find someone who looks a bit like them. But more importantly they find someone who is willing to take the time to explain how Medicare works. He makes it clear that they are under no obligation to buy anything from him. He then proceeds to give them the time that many others won’t, explaining the many options that seniors have, showing them how much their medicines will cost under various plans and if their doctors are included in the networks provided by his carriers.
As a result, Ron has become a valuable resource for those who need to understand their Medicare options, one that his clients gladly refer to their friends and acquaintances. With thirty-five years as an agent in the area, Ron started with a great base of clients. As his reputation for Medicare expertise became more widespread so did the number of referrals. He has developed a high quality Medicare clientele consisting of current and former judges, mayors, government workers and more.
On top of referrals and his existing clientele, Ron continues to send out postcards on a quarterly basis to people who are approaching eligibility for the initial enrollment period in Medicare. Often times these end up in the mailboxes of people who are familiar with Ron. Regardless of whether they know Ron or not, many recipients are happy to have someone to speak to at this critical and confusing time in their lives.
Ron is primarily a property and casualty agent and has limited time to work on Medicare-related sales. As a result, Ron is now training two of his staff members for Medicare’s 2017 open enrollment (January 1-March 31 for those new to Medicare and October 15-December 7 for those already enrolled in Medicare who want to sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare drug plan). Many of United Healthcare’s training programs have tests in June, July and August in advance of these enrollment periods.
It’s important to note, points out Ron, that agents cannot cross sell clients while selling Medicare products. They can be added to the agency’s client base and subsequent marketing efforts.
Does Ron hold Medicare-related seminars for potential clients?
“I’ve held seminars from the beginning and I still do,” said Ron. “However, increasingly people will call and request an individual consultation with me.
“People come to me from all over for help with Medicare. Other agents come to me for help. When you’ve got other agents coming to you, you know you’ve hit on something.”
Ron notes that he often receives calls from the children of his Medicare clients for coverage of their homes, cars and other insurance needs. He becomes a trusted advisor to the family.
“In my lifetime I’ve never had someone at the end of the sale say, ‘How much do we owe you?’ And I say ‘You don’t owe me anything. Everything has just been beautiful — my blessing to have met you and if I have helped you in some way then I can go on to the great beyond knowing that I’ve done something good in this life.’”