Getting started in the group insurance business

A recent StatsCan study found that businesses with under 100 employees added 185,000 jobs to the economy in 2006. These jobs were split evenly between businesses with 20 to 99 employees and those with under 20 employees. This growing number of small-to-mid-size businesses represents an expanding group insurance market and a tremendous opportunity for Canadian insurance brokers.

There are five reasons why a new or experienced advisor may want to consider specializing in the group market.

Less competition – Only about 5% of licensed advisors actively market employee benefits. The complexity of group insurance scares off many advisors, but this can benefit those who do decide to sell employee benefit plans. There is a shortage of experienced and qualified employee benefit specialists. Advisors who can successfully market their expertise in this area will find themselves in great demand.

Constant commission stream – Unlike individual insurance products, group insurance generates a reliable commission flow. This allows brokers to minimize income fluctuations and have a steady renewal stream.

Daytime activity – Many insurance brokers find it difficult to fill their daytime hours with productive activity. The group insurance market allows advisors to work 9 to 5 rather than to a schedule filled with evening and weekend work.

You can tailor plans to client needs – Group insurance plans allow the broker to customize plans to fit clients’ personal needs. Potential clients with health concerns may be able to obtain benefits on a group basis that would be unavailable in individual insurance policies.

Individual insurance opportunities – Every new group of 25 employees represents 25 potential individual clients. Advisors can prospect these employees directly or partner with another broker.

Although the group market presents many opportunities, it is not without its challenges. The following are two potential pitfalls.

A longer sales process – It often takes many months and meetings to set up a group plan. The longer sales cycle combined with lower up-front commissions can create a cash crunch for many brokers.

Heavier administration load – Group plans require more ongoing administration than do individual contracts. The quoting process alone can be very time consuming. It’s extremely difficult to run a one-man shop in the employee benefits market.

Whether you decide to dive into the group business on your own or create an alliance with another broker, Canada’s group insurance market presents a golden opportunity to help new clients and increase your bottom line.