Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Top 5 Pain Points That Insurance Advisors Face with Their Managing General Agents

It is no secret that getting up every day and going to work, for some people, can feel like a chore, no matter what your job is. This is especially common if you find yourself dealing with a company that often does not take your best interests into consideration or makes it difficult to do your job to the best of your ability.  

If you are an insurance advisor working with a managing general agency, you need to be able to count on the support of your managing general agent. But what if their support is lacking? In the incredibly fierce insurance industry, if you are not receiving the encouragement and assistance that you need, you can quickly fall behind.

Here are the top 5 pain points that insurance advisors face with their managing general agents.   

1.       It takes a long time for applications to get processed: If your managing general agency does not have a policy in place to ensure that everything is done to get applications processed in a reasonable amount of time, this can cause major problems as far as finalizing deals and keeping your clients happy. 

2.       Calls get returned far slower than you’d like – and need: If it takes your managing general agent a long time to get back to you when you have questions, or if they cannot provide you with the answers that you need, this can equal huge frustrations for you, or even worse, the loss of a client’s business. 

3.       Equal (or more) work doesn’t mean equal pay: If you find yourself being paid less than others who are not performing at the same level as you, this can be a huge source of demotivation.  You work hard to garner those clients, and you should be paid appropriately. Bonuses should reflect the level of work you put in, and should be transferrable for things like the use of various office spaces. Also, a good managing general agency should pay for production. If you produce more, you should get paid more – that is just common sense.

4.       Switching MGAs seems more hassle than it is worth: If you have tried to switch MGAs but find your managing general agent gets their back up right away, chances are you think of switching as a nightmare too. It shouldn’t be that way. Since your career is what is ultimately the most important, you should be working with a managing general agency that respects that independence. Instead of entering into a relationship with a managing general agent fearing what may come if you decide to switch, go with one that offers you a release letter at the very beginning so that you know that they can appreciate your decisions right from the start.

5.       Getting in touch with underwriters is next to impossible: When you want to close a case but your managing general agent refuses to let you speak to the underwriters or even contact them on your behalf, you are often left with no choice but to wait. Some managing general agents worry about damaging a relationship with underwriters by ‘bothering’ them, but in the end this is not the most important relationship – your relationship with the client is. So make sure that your MGA assures quick and easy access to underwriters.

If you find yourself dealing with one or more of these issues, and know that it is time for a change, please contact Gary Mandel at Independent Financial Concepts Group today by calling 416-849-1653 or visit

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Canadian Retirement Planning - Tips to Improve the Way You Invest Money

Are you thinking about investing as part of your Canadian retirement planning strategy, but not really sure where to start? Even though the economy is turning around again after the collapse in 2008, and economists are predicting stabilization within the very near future, investing may still seem a bit scary. But if you are getting your Canadian retirement planning set, investing is definitely something that you need to consider.

What if you have never invested before or if your investing experience is very limited? Don’t worry: we’ve compiled some tips to improve the way that you invest money to help you along the road to effective Canadian retirement planning and smart investing.            

1.       Invest in segregated funds. If you are a little bit nervous about investing and feel as though you don’t want to risk money with no guarantee, segregated funds are usually safe bets. With segregated funds, no matter how much you invest, be it $1000 or $10000, a minimum of 75% of your initial investment is always guaranteed to be protected – no matter what happens in the market.  Takes away some of the worry, doesn’t it? 

2.       Life insurance as an investment. Most people don’t think about insurance as an investment tool – but they should. There are several benefits to using your insurance policy as an investment. For example, whole life insurance as an investment means investing without having to have that investment knowledge – since the funds are managed for you. Life insurance as an investment is often less risky than other forms of investing as there are guaranteed annual returns which increase over time. 

3.       Pay attention. Ok, so you invest a small amount each month, perhaps through insurance or another managed type of investment. You receive a monthly statement, which usually gets opened, the balances checked, and then gets tucked away with all of your other paperwork… Wait a second; this is your money, so why aren’t you paying more attention to it? Instead, this month, check out those changes. Take some interest in how your investments are performing. Being engaged will only make you a smarter investor, and give you a chance to better understand not only the market and improve your investments overall performance. 

4.       Diversify. There is much to be said for the old adage “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket”, so diversifying your investment portfolio is a smart choice. Even if each investment is a small one, you are far more securely protected when you spend widely. For example, consider investing in a tax free savings account, RRSP and life insurance. 

There are several different things that you should think about when investing. Remembering to consider all of your options is a smart way to approach your investments when preparing for the future. 

For more tips about investing or to find out more about how to use life insurance as an investment, please contact Independent Financial Concepts Group by calling 416-849-1653 or visit

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Ernst and Young: Internet Transformative Influence on Insurance Industry. How Your Managing General Agent Can Combat This

The “2012 Global Insurance Outlook” report released recently from Ernst and Young revealed that the Canadian insurance industry is getting increasingly competitive. If you are an insurance advisor this probably does not come as a surprise. This competition stems from various different factors, one of the most important being the internet. With the growth of the web over the last decade, many different insurance companies have taken advantage of the opportunities that exist as far as selling insurance online. Ernst and Young predict that this will become even more common place as those companies still holding on to traditional means of selling adopt the strategies that allow them to sell online.  

But what does this mean for you? If you are an insurance agent that works with a managing general agent, you know that time is money, and so any time lost because of slow turnaround times can be a big deal, especially in the face of this competition coupled with the growing strength of e-commerce insurance.

You work with a managing general agent for a reason – for independence and to have the ability to offer a wide range of products. It can be extremely frustrating when your managing general agent is slow getting back to you or don’t seem to have the answers you need at all. You should expect your managing general agent to be able to provide you with the information that you need to respond to your clients quickly to provide the fastest most efficient service possible.

Rather than dealing with the hassle that can be a consequence of clients having to wait too long for the information that want or need, your managing general agency should be able to guarantee that they will help you find out exactly what you need to know, and within a reasonable amount of time. Instead of expecting a client to have to wait days for an answer, you should be able to rely on your managing general agent to get back to you within a few hours.

What if your managing general agent takes their time getting your applications processed? The longer those applications sit on your desk, the likelier clients are to search for insurance elsewhere.  Your managing general agency should also have a policy in place that makes it easy for you to provide a response to your clients within a reasonable amount of time.

As Ernst and Young points out, individuals’ preferences for buying insurance are changing, which, the report states, is “a profound transformation driven in large part by the internet.”  If you work with a managing general agent who takes too long to respond to your inquiries or process your applications, your customers are likely not going to wait. It only takes a few minutes to go online and get a quote for insurance. Your edge is knowledge and service so it is important to work with a managing general agent who appreciates the importance of time.

For more information about joining a managing general agency that recognizes that time is money, please contact Gary Mandel at Independent Financial Concepts Group today by calling 416-849-1653 or visit

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Importance of Critical Illness Insurance Increases as Survival Rates Continue to Go Up – Are You Protected?

In the past few decades the survival rates of critical illnesses have substantially increased, meaning that more and more people who suffer from a critical illness will eventually recover. However, this also means that a substantial portion of those survivors are left dealing with recovery. Because of this recovery, many survivors feel a significant amount of financial strain, often as a result of extended periods off work or even the inability to earn an income. 

Let’s take heart attack as an example. There are over 16,000 deaths each year in Canada from heart attacks. However, there are an estimated 70,000 heart attacks in the same time period. That means that a major number of those heart attack victims survive and recover. But how does that heart attack impact the victim?  Most require a hospital stay, often a substantial period, and more require a lengthy period of time off work. Many need weekly medical assistance in home. These costs all add up even in Canada when you would think that all health care expenses would be covered by the government.

This is where critical illness insurance comes into play. If you have critical illness insurance, you are financially covered. If you suffer a critical illness and you have critical illness insurance (and upon satisfying the terms of your policy) you will be entitled to receive a lump-sum payment. The lump-sum payment is yours to spend however you need it, without having to submit receipts or seek approval. This financial coverage can be used for any number of things, including mortgage payments or medical treatment not covered by governmental health care.

What if your illness or injury leaves you physically disabled? Since the loss of a limb is covered by critical illness insurance, some of the anxiety that accompanies such an injury is lifted. This coverage can be used to cover the costs of having someone in on a regular basis to manage household tasks such as cooking or cleaning. It can also be used to make adjustments to your home or personal vehicle to make them wheelchair accessible.

What kinds of illnesses does critical illness insurance cover? Things like heart attack, stroke or cancer are the leading illnesses covered by critical illness insurance each year, but there are several others that this protection encompasses as well. Things like cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease are all covered. Kidney failure, heart bypass surgery, blindness, deafness, severe burns or stoke are also covered. Many of these illnesses can have long-term impacts that affect your financial future, so protecting yourself in case they occur is essential.

Just because you have life insurance, doesn’t mean that you are fully covered. If you suffer from a critical illness such as those listed above, your chances of survival are high but your life insurance is not going to cover those expenses that come with it. Critical illness insurance ensures that you are protected when you are still living.

For more information about critical illness insurance and how it can protect you and your loved ones, please contact Independent Financial Concepts Group by calling 416-849-1653 or visit