As an insurance professional, you probably use hundreds of acronyms per day, from HSA and HRA to UCC and WC. While many of these acronyms relate to policy types and insurance claims, others are linked to the insurance marketing organizations that can help you grow your business. If you're a licensed Medicare agent, you should know these acronyms.
Independent Marketing Organizations (IMOs)
An independent marketing organization provides roughly the same services as a field marketing organization, but there may be a few differences between an FMO and IMO. While FMOs focus exclusively on health insurance, an IMO may deal with life insurance, so some of the tools available may not apply to your role as a licensed Medicare agent.
Although IMOs are licensed to sell insurance products in many states, they're typically smaller than FMOs, so the commission rates may be a little lower. IMOs provide many of the same tools as FMOs, making them a valuable resource for independent agents who sell Medicare insurance policies.
Managing General Agents (MGAs)
A managing general agent (MGA) is an insurance agent or broker who has underwriting authority from an insurance company. MGAs typically partner with NMOs, FMOs and IMOs, which gives them the opportunity to earn higher commissions on insurance product sales. An MGA is also responsible for helping downline agents succeed in the insurance industry. The role of an MGA varies from one organization to another; some organizations, for example, require MGAs to achieve minimum levels of production to maintain their status.
What sets MGAs apart from other insurance agents is their specialized knowledge. In many cases, an MGA is responsible for answering complex questions or handling unusual types of coverage. One of the benefits of becoming an MGA is that insurers may not want to open branch offices in rural areas, giving experienced MGAs more opportunities to sell personal lines of insurance and increase their commission levels.
Field Marketing Organizations (FMOs)
The terms field marketing organization (FMO) and independent marketing organization (IMO) are often used interchangeably. A field marketing organization is licensed to sell health insurance in most states, making it a valuable resource for independent agents. Because FMOs are so large, they often contract directly with health insurance companies, giving agents access to higher commissions.
As a licensed Medicare agent, you should consider partnering with a field marketing organization if you want professional support and helpful tools to grow your business. Many FMOs give independent agents access to training and technology that can help them generate leads, make sense of tough Medicare insurance situations, and provide better service to their customers.
National Marketing Offices (NMOs)
Much of the confusion around these acronyms stems from the fact that several terms are used to describe the same thing. NMO, which stands for national marketing offices, is one of those terms. A national marketing office is licensed to sell insurance products in most, if not all, states, so NMO is often used as an umbrella term to indicate that an organization is an FMO or IMO. Since NMO is a broader term, it may also be used to describe FMOs and IMOs that sell products other than health insurance.
General Agents (GAs)
General agents (GAs) typically contract with MGAs, FMOS, NMOs and IMOs, giving them additional opportunities to grow their businesses. A general agent is allowed to have their own downline agents, but the GA role isn't quite the same as the MGA role, so they don't provide the same level of training and support. Like MGAs, GAs may be required to hit certain production targets to maintain their status with an FMO, NMO or IMO.
Choosing a Marketing Partner
It's easy to see why there's so much confusion about the acronyms used to describe various insurance marketing organizations and the people who partner with them. There's no formal standard to distinguish an FMO from an IMO or an IMO from an NMO, so it can be difficult to know which marketing partner to choose.
If you're a licensed Medicare agent, you should pick a marketing partner just like you'd pick a business consultant or a product vendor. You want to choose a company that offers the tools and resources you need to grow your business as fast as possible. It's also important to pick an organization with a good reputation. You need to be able to trust your marketing partner to act in your best interests and follow through on its commitments regarding commissions and other business terms. Choosing a trustworthy partner is one of the most important steps in succeeding at Medicare insurance sales.
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