Every insurance agent will need a release at some time in their career. A denied release request is a reality for all of us–at all levels of hierarchy–and something that most agents prefer to pretend will never happen to them. Almost universally, agents do not know their rights.
They waste time and money hiring attorneys to get them released–in a futile belief that attorneys can strong arm them out of a contract that they legally entered into. Releases are all part of the job, but knowing your rights is hard when every carrier has such disparate rules and they tend to change them just when you though you knew what was going on.
Email me for a compilation of release rules in the Senior Market firstname.lastname@example.org
This is something every office should have handy!
If you see errors or know of additions, please send them to me. No other FMOs put this info out there, so help us keep this document up to date.
While most insurance companies in the nation allow an agent to move his contract without a release if he has been inactive for 6 months or more, UHC recently changed their rule and deviated from this standard. If an agent hasn’t written, it may be because he had a fallout with his upline. Under the new rule, he will be further punished by having to wait another 6 months to move his contract. Some may say that he can continue to write during the 6 months so he is not being punished while the intent to move is processing; however, there is a reason why the agent stopped writing in his current relationship and he’s unlikely to want to further enrich his upline with more sales.
The “intent to move” is a great improvement and we love the new rule, but the elimination of the right to move when inactive is a step backwards. It does align with the other side of the house, as UHOne, the ACA side, has always had this rule and there is something to be said for consistency. But agents are confused when every company handles releases so differently.
Aetna Supplemental Benefits (the Med Supp side of Aetna) will allow an agent to release anyone in the level below her. This is unique and fantastic! However, their release rule whereby an agent can send an email to Aetna and be free in 6 months ONLY APPLIES TO AGENTS at the street level. Agencies can’t get free unless they stop writing for 6 months. This hurts production. It hurts the agent and the agency and the carrier and lest we forget–the client. If Aetna Med Supp is the best option for a prospect, it is a shame that an agent would be put in the position of not selling it so they can go inactive to move to a new relationship.
Aetna MAPD changed their rules 6/18/18 so that agents can move with only 90 days notice. Like all other carries, agents can’t move just to move up a commission level and they must stay at their current commission level for three months. Many carriers only require agents stay at the prior level for 30 days. Like UHC, if you put in an intent to move you must stay with your new relationship for a minimum of 1 year. That’s fair and makes dollars and sense.
Until last year, the nation’s largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield carrier, Anthem, had no release policy. They moved out of the dark ages and now allow agents to have the freedom to contract with their choice of entities after submitting a request to move and waiting 6 months.
Mutual of Omaha used to stand out by requiring an agent to be inactive for a full 12 months before he could move. Two years ago, they came in line with the industry standard of 6 months inactive to move.
Allianz used to require 18 months–but now I”m just showing my age, since most of you are too new to the industry to remember that bleak period.
It’s too bad the industry can’t agree to some standard release rules so agents are not caught in the mess that is trying to navigate away from a bad relationship and into a more productive one.
Before you get into bed with an upline, find out your rights.
Our Policy On Releases:
I was on a Medicare panel discussion here in Indiana 2 years ago and another Indiana FMO’s Representative stated that they have an open release policy because they “Don’t want anyone to feel handcuffed.” However, when an agency tried to take them up on that and asked for a release to move to us, they denied it!
Moral of the story: many FMOs will say publicly that they have an Open Release Policy but in practice almost no one does.
I was honest. When I was asked on the same panel above, what GM’s release policy was I said that it was much more complicated than do or don’t we release. We take a lot into consideration (does the agent owe us money? did we recently invest money into the agent? did we recently do seminars for him? pay for his Walmart booth? etc.). If he doesn’t owe us money, then we defer to his upline. If the agency who recruited him (the GA, MGA, SGA or FMO) won’t agree to a release, we won’t override that decision–and neither will any other NMA/IMO in the nation.
We don’t make a practice of releasing agents to other FMOs who don’t release to us
The majority of FMOs do release to each other, but some, DO NOT. If you want a release, we need to know where you want to go and if it is to a “friendly” competitor, it is no problem. If it is to a competitor who won’t release to us, you get caught up in the cross fire. I don’t like that, but you still have the ability to persuade your new FMO to offer us a reciprocal release. If you can’t persuade him, you are stuck waiting 6 months to move. It’s complicated, but we are transparent.
We had invested $3,000 into an agency that asked for a release within a month. We asked him to repay the investment, which he happily did, and we released him. Then I heard on the rumor mill that GM charges people for a release. I’ll file that in the “get all the facts” before you judge us.
In general, if an agent is unhappy, and has a better option elsewhere, he needs to pursue them. If we can meet or beat the competitor’s offer, we’d like that option before we grant the release.
Your staff should know the release rules so you can recruit agents and know the process to get them on your team. Call of office to help stay up to date on these rules 800-388-8342