Are you considering working with AIL Midwest as an insurance agent? If so, you probably have a lot of questions about the agency, their reviews, and their work culture.
Before you make your final decision, you need to know what you’re getting into.
Each agency has its own work culture and values, and not every agency works for every agent.
We’ll answer important questions in this article, such as:
- Is AIL Midwest a legitimate company?
- What do agents say about working with AIL Midwest?
- Does AIL Midwest focus on insurance sales or building a downline?
Keep reading to find the answers!
PS: Check out my insurance sales jobs reviews of other agencies for more information.
NOTE: Are you an aspiring or new insurance agent looking for more insight on how the insurance sales industry works? Check out my free New Insurance Agent Resource Guide to help answer many of your questions (as well as ones you didn’t know you had!).https://davidduford.com/insurance-sales-resource-guide/
DISCLAIMERS: We are not in any way affiliated with American Income Life (AIL). In fact, we are a direct competitor of theirs. This article is our personal review of AIL and we aim to provide a balanced and fair review. If you would like to contact AIL, you can do so at 254-761-6400 or 1-800-433-3405
Quick Navigation Links:
- Who Is AIL Midwest
- What Does AIL Do?
- What Products Do They Sell?
- Is Midwest AIL Legit?
- How Is AIL Run And Structured?
- Pros Of AIL Midwest
- Cons Of AIL Midwest
- Independent Agent Vs. Captive Agent
- AIL Low Starting Commission
- Get Comfortable With The Selling Process
Who Is AIL Midwest?
AIL Midwest is an organization that focuses on training insurance agents to sell insurance products and building a downline.
AIL Midwest was founded by Jim Surace and is associated with American Income Life.
The agency is called Surace Smith or AIL Midwest.
Who Is American Income Life (AIL)?
American Income Life or AIL is an insurance company that provides insurance products in the United States, New Zealand, and Canada. They also provide insurance through the National Income Life Insurance Company.
AIL’s main customer base includes credit unions, labor unions, and insurance solicitation associations.
They’re headquartered in Waco, Texas. American Income Life is a subsidiary of Globe Life Insurance which operates in the USA, New Zealand, and Canada.
What Does AIL Midwest Do?
AIL Midwest recruits new agents and trains them to sell insurance and recruit other agents. AIL Midwest is similar to many other insurance agencies.
What Products Do They Sell?
AIL Midwest offers a variety of insurance products. They claim to be the only 100% union-label insurance company around the world.
AIL sells life, supplemental health, accidental, cancer, critical illness, and hospital indemnity insurance.
Since AIL Midwest works with AIL it can be assumed they sell some or all of the insurance products mentioned above.
Why Do Agents Work At AIL?
AIL Midwest offers individuals an opportunity to build their own insurance business and create a high-paying career out of insurance.
They offer careers as a Sales Rep, Supervising Agent, General Agent, or Master general Agent.
They say this on their website that the Sales Representative position:
“This is an entry-level position that requires no experience. Benefits representatives work with union families to develop and enroll members in a supplemental benefit program that best fits their needs.”
Is AIL Midwest Legit?
AIL is a legitimate company and Surace Smith or AIL Midwest is a company that works under AIL.
AIL has been in operation since 1951 when it was started by a man named Bernard Rapoport. AIL now has millions of policy holders and annual sales. AIL Midwest has operated for the last 30 years.
Is AIL Midwest a Pyramid Scheme?
No, AIL Midwest is not a pyramid scheme, they are however structured like a multi-level marketing (MLM) direct sales company..
How Is AIL Run And Structured?
Their structure is based on a MLM hierarchy. So agents make money off of recruitment and downlines.
This may look exactly like an MLM, however, this is the common structure for insurance agencies so don’t be too shocked.
Agents make money when they sell insurance, but recruiters and agents also make money off of each other.
Agents and recruiters can make an income off of agents they have recruited below them. This is where some individuals can have issues.
Personal Issues With The MLM-Based Structure
With agencies that heavily mirror an MLM, recruitment can become the name of the game. This change of focus can cause problems with new agents and can clash with individuals’ values.
Agencies that heavily push recruitment and building a “downline” may knowingly skimp on proper training. This creates a cycle of poorly trained agents recruiting new agents and failing to train them properly.
I’m sure you can imagine how this becomes a downward spiral where you DON’T want to be the person at the bottom.
If you want to find out the branch’s focus, ask a few questions during your interview. You could ask questions such as:
- What is the company culture?
- Is production more important than recruiting?
- What are your starting commission levels?
- How do you get higher commission levels?
If you do not want to be pushed to recruit, complete your due diligence to ensure you don’t join the wrong agency.
Pros Of AIL Midwest
The pros mentioned on Glassdoor are as follows:
- “Good commission good leadership good atmosphere”
- “you are in control of your ability to achieve promotions and pay raises. “
- “Has decent training to teach new people about insurance.”
- “Good environment if you’re looking for a high school football locker room atmosphere.”
Unfortunately, the Pros comments were usually short accompanied by a huge Cons paragraph.
Cons Of AIL Midwest
Some comments and reviews on Glassdoor comment on the following:
- Not for everyone, demanding schedule, and if you are not up for it you probably won’t succeed.
- “They will try to sell you on this “great opportunity” but in reality, if you ain’t on top of the pyramid you are broke.”
- “They forced us to leave a positive review and take a photo of it to prove we did it or we don’t get their recycled free leads.”
- “The schedule changes every day. You never know what’s happening. Impromptu meetings. You get told to drop everything and if you can’t, you get chewed out and they stop working with you.”
- “They micro-manage and manipulate you every single day. If you miss a text message at 10pm at night they freak out.”
I’ll leave the cons there, but there was paragraph after paragraph I could quote on the cons. Take a look at the review and get a feel for the company on Glassdoor.
Independent Agent Vs. Captive Agent
There is a huge difference between a captive agent and an independent agent, and this is a very important factor when considering joining AIL Midwest, or any insurance agency.
An independent agent or the independent model is a company or agent that works with multiple providers. They can offer different products and compare/contrast a client’s options.
More options mean you find a better fit when selling insurance. This allows you confidence, freedom, and control over your career. You are not locked into one subpar product and forced to convince clients to buy.
I believe the independent model is far superior to the captive model. While some people are better suited to a captive model, I stand by the independent model.
Captive agents, on the other hand, are required to sell insurance products from one provider. They are limited in what they can offer.
This means even if the product is not the best choice for a client, if the agent wants to make a sale you need to convince the client to buy.
Unfortunately, when an agent does this it’s more likely that the client will cancel their insurance product later down. This means you lose out on commissions and it can be very frustrating for agents.
You do not have as much freedom in comparing products and you cannot provide the best fit for your client.
This model can offer Simplicity for new agents if you only want to learn one product. You can learn that product well, learn the pitch well, and understand it through and through.
However, as you gain experience as an agent offering a variety of products is the best way to satisfy your clients.
Captive insurance agencies also come with other issues. A captive agency is less likely to “vest” your business. This means they’re less likely to give you one hundred percent ownership over your sales and commissions.
Captive agencies usually pay a lower commission and are more likely to mirror an MLM structure. This means they will likely push recruitment over selling Insurance products.
All AIL subsidiary agencies are captive agencies where agents represent and sell AIL products only
AIL Low Starting Commission
When working with AIL Midwest you will be paid in commissions. You will not receive an income from any other source. If you struggle with selling, you’re going to struggle with making money.
It is not uncommon for insurance agencies to compensate their agents solely on commissions. However AIL pays out a lower commission rate than other agencies.
American Income Life starts their agents at a 50% commission, this commission level may not be across the board for all products, so other products could be less.
Commissions shouldn’t be the number one factor when deciding on an agency to work with, however, they are still a very important factor. And if an agency is paying significantly less than other alternatives, I definitely suggest considering the alternatives.
For my agency, I start my agents off at 100% to 110% commission level for final expense products. Agents that work with me do pay for their leads, but the leads would be higher quality than most free leads.
Get Comfortable With The Selling Process
As was mentioned in the pros, AIL does a good job in training agents to AIL agents generally sell very well. However, the methods that they are trained to use can be problematic for some.
One of those methods is using “bait” – this would be something like a child safety kit or response card to a union member’s beneficiary on an accidental policy.
Basically they use something that sounds great, and then mid-pitch, they switch to selling life insurance.
Some agents can find issues with this. I encourage agents to be honest with their potential clients and straightforward. And most of the time the person you’re talking to will really appreciate honesty.
The term “vesting” means ownership over your business. If you are 100% vested, you own all of your business.
Not all agencies will vest an agent 100% up front. With AIL, from our research, you are not 100% vested until 10 years have passed.
This could become a problem if you decide you do not want to work at AIL anymore. If you chose to leave AIL before 10 years had passed, you can say goodbye to a part of your future earning power.
So the initial charm of growing your own business and having 100% control over your book of business isn’t actually true until you’ve worked with them for over 10 years.
A lot can change within 10 years. What if you decide you want to work with a different agency? What if you decide you want to be an independent agent? What if your situation changes?
Bottom line, if you want to own 100% of your business from the beginning (like agents do when they join Duford Insurance Group), consider alternatives.
AIL Midwest Has its pros and cons. Many agents comment that they appreciate the training and support they received. And I will even acknowledge that AIL agents do sell well.
However, AIL does not fully vest their agents until they have been with them for 10 years. AIL uses sales tactics some have problems with. They are also MLM structured, which means they may encourage you to recruit a downline of agents.
If you’re comfortable with all of that, then keep looking into AIL. Ultimately you need to choose an agency that is right for you.
However, if you want to fully focus on building your own insurance business, and focus mainly on selling insurance products, then definitely consider other agencies.
If you want to continue researching AIL, take a look at these resources:
- AIL Training Manual – this will give you a good explanation of the sales and prospecting process.
- There are a few articles criticizing the mass recruitment strategy many at AIL employ. You can read about these writers’ perspectives here and here.
- Read up on well-regarded career review websites like Indeed.com and Glassdoor.com.
- The Insurance Forums always has good reviews on organizations.
- Like the idea of growing a downline outside of MLM? Check out these MLM review web pages for more ideas on affiliate marketing and their thoughts on AIL: Digital Business Creator, Smart Affiliate Success
If you want to be an independent agent and work with an agency that offers more freedom and 100% ownership over your business then consider my agency David Duford Group.
To learn more about my agency and how I got started, read about me here.