Most likely you’re here today because you’re looking for the best final expense FMO to partner with.
Maybe you are currently selling final expense, and interested in changing your final expense IMO or agency relationship.
Or perhaps you’ve heard of the term “IMO” or “FMO” and wonder what it means.
Either way, you’re at the right article!
In the following article, I’m going to explain to you the following about final expense FMOs and IMOs:
Lastly, I’ll give you a few tips to help you figure out which final expense IMO will be the best for your career goals.
First of all, what is a final expense IMO/FMO?
IMO is short for “insurance marketing organization.”
FMO is short for “field marketing organization.”
Basically, an insurance IMO contracts with carriers or national marketing organizations (final expense NMOs) to represent insurance products while also recruiting both agencies and agents to sell for them.
Can’t I Just Join The Carrier Directly?
If you’re new, you’re probably wondering why FMOs exist?
In fact, why not contract directly with the company instead?
Here’s the thing…
Very few carriers allow final expense agents to contract directly with the company.
Further, most insurance companies have moved to a more decentralized distribution and recruitment strategy.
The predominance of the independent model of insurance sales forced carriers to dismantle their in-house sales forces to stay competitive.
They decided outsourcing direct sales efforts to 3rd party organizations is the better long-term business plan.
As a new or experienced agent interested in selling final expense insurance, it’s almost certain you’ll have a relationship with a final expense independent marketing organization.
However, the best final expense FMOs are not equal to others.
Some provide benefits others don’t.
What will follow are factors to consider when looking for the best final expense IMO.
Instead, they provide nothing but carrier contracts, and leave you to your own devices.
They may take your phone calls. The field marketing organization may offer more carrier contracting.
But the vast majority?
Don’t expect much…. =(
If you’re new or considering selling insurance, training, support, and access to a sales and marketing system is vital.
You need to make sure that the final expense field marketing organization you’re looking at provides that.
If they don’t… keep fishing! There are plenty of fish in the sea.
Why Final Expense Training Matters
Training is the value-driven process of learning how to sell final expense.
On the surface, final expense is a simple product in a simple marketplace. It’s non-technical and a one-call close.
But… it’s still complicated.
It takes time to understand how to sell final expense.
Also, expect taking more time than you think to learn about the problems that flow from getting your leads situated, with finding the right areas to work.
If this concerns you, welcome to the club =).
This is more reason to have a mentor to answer your questions.
Sadly, there are final expense FMOs and IMOs interested only in recruiting and not developing agents.
There’s zero support, and little to no on-going training.
Sure, you may feel confident you can figure this out on your own. Maybe you’re entrepreneurial, an independent spirit.
I’ll tell you this…
Even as an entrepreneur at heart, I needed a coach to show me the ropes before developing self-sufficiency.
Bottom line, the best final expense FMOs of the world are the one’s that provide training and support.
The best final expense IMOs offer ride-along opportunities with established agents, regular conference call training, as well as in-person training events.
Not to mention… top final expense FMOs should pick up the phone and follow up ASAP!
One of the biggest elements to success is having access to final expense leads.
Further, you want your lead program to deliver results AND fit your budget.
What you DON’T want is an involvement with any final expense marketing organizations that does NOT have a model of success you can duplicate.
For example, when licensed, we need the tools of the trade!
We need a duplicatable sales and marketing approach to maximize our chances of success.
That’s why access to quality lead programs are VITAL to your success.
Unfortunately, many final expense FMOs offer nothing other than a contract.
And a final expense carrier appointment is meaningless if you have no way of predictably finding and closing prospects daily!
As many agents say, final expense is a lead-driven business. That means most live and die by seeing the people.
If you don’t have anybody to see, you don’t have anybody to sell.
And that means you’re out of business!
Best Final Expense Leads Programs?
What kind of lead programs are important to have?
First of all, my picks have always been the bread-and-butter, tried-and-true approach to business – direct mail final expense leads.
Direct mail final expense leads offer the best quality lead generation opportunity.
Most top producers nationally use a direct mail final expense program.
Final expense mailers are consistent and high quality. And most final expense agents are satisfied with the results.
Drawbacks, Other Leads
Unfortunately, direct mail is expensive in certain parts of the country.
The last thing to do is start with a unmanageable high cost of acquiring leads.
This is why I recommend using a fixed price direct mail lead program.
What you want to initially avoid is dropping mail the old-fashioned way where there are zero response rate guarantees.
These days, odds are you’ll pay out the nose on a per-lead basis with little to no difference in quality.
Bottom line, work with a final expense independent marketing organization that helps you with direct mail leads at a fixed price to comfortably control your marketing investment.
What if direct mail is too expensive?
Be wary of partnering with a final expense IMO without access to lead programs.
When you begin business with a final expense marketing organization, transparency is king.
Many final expense FMOs take advantage of new insurance agents that simply do not know any better.
What do I mean?
First of all, every final expense agent should always ask about releases.
How Releases Work
What’s a release?
A release is the ability to move your carrier contract from one final expense field marketing organization to another.
Without a release… no matter how BADLY your IMO or FMO is treating you…
You are STUCK with them on those specific carriers until you have NOT written business for 6 months.
This is the “dirty little trick” in the final expense marketing organization business.
Many final expense FMOs will not release your carriers on-demand.
Instead, they literally hold you hostage!
This is an especially bad scenario when the final expense organization does NOT deliver on its promises.
As an agent and recruiter, this is NEVER a way you want to conduct business. But your typical final expense FMO still operate with this mindset.
Ask About Release Provisions
In short, ask your potential final expense IMO their policy on releases.
Most SHOULD release you on demand, as long as you don’t have charge-back debt.
Owing money to a final expense insurance marketing organization for charge backs is the only valid reason for holding up your release.
If you owe money to a final expense FMO, they are responsible to pay if you don’t.
So, pay the money back ASAP. Then, there should be no reason to hold up your release.
That’s how I operate my national final expense FMO. If things don’t work out, as long as you don’t owe me money in charge-back debt, I’ll sign your release to move to the company of your choice.
First-Day 100% Vesting
Make sure you are vested 100% from the first day.
One-hundred percent vested means your future commission payments AND your book of business belongs to YOU, and NOT the final expense FMO.
Many times, if you are not vested and leave for another final expense IMO, all future commission becomes the property of your upline.
There are very large final expense insurance marketing organizations that operate specifically on this principal.
That’s right! They take your money YOU earned if you decide to cut loose.
How is that even fair?
Beware! Don’t get stuck with a final expense FMO that think it’s entitled to your clients and income stream.
Instead, take time to find the right final expense field marketing organization that completely vests you from the first day.
That’s how it works with my organization.
Any business you write while working in my final expense IMO is 100% yours, even if you decide to work with another marketing organization in the future.
Whenever you’re talking to a final expense FMO, always ask, “What’s the vesting clause in here? I want to make sure I’m 100% invested from the first day.”
To me, it’s a cheap gimmick to try to make more and screw someone else in the process.
If you get anybody that starts to squirm, they’re not being transparent.
That’s a bad sign!
Trust your gut. Find another final expense independent marketing organization. Better yet, contact me =).
Make sure the insurance company pays you, NOT the final expense FMO or IMO
Payment from a final expense IMO creates an additional layer of unnecessary complexity.
In fact, I recently recruited an agent from a final expense FMO paying its agents directly.
He made a LOT of sales, but decided the agency wasn’t for him.
Guess what? He didn’t get paid one red cent on ANY of his business written!
That’s why I have insurance companies in my agency pay my agents directly.
You don’t want your money to be dictated and held up by a field marketing organization.
Join A Brokerage
A brokerage is defined as an organization that works with a variety of final expense companies.
This is in contrast with final expense IMOs working with one company.
Bottom line, if you only have one carrier, you only have one option for your clients!
And more options almost always means BETTER options.
Limited Coverage Options = Poorer Results
What if your client has certain health ailments that don’t fit your singular product option?
Unfortunately, you’re forced to sell an inferior product in many cases.
And here’s what happens…
In 3 to 6 months, an agent like me walks in your client’s home.
I represent 15 different companies.
Odds are high I can improve upon your client’s insurance needs, offering lower premiums and higher quality of coverage.
And if I convince them my option is better, the client drops your policy. You now have a charge back.
Look, it’s business. It’s not personal. And it happens every single day in the final expense business.
Contract With Multiple Companies
So it’s important for an agent to contract with carriers.
I recommend 3 to start with and then grow it out as you become more experienced.
With more access come more options. This means better pricing and better value for your clients.
Limited access restricts your availability to make sales.
It puts you in a position where you risk someone like myself taking your deal.
Don’t go to a brokerage or a final expense FMO or IMO in what we call a captive environment. Mostly those captive organizations represent one product.
It’s likely that you will realize a serious disadvantage when you get out there and sell.
Did you know that many independent marketing organizations use contract clauses to ensure take your future earnings if you leave within a set period of time.
Why is that a problem?
Look at it this way.
You’ve worked hard developing your book of business, and paid your way with leads to generate those prospects.
Why shouldn’t the commission be yours?
You paid for those clients, you did the work to get them. And now they’re saying that that income is theirs?
There are actually insurance contracts at agency level carriers that stipulate that. It drives me nuts. It’s legal theft!
When we say captive, that means that you sign a contract with a final expense FMO or IMO to solely do business with them.
The problem with that is that they then own you.
“Captive” is a root word of captivity. It means you’re a slave.
You’re stuck with these people whether you like it or not.
The thing with insurance recruiting is that recruiters put their best face on during initial meet-and-greets.
And sometimes promises given aren’t delivered.
In captive independent marketing organizations, you can’t contract elsewhere.
They’ve stuck you with non-solicitation and non-competition agreements. They may restrict your access to other carriers to better their own business.
A lot of organizations are not transparent about what’s possible with commissions for personal producers.
I commonly see people who are recruited at 60%, even 50% contracts.
Account for the leads that you have to develop and pay for. Take measure of the charge-backs that you may experience.
Once you do the math, you’re not going to make a lot of money on those contracts.
What you’re doing is paying all the people above you in the upline a lot of money that they didn’t do anything to earn.
Find An IMO With Less Fat
What’s better than a captive environment?
Join an organization that’s leaner, one that doesn’t have a lot of management in between you and the top.
Then you can maximize your commission in final expense.
Usually, 100% to 110% is a good place to start, with the ultimate opportunity to go a little bit higher than that.
You’ve exchanged some kind of proof of production. You’ve got a little bit better than novice level.
You’re experienced now. Then you can show that you can earn a little bit more.
That’s where you want to be. Not in the lower numbers.
You need the margins on commissions to take care of your lead generation.
If you’re like most agents that succeed in this business, you’ll have to buy your own leads.
I’m a big believer that whenever you enter a relationship with a final expense IMO you do not sign anything above and beyond the carrier contract.
If you have to sign another final expense IMO contract, especially if you’re independent or you’ve got to pay for your own leads, it’s probably bad news.
I’ve seen contracts say that if you contract with another carrier outside of their organization then you’re giving up your next year’s worth of your commissions.
I’ve seen contracts that say your commissions become theirs if you quit within the first year or if they fire you for any reason whatsoever.
It’s Your Business
Bottom line, you’re your own business person. That’s how I look at all final expense agents.
Think about it. You have to pay for your own leads. You have to determine your own schedule.
You’re in full control of your life. You should be in full control of your business life, too!
Granted, there may be some exceptions to the rule.
If there’s some subsidization with the leads, I can understand some compromises with the contract.
When I recruit a final expense agent, they’re not going to sign an additional contract.
They’re just going to sign what’s with the carrier. That limits their additional requirements.
It gets you out of additional problems that could come along within their own business if I were to sneak some clauses in that screwed them.
The proof is in the pudding.
That’s why I’ve spent a lot of time putting up testimonial videos.
If an agent’s interested in working with me and wants to speak with one of my agents, I make that available.
There should be no problems asking for that.
You should at least talk to other agents to get a feel of how the organization really is.
I’m a recruiter. I work in final expense. I’m putting my best hat on when I first speak with you.
But what I’m concerned with is,
“How am I perceived based on the experience that my agents have?”
If somebody has at least a marginal concern about that and wants to be comfortable then there should be complete transparency.
Allowing you to talk to another agent that’s already been working with me for a period of time achieves that.
I’m not bothered by that. I’m THANKFUL for it.
If I have somebody who’s concerned about it, they appreciate the value in the relationship.
If you get somebody you asked that and they get offended and angry, that’s not worth your time. Don’t worry about it. Move on.
Find somebody else to do business with. It’s likely that that’s going to turn into a real big problem. Stay away from it.
Thanks so much for reading my article on final expense IMOs and final expense FMOs.
Hope you got good perspective from it =).
Interested in learning more about my insurance agency?
Reach out here and send me your questions.