INN Publisher: Insurance Agent Shortage Critical

June 08, 2012

By InsuranceNewsNet

The life insurance industry has to help rebuild the producer field force to address the crisis of underinsured Americans and the issue is becoming even more critical as the number of companies dwindles, InsuranceNewsNet Publisher Paul Feldman said during an interview with American College President Larry Barton.

“We are at a 30-year low in the number of carriers we have in this industry and continuing to decline,” Feldman said in an interview posted on The Wealth Channel. “There are not enough producers for how big the population is in this country and therefore only 44 percent of people own individual policies.”

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Not only are fewer not only are fewer people being insured, but it is also disproportionally the most wealthy clients who are getting the service, leaving average Americans behind.

“It’s because the field force is getting older,” Feldman said, adding that the average age of 56 makes insurance producers among the oldest professionals in the workforce. “You have these more established practitioners in this business that want to focus on the high-net-worth market. And no one is focused on the middle market.”

Barton asked if that situation supported the fee-only advisor community’s argument that theirs is the better model for serving the public.

 “Simply because they don’t pay a commission doesn’t necessarily make them the best product for the client,” Feldman said. “I don’t believe there are any fee-only long-term-care products. So, they don’t sell it because they have a commission?”

 Barton said he agreed and added: “And the fee-only planner still is over $2,500 for planning. I agree with you that the middle market and the under market are very poorly served. How many families can write a check for $2,500 just for the planning?”

Feldman also said the industry has unrealized potential in the growing population of minorities. “There’s a huge opportunity in the minority markets,” he said. “And nobody is really recruiting and doing an effective job in communicating with them and yet they’re the people most likely to buy it.”

Barton also asked about the future of print publications such as InsuranceNewsNet Magazine in the digital age. Feldman said there is still a place for print because readers still want that physical magazine in hand – but he agreed that technology is definitely shifting the balance between the paper and the digital.

“It’s a different experience than what you get off of an e-reader or a mobile phone,” he said. “But the mobile phone is the future and it’s definitely taking the publishing industry by storm because people are becoming news junkies with their mobile devices. They’re spending more time on news sites.”

Barton said he himself is one of those InsuranceNewsNet addicts. “You have a very robust website. I look at it several times a week.”

ABOUT INSURANCENEWSNET:  InsuranceNewsNet is a print and web publisher for insurance producers, executives and industry professionals in the life, health and annuity industries. The monthly magazine delivers news and business guidance covering the scope of the industry to 50,000 subscribers. The website is visited by more than 600,000 insurance professionals per month and offers readers real-time news, sales strategies and market research on a daily basis.

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