Insurance Agency Lead Scoring

Many insurance agencies have not yet formalized their lead scoring system. This is a worthwhile endeavor for all agencies, and one which should be revisited every year, while tracking the return on investment of their marketing programs.

What is lead scoring? It is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale, and then assign a value to determine interest level and distribution. For example, let’s say a trucking insurance lead appointment arrives at your agency. This lead is with an owner of 15 power units, they use company drivers, and they are unhappy with their carrier. Perhaps your lead scoring system falls on a 1 to 10 scale, and this lead is scored an 8. What might receive a higher score? And what types of leads are outside of profile, and what score would they receive? Perhaps prospects need to score an 8 to appear on your producer scorecards.

Is the lead distributed to producers by territory? Does your lead handling process vary by type of lead, product or prospect? For example, are commercial leads separated by large and small business, by industry or product? Are benefit leads parsed by groups over and under 50? And does your agency have a tracking system in place to determine how many leads showed for the appointment, moved into the pipeline, received quotes and ultimately convert into new business?

Salespeople, sales managers, producers and other business people often refer to prospects in vague terms such as: new, warm, hot, cold, likely, qualified, etc. These terms do little to better understand a sales pipeline or convey likelihood of purchase to other members of the team. Agencies can consider creating a simple prospect scorecard to resolve this issue and quantify their lead scoring. Formalizing lead scoring offers benefits such as:

Helps Producers create ideal attributes to form a buyer persona
Creates a simple numeric system to leverage your buyer persona
Assigns numeric values to rank your best prospects
Creates a simple qualification acronym to determine likelihood to close

What should be included in a prospect scorecard?

Use a prospect scorecard to quantify your approach to pipeline building. Some attributes of your ideal client might include revenue, growth rate, client type (business or consumer) and market niche. For example, are you targeting companies with $5m to $10m in revenue? Are your best prospects fast-growing firms, trucking companies, manufacturers or consumers?

If you’re selling to consumers, are they high net worth, middle-income, millennials or senior citizens? Are your prospects in a specific niche market such as banking, insurance, biotech, consulting, education, etc.? Create a scorecard with your ideal attributes and a customized qualification abbreviation to help you determine if you’re selling to an in-profile prospect.

Insurance agencies and brokers seeking to get to the next level with their insurance marketing and lead generation, but lacking the internal resources to achieve their marketing goals, can reach out to a proficient insurance agency marketing firm.

Importance of Medical Coding for Insurance

With health and diseases becoming a major issue these days around the world, it has become A LOT more important to have more and more coders involved in the medical field for insurance. But what is medical coding? A medical coder, clinical coding officer, or diagnostic coder are professionals involved in the health care sector who analyze clinical documents and using proper classification systems, assign standard codes to them. They provide medical coding guidelines and suggestions to help regulate the ways doctors, nurses, and other medical staff provide care for their patients. There are three main types of medical coding:

1) ICD (International Classification of Diseases): These are codes used for describing the cause of illness, injury, or death.

2) CPT (Current Procedural Terminology): These deal with anesthesia, surgery, pathology, radiology, measurement procedures, and new technological changes in the medical field.

3) HCPCS Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System): These include outpatient hospital care, medical aid, and Medicare.

Let us look at some points as to why coding is necessary for the medical field.

DATA SYSTEMS
When the coding is paired with the data systems of the hospitals, a powerful tool is made. By doing so, a large number of data from various hospitals, clinics, and other sources are stored, accessed, and used from one large online data system. This implementation helps in the transfer of any patient’s data from any hospital to another for any medical purpose. This information helps doctors to be more connected and make wiser decisions, especially in cases involving the life and death situation of the patient.

PATIENT CARE

Coding is very much required for reimbursements, which include submitting medical claims with insurance companies and bills between insurers and patients. The transfer of information for bill related purposes requires medical records, patient’s medical needs, lab results, pathology records (if any), and any other related documents. Appropriate payment is possible only when the required diagnostic codes are put in place, which also means to verify in case the medical claim is denied by the insurance company.

REGULATIONS

Medical billing and coding fall under the rules and guidelines of many countries and states. Coders in this field are also responsible for protecting the privacy of the patients and their families. They are supposed to take safeguards to preserve the confidential details concerning the patient and his/her medical background in a safe place. Electronic medical records fall under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) codes issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Medical coding analysts are in the front line in healthcare data analytics. They work in many types of healthcare setups and not necessarily in hospitals and clinics. Their valuable service is very functional for research and development in the medical field.

How to Select Your Insurance Advisor?

You must opt for a life insurance policy. If your finances allow, you must also get health insurance as well as home insurance. This way you would be able to save yourself from any sudden financial crisis. However, you need the best of persons when it comes to an insurance advisor. In this article, we will take you through five steps to hire the best LIC advisor in Delhi.

1. Always prefer a certified advisor

Your insurance advisor must have proper certification from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA). This proves that he/she is not there to trick you or fraud you. Moreover, the guidelines laid down by this agency make sure that you are protected on all fronts. If a person is not certified by IRDA, legally he is not entitled to advise people on insurance. He may end up in jail. Therefore, before selecting an agent, make sure that he/she has all the necessary certifications.

2. He must be through with investment solutions

You must understand that insurance agents are much more than just a salesman. They must have a proper understanding of financial planning. They should be equipped with all the necessary information about the financial world, both domestic as well as globally. More importantly, your LIC advisor should have a proper understanding of your family and financial standing. This way he would be able to suggest you the best insurance for you. It is advised that you should first develop a good friendship with the advisor and only then allow him to enter your financial realm.

3. He must have a complete understanding of the product he wants to sell

The insurance advisor must have a thorough knowledge of all the insurance policies that his/her company sells. You should sit down and have a long conversation with him about the pros and cons of various policies. You must understand that every insurance company sells a hell lot of policies. Not all policies are meant for you. Your insurance advisor must suggest you the best policy for yourself after understanding your family and finances.

4. Does the follow-up?

He/she is a cheap insurance advisor if he/she forgets you after you have bought the insurance policy. This is not what a responsible advisor does. Even after you have bought the policy, you may have a hell lot of questions to be answered. He/she must update you about the product premium and all the necessary details to make the best of your insurance.

5. He must help you while fulfilling your claim

When a claim arises, an advisor plays a very important role. He is the sole contact person between the insurance provider and the policyholder. He must understand all the formalities that need to be fulfilled for a successful claim. If your claim is denied there was no point in opting for that insurance policy. A good insurance advisor will stand by you when you need him/her the most.

Health Is The Most Important Wealth

If you’re fortunate enough to have employer-provided health insurance, that narrows your options down to the plans that your employer offers. If you don’t have coverage through your job, perhaps an organization or association that you belong to will allow you to buy health insurance through them at a group rate.

Another option is to check your local Obamacare health insurance marketplace to see if you qualify for an upfront premium credit, which would get you reduced premium costs. Even if you don’t qualify for the credit right away, buying your health insurance through the marketplace means you may qualify for it when you file your tax return for the year.

If you can’t, or won’t, get health insurance from any of these sources, you’ll have to fall back on buying a private plan. It will give you the widest range of options, but likely will be far more expensive.

Decide which type of policy to buy

Health insurance policies come in a variety of basic types, although you may not have access to all of these options through your preferred source. Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) are a very common type of health insurance policy. With an HMO, you’re required to use healthcare providers within the policy’s network, and you have to get a referral from your primary care physician in order to see a specialist.

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) are also quite common. A PPO health insurance policy has a network, but you’re not limited to in-network care — although using network providers is cheaper — and you don’t need referrals to see specialists.

Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs) are a hybrid between HMOs and PPOs. You’re required to stick to the plan’s network, but don’t need referrals for specialists. Finally, Point of Service (POS) plans are a less common option that are essentially the opposite of an EPO. You’re not limited to the POS plan’s network, but do need a referral to see a specialist.

Of the four common types of plans, an HMO or EPO tends to be cheaper than a PPO or POS with the same level of coverage. However, if network coverage is poor in your area, or you’re uncomfortable limiting yourself to network providers, it may be worth paying a little more to get a PPO or POS policy.

More: Buyer beware: Long-term care costs are surging, survey says

More: Obamacare overhaul efforts are dead for now. What does that mean if you’re an Obamacare consumer?

More: Trump says he’ll negotiate with Democrats on health care plan

High deductible versus low deductible

All things being equal, the higher a plan’s deductible is, the lower the monthly premiums will be. A high deductible means that you’ll have to pay a lot of healthcare expenses yourself before the insurance policy kicks in, but if you have few or no medical expenses in a given year, these plans can be a bargain. Very low medical expenses means that you probably won’t surpass the deductible, even of a low-deductible plan, so getting a high-deductible plan keeps your insurance costs as low as possible while still protecting you in case something catastrophic happens.

If you decide to go the high-deductible route, getting a Health Savings Account (HSA)-enabled plan, and funding it with at least the equivalent of a year’s deductible, is your best option. An HSA plan neatly covers the biggest weakness of a high-deductible health insurance policy – namely, that you’d have to shell out a great deal of money on a major medical expense before the insurance would take over. If you have a full-year’s deductible tucked away in your HSA, you can just use that money to finance your share of the expenses, while simultaneously enjoying the triple tax advantage that an HSA offers.

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Comparing coverage

There are two major factors that affect how well a particular plan will cover your medical expenses: the plan’s network and its coverage policies. Even if you choose a plan with out-of-network options, like a PPO, you’re still better off using in-network health providers as much as possible because doing so will reduce your costs. And the rules that a given health insurance policy uses to decide what’s covered and what’s not – and how much the co-pays will be – can make a huge difference in how helpful a particular policy really is for you.

For example, if there’s a rather pricey medication that you take every day, you’ll definitely want to get a health insurance policy that lists that medication on its formulary. If you travel a lot, stick to plans that offer good out-of-area treatment options. And if you already have a primary care physician, you’ll definitely want to pick a plan that includes your doctor in its network.

Finding the best deal

If you’re stuck between two or three different policies and can’t decide which one to choose, try this exercise. Multiply the monthly premium by 12 to get your annual cost for a plan, then add in the plan’s out-of-pocket maximum. The result is the most you would end up spending on health care if you had one or more major medical expenses during the year. Do this calculation for each plan you’re considering, then compare the results. The plan with the lowest total is likely the best deal for you.

What Do Intellectual Property Lawyers Actually Do?

Intellectual property lawyers do what the name suggests and register, protect and fight for your rights regarding your intellectual property (IP). To fully understand what an IP Lawyer does, we must first define what “intellectual property” actually is.

Starting at the very beginning, ownership of property is essentially a bundle of rights, a relationship between a person and the property. For example, I would argue that the main right of ownership of property is the right to exclude all others from that property. We see this every day, if someone owns an MP3 player and they are listening to it on the street, you have no right to go and take it, in fact you would land yourself in very hot water if you did. The same for real property, if you own land you have the right to exclude all others from your land. There are of course obvious exceptions to these rules, right of entry to police for example amongst others. These examples confer rights in personal property and in real property, but the same can be said for intellectual property.

Intellectual property (IP) gives its name to property from your mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in business. A brand is a good example of this, as any business owner will tell you, a good name or a good reputation for products or services in a competitive market is an incredibly hard process. It involves blood, sweat and tears, a lot of hard work and time away from your loved ones. This “good will” is intertwined and bound together within your brand, the thing that separates you in the marketplace from all others, essentially you are your brand and your brand is your business. This property needs protecting and this is where an intellectual property lawyer can help you. Intellectual property law is separated into different categories;

Trademarks

Trademarks are a symbol, word, or words used as representing a company or product. We all know good examples of brands which are successful in the marketplace. Other manufacturers and strictly forbidden by law to use those words on their products because the brand you are thinking of is probably a registered trademark and as such have a lot invested in them. It would be unconscionable for another manufacturer to be able to exploit the word for its own gain.

Patents

Patents are defined as any device, substance, method or process that is new, inventive, and useful. An invention doesn’t have to be totally unique but must involve an inventive step and be able to be made or used in an industry. An inventive step means that the invention is not obvious to anyone with knowledge and experience in that particular business. Big soft drink manufacturers and fast food businesses own patents on the equipment used at their factories, which was designed by them. This confers the exclusive right to use, lease or sell that property as they wish and also gives them the right to bring an action against anyone who uses this property without permission.

Copyright

As I have hopefully explained above, ownership of property is a bundle of rights, one of which is the right to exclusively modify, copy, reproduce or license to modify, copy or reproduce the property. Books, music, poems, movies and others, if they are going to be exploited for commercial gain, would need to be protected by copyright. Soft drink manufacturers own copyrights of the shape of their bottles, tv commercials, theme songs and anything else that was created using creative effort.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are the secrets in a business which makes that business different from the rest of the market and makes your product unique. “The Colonials secret recipe” for fried chicken or the recipes for soft drink are examples of trade secrets. For the law to recognise a trade secret as intellectual property there are certain steps or precautions which must be taken. The secret must be out of view, behind locked doors, limited amount of people who know, password protection and essentially any other reasonable steps to ensure that the secret is kept secret. This ensures that a breach of a trade secret is a true and reasonable breach of confidentiality rather than more common knowledge.

Design Rights

A design refers to the shape, pattern or configuration which gives a product its unique appearance, and must be new and distinctive. For example, a fashion designer would seek to protect the rights of their work to enable them to exploit their design in the marketplace or to license their design to others.

Do you need intellectual property lawyers?

Whatever business you are in the need to protect your intellectual property is very important. If you are starting a business you will need to ensure that before you spend money of logos and branding that you are not infringing any rights of others. Then, after you check you should ensure that your rights are protected against all others. If you are buying a business then you need so ensure that you get the full transfer of the IP as well as the tangible property. You don’t want to buy a business from an unscrupulous vendor who retains the rights to the brand, copyright or trade secrets. If you are selling a business you need to ensure that the IP is not transferred incorrectly which could lead to costly litigation down the track. If you are looking to franchise your business then you need to protect your brand and trade secrets from franchisees who could try to use your good will against you. If you are looking to expand overseas, even if it is to your nearest neighbour, the rights will need protection in that country and every country to do business in.

A Comparison of Canadian and American Political Systems

People outside of the “Americas” can often get confused understanding and comparing the differences between the US and Canadian models, forms and structures of government.

In the United States there are 50 states with a federal government. The subunit, that is each state, has its own governor and state legislature. The federal government of course of the USA, has at its head the President (currently President Obama) along with 2 houses of legislature. These are the US House of Representatives (with local elected members referred to as “Congressmen” or perhaps “Congress Women” and the US Senate with “Senators” elected from each and every state. There are many more Congress people per state than elected Senators over all. Some will tell you that Senators carry much more power and clout than the Congressmen in the House of Representatives, whereas in Canada it’s not the Canadian Senate and Senators who wield the greatest power and effect changes.

Whereas Canada has a federal and provincial system. There is one overall Federal Government with given responsibilities and 10 more local or Provincial Governments along with 3 “Territories” – not fully assigned fully rights and privileges under the Canadian political system yet. Whereas in the US political system Americans vote for their representatives and then the leader overall (that is the President), Canadians vote for members of Parliament only. Firstly the Canadian Senate as opposed to the US model are not elected at all. Instead they are “appointed” by the ruling party – that is the political party in power federally in the Federal House of Parliament which is located in Ottawa in the eastern province of Ontario. The federal political leader in Canada is not elected for his position. Rather he is the leader of the party with the most seats in the house – that is the ruling party in charge. Interestingly it is the party in power, not the people directly as in the US who chose their ultimate political leader. It might be argued and debated that ultimately it is the Canadian people by voting for their elected representatives who sit in the House of Parliament in Ottawa who make the choice via their votes to their own elected leaders. On the other hand it might be said that party and its “Whip” ensure that sitting members in the House of Parliament tow the party line, when it comes to votes and policy as opposed to the elected officials themselves.

Two things can be summarized though – one is that Canada has a Prime Minister chosen by the residing political party in power and those Senators are appointed by that same group as opposed to being elected as in the US. Generally Canadian Senators don’t carry a lot of power, nor use it. To many in Canada the Senate is seen as a left over, a hold over from the British model, which is mainly ceremonial and indeed one might say serves for ongoing reasons of patronage and rewarding old political favors and friends.

Canada currently has 308 Members of Parliament. The Federal or National Government of Canada has as its base the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Ontario. This Federal Government setup among its many and varied duties and responsibilities for the military, foreign trade and trading as well as partial or in many cases full funding for numerous social programs available to Canadian residents and citizens, criminal laws and their enforcements as well providing for and managing cash money production and supply as well as fiscal policies.

Members of Parliament typically deal with their constituents needing help with such social programs and provision such employment insurance, the Canadian Pension Plan disability insurance immigration and the like. On the other side of the fence the 10 Provincial Governments are primarily responsible for the administration, implementation of public health itself – Canada has a socialized not for profit medical system, Included are the management of hospitals as hospitals are considered government funded and run for the most part. As well education and departments of education are a more local provincial jurisdiction. Lastly provinces themselves are also involved with the implementation and management of the varied social programs which they provide for and administer, which is of course in addition and supplements those provided for by the federal authorities.

It should be pointed out as well that at the helm of the Federal and Canadian Provincial Governments is more experienced political staff – that is elected officials who are appointed by their party – that is generally the party in power to serve as senior officials in charge of various departments and portfolios. These positions are referred to as Ministerial Appointments with the Minister being in charge of a given department or sets of departments under their portfolio.

Both the Canadian and American political systems function well in their own milieu. Each setup has its advantages and disadvantages and were set up, or evolved in terms of what was there as a predecessor and also what particular needs and duties were involved. The US system in particular is set up with “checks and balances” being intrinsic so that the system buttresses and polices itself. The Canadian system is set and functions rather differently. The point being however in the end, both Americans and Canadians are generally well afforded and served by their retrospective political systems.

Is Insurance a Necessary Evil?

I have been experiencing an insatiable thirst to seek to answer this nagging question about whether insurance is a necessity in our country today. While the subject of insurance is broad and multi-faceted, I will seek to break down the perception of this subject so that our minds for a moment are not engrossed with the surreptitious picture of insurance agents’ incessantly cold-calling potential clients or pursuit of claims arising out of insurable risks by claimants.

Data from the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) shows that the level of uptake of insurance in Kenya is at an all-time low of 3.3 percent. This cannot be compared to developed economies like South Africa where the numbers are at 14%. Many explanations have been advanced to show why Kenyans are still averse to taking up Insurance related products. One prominent argument is that the Per capita income (GDP) of the average income earner cannot be enough to support payment of premiums. The other school of thought is that the savings culture of Kenyans is still wanting.

While the arguments above may hold water, the fundamental understanding of insurance has not been taught to most of us from an early age. The subject of insurance I dare say is still shrouded with a lot of secrecy and misunderstanding akin to the mysticism surrounding ancient religions. The language used is still rather technical to the average person. I realize that at this point I must correct myself quickly and note that every profession has its language; for an engineer has to use engineering language, an architect the same etcetera. Insurance also has its language but if its proponents profess that it benefits almost all of humanity, shouldn’t it be clothed in language that is not so grandiose but easily palatable to the common man?

The responsibility of the stakeholders in the insurance industry is to bring customers’ perception to how insurance works in a language they can understand. This would entail offering a basic insight on what informs the underwriting decisions on various insurance products by insurers. I want to suggest that it would benefit insurers to have open days where they invite people and educate them on the fundamentals of insurance, on the meaning of risk, why insurance is important to any economy and most importantly the benefits of insurance at a personal level. Apart from honing their sales skills, sales professionals need to align themselves properly with the market in order to understand and respond well to their customers’ needs. More often than not, sales people are perceived to be aggressive, over-achieving individuals who are not honest and are quick to point to clients the dotted lines in the application document. This negative perception must stop. Insurance sales people contribute immensely to the overall economic growth and offer important services without which an economy could not function well.

Now back to our overarching theme. Any society is fraught with risks. The risk of death by accidents, accidental injury leading to permanent or temporary disability, the risk of fire arising out of man-made or natural sources e.g. lightning, subterranean fire etc, the risk of accidental injury at the place of work owing to the nature of employment, loss of luggage while travelling and many more. What insurance does is simply to classify the above mentioned risks and price them into premiums. The premiums are then pooled and it is from this pool of funds that claims are settled. The guiding principle here is that a risk should be quantifiable. A close analysis of your immediate environment will reveal many known and unknown risks. Insurance companies manage losses that arise out of insured risks. Think for a moment the costs borne by the insured if there was no insurance to mitigate these risks. Imagine a petrol station owner being held liable for damage by fire arising from his petrol station to his neighbors. If the owner does not have public liability insurance, he may find it difficult to raise money to meet his legal fees and hence may not protect his business. This is because the cost of a claim can far exceed what a business is able to raise and necessitate the shutting down of a business altogether. Many examples abound where insurance solve practical problems and mitigate a host of risks that can cripple businesses and slow economic growth. At a personal level, medical insurance is very vital. Think for a moment the rising cost of Medicare and consultancy fees not to mention the increasing costs of pharmaceutical medicines.

But there is an antithesis to such a healthy explanation and this is advanced by some who argue that risks are only imagined hazards. They posit that a risk is imagined and only ceases to be a risk when an actual occurrence happens. Some even counter a proposal to take up insurance dangerously by arguing that they have, for example, not been admitted to hospital for a number of years and see no need to take up a medical cover. While it is important to live healthy and avoid the hospital and its attendant costs, it would be farcical for one to wish they had a medical cover in the face of a medical emergency.

In conclusion, insurance is necessary to any growing economy like Kenya in spite of the low uptake. It not only creates employment and puts in abeyance the worry of meeting risks; it is an indicator of economic growth and a sign of a thriving economy. More needs to be done to educate the masses with regard to this subject. The responsibility lies squarely at the court of the regulator to put pressure on insurance companies to increase the uptake of insurance in the country. Incentives must be given to companies that have the highest level of penetration to make sure they maintain their influence and widen the market. Is insurance necessary? Indeed it is. Next time someone dissuades you from taking up an insurance plan, think again.