Insurance Unit Managers face a deep internal ethics battle. They can certainly give the insurance general agency manager results, although the methods oppose their personal ethics. See the explosive conflict of interest challenging insurance unit managers within an agency.
The insurance general agency manager exerts absolute control over the life and health agency operations. His focused concentration is on maximizing insurance production. His lieutenants, selected by him to help direct the agency force are titled insurance unit managers. An insurance unit manager has to deal with conflicting figures in his mind. You could say these figures are an angel and a devil, which constantly fight to get their point across. Managers have a duty to properly train insurance agents to write quality cases. On the other hand, their agency general manager is judging them little by training and constantly referring to the quantity of premiums written.
Many career insurance companies have a reward system for the best training manager helping the insurance general manager. This means the unit manager with his or her team of agents must show significant, steady, and exceptional production growth. In turn, the general manager might then push for a nice compensation incentive. This incentive would be activated by the insurance company taking his recommendation for his “best” unit manager to head up a new office. Both the agency manager and the unit manager get rewarded. Without doubt, this golden carrot is a gigantic ego and financial upgrade few insurance unit managers could resist trying to grab.
The training managers usually number two to four at most. However, their mindset is not all set on the same channel. Frequently one will come along with the drive to please the agency general manager no matter what it takes. From personally at one time being a unit manager, I can express from personal observation what some of those driving ambitious attempts to acquire new business often entailed. Personally, my ethics would not let me mimic these same procedures.
The purpose of managing a unit of agents was to train them to successful write insurance plans on their own. This required going along on appointments and keeping lips firmly tight when an agent started going astray.Later recommendations were made by the trainer on how a possible sale could have been made. On the other hand, the aggressive manager would either do the complete presentation his or her way, or jump in and take over when a problem occurred. Of course more sales were made using this method. Even though the agent received no actual training, the general manager loved the new insurance agency sales premiums.
On applications done with an agent, the unit manager also cosigned the application. A home office underwriter usually issues these policies with less inspection, as the training manager certainly should know what acceptable risks are. On many occasions, an applicant had a health condition on a medical policy application that needed further explanation or honest reporting. The aggressive manager would step in and tell the applicant that the particular question really did not matter. Therefore, a policy that would have been rated for higher premiums or rejected was issued quickly at standard rates.
Why would this aggressive manager care? The “writing agent” would probably be long gone before a claim for this condition was ever submitted. In turn, here were more premiums stacking up on a case that probably could not have been placed if the underwriter gave close scrutiny to the application. The agency general manager again was happy with even more premiums being collected.
When it became hard to come up with good leads, an aggressive manager could always do a life insurance review appointment with a client of the company. Having access to agency records, the manager could cherry pick a nice juicy policy. Then he would have a training rookie agent set up the appointment. There was already a tricky goal in mind for the training manager. REPLACEMENT was the goal. He told the client the company was discontinuing the current coverage. The plan he presented, with a slight increase in premiums was the new official policy. The policyholder was instructed not to renew the old policy when it became due.
The agency manager was informed incorrectly that the company client agreed to buy additional life insurance coverage. So chalk up on the board another successful sale for this team. The home office of the insurance company had no knowledge of the scheme to rewrite insurance where they would again have to pay out first year commissions. The agent was not about to squeal, this was well-needed cash. The perfect crime that the devil made the unit manager do was a major career booster.
Using a combo of these three devious activities, there was no way another training manager with any personal ethics could even come a close second. Doing the right thing certainly does not always make you appear the smartest or the most qualified.
In this case, the unit manager was recommended for promotion. Soon after, when the home office opened up a new agency office a few hundred miles away, he became the proud new agency general manager.
A couple years later, as an independent managing general agent, I was no longer with the company. Nonetheless, I received some interesting news. This big insurer was taking a new approach. Instead of expanding, many of the lesser established offices were being immediately eliminated. The office this once aggressive unit manager presided over was one of them.
Sometimes good ethics are not rewarded fast, but with time dividends are received.