My main purpose in writing this article is to inform solicited/prospective employees of AIL about the hidden risks associated with this type of company. It is a bit long but it is to INFORM you, the brief summary bullets are just below.
NOTE: Since I have quit my insurance license and resume with sales experience flags me for lots of phone calls for sales jobs. There are MANY companies that operate the exact same way, JUST BE VERY CAREFUL. I myself will never consider a job even close to that one EVER again.
BEFORE YOU OFFER YOUR CRITICAL OPINION READ WHAT I WROTE. I am not a disgruntled ex employee. I made a choice to work there got duped and never make the same mistake again.
Now in my opinion through comparison the whole life is actually a good value. The term life, accidental, cancer and hospitalization is an okay value.
Boiling it down
- The v-a-s-t majority of agents hired will never be successful.
- When I left 32 agents worked there, now only 16 are left (Jun08-Sep08).
- None of the agents and lower managers are making any money. (I know because they are writing less business than I did and have a higher cancellation rate.)
- Systems, speeches, and presentations are designed to keep you positive and ignore the fact you are bleeding (money) to death.
- You can make more money working 2 full time jobs and do less hours.
- Managers talk about their successes 5+ years ago nothing from Raleigh, NC.
- “We mass produce insurance to mass produce our income.” Managers mass produce agents to mass produce their income.
- Please be careful, I’m not saying to not work there, but the odds are incredibly stacked against you.
- The system is arranged for senior managers to profit.
- If you’re not making it and can barely provide for your family, they don’t care, because they’re making plenty off you.
Of course this is my opinion but if you have any questions, constructive criticism I would be more than happy to answer. I have done my best to describe facts I witnessed way more than a few times which takes out the doubt of isolated occurrences.
Recently relocated to Raleigh, NC my wife and I had already applied for many jobs throughout the area. My wife was actually contacted first and she went in for an interview and afterwards got me interested. We were told to come in for the Monday morning meeting, that the “regional manager and state agent would actually be in town for the meeting and we could meet them.” TRUTH: The regional manager and state agent belong to the office and are typically always there. In fact the 6 months I was there they only missed 2 meetings. Now it’s not a lie but it isn’t exactly the truth.
In a standard BORING repetitive Monday meeting managers discuss how you could be a millionaire, why you want to be one, and how if you work at a regular job you make say $55k and that’s all those people are worth. But at AIL your opportunity is only limited by you. It really is beautiful! They design a sales pitch, highlighting the good points of the job, and the bad points of your what used to be worthless life was. After all your life is meaning less without luxuries like a Ferrari, million dollar house, premium gas, organic food, private schools, private jets, letting your wife blow $10k on clothes in a day and everything else. Reality in what normally happens is so much more sedate.
Now the implications of being a 1099 (A regular job you get a W-2, and taxes are taken out. 1099 no taxes are taken out and you are responsible for paying them at the end of the year. Additionally as a 1099 the company does not have to pay for many things like unemployment, health care, etc because it is all up to you. Note: When you change industries and become a 1099 employee you may not qualify to buy a house for 2 years. The only way to get around that is to put at least 20% down.) Contractor for a company is a bit confusing if you have never experienced it. You pay for your insurance license and the week training class (now costs about $110 for health, $110 for life, and about $200 for the class) which is required by the state of NC. ALL expenses are yours alone leaving the company pretty much obligation free.
Now when I was hired a few things were briefly mentioned to me. There is no cold calling or prospecting which makes AIL unique. I have to be union because the company is 100% union, and there is a minor phone room fee for setting my appointments for me which helps me spend more time in the field so I can sell. We get lifetime renewals, and everything we do/say is scripted.
So the company started as providing benefits to unions. Has anybody noticed unions are on the decline especially in the South? So I can stand side by side with my union brothers I myself am union for only $28 per month. Unfortunately the vast majority of the people I saw were not union. A union provides protection and a due process to get fired, ahhh but as a 1099 most of your rights are lost. GOTCHYA!
PHONE ROOM FEE
Now it was NOT explained to me that the fee was $100 per week, and that is a huge detail. At the height of the dynasty 28 agents paid the state agent $400 per month. That’s $11, 200 per month. Now it is a PHONE ROOM fee, with one permanent employee and a steady stream of temps flowing in and out. There is no way they cost that much. So the rest (as indirectly admitted) was to cover the costs of his secretary, recruiting manager, and verifications person. But it’s a phone room fee? At most companies the employees don’t pay for their support staff… Now in the union rules you can’t be made to pay for the leads.
LIFE TIME RENEWALS
It’s a deceptive statement. At the year employment mark you would only earn 10% of the renewals for 9 years, 4 years 40% and 9 years 90%. At 10 years 100% vested of those renewals as long as the policy remains in effect. Now if you’re conveniently fired you qualify for nothing. Oh by the way when you leave guess who really benefits regardless? Your manager...
NO COLD CALLING OR PROSPECTING LIE
Now what they operate off of is what’s called 3rd party endorsed leads. Members (i.e. nurses, firemen, credit union members, police, union, etc…) get a letter and it says basically, we work with a benefits company (AIL). You are now eligible for free $1000 of accidental death and dismemberment. Return this card to enroll. Our phone room gets the card depending on what state they belong in and they set an appointment, “you returned your card, an agent is in the area on “X” and they just need to drop by for a minute to get you to sign for it, it won’t take but a minute.” Your job is to swindle your way in to the house and turn a 1 minute appointment into a 45 minute presentation (present, rebuttal, make the sale). Now these cards called leads are bought and sold from the company (AIL) with the state agents like stocks, sometimes paying $4-$9 per card. How often do you think these cards are recycled? All the damn time!
Now it’s true the 3rd party endorsed leads set by a phone room (called the pack) do keep you from cold calling but let me further explain. It was later clarified when my production dropped, “look… the leads are for generating referrals, when you get referrals you call them, set the appointments and sell them. The only way to survive the roller coaster ride and make money is to run your referrals.” Sounds like cold calling and prospecting to me. We were expected to collect at least 15 referrals per house we visit. On top of that we had to turn in 4 of our OWN referrals per day that went in the pot for the agency.
The appointments we would go to typically we had been to before. The appointments were set under a few premises: a year has gone by and you need to resign for your $1000 beneficiary accidental policy, we have new updates to inform you of, there is a new enrollment period, and a myriad of other excuses. The beneficiary slip would be signed, beneficiary printed where it would be rubber banded into a box with no discernable filing system. Essentially a rouse, in fact they don’t even have to sign the slip to receive the death benefit. Whether they sign or not it’s theirs. There are no new updates to inform them of. The enrollment period is so we can revisit them. Either way most appointments are never on time, they are forgotten about. Most of your early evening is spent driving between your appointments 4-5-6-7 times until they’re home. You’re encouraged to knock on doors until at least 10pm.
Now you could say, “Hey you just had a bad experience and are venting trying to talk bad about the company.” Well let me provide you with some figures including exactly what I made for the 27 weeks I was with the company. The numbers include, advances, overrides, and bonuses paid out. Now granted I could have added wrong or missed a paycheck but its pretty much spot on.
$14, 958.35 total income / 27 weeks of employment = a whopping $554.02 per week
I drove a total of 39, 935 miles for this job in the 27 weeks = 1479.07 miles per week. I was in the field 6 days per week which = 246.51 miles per day. My car averaging 26 mpg at an average cost of $3.54 per gallon, I spent $5, 437.30 on gas alone!
Now you could say well it’s a write off, well kiss my grits you only get back a percentage.
Now keep some things in mind. I was their top agent for 4 months writing the most business. As a manager I had one of the top producing teams. And this is what I have to show for it?! The Raleigh agency is one of the best agencies in the company and the agents are starving, barely scraping by. I was and I outperformed most of them having the highest quality of business ratings.
WORK HOURS TWIST OF TRUTH
As with any entrepreneurial job a lot of time and effort must be put in. Their argument was that you’re only working when you’re in front of a client (hopefully making money). However, when I became a manager I had to be in the office at 8:30am and never got home until after midnight. On Saturdays I had to be in the office at 9:00am and never got home until 6:00pm. But I’m an independent contractor you say? Let’s put it this way. If you didn’t play by the rules you couldn’t be a manager, and they would threaten to take your set appointments that you’re paying $100 per week for. Granted these rules weren’t written but you definitely felt the pressure, and of course were ignored let’s say chastised. Back up: if I HAD to be in at 8:30am and was in the field (not driving home yet) till 10:30pm even 5 days per week… This excludes the 1.5-2.5 hour drive back to Raleigh.
Now $554.02 divided by 79 hours per week minimum = $7.01 per hour. This excludes things like gas… Now the managers say you only actually work 3-4 hours per day and somehow come up with we make $70 something per hour. Bit of a twist?
THE MOVE TO MANAGEMENT
Now of course who wants to put in 80-90 hours per week forever? Management tells you if you can recruit to replace yourself by hiring more people then you can get out of the field. Makes sense right?
At a point the agency wasn’t growing at all. The managers were made to come in at 8:00am handed a stack of contacts and made to call. Our script was simple, “Hello my name is “X” your resume was passed to me from my regional manager and he was very impressed with your resume. Currently we’re looking for benefits representatives in the Raleigh area and are interviewing on “X” day at “X” time and “Y” time which is best for you?” At NO time did anybody EVER look at your resume. What we see: your name, phone # and maybe email, the list has 50-60 names per page. I hate to break it to you but nobody looked at your skills, we want to get you in to SELL you on the job. How do they sell you on the job? They only bring up things you just can’t say NO to, that’s the key in sales never ask a NO question. Who would say no to: You want to make money, you want to make a better life for your family, you want to afford a nice car, and you can get renewals paying you for the rest of your life without ever having to work again. Out of 54 calls you can make in an hour you might set 1 interview. There is only a 23% chance they will show up.
To keep your bonuses on the agents you have under you, you need a certain amount of new agent codes in a given time frame. To code a new agent you have to sell a client over a certain amount and while the new agent watches you place the policy in their name. I have personally witnessed recruits that would never have been successful duped into getting licensed so managers could keep their bonuses. After all “we mass produce insurance to mass produce our income.”