Summer break is over; fall is here. Medicare agents need to get ready for the annual election period (AEP). Since this AEP will be a busy one – with new enrollees and CMS requirements – you’ll need to be prepared. Use this fall checklist to start preparing for AEP.
Catch Up on Missed Actions
Preparation for AEP should start during the spring and summer, when Medicare insurance agents complete their annual training requirements. The summer months can fly by, though, meaning you may find yourself running behind. Hopefully, you’ve already completed the following tasks. If you haven’t, this is your last chance to catch up before AEP.
- Complete your annual training. Medicare agents need to complete annual training and testing requirements before they can sell plans for the next year. If you haven’t completed your training yet, do it ASAP.
- Recertify with your carriers. Medicare agents also need to recertify with their carriers each year. Carriers may have their own requirements in addition to the general Medicare training.
- Look for new carriers to add. The more carriers you represent, the more options you can give your clients, which increases your chances of finding the perfect fit and making a sale. Consider whether you should certify with new carriers, including carriers who have expanded into your area and ones you haven’t represented before but that have good offerings.
- Organize your contact information. A lack of organization can lead to missed opportunities. It could even expose you to noncompliance risks. Make sure you organize all your contact information and have contact permissions on file. Consider upgrading to a better customer relationship management (CRM) system.
- Stay in touch. Don’t give other agents the opportunity to steal your clients – stay in touch throughout the year. Waiting until AEP to reach out may be too late. You can’t market AEP before October, but if it’s been a while since you’ve talked to your clients, send them a message unrelated to AEP.
- Update your online presence. Since many seniors are internet savvy, you need a strong online presence. Your social media profiles should be active and your information up to date.
What to Do During Early Fall
With the arrival of fall, AEP activity heats up. Although you can’t start marketing AEP to clients before October 1, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes.
- Review first looks. In the run-up to AEP, carriers release First Looks to insurance professionals. These confidential sneak peeks give agents a glimpse into what you can expect from plans for the coming year. Check the first looks carefully and think about what the offerings will mean for your clients. For example, if you have clients who are interested in certain supplemental benefits, find out which carriers are offering such benefits.
- Prepare your marketing materials. Start getting your marketing materials ready as soon as possible – don’t wait until the last minute. Find out what supplies your carriers are offering and make sure any other materials you use are compliant with CMS rules.
New CMS Requirements
CMS has added new requirements for Medicare insurance agents. Many of these rules go into effect this AEP.
- Update your TPMO disclaimer. Since CMS has updated its disclaimer requirements, you need to make sure your marketing materials are up to date. For TMPOs that do not sell every plan in their area, the required disclaimer is “We do not offer every plan available in your area. Currently we represent [insert number of organizations] organizations which offer [insert number of plans] products in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov, 1-800-MEDICARE, or your local State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) to get information on all your options.”
- Have your marketing materials approved. Policy & Medicine says CMS will start watching Medicare Advantage marketing more closely this year.
- Review this article for more information. The article contains a list of many of the new requirements and reminders, including new SOA rules, new event rules, and restrictions on the use of the term “Medicare” and the CMS logo.
Finalize Your Strategy
If AEP is a race, October 1 is the starting pistol. Be ready at the starting line to take off at full speed.
- Strategize your schedule. If you don’t have a plan when you start scheduling meetings with clients, you may end up running all around town and wasting a lot of time. Think about how you can approach meetings efficiently. For example, do you want certain time slots reserved for online meetings and others for in-person meetings? If you have clients in the same area, can you schedule their appointments on the same day?
- Plan your events. If you’ll be organizing educational or marketing events, set them up now. Make sure they’re compliant with the new CMS rules.
- Think about your individual clients. Prepare your correspondence and think about what plans you’ll recommend to each client.
Do you need help getting ready for AEP? PTT can help. Contact us today.