As an insurance agent, I am often asked to work a benefits “enrollment” at either a large employer and frequently during annual school district benefits open enrollment. That’s where I’ve been this week, and all last week.
I’m in Laredo, Texas, on the border, at a different school every day. I’m talking with the teachers, administrative, lunchroom and maintenance employees figure out how much life and/or disability insurance that they wish to purchase. How much is too much? How much is not enough? How much can I afford? How much does the plan, the school district and my salary allow me to buy?
Most people are completely befuddled by insurance, carriers use difficult language to understand — not to mention translating all this into colloquial border Spanish — which means I’m not always successful at describing how the insurance plans work for the employee. At least I feel like I am providing a needed service as this group of employees has not had an open enrollment – or a chance to speak to anyone about their insurance– for a couple of years.
While my head may be entirely focused here, my heart is not in it. We’re a group of 6 enrollers from both Texas and Ohio, and are all staying at a dumpy hotel that was chosen by someone in Ohio from “pictures”, thinking that it looked OK. South Texas is not suffering from unemployment like the rest of the country, oil field workers are heavily in demand, and many of these laborers haven’t yet found a place to live. Hotels in Laredo are at a premium, and this hotel is full of them, not to mention the parking lot is full of huge trucks (but only at night) and the hot water runs out by 7 a.m.
But that’s not the real reason I am not enjoying this job. It never fails: I may have many successful customers, but there’s always a few who complain about something, or someone complains “that’s not what I was told”. Our carrier rep is fairly new, and it seems like there’s a new “instruction” every day that we haven’t been following, but supposedly ‘should have known’. I’ve sold this carrier’s product to school districts for the last 2 years, and I had to tell HIM the intricacies of the Pre-Existing Condition Limitation that he wasn’t explaining to an employee who increased her disability benefits. I think he’s learning on the job, but he’s not admitting anything, just pointing the blame at us when there’s a problem or a missing piece of information.
Although they are paying me very nice money, I have to say that I’m tired of the nastiness of the insurance business. I’ve worked in the employee benefits marketplace in Texas for over 20 years now, and while I’ve managed to hang in there with all the changes in the last 2 decades, I’m ready to hang it up. It’s a dog eat dog business and we’re constantly being pushed to sell more! but make less commission. Increase their benefits! don’t let anybody walk! Hmm. I always subscribed to the belief that insurance is not something that I should ever aggressively peddle. Personally, I don’t like anyone tries to aggressively sell even shoes to me; and I’m a sucker for a nice pair of shoes. I really hate to push insurance – if you do, it’s always a bad sell, I say.
All in all, I’d rather be retired, cooling off somewhere in Ecuador…spending our retirement. Hubby is anxiously counting down the next 2 months….to his retirement date, December 31. He’s going to be busy getting the house cleaned out and fixed up for the next few months after that, but I know he’s ready to make the move, too. For those of you already there, we’re jealous—but will be joining you in a few short months — Ciao!