Hierarchical, creative, competitive, supportive, team-oriented, entrepreneurial, fast-paced, flexible schedule,
Well, the first thing I would like to say about American Income is that at first, everything can seem a bit overwhelming. I have never been the type of person to be very organized or self-motivated, two character traits that are extremely important in the insurance business. The reason for the overwhelming feeling is because of how unique they are when compared to the rest of the industry, mainly due to their generated lead system and advancement structure. There is A LOT to learn in a short period of time.
I had interviewed with a few other insurance companies before and they all had a similar deal to offer: commission-based pay, cold-calling/prospecting family and friends for "leads" to sell to, and what seemed to be a lack of support for helping to develop someone who is new in the business. It was more of a "go-get-em tiger" kind of pitch, haha.
When I received the phone call from American Income (my resume was posted on career builder) I listened to the gal on the phone go through what sounded to be the stereotypical industry phone interview. The only difference w/ this conversation compared to the others I had been through, which is probably why I ultimately agreed to go into the interview after all, was that she was very personable and actually went in depth about who I was & what I was looking for in a potential career. I feel like she actually made me earn my way into a personal interview. The other companies just seemed to be excited that I had a pulse and was looking for work.
There is a lot of information and a lot of training when you first begin. AIL doesn't advertise so the leads that are provided to the agents are handwritten responses from members of labor unions, associations and a few credit unions. I received 89 leads my first week for the Puyallup area. However, I rode with the manager on his leads during my training period so I didn't have to use any of mine.
The training took about 2.5 weeks from the time I got my insurance license and I received my first weekly paycheck ($922) at the end of the second week, just at was promised by the manager who conducted the group orientation. My manager told me this was to reimburse me for the licensing expenses which were about $600. So far so good!
Aside from other looking to hop on at other insurance companies, I had looked into real estate before joining AIL and the licensing fees were about $2200 and the companies in that industry don't reimburse you...EVER! In order to receive the paycheck I had to attend two days of office training per week for about 4 hours each day, to learn the products, the presentation, and the "success schedule" that the agency in Tacoma recommended. I still work that schedule to this day, except I work Sunday also, which most of the agents take off. I think it's the best day to meet w/ families.
During my second week of training my manager left on a business trip to Montana where he is also responsible for an office, so I was paired up with a lower level manager who I was told would finish the basic training and help me start to present the benefit packages to the clients. She was sick the first day we were supposed to go out in the field. She apologized to me (and truly did sound sick) and we rescheduled all of the appts for later in the week. I was given assignments to keep busy with and training videos to watch that centered on the presentation and the products. It was actually a blessing because I needed the time to get organized, as I said above this is not my strong suit.
The other manager prepared me two days before our next "field day" that I was to be able to go halfway through the presentation and that she would do the rest. I was nervous as hell but the families we met w/ were very patient and we made 4 sales out of 9 people we sat down with that week. Because I did a portion of the presentation and helped w/ the paperwork the manager gave me 2 of the sales. I told her she didn't have to do this but she insisted that b/c I had played my part they were earned, not given. My second paycheck was just over $1200.
The next week I was released after 2 more days in the field and going through the entire presentation and closing a sale without the help of either my manager or the trainer who had been assigned to work w/ me while my manager was away. The nice thing during this process was that my manager still called me from Montana every other night to check on me and make sure I was getting the help I needed. The poor guy usually sounded tired as heck by the time we did our calls but I appreciated that he was keeping track of my progress and making sure I wasn't abandoned.
I have read several bad reviews on this company throughout the internet and I have seen nothing so far that is even remotely sketchy. There were 7 people in my orientation before I was brought back for a final interview and I was the only one hired. I think the Tacoma office is more selective than most of AIL which is important for the competitive culture of the office.
Since I've started I've only see two agents leave the agency in Tacoma. One quit and one was terminated for standing up a client multiple times. The company makes you sign off on a code of conduct and that is one of the first things mentioned in the initial contract.
I do know that every office in this company is run in a different manner and I am sure that some of the horror stories on the internet about this company are totally and completely true. In fact, after coming in for an interview and hearing more about the company I went home and did a lot of research on the company on the internet. When I asked about the bad press the company gets on the web and all of the rip off reports my manager didn't even try to deny them. He actually just laughed and said that most of the negative reviews have a "scary amount of truth to them". While that alarmed me I appreciated his honesty. He then went to breakdown more of the structure of the company and how, as independent contractors, every single office has different values and the way in which they operate is completely different. He actually pulled out his laptop from his briefcase and pull up a bunch of the ripoffreport.com reports and went through them with me. I was further relieved that even ripoff report themselves actually had closed most of the cases and said that AIL was a reputable company that could be trusted.
My other concern was that this guy was a good 10 years younger than me and in his early twenties, but he was the regional manager. But he had the business cards, plaques, and an award right on the front desk when you come into the office that displayed his income for 2010. Proof is in the pudding and I was feeling more and more comfortable with the company the further in the interview process I got. At some point, I did feel that this seemed too good to be true.
Overall, I think a profitable insurance career boils down to leadership and culture of the office. If you have managers that care and they themselves have other managers in the office who are successful and share the same values then everything works. I feel really fortunate to be a part of the team here and I look forward to pursuing a career in management in the future.
The clients I have met, for the most part, are really great people. It's not the typical market you would think to work with, being that this is an insurance company and most insurance companies try to find rich people to sell large, expensive policies to. The people I've worked with typically make anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 per year as a household and they are the ones who really need to be protected when something happens.
Above all, this company is really cool and I'm glad I didn't cancel my interview. This was a really long review but I think this company, for all of its apparent shortfalls based on the criticism is receives, should be given credit when at least a certain division of its operations has their gears in order and backs up the promises they make to a new hire just coming into the business.
I mentioned my training pay above, this is what they call "performance-paid training" and it's just like it sounds. you show up for training, do what they ask you to, don't argue...and they reimburse you for your licensing expenses and help you earn money until you are able to do it on your own.
The pay is weekly. Also, weekly bonus is really easy to hit. usually 1 average size policy or 2 smaller policies per week will qualify you for the weekly bonus. the company also gives you an extra $175/week when you hit the bonus (sale or sales greater than $86 of monthly premium) to help you pay for gas, cell phone, and other unavoidable expenses in the industry. I don't have to pay for leads, office, printing, shipping, or any incidentals related to processing the applications, which really helps. I've made as low as $400 once released on my own and have also had a few weeks where I've brought in around $3,000. I average around $1100 per week. The only secret is sitting down with more families and collecting referrals for members outside of the unions/associations who can also purchase the benefit packages since they are referred by members. The referrals almost always buy because they normally wouldn't have access to American Income since they aren't union members most of the time.
I started kind of late in the year but if I keep doing what I'm doing now I will qualify for both annual conventions. The one in December is in Vegas and the one in February is in the Dominican Republic. These are all expenses paid except for the plane ticket. It will be my way of making it up to my wife, who has been very patient and supportive throughout my career here so far!!
The renewals are what really sold me on the company. Because they are a union company (the only fully organized union insurance company in the world as a matter of fact), they have lifetime-vested renewals after 10 years of service with the company. Since social security might not be around, I'm fully committed to working my tail off, haha. Also, if I die those renewals pay out to my wife and any policies still on the books after we both pass still pay out, I believe to the 5th or 6th generation.
I have a lot of good to say about the company, especially because once you are released it's very self-paced and if you screw up, you only have yourself to blame. But as long as you are honest about your mistakes and willing to learn, the managers at the office are always willing to sit down w/ u and even take you on more appts in their car to learn more if you ask.
The downsides to the company would be that as an agent (non-manager) if you get sick and can't work that week, you don't get paid. You really have to bust your hump the next week to make up for it. Difficult yes, impossible no. You definitely learn to wash your hands, don't share drinks with people, and hand sanitizer is your best friend starting out :)
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule! If you don't have a solid schedule and you can't organize your time to stick to it, then this is not going to work for you. This was my biggest challenge without a doubt.
You don't get a company car or cell phone or fuel reimbursment (gas is $$ these days), but they are all tax-write offs so it's not too bad in the end.
The health insurance is unique. The company gives you about $400 per month towards the purchase of your own health insurance. You are free to choose the provider which is nice but I can see how older people (55+) or people with bad health might need a more traditional job that provides health coverage that is completely paid for by the employer. I'm in my 30s and so is my wife so we pay about $80/mo out of pocket after the medical reimbursement so it's not an issue in my situation.
The hours. You have to meet w/ families when they are not at work (makes sense when u understand the business) because we meet them at their home 99% of the time. Lately I've had a few referrals come into the office and sign up which is nice but is not your typical scenario. My wife and I have worked out our schedule so this is not a problem.
The company, outside of the annual conventions doesn't pay for vacation but if I want to take one I just have to work really really hard a few weeks before planning to go on one. The management never cares as long as I make enough to average over $1000/week in income. My manager says that is so I'm not put in a situation where I feel compelled to high-pressure sell to make up for lost income. I see his point, but I'm just not that kind of person anyhow.
Last, you have to be able to take your own paycheck out of the equation in order to even make a sale. If you are sitting with a family and all you are thinking about it how can I sell these people, you will not make a sale. It is important that you actually believe in what you are doing for the families and have faith that all the cards will fall into place.
From time to time I will hear a brand new agent confess their current financial difficulties and I always tell them that if that is the case they should go get a 9-5 and do this part-time until they can be in a position to take care of the family instead of trying to sell them to pay their monthly rent or mortgage!
If you have strong communication skills, are willing to listen and be trained, care about people, and you are financially able to obtain the license and go a few weeks before starting to get paid...then I say go for it. If the answer is no on either one of those, this company, and more accurately, this entire industry is not your cup of tea. Hopefully this will help anyone looking to see if a career at AIL would be worthy of their time.