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  • Report: #94015

Complaint Review: Combined Insurance Company Of America

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  • Submitted: Mon, June 07, 2004
  • Updated: Sat, June 10, 2006

  • Reported By:Waterloo Iowa
Combined Insurance Company Of America
5050 N Broadway Avenue Chicago, Iowa U.S.A.

Combined Insurance Company Of America The Franklin Close and Combined Insurance - why work? Ripoff Chicago Iowa

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Scott's reply above

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: I Believe This Will Interest You Also.

*Consumer Comment: Questions about combined insurance

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: BEWARE OF COMBINE INSURANCE RECRUITERS

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Be Very Careful advise EXTREME caution to anyone

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Any sales agent worth their commissions needs to understand what their getting themselves into by working with Combined Insurance.

The first incentive when interviewing with CICA is that they pay for your training, both licensing and sales. This is true, strike one for the positive side of the Frankling T.

But, don't be misled to thinking that means they will teach you anything. In license school you are taught how to pass the license exam, that's all. In sales school you are taught how to fill out forms and memorize their sales pitch, nothing more. It is all rote memorization.

In sales school about 15 seconds of two weeks is devoted to the three parties to a successful sale. For a sale to be successful it must be "in the best interest of the policyholder, the Company and YOU [the Agent]." But, that is the last time you will hear about anything in the best interest of the policyholder or YOU. If in fact this was practiced, most of the policies written by Combined Agents would not have been written.

Perhaps an example is in order. In the Des Moines area a top selling Agent that I went to school with was recently dismissed. This is a rare event at Combined. The reason was because the Iowa Insurance Commissioner was about to fine Combined about $15,000 for ethics complaints against this one agent. He was writing new health policies giving the client the assurance that he would cancel the old policy. So what is wrong with that? Only that Combined doesn't allow Agents to cancel polocies or to upgrade or replace policies. For most insurance companies, converting from one policy to another is a simple paperwork task but not at Combined. Combined is loathe to cancel even one policy. So were is the benefit to the policyholder and the Agent. Non-existent.

Quite simply, if you try to follow all of Combined's "Sales Priorities and Underwriting Rules" you will not be able to survive financially or mentally. Those few Agents who do well at Combined do it by taking advantage of Clients and misrepresenting the Policies and the Company. The policies are considerably overpriced for the benefits offered. And, getting Combined to pay on a claim is not easy, and to make it worse the same amount of paperwork is required by them, whether it is a 10 dollar claim or a 1000 dollar claim. Most Doctors and Clients think that the work to collect 10 or 20 dollars on old policies is not worth the effort, and Combined will not allow Agents to upgrade old Policies.

Quite simply, there is no fairness or consideration on the part of Combined for Clients or Agents. So what are the benefits to the Agent. Work experience is the only tangible benefit that can be listed. However, do not be misled into thinking that another employer may value your experience. No, the value is to you, the state licensed Agent. If you can stick it out for three years inspite of all the negatives, get your wall plac [endurance diploma] and still maintain your own personal ethics you will have met a lot of clients who will respect you even more when you tell them you have left Combined and now work with a reputable insurance company.

Lou
Waterloo, Iowa
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 06/07/2004 08:30 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Combined-Insurance-Company-Of-America/Chicago-Iowa/Combined-Insurance-Company-Of-America-The-Franklin-Close-and-Combined-Insurance-why-work-94015. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Scott's reply above

AUTHOR: W - (U.S.A.)

Is one of the most balanced and objective I've read here. His experiences can go a long way in helping people considering CICA make the right decision for their circumstances. They are a fair reporting of what a CICA career entails.

There are a few things that I would like to expand on. Combined's founder, W. Clement Stone often wrote of what he termed 'inspirational dissatisfaction' which in a nutshell was what happened when the stuff someone didn't like about their circumstances and prospects for the future reached critical mass and caused the person to say "That's it, no more, I'm not settling for more of the same and resolve to do what it takes to live the life I want" This resolution then leads the person to take control of their life in a way they'd avoided doing in the past.

Inspirational Dissatisfaction isn't required for success with CICA, but it can be a huge help. A prospective CICA hire has to keep in mind that sales is very different from other work, if someone is considering an offer from CICA and an offer for another company that will pay a salary close to the same amt the person hopes to make in sales with CICA, that person - if he doesn't have a sales background - might do better to take the salary. Ditto the person who thinks "well with CICA I can possibly make $60k next yr, with my salary job I can make $50k, the extra 10k would be nice . . .". That person should think long and carefully before joining CICA because 'nice' wont keep him motivated to work the hours and face the rejection that comes with sales . . .CICA works better for the person who WANTS the larger income, who finds CICA offering a shot at significantly more money than anything else available to him offers, and who is willing to make changes in his life and work like he hasn't before to achieve a standard of living that is otherwise impossible for him.

CICA gives a change at a higher income to people who will change their lives and their way of thinking about work in order to earn that income. CICA can pay a person far more than any other job he is apt to get, but its gonna demand more effort and sacrifice to make the money. Do you want it badly enough? Only you know that. Will your family support you in your work? Or will the hours be a relationship breaker?

As for questions about what CICA does and doesn't spend on reimbursement and expenses and stuff for new hires, CICA invests a HUGE amt of money annually in new hires. But b/c the washout rate is so high - due in large part to the nature of sales, all sales driven companies have high turnover - that money has to be spread over a large pool of new hires, the vast majority of whom will washout. If CICA was certain a new hire was gonna stay and be a producer over time, they could invest more money in her, but b/c 9 out of 10 hires seem gone in a yr, the company hedges its bets. But you gotta keep in mind that CICA will take a bet on you, there are some companies that reimburse new hires on a broader scale, and do other things CICA doesn't, but they wont touch a new hire until he's demonstrated sales ability via 2-5 yrs elsewhere. CICA will take a guy fresh from college, or fresh off the front desk of a motel and give him a shot based on his desire and PMA.

I have a major disagreement with Lou's opening post dissing sales school. Sales school is a great 2 wks, and it teaches proven presentations taylored over many years to be the best ways of presenting the company's products and rebuttals and closing techniques that WORK. W. Clement Stone believe in life time learning and a sales professional should always be studying and expanding his skills, but sales school provides the backbone and a system that is proven to position the sales rep for a high income.

I know, you're probably reading this and thinking 'you say one thing, others say something else'. Well if you are, I'm glad you brought that up, because its a chance to find out a bit more about your attitude towards opportunity. Here goes, even though I think sales school teaches great skills, skills that work, lets say you're an agent in the field with ANY company and you're finding 2 or 3 times a wk a specific and identifiable buyer behavior or objection that nothing in your training and techniques toolbox has prepared you to deal with. You are certain you're losing 2 or 3 sales a week, to people who would benefit from owning your product, b/c you haven't been taught how to reach them.

So, do you:

a) Make a mental note of it as one more way your company failed you, and stew about it.
b) Study and reseach, read Tracey, Ziegler, and other sales experts looking for a close or a rebuttal that you can use. Do you prepare so that next time you hear the objection you can respond. Do you practice "That's the very reason you should own this . . ." reversals.

IF your approach to problems is that latter you're more apt to succeed at CICA than if it is the former. FWIW, I find it odd that many of the people blasting the company don't make mention of any effort they made to solve the probs they encountered.

That isn't to say there aren't problems, CICA has them, all sales organizations have them. It comes down to whether CICA offers an agent something he can't achieve elsewhere and he is determined enough to achieve that income to overcome the problems.

One thing I will caution any new hire about is that he keep the travel costs in mind, CICA puts a lot of miles on a vehicle and as gas prices float higher with little sign of change, your costs of doing biz as a CICA go up . . .yeah, your gross income can look good, but what are you netting. Ironically, as costs of miles driven increase, the solution for an agent lies in working Mr. Stone's origional plan. Too many agents burn a bunch of gas chasing renewals and ripping paper. After a day of it the return on time and expense makes little sense . . .but Mr Stone taught 'sell, renew, and sell new'. The agent who resolves that every time he parks his car he isn't getting back into it until he has written a new policy holder or sold new on a renewal is the one who makes it work. There are a lot of other things a smart agent can do in this environment, many come back to working the system as Mr Stone envisioned. I'm not going to share the methods I have in mind for moving fast in the field, using time and gas wisely when I return to the company, but anyone who put's Napolean Hill's 'Think and Grow Rich' philosophy to work for them can find technigues. But that brings us back to my main point, taking advantage of CICA's oppertunity requires a level of drive and committment beyond what many people want to make to their career. CICA will dominate your life. You have to decide if the rewards are worth it.
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#2 UPDATE EX-employee responds

I Believe This Will Interest You Also.

AUTHOR: Scott - (U.S.A.)

Amanda:
First of all I would congratulate your boyfriend on passing the state insurance test as it can be difficult to pass. In your message you did not mentioned what entity of Combined Insurance your boyfriend is going to be working for. Is it 7E (Accident,Sickness, Cancer) Life/Health, or Senior Division. I was with the 7E side of Combined for 2 years. What happens in PA is probably different than in my part of the world. Yes Combined Ins. does not help assist for license and travel but they did help train your husband to get his license and provide lodging. At sales school Combined provides excellent training,lodging, and a small stipend for food ($10/day) when I was there. I know it is tough to go without a paycheck for 4 weeks, license training, two weeks sales school and your first week in field PAL week before you are paid the following week (which is not much).

As far as being legit, yes they are. Combined Insurance has been around since 1919. The philosphy is still the same after 86 years and will never change. What worked back then still works today. I beg to differ on some of their points. What happens in PA with your boyfriend's new job/career is the training he gets after sales school for at least the first 2-3 months while on the job. This will depend on management and I mean the District Manager and perhaps some from the Sales Manager and the other agents in that district. I am not going to say anything negative on this site as it could come back to haunt me. These are some of the key ideas in order for your boyfriend to be successful.

It will take a lot of hard work and hours per week to make the money the recuiting agent probably told him. This is no 8-5 job. This is a 100% commission, no guarantee salary or hourly wage. It will be up to him to decide his work ethic. There will be travel invovled. I do not know PA very well or what part of the state you are located in, but in my area I put on 35-40K per year on my own vehicle. This past summer was bad on the paychecks and credit card as gas took anywhere from 20-30% per week depending on how much money I made for the week (gross not net), what part of my territory I was in, what Ardmore (train/work week) I had to go to, or to help out another district.

If your boyfriend is in the 7E division I hope they told him about the Ardmores,as he would be gone from Sunday afternoon to Friday night and possibly into Saturdays. These ardmores happen anywhere from 2-3 times a cycle depending on where you are in the US. I know in some areas agents are away from home 5-6 times a cycle. If he decides management is the right move then he will be gone more to JET programs. In order to make the money they told him about this is going to be the way for him to make it is by being a manager.

After six (6) months of work then the residuals will be kicking in. These amounts will vary depending on quality business, and number of policies sold. Residuals will be higher with overrides if he decides to go in to management.

Why did I leave Combined Insurance? I was not making the money I thought I would, expenses were getting high, I was working 4-5 evenings/week (catch people at home) and was loosing that desire to go to work (PMA). My passion and desire is not in the insurance business it is in another field where I can use my education and experience.

To conclude there will be the good, the bad, and the ugly days while working for Combined Ins. He will meet many different types of people and their positive or negative attitudes towards Combined. For me it was one of those lessons in life that you will not forget. Your boyfriend needs to sit down and do a budget and figure his expenses for the month so that he knows how much $$$ he needs to make each week. I feel it is very important to keep documented records of all expenses for tax purposes especially mileage, cell phone, phone, and motel/meals when gone on overnight trips. He will also need your support if things do not go the way he expects or just a person (friend)to talk to. The best of luck to him.
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#3 Consumer Comment

Questions about combined insurance

AUTHOR: Amanda - (U.S.A.)

I was wondering about the company combined insurance. My boyfriend is in training in PA and just got his license. The company seems to promise him alot of money and incentives. But they did not provide any money for transportation or to pay for the PA license. I was wondering if the C insurance is legit. The guy who hired him promised him the same things everyone stated in their complaints. Does combined insurance operate the same way in every state. Does anyone have any suggestions about what to do, or who to talk too. I don't think this company sounds legit or safe. Any suggestions or information would be helpful. Thanx everyone!!
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#4 UPDATE EX-employee responds

BEWARE OF COMBINE INSURANCE RECRUITERS

AUTHOR: Ronald - (U.S.A.)

I received the following email from Co.mbine Insurance regarding a resume I posted on Career Builder. Does it look familiar to anyone to any of you Washington State residents?

.....Good day! While doing research work on Careerbuilder.com, I came across your resume which peaked my interest. If you are still seeking a genuine, career opportunity, please read on.

We are experiencing tremendous growth in our 86 year history and you could be a part of it!

Combined, a subsidiary of AON Corporation is currently conducting confidential interviews for professional Sales and Management positions for your area.

If selected, Combined offers an expense paid training program, 13 weeks of on-the-job training, an established customer base, a complete family benefit program including major medical, vision, dental, prescription drug, life, disability and 401K with potential bonuses of up to $30K a year in management. Those selected have an unlimited income opportunity as well. This is also an "employee" position.

If you're searching for a local opportunity with an international industry leader, an opportunity for rapid advancements based on merit rather than seniority with unlimited income potential and no layoffs, then contact ******** at xxx-xxx-xxxx to discuss the possibility of a confidential interview......................

I recieved a call from Combine on a Sunday night @10pm scheduling me for a interview the next day at 11am 2 hours from my home. I wore a nice suit and tie trying to look professional for the interview. He told me a buunch of crap like how he makes over 100k a year and flashed his two diamond rings in my face (which now I think are fake)and told me that I will make over 60k guaranteed. After the interview he told me that I have to do a Demo the next day. The next day he told me to meet him at XXXXXXX restaurant at 10am sharp. I arrived at the restaurant dressed again in a nice suit and tie. He finally shows up 30 minutes late, and noticed that he was wearing the same clothes he wore yesterday. Kind of odd for a guy making 100k a year I thought, but paid it no mind. We both walk out the restaurant into the parking lot, and I'm expecting him to have a lexus or mercedes or whatever rich guys that make 100k a year would drive. But no, walk over to an old beat up cadillac. We get in the car and I notice his ash tray is overflowing with ashes and cigarette butts and he lights up. The guy was a serious chain smoker one after the other. After going through about half a pack before leaving the parking lot we finally do the Demo run. The Demo run was pathetic. We went around with a bunch of cards renewing policies and trying to sell insurance till about 9pm. The next day was the spousal interview. My wife did her own research on the company and found this website and told me to look at what people who worked there are saying about this company. There was nothing positive in any of the comments about Combined. So he came to the house and tried to sell my wife insurance policies of which she didn't fall for. What was funny was he said he had been with the company for over 10 years and that he makes over 100k, but he was reading a script when he was trying to sell us on the insurance and the job. We later started talking about the job and how a person gets paid. He says I have to go to this school in Oregon for 4 weeks and get licsensed and I can make so much money on residual income which sounded good at first. He said that I will get a 5200 dollar salary and that the hotel and meals and school are free. Then he tried to pressure me sign all these papers and attend the school the following Sunday. I had already decided I was not going to take this job regardless of the income. If I have to lie to people to feed my family then I'm in the wrong profession. But anyway he got upset with me when my wife and I told him that I we make any big decisions without taking a day to think about it. He left the employment kit with us telling us to fill it out and that he will pick it up the next day if we decide to accept his offer. My wife and I read the Contract Agreement and was surprised at what was in it. A person will have to sell at least 3 policy every day for 13 weeks or the 5200 dollar so called guaranteed salary becomes void, according to the contract. Now how realistic is that. You also have to pay for finger prints, dmv report, sales licsence. The school only prepares you to take the test. Why not go to the local library and check books out on the subject and go take the state test yourself I thought. You will also have to provided your own transportation to the training center to Oregon of which you will not get reimbursed. I noticed on one of the forms that for the school that it told me to bring a voided check to the school so that I can receive weekly commisions. I thought that to be odd because why would a sales school want a voided check when Combine's own Contract Agreement states that you will only receive commisions until after you have completed the school and have passed the licsense test that you may or may not get. In closing, beware, educate yourself, there are crooks everywhere.
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#5 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Be Very Careful advise EXTREME caution to anyone

AUTHOR: Garry - (U.S.A.)

Perhaps I'm reading to much into the observation above that if you go to another company your old Combined policy holders will gain new respect for you, but I will advise EXTREME caution to anyone who plans to leave Combined and sell his/her existing policyholders replacement coverage on their Combined policies.

Depending on your state, one of the agreements you will have signed off on at hiring was that you would not leave CICA and then advise CICA policyholders to drop and switch. Combine WILL enforce this and in some instances it can cost you your state liscense. Remember, your relationship as a 'captive agent' with Combined is different from what Independant Agents enjoy with the multiple companies they represent. The latter, so long as they state clear of state regs ref churning and such, and only bump and upgrade policies they've written when doing so is in the clear best interests of the policy holders can and SHOULD move clients they've developed into the most benefical positions (As a consumer, if you haven't heard from your agent in a couple yrs time, you might want to consider a more service oriented professional who keeps his/her ear to the ground on your behalf) but b/c the folks you sell Combined to represent company developed leads - even if you cold knocked and wrote the initial business - those folks are not YOUR clients, they are instead Combined's policy holders.

Many many people have left Combined and build nice careers for themselves with other companies using Combined as a springboard. IF you believe that route is for you, DON'T lose your liscense by running afoul of your contract with Combined.

I respectfully disagree with the person who stated sales school is worthless. While it is true that the Combined presentation is more acting than 'selling', and the whole thing is scripted, the scripts and rebuttals are very well concieved and if you take them apart and understand how the principles supporting them work, you can structure far more complex presentations for far larger sales using the principles you learn in sales school. I see elements of combined thinking in the techniques taught by such big dollar B2B trainers as Neil Rockham, for example. PART of the problem Combined's turnover is what it is is that many of its agents realize they can take what Combined has taught them and adapt it to sell for other companies whose lack of a systematic approach makes it impossible for someone w/a non sales background to transition into them as readily as Combine does. There are a LOT of Combined vets doing extemely well in other companies.

In summary, if you're in a bad district with Combined and are leaving for reasons that make sense to you, don't look at your CICA time as a waste, and don't take a job with little promise, instead, assess your new skills, move to another sales job, perhaps in Insurance, but don't do it in such a way that you violate a forgotten term in your contract.

And as for not burning bridges . . . if you're leaving Combined b/c of probs with a SM or DM or even SRM, go in peace, give the whole experience some time to wash through your mind. . .may be that 5 yrs down the road, and in another district, Mr. Stones Sucess System That Never Fails will prove itself to you. Close doors, don't slam them.
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