• Report: #441975

Complaint Review: Combined Insurance

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  • Submitted: Wed, April 08, 2009
  • Updated: Thu, December 24, 2009

  • Reported By:Southwest Missouri
Combined Insurance
combined.com Springfield, Missouri U.S.A.

Combined Insurance Professionalism isn't in their vocabulary! Are they a cult or just a sham? Chicago Illinois, Jeff City Springfield Missouri

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Combined is a joke- a sick one!

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: very little you say is true

*UPDATE Employee: Combined..

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: LK are you sure?

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Why bash a company you obviously only know little about

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I recently had the pleasure of going through the interview and hiring process of Combined Insurance. If you're looking into this company for employment, read on and beware.

My interview, like most you'll find here, took place in a local hotel meeting room. It was a very typical hype filled presentation complete with all the excitement of the New way of doing business, and promises that Never again will we cold call a prospective client..

It all sounded pretty interesting and the salary plus bonuses, commissions and residuals was attractive.

The second interview was with the territory manager at his home. He asked that both my wife and I attend as they wanted to make sure that our home life wasn't going to get in the way. A little strange but I thought it was a nice touch.

After the second interview I was welcomed to the company and invited to go with that manager to the monthly training meeting. I though at this point, GREAT! This will give me a realistic look at the insurance professionals in this company and a better idea what to expect in the coming weeks.

No doubt about it, I was dead on the money in that assumption!

We arrived at the hotel and walked into the meeting room. A very small meeting room where the district manager was setting up for the meeting. We shook hands and my BS alarm sounded loud and clear. I can't put a finger on it but you know the feeling.

Now understand that I knew that Combined was an old company, (85 + years), so you would expect to meet several insurance professionals that had been with that company for quite a long time and you would expect a large attendance at this mandatory monthly meeting. Not the case at all!

There were about 40 people attending this training and I was told that this was in fact ALL of the agents .

40 agents for a territory this size? The BS alarm started to sound again.

Of that 40 or so agents, nearly half of them were new to the company. Only two had been there 10 years or more and they were the territory manager and the regional manager.

An 85 year old company with few agents and half of them new. Hmmm.

The rest was an assortment of humanity that, on first impression, lacked any telling signs of being insurance professionals. As the meeting went on, it became clear that they also lacked personality, sales skills and product knowledge.

At one point, one of the presenters held an exercise / contest whereby each of the agents would have to find the correct rates for a scenario that was presented in a given amount of time. (7 minutes as I recall).

It was just then that it dawned on me!

Nobody in the room had a computer!

The agents pulled out their RATE BOOKS (about 250 pages in a three ring binder), and stared fumbling through them to find the correct answers.

The answers were put up on the board. Yes I said answers, (plural).

Only one or two actually got the rates right and only one of those did it in the 7 minutes.

RATE BOOKS? Come on people this is 2009! The reason you're agents are having trouble getting it right and doing it fast is because the company is desperately behind the technological times!

But the meeting pressed on, (and on, and on, and on, etc).

Various questions by the attending agents really started to grate on me. They didn't know their products and no one at this training wanted to discuss products and answer their questions. They only wanted to discuss sales tactics. Additional questions about how to handle situations made it clear that the majority lacked even basic conversational skills much less sales skills.

Strange thing though, each and every one of them knew ALL of the company cheers. They ALL knew how to respond to How's your PMA?! They ALL knew when to clap just one time. But they didn't know their products and had no sales skills???

Now my BS alarm is really screaming at me!

But the final straw came when the district manager got up and gave a demonstration of the old school walk by in answer to a question. For those of you that don't know the walk by, it's a very old, slimy, high pressure sales tactic to get into some ones house. Shake their hand, look them in the eyes then break eye contact, drop their hand , point into the house and take a step by them while ASKING permission to come in.

This is the kind of stuff that gets you physically thrown out into the street if not shot as an intruder! Certainly nothing to be teaching in this day and age and most certainly not to a bunch of skill challenged newbies!

I was appalled and sickened by the entire day but I kept up appearance for the manager that had invited me, (particularly since he was my ride home), and because I actually do like the man. Of all the people that I have met with this company he is by far the most up front about things. So kudos to him!

As for the company and it's week long training in Chicago,, I'm gonna have to pass.

It's very clear that the only things they are teaching effectively is the company cheers, (as this is the only thing that everyone actually knew).

As for their New way of doing business. Total BS! They don't have a clue how to do business in any other way than the old school high pressure tactics that died a decade ago.

I failed to mention that the company provides leads for you I can't speak to the quality of these leads, (although I'm sure they are dubious at best), but I can tell you how they are delivered, boxes filled with reams of paper! We picked up about 200 pounds of them before we left.

Again, this is 2009! Have these people not yet been introduced to technology of any kind? Rate books, paper leads, old tired sales tactics, agents with no product knowledge and heavy handed, overbearing managers?

Thanks but no thanks!

If you are looking into this company I strongly suggest that you ask to attend one of these monthly meetings before you sign the papers. See it for yourself!

As for me, I AM a professional and I'm not about to get involved with something as shady as Combined Insurance appears to be.

Good luck to you all.

Mike
Southwest, Missouri
U.S.A.

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/08/2009 02:36 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Combined-Insurance/Springfield-Missouri-65806/Combined-Insurance-Professionalism-isnt-in-their-vocabulary-Are-they-a-cult-or-just-a-sh-441975. 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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#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Combined is a joke- a sick one!

AUTHOR: therifleman - ()

The person who wrote out the original complaint is 100% correct. I am an ex-employee of CI. It is true they will take just about anyone they deem having a 6th grade education. I have some college and was desperate for a job when I contacted them. It has been a while but I know their products & tactics have not changed. It is all chants "PMA" as if that somehow sells policies. 

You go door to door renewing a few policies, about 1/2 of which are cancelled when you show up. People don't want them (they were arm-twisted or lied to) & want out. I have been almost physically attacked on a few occasions b/c the person who sold the policy lied about what it covered and would do. This person ended up driving a BMW which he paid for by habitually lying to people. Sorry, I can't do that- not even if it means me driving a nice foreign car. He was also sleeping with one of the agents and giving her the most desirable area to prospect.

It is pretty much a pyramid scheme b/c the DM make commissions of the people they recruit.AND the DM has to pay the new agents salary the first couple of weeks! Can you believe that? Naturally the DM wants you on your own and selling no matter how you do it (lie, cheat, steal) so you are paying your way.

Cold calling door to door is not a feasible sales method in this day & age. Who wants to answer the door after dark these days? I can't remember how many suppers I barged in on b/c that was the only time I could catch them. Plus, I know for a fact some agents sold policies to Medicaid patients (against the law but many times these poor people didn't know it).

I lasted maybe six months before I bailed. I got tired of driving around all day in largely rural areas and being starred at as if I might be a con artist, rapist or Jxxxxxx Wxxxxxx. After all toting books and being dressed in a suit will make you look like a Jxxxxxx Wxxxxxx.

Please do not waste your time with CI. Their "agents" or cult members will defend them and say we were just failures or didn't employ their proper "tactics. By the way, I never meant anyone who make $2,000 a week. The only ones who even made close were those lying and saying the policies would cover from day one and cover anything.

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#2 UPDATE EX-employee responds

very little you say is true

AUTHOR: mjcanman - (Canada)

Go to any sales meeting in any city in any country where CI has snuck into. The employees be it a new agent or a DM all drive broken down cars. They all look tired and woren out and their pathetic techniques never change. I worked for CI for close to 1 year in 1992. I can't believe they still use the same techniques with those outdated flipcharts. I distinctly remember a DM or some other slimey piece of dung showing us the same "trick", of shoving past someone as you shake their hand.

CI does not value anyone, never has and never will. I noticed that many customers cancelled their policies after trying to collect on them. If combined is so great I have some questions?

   1) Why is their such a high turnover rate? (please spare me the old they had no PMA or some other answer they have you memorize.)

   2) Any reputable company will pay your expenses. Why does every expense come out out of the employees pocket? Really doesn't build your PMA, when you pay for everything.

   3) Why does CI tolerate DM's who lie, steal and cheat?

   4) Why don't they ever change their commission structure? 17 years ago they paid that same pathetic rate of 14% on renewals etc.. Let's see gas prices have soared, food prices have risen dramatically ... Yet CI still has that same great comission structure!!! That also must really build PMA!!!

Sorry no one makes over 100k working for CI. Maybe some of the CEO's or TM, but go into any CI conference and you will meet a bunch of desperate people all chasing an empty dream. I survived, but I was young and had no dependants and I lived with my parents. Half of everything you make will go to your expenses. In this day an age it is sad that companies like CI still exist, but I think as the economy gets worse it will choke CI into extinction. Get out, go back to school or if you must do comission sales only sell large items. Sell homes, motor-homes, cars ... you work just as hard, but make liveable comissons.

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#3 UPDATE Employee

Combined..

AUTHOR: Sales101 - (United States of America)

   Well reading your points, was kind of funny in someways. I am an employee of combined and I admit some things they do I dont like in terms of how they would like you to work no matter what.

But there are some things wrong,

1. I do have an office to go to each morning, alot of the times our company does interviews on the road with people in small towns way outside of the city, and that is why sometimes they do interviews in the hotel.

2. I'm from life health not 7E, people can complain all they want about work and money but the bottom line is if you suck well you dont make any money. There is alot of young guys in the company because the company is being restructured and we are actually now owned by "ACE" not "AON" anymore. A large majority of the higher ups are retiring, and they will need people to fill there spots.

3. Yes you work in an area for the week but first off you should be averaging 2000 in commission annually per week and about 1500 upfront each week. If you are GOOD the key word being if you are GOOD alot of people hired by combined have no sales experience because they like to give people a chance. I have a lady in my office who had no sales background and now shes one of the top in Canada because she followed the system.

4. Now I can also admit the hours you people talk about 9-9pm each day and saturdays and sundays lil far fetched in my opinion, when you first start off you need to put in the time to learn the system. Once you get good at it your hours reduce greatly because you can reach your goals in days rather then the full week. I tend to work 3pm-9pm mon-thurs and take the rest of the week off.  

5. Combined has treated me well I do have some complaints about the job sometimes when i think about it but they are minor, in reality i do get to choose my own hours i do make excellent money and I understand they ask alot from you but dont take everything to heart. What company is perfect??? everyone will have some issue with something at any job. Like you have to always recruit all the time when you go out no thats not what they mean.

Ex. If a client says "i lost my job" and im looking for anything and they happened to be nice or you can see they know how to communicate you can offer them a job and if they get it you get "money" very simple. They dont mean go looking for people to hire while you work.

If you actually stick it out for the first couple of months it becomes a very easy job and the money pays out good and if you get people cancelling on you well then I have to say you should know when a client wants something and when they dont and you should not try to force them into a sale. MANY of you sales people out there think you're hot s**t and force people or push on them for sales and MANY of those people get the comission cut backs.

If you do quality business you will sell well,  and make large amounts of money you can stick with your 35k  a year jobs fine by me. I'm a college graduate from marketing, my income is well over 6 figures and i'm 24, so if your making more money then me then great keep it up. But if you cant hack it and need to complain dont bash a company. Till you put in the time and suck it up.

I cant speak for the whole company I understand there are bad agents and managers out there but when i started out my meals were covered by my sales manager and I was also given a $500 a week draw incase i didnt sell anything for the first 7 weeks.

I have to say, if you are talented at selling and have the ability to help others and can do quality business without forcing people to buy something that they cant not afford and or do not want and you know it, then take on this job.

It requires time if you put in the time the job becomes easy, for example i just got back from a BYT "blow your top" i just made $3000 upfront for 5 days work and i worked a total of hmm let me think here 25 hours? which works to being 120 an hour.

I see new agents come and go because they dont want to put in the time many of my co workers who are 6 months plus with the company they make sales and the job becomes easy to them.  

So MIKE i will say this if you're a professional then you should be able to hack it, if not then I wouldnt call yourself a professional.

"sorry for the spelling just wrote this up fast"

Eric

Have a good day and good luck to anyone.

 

 

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#4 UPDATE EX-employee responds

LK are you sure?

AUTHOR: Don''t be fooled - (USA)

Lk, after reading your rebuttal to Mike I have to ask "Are you sure?"


Mike's reference to the "Walk by" sounds like a 7E term.  I'm guessing it's actually called the good ol' "T-System".  Leave a business or residence go the locations on either side and the one across the street.  Walk up to the person extending your hand, Hi, I'm so and so I was just next store with blah, blah, they have been clients of ours for x amount of time.  I believe what we have will be of interest to you also.  Or words to that effect.  Been awhile.  Get real will ya!  A rose by any other name.



I also couldn't help but notice you are an EX employee of CICA.  Hmmm, did you fail, did you not follow the beloved system exactly to the letter?  Oh wait you forgot the 7 Essentials, you remember "MUPSTUS", or did you violate the 17 success principles? Or did you finally wake up and read the writing on the wall and realize it was time to move on?



Mike is absolutely correct, "lead cards" for goodness sake?!  Let's face facts both you and I know,  those cards are the same people you see a few times a year yourself not to mention the life and health division seeing them too.  Oh wait, it depends on the route month.  200 pounds of leads sounds about right.



Yes it is commission, do you have to work hard, sure.  Set your own hours, potential for making lots of money, awards, trips, prizes.  Set your own hours unless it conflicts with work.  Potential for lots of charges backs on your commission.  Awards that pay the expenses of working for CICA (hotel rooms, food, gas, pens, pencils, cell phones(gawd forbid you don't have one) all the things you would need to a business).  Trips, sure if you spend 7 days a week working during the time the challenge is set-up.  Prizes, won't get into those because except for the engraving they are something you put in a closet or garage and never look at again.



Mike again is correct most agents and quite a few sales managers don't know their products.  Pathetic as it may sound it's the truth.  Make it sales manager and boy do your expenses go up.  Driving the new agent around during their "PAL" week, paying for their lunch because hey...they just went thru sales school got $150 for the week and are broke beyond broke.  Miss your "PAL" week and opps there goes the next weeks money for you because your paying your agent out of your pocket via CICA.



Offices for the branch?  Nope, sorry helps keep the cost down.  Let's meet at Denny's or a hotel lobby at least 3 times a week and spend a couple of hours talking about our goals, sales, or getting on report.  Oh did I mention for some agents it's an hour drive to the meeting and then back to their sales assignment for the week?  OMG I almost forgot the conference calls, the 5 - 10 phones calls you get during the day to make sure your working under the guise of seeing how well your day is going.  



How's it go again?  Home office to divisional office to regional manager to branch manager to sales manager to agent.  Gotta make that "CSG" or the higher up's don't get their bonus.  



Don't forget to recruit people while you're out trying make sales too.  Bonus factor in that too.  Almost forgot, get in your 25 presentations and you will make sales.  For those of you that don't do math that's 5 complete sales pitches a day from start to asking for the money.  Or somewhere around seeing 10 -15 people or more a day.



LK, I glad you brought that up, it's not your ability that qualifies you for this job, it's your PMA,  today you have it, but you never know for how long, isn't that true?  Great then which branch would you like to choose?



What was that?  Oh, I understand how you feel, many of prospective agents felt the same way, but they found that starting sales school was one of the best decisions they ever made and the commissions were great.



Anyway I could go on and on but I don't want to get cramps in my fingers.  CICA is expensive to the agent, sales manager, branch manager.  You spend more than you unless you are exceptional, you will spend more time working in the field and at home at night and on weekends than most commission jobs.  Chargebacks will kill ya, the constant phone calls, blah, blah, blah.



Just my personal opinion.  
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#5 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Why bash a company you obviously only know little about

AUTHOR: LK - (USA)

   I am sorry but anyone who is going to bash a company or employees of a company, based on meeting them once and for only a few short hours...is showing how unprofessional they are.  This personal based on what he heard is making assumptions about most everything, the only factual part of his long story is that he is full of BS (must have been why his BS radar was going off so much-lol).  Now being that I spent over 10 yrs with CICA, I know that the work is not easy and it involves a lot of dedication, hard work and sacrafices...just as I know the rewards are there also.  I also know that Combined insurance is not a perfect company and the reality of it is a lot of new sales people do fail...but that is a reality in all commission sales jobs.  Many of the the posts I have read, while I can not testify they did not occur, I am pretty certain most have a hefty portion of exageration is being put in their by the person posting.

What they oftern times are forgetting to input into their story is that they refused to follow the systems that CICA has in place...I know from first hand experience that if followed they work flawlessly.  Not that you will sell every person, but if your in the right activity you can NOT make sales (unless you are a tard).  I do know for a fact, that the so called "walk by" has not been taught by CICA as a means of entering a customers place of business or home in 10 yrs now...now some old timers may still be using this technique but it is not approved by CICA as a appropriate means of entering a customers place. 

Bottomline, is like any commission sales position it takes a strong work ethic, total dedication, and a self disciplined person to be successful...while Combined tries to provide good training, quality products, and a Company cultured focused around positive thinking...YOUR success is still left up to you and if YOU fail then look in the mirror if YOU want to know why.  I can also tell you that in all my experience with Combined insurance I was never asked or instructed (nor was ever implied) to do anything that was unethical, immoral, or against the laws of man or God.

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