1. Home
  2. Podcasts
  3. Barry Lundquist: Sage Series Episode 3

Barry Lundquist: Sage Series Episode 3



In episode three of our first season, what we’re calling the “Sage Series,” Barry Lundquist shares his thoughts on the healthcare professional disability market. Barry is the former president of the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) and has over 35 years of insurance industry experience in risk management, sales, sales leadership, senior executive management, and consulting roles for employee benefits and individual disability product lines and sales channels at several major carriers.

Some Highlights From the Transcript:

  • The healthcare professional disability insurance (DI) market is lucrative but risky for carriers (5:12)
  • Healthcare professionals are willing to pay up for good income protection (5:59)
  • Lessons learned from serving as the president of the Council for Disability Awareness (8:54)
  • What makes disability insurance unique compared to other types of insurance (12:42)
  • Why is the healthcare professional DI market so penetrated? (16:13)
  • Concerns about over-insuring healthcare professionals (21:03)
  • Why doesn’t over-insuring healthcare professionals happen as much in today’s market? (26:23)
  • How can carriers and brokers leverage each other more productively? (29:34)
  • How can brokers just starting out in the DI market find success? (35:17)
  • If you’re not talking about income protection, you’re NOT doing your job. (36:12)
  • How does consulting differ from working for a carrier? (47:44)
  • How would you respond if someone said, “All DI policies are basically the same?” (54:15)
  • The public perception that insurance companies are out to deny claims is false. (59:49)
  • No one ever sets out to be in the insurance industry. (1:05:25)

James Crook (01:59.5):

Welcome back. This is episode three of season one. If you’ve listened to the first two episodes, I want to thank you very much. We’ve put a lot of work into setting these conversations up and producing and recording. We’re really excited with the insights that we are gaining from these conversations. I don’t know about you, but personally, I’ve learned a lot from the first two episodes. What I love about this episode that you’re about to hear, personally, with Barry Lundquist, is Barry gets pretty fired up about the importance of disability insurance.

James Crook (02:42):

It really is so critical and especially for healthcare professionals. I think it was episode one where we heard Bill Buckle say, “Why wouldn’t you insure the asset that pays for your other assets?” That’s a great point. It really is doing that. For healthcare professionals specifically, there’s a greater risk for disability. Your incomes are higher and your expenses are typically higher, and you’ve got student loan debt. If you’re not insured, that’s not going to end well. Really, it’s fun to hear someone who feels it’s so important for brokers to be having those disability insurance conversations.

James Crook (03:30.5):

But anyway, let’s go ahead and I will introduce Barry Lundquist to you. Barry Lundquist’s professional background includes over 35 years of insurance industry expert experience in risk management, sales, sales leadership, senior executive management, and consulting roles for employee benefits and individual disability product lines, and sales channels at Paul Revere, Provident, and Unum.

James Crook (03:54.5):

In 2000, Barry founded Eastport Marketing Group, a consulting and marketing services company that helps insurance companies and distributors improve results. From 2009 through June of 2014, Barry served as president of the Portland, Maine-based Council for Disability Awareness or CDA. Barry is active in the community and the industry and serves on several nonprofit and for-profit corporate boards. Barry and his family reside in Washington, New Hampshire, and Falmouth, Maine.

James Crook (04:27.5):

Joe Sevcik will be my co-host again today. With that, let’s roll.

James Crook (4:38.5):

All right, Barry. You’ve had a wealth of experience with several great companies, including Unum. Unum is arguably the industry pioneer in group disability insurance, and Paul Revere, now part of Unum, which was a pioneer in individual DI. What has been the common thread that you’ve seen with how carriers approach the healthcare professional market from a DI standpoint?

Barry Lundquist (5:12.5):

Thanks, James, and thanks for letting me do this. I start out by saying carriers generally view the healthcare professional market as kind of a two-edged sword. It’s a lucrative market, but it’s risky. As I think about how carriers approach the market, there’s a fair amount of inconsistency from carrier to carrier and even within carriers, and it may be a bit of hyperbole but a love-hate relationship maybe. From a positive point of view, healthcare professionals certainly recognize and understand the need for income protection, more really than any other market. They’ve got high incomes. They’re more likely to buy DI, either individual or group or both, than any other occupational group.

Barry Lundquist (5:59.5):

They’re willing to pay up for good protection. That means there’s a really significant premium opportunity for companies in that market. Actually, for the same reasons, many agents and brokers like that market, and they focus on it. The other side of the coin is it is a very narrow market, and they’re pretty unique economics attached to it. I think we’re all aware of the healthcare delivery system has changed dramatically over the years. It’s very likely to change a lot more in the future. That creates uncertainty for insurance companies and practices and healthcare providers and even brokers. Of course, COVID more recently has added to that mix.

Barry Lundquist (06:52.5)

A lot of insurers are disproportionately concentrated in that market. They’ve got a lot more premium in that market than other markets relative to the risk and it’s particularly true for individual DI carriers. Some have concentrations of up to 30% or so of their premium in a market that really represents less than 1% of the working population. Because of the high incomes, this propensity to maximize their protection, healthcare professionals tend to have high indemnities, high amounts of insurance. That means, when they have claims, they have large claims. Basically, these factors translate into volatility and risk for insurance companies.

James Crook (07:51.5):

Okay, great. That makes a lot of sense. You talk about it as being having this high degree of risk. Is there anything besides the high indemnity, the high limits standpoint of it that makes it risky?

Barry Lundquist (08:01.5):

Well, again, it’s a concentrated market that has unique characteristics. This whole idea that the market, I’m talking about the practice of medicine and dentistry primarily, can change dramatically based on factors that maybe don’t impact other occupational classes as much. COVID is a great example. A lot of healthcare practices simply had to shut down, while others had to go into hyper gear to keep up.

James Crook (08:38.5)

Right.

Barry Lundquist (08:40.5):

As our political system contemplates—you know—are we going to have national healthcare or are we going to have some other version, all those things impact the healthcare professional market.

James Crook (08:52.5)

Great, thank you.

Joe Sevcik (08:54.5):

Hey, I’ll go ahead and jump in here. You know, we’ve talked about the fact that you have some great experience with some really good carriers on the carrier side. But you’ve also served as the president of the Council for Disability Awareness, which is where I got to know you and know you from. Talk a little bit about that experience and what you learned from it, both from the standpoint of what did the various member companies have in common? You’ve got a unique view or perspective into other carriers, different carriers, how they differed in their approach to disability insurance, and then again, especially, for the healthcare provider market, what were some of the commonalities, and what were some of the big differences?

Barry Lundquist (09:43.5):

Let me, for anyone listening, describe a little bit about what the Council for Disability Awareness does. It’s a …

James Crook (09:49.5):

Sure.

Barry Lundquist (09:51.5):

It’s a nonprofit organization. It’s supported by both group and individual disability insurance companies, and the CDA’s mission is to educate working Americans about their risk of becoming disabled and the importance of protecting their incomes. CDA support comes from these companies, and all of the member companies share an interest in raising awareness about the risks and consequences of disability. Collectively, really, the focus is helping Americans understand the need and that translates into a rising tide lifts on all boats scenario for disability insurers.

Barry Lundquist (10:34.5):

CDA has no product bias. It’s agnostic when it comes to how the companies meet the needs of the market once all these people understand that they have this risk. The differences, really, there are many. Some members are group carriers, others are individual carriers. Some are very focused on the physician market, for example, and others have no physician business. There’s all kinds of different products and contract features and things that they offer. Ironically, they support this together, but they compete against each other in the marketplace.

Barry Lundquist (11:34.5):

Before we leave this topic, I did hand over the reins a few years back to Carol Harnett, the new president there. But if listeners haven’t visited the CDA website, disabilitycanhappen.org, it’s really a good source of information about the risk and the need for income protection. It’s a good place to peruse the information.

James Crook (12:02.5):

Absolutely. I agree with that. It’s been helpful. It’s a good resource. Just jumping in here again, Barry, you started to talk a little bit about some of the features of what makes disability insurance unique. Really, it’s different compared to life insurance and health insurance. Can you go into more about why that’s the case?

Barry Lundquist (12:31.5):

Just so I understand the question, what makes disability insurance so different from those other coverages?

James Crook (12:38.5):

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. What makes it different? Why is it unique?

Barry Lundquist (12:42.5):

There’s many aspects to that question. One part of the answer is people generally understand health insurance. They have it for the most part through their employers. They know they need it. They use it on a fairly regular basis. It pays for those expenses. They get that. Life insurance is a fairly straightforward concept. People are either alive or dead. Every one of us is going to die at some point. That’s an inevitable conclusion. We don’t know when, but it’s going to happen. Disability is a far more subtle and subjective subject. Because, first off, there’s nothing that says that everybody’s going to get disabled. Most people don’t experience a long-term disability, but a lot do. Statistically, somewhere around a third or a quarter of people, in their working lifetimes, will experience a long-term disability. It’s a high percentage in that it needs to be protected, but again, probably three quarters of people aren’t going to even use disability insurance if they get it.

Barry Lundquist (14:02.5):

Then drilling down a bit, the subtleties around what constitutes disability are significant. There are some very obvious disabilities. People have a severe stroke, and they can no longer talk and walk, and they just can’t do most jobs, and that doesn’t mean they can’t do something. On the other end of the spectrum, people can have things wrong with them but not impair their ability to work. It’s all these gray areas in the middle. It becomes very difficult to write contracts to be specific enough to define what is a disability, which enables the people who adjudicate claims, who review the claims and determine whether or not claims are approved. It’s very difficult at their end.

Barry Lundquist (15:04.5):

Just one example of that is there’s all kinds of different tolerances for pain that people have. Some people tolerate pain well; some don’t tolerate pain well at all. Some people tolerate and have good results from medications; others don’t. The same essential problem, say, a specific back problem can really cause one person to be unable to work while another can potentially get through it and continue to work. Those subtleties really make disability insurance more complex and very different from those other coverages. Again, getting back to life insurance, the definition of death is pretty clear. Other than maybe somebody disappearing, it’s pretty easy to adjudicate a death claim.

Joe Sevcik (16:13.5):

You know, that’s a great segue into this next question that I’d like to ask. You mentioned some statistics earlier from your experience with the Council for Disability Awareness about how some companies might have 30% of their block in the healthcare profession industry, and others would have much less, and it only represents 1%, of the working population. Can you talk a little bit about why you feel that the physician market or just the healthcare professional market in general is more penetrated? Is it driven by the amount of income? Is it driven by their experience in just working with people in the medical field and understanding what can happen? What are your thoughts on that?

Barry Lundquist (17:04.5):

Yeah, that’s definitely true, number one. When we compared healthcare professionals with people in other occupations, one very obvious difference is physicians in particular, constantly see people who are sick and injured, people who struggle with health issues, and many of them are unable to work because of those issues. The reality of disability stares these people, the physicians who treat them, in the face every day, and through their training and their day-to-day experience, they can easily see that there is a risk of these disabling injuries and illnesses and also what the impact is.

Barry Lundquist (17:55.5):

In fact, physicians are often participating in the process because disability claims typically have to be certified. The company will go to the physician and say, “Is this person able to work? Are they able to perform these duties?” That’s important.
I think another reason is a significant amount of time and money physicians and dentists, for example, have invested in their careers. It’s very costly and time-consuming to go through the years of school and training they are required to go through in order to become physicians or dentists, and particularly if they go into specialties. They get a later start. They may be in their mid-30s or even older when they actually start to earn an income. At that point, they may have significant debt. They’re catching up, and the pressure on them earning income is even greater.

Barry Lundquist (19:07.5):

This translates into a need to protect their income. Again, combined with their recognition that disability happens, that’s important. Interestingly, a lot of medical and dental school curricula actually have some financial training for rising physicians and dentists. Typically, part of that training is, “Hey, you need disability insurance.” I’m sure maybe the disability insurance industry lobbied for that, but it’s really appropriate. Finally, when protection is offered, and it might be individual policies, it might be a group voluntary policy through their practice, they tend to sign up, again, for the reasons I’ve already talked about. If they are in a practice with other providers, they tend to insist on having a good disability program available to them.

Barry Lundquist (19:57.5):

I guess the last thing, then I’ll move on to the next question, is a lot of sales people who sell disability insurance focus on healthcare professional market. Again, they recognize that the physicians understand the need, they have incomes that allow them to pay for the coverage, and it’s a really lucrative market for the salespeople. All those things, I think, are at least some of the reasons why that’s a much more penetrated market than say other occupation categories.

Joe Sevcik (20:38.5):

Yeah, those are some great insights. The one that I hadn’t really heard a lot of before is the comment you made that the physicians are the ones who have to verify other people’s disabilities and if they’re able to work, which would certainly give them an understanding and an insider’s view as to definition of disability and what it means and that sort of thing. That’s a great comment.

Joe Sevcik (21:03.5):

Hey, I want to build on that question just a little bit. This is based on some conversations that you and I have had in the past. I think you said when you were with Paul Revere, if I’m not mistaken, that you had concerns often with over-insuring a group that might have individual disability in play. Specifically, if there was an IDI policy in place, layering a group policy on top of that might be cause for concern. Can you talk about that, just as a concept, is it still a concern today, is the concern different, stronger, or not as strong for healthcare professionals?

Barry Lundquist (21:45.5):

Yeah, that’s certainly something we can talk a long time about. I would start out by saying that the level of income replacement is the most important driver of people going on claim and people staying on claim. It’s a very sensitive thing if people have too much income replacement. It does result, at a macro level, in more claims and claims that last longer.

Barry Lundquist (22:32.5):

One of my old bosses had this saying, and maybe from the outside or even a broker’s point of view, this may sound a little sarcastic, but he’d say, “If people are insuring their homes for a lot more than they’re worth, there’ll be a lot of fires.” The concept is similar. Basically, the over-insurance I’m talking about occurred a lot more in the past than in the present by the way, but an agent or broker might go into a medical practice, for example, or any firm, but it really happened more in medical practices because of the propensity to buy disability insurance and this understanding of the need to protect what they’ve invested in their careers.

Barry Lundquist (23:28.8):

Agent broker would sell them on the concept that, gee, we can get you more than 100% of your income protected. We’ll go in and we’ll sell you individual policies, and then get the most we can there. Then we’ll later on, go to a group carrier that doesn’t ask any questions about underlying coverage and layer a group policy on top. Basically, what that means is they end up with 120% or more of income replacement, which again can provide people with incentives to go on claim. I mean, it’s not necessarily in someone’s control. I’m just going to go on claim.

Barry Lundquist (23:10.5):

But again, there are these subjective gray areas. Some people are clearly disabled; others are clearly not disabled. But I guess maybe a good analogy is we all know people who are motivated to show up at work, no matter how sick they are. You don’t like it when the guy next to you, especially in today’s world, I suppose and most people aren’t even actively at their office, but you get somebody walking around coughing and sneezing and sounding horrible. But there are those people, they are going to go to work. There are other people that have a sniffle and they’re going to call in sick for a week. I mean, there is this motivational factor involved.

Barry Lundquist (24:50.5):

Some people are going to show up. But anyhow, back to the question, what makes sense, for any worker and this certainly includes healthcare professionals, is to have the right amount of protection. I mean, if you’re healthy, you don’t want to be paying for more coverage than you need. Like I said earlier, most people are never going to have a long-term disability claim, so why pay more premium than you need to pay. But if you do have the misfortune of becoming disabled, you want to have enough income to maintain your lifestyle.

Barry Lundquist (25:33.5):

Basically, over-insurance causes a lot of unfavorable outcomes. It’s not just for the companies. If people are over-insured, and it’s driving up claims, and even what might be considered fraudulent, that means premiums are higher for the people who are buying the right amount of coverage. That’s not a good thing. The other thing is the employer wants their people at work. They don’t want people going out on claim, people they’ve invested in and people that are doing a good job for them. The last thing the employer wants to do is provide an incentive for their employees to leave, which providing too much insurance, disability insurance can do that.

James Crook (26:23.5):

Right. I’ve got a follow-up question to that. From your experience, it sounds like, because you said this happened more in the past where a broker could go in and say, “Hey, let’s get you all the insurance we can.” And people would end up having 120% income protection. How do carriers and brokers, I mean, if that was happening more in the past, what has been done to address that? Why doesn’t that happen as much anymore? How does that relationship work between the carrier and the broker?

Barry Lundquist (27:01.5):

Yeah. Another really good question. I’m going to Integrate again. This is a perception, but I think it happens much less than in the past. A good portion of that is just education that, “Hey, this doesn’t make any sense.” I think many insurance companies have become more aggressive and claim time and contesting those situations that were deliberately put in place. It’s different. Most physicians are going to have some individual coverage. I want to draw a distinction here. If a physician goes to another practice and has a $4,000 a month policy, or whatever it is, and then the practice purchases group LTD, that’s just part of the deal. That’s different than a deliberate process of over-insuring the whole group. I think that’s distinction’s important.

Barry Lundquist (28:17.5):

Insurance companies have gotten more vigilant about policing it at claim time. They might contest the claims, which is obviously a poor reflection on the broker. I think from a marketing perspective, companies have, many companies have tried to do a better job coordinating the group and individual coverage on the frontend in order to prevent this over-insurance from happening. Another example is on the individual side, if group insurance is in place, they will tend to issue more coverage than they might have in the past. The replacement ratio might get up to 80% or 90%, or even 100% of income, whereas in the past, they didn’t think about it that way. Again, companies and brokers are a little bit more enlightened as well. Group definitions are better than they used to be in the past. In some cases, they’re very good. All those things have contributed to making it better. But it probably still happens occasionally.

James Crook (29:32.5):

Sure, thank you.

 

Joe Sevcik (29:34.5)

Say, I’d like to ask an overarching question about the carrier-broker relationship. You’ve had a unique perspective on the industry; you’ve been able to see it from a lot of different lenses. I guess the way I would phrase this is, what do you think that brokers don’t get about carriers and that carriers don’t get about brokers, and frankly, how they might be able to leverage each other better than they do today?

Barry Lundquist (30:13.5):

That’s an interesting question. One thing carriers don’t often get is how much impact the broker can have on the profitability of the business they sell. I’ve got a couple of very specific examples of why I think this. When I was at Paul Revere, and it was some time ago, the company conducted this exhaustive study of trying to identify what indicators during the application process were the best predictors of the eventual profitability of the sole policy. Literally, there were hundreds, 700 I think was a number, somewhere in there, different factors that they reviewed for tens of thousands of applications that eventually became sole policies.

Barry Lundquist (31:07.5):

They conducted regression analysis to isolate and identify the impact of each factor and all this actuarial stuff happened. But the outcome was really fascinating because it identified a small number of factors. There may be 15 that were identified as really part of the application process that would eventually, in the aggregate, predict the future profitability of the business. What was fascinating is about a third of those factors were tied to the broker; it was broker behavior. One example is if, when the application came in, and something had to be changed on the application, maybe the occupational classification wasn’t right or something like that, which is really the broker completing the application with the client.

Barry Lundquist (32:06.5):

If that application required some change, that was a predictor for profitability because it’s likely other things maybe that weren’t noticed needed to be changed. It’s just an example. But the point is that the broker has a huge impact on eventual profitability of that business. I don’t think most carriers have very good information about that. They don’t really do a good job tracking each broker and their characteristics and their profitability and your blocks of business. The carriers really need to understand that if they can work with the best brokers and avoid the small number of brokers that don’t produce good business, that’s a really powerful lever for their business.

Barry Lundquist (32:55.5):

That’s one thing that jumps in my mind about what carriers don’t get about brokers. As far as what brokers don’t get about insurance companies, one thing I would say is maybe they don’t quite understand how important it is for an insurance company to be profitable. Some of the things that insurance companies do to be profitable, making underwriting more challenging or with a broker reviews more challenging or raising prices or things like that, are really ways that they employ to become or retain profitability.

Barry Lundquist (33:47.5):

Obviously, stock companies have owners; they demand returns. They can take their invested capital elsewhere. Companies have regulators looking at their business all the time and rating agencies, and if they want to have good ratings, so they really are required to be profitable. Again, that’s the stuff that translates into things that brokers on the ground can perceive as being negative. Really, the most important thing the insurance company ultimately has to do is stand behind the promises they make and the broker’s making those promises, and they’ve got to be able to fulfill those promises to the customers, and they can’t do that if they’re not solving. That would be my one answer for what brokers can really don’t understand necessarily to the degree they could.

James Crook (34:58.5):

Well, that’s a lot of good stuff. I’m as shocked as anyone that a company expects to be profitable. That’s really interesting. Wow. Joe. Do you have any follow up questions on that?

Joe Sevcik (35:17.5):

Probably the one thing I would say on that is, okay, so looking at this from the broker’s perspective, and I understand exactly what you’re saying about how maybe the pricing decision, the underwriting decisions can seem to be hard to understand. I’ll put it that way sometimes. With that as a backdrop, what advice would you give to brokers who, regardless of where they are on the spectrum of selling disability insurance, if they’re just starting out, if they’re active sellers, if they’re not really active sellers on it, if they’re thinking about adding it to their product listing, what pieces of advice would you give to a broker in this market to enhance their success or improve their success?

Barry Lundquist (36:12.5):

One thing I’ll share: I vividly remember this conversation with a broker in New York named Steve Herman. He’s a great guy. He sold to healthcare professionals primarily, and extremely successful and just really had a wonderful career. I remember him saying to me, “If I ever knew how lucrative this business was, I would have started doing it 20 years before I did.” The compensation people can earn from disability insurance is significant and particularly renewals, which take a while to accumulate, but they last a long time. It’s very unique to the disability business. Group disability in ways is the same way. I mean, it’s level commissions. Just from a financial point of view, agents are business people, and they need to decide how do they make a living. That’s something they should factor in. I would like to start by talking about people who aren’t selling disability insurance, period. I can really get pretty fired up about this. I spent five years…

James Crook (37:39.5):

That’s good.

Barry Lundquist (37:40.5):

…trying to educate people. But speaking to that person who doesn’t sell DI, and regardless of the reason, there might be a good reason, but if you’re not discussing income protection with your clients, you are not doing your job, period. You’re literally being negligent. If you choose to not be involved in selling DI, at least find a disability expert you can trust. Partner with that person, develop a relationship, and refer that task, if you will, of protecting each client’s income to that expert. The last thing in the world I would want, if I were a broker, is a phone call from my client’s spouse because the client has experienced a stroke or some other debilitating disability.

Barry Lundquist (38:39.5):

The spouse has asked me what coverage is in place, and there isn’t any. How do you explain that? As a trusted advisor, it’s your responsibility to make sure they’re protected one way or another. I hope that comes across as being pretty strong. For people who are just starting out or even not selling DI, besides the fact that you can make a lot of money doing it, which is an important consideration, one thing has always occurred to me is disability insurance is a coverage that young people should buy. There are many reasons why buying DI when you’re young makes good sense.

Barry Lundquist (39:14.5):

Premiums are low, and you can lock in those premiums forever. The person’s health is typically much better when they’re young, so they can buy the insurance without much hassle. They can build in ways to preserve their future insurability. Really, I just genuinely think it’s easier to talk to someone in mid-30s about protecting their income than about dying. If you’re a group insurance salesperson, disability is an important protection with a relatively low cost, compared to the medical insurance that you’re dealing within and causes you headaches all the time. If an employer, your employer, your client doesn’t offer disability insurance, and an employee becomes disabled and can’t work, if they don’t have the coverage, it puts the employer in a horrible position.

Barry Lundquist (40:24.5):

Do they keep paying the person, even if they’re no longer working, or how long do they pay him for? Do they cut him off? I mean, how can you hire a replacement because somebody needs to do the work that disabled person was doing before they left, so they got to pay a replacement. When they cut somebody off, basically just say, “Okay, sorry, we can’t pay you anymore.” What’s the impact on that person and their family, and how do the other employees view that because they’re going to know what’s going on. I’m running on here a little bit.

Barry Lundquist (40:56.5):

But one last thing that’s really important in today’s world is that all disability carriers, basically, and individual carriers, group carriers, they almost universally have expertise and will devote a lot of resource to helping get disabled employees back to work. This is such a win-win. Really, when you think about, it’s almost more important than the income replacement. What you’re talking about is getting a person back to their life. This helps the employer get good employees back on the job. Science has shown the sooner you intervene and begin working with the person with the idea that they’ll get back to work, that they’re wanted back to work, that they’re valued, it does help them return faster. That’s a consideration that’s really overlooked to a large degree.

Barry Lundquist (40:05.5):

It’s a little bit that early intervention. You think about having surgery, and I’ve had a few, you guys maybe have or not. But one of the first things, when you have knee surgery, pretty quickly, they have you in physical therapy, the sooner the better. It almost seems like, “My God, I shouldn’t even be doing anything with this knee,” but they’re out there making you do it. Very similar, the sooner someone can start thinking about in taking steps to return to work, the more successful it’s going to be. I’m going to make one last comment. Again, I know I’m being …

James Crook (42:50.5):

No. Barry, it’s great. This is a lot of good stuff. Please indulge yourself as much as you want. We’re happy about it.

Barry Lundquist (43:05.5):

Okay. I want to talk to the broker who’s already selling lots of disability insurance. First off, thank you, and congratulations. Those people know the reasons why they protect incomes, and they’ve seen the benefits of what they do. They get it. I would speak to those experienced disability sellers and say become the Pied Piper for this protection. Give some back and help younger, less experienced agents get into the business. We need those people. If there are people that you know that are selling insurance or investments or anything and not selling DI, approach them about being their partner, and help make sure that their clients are fully protected, and you can help them, you can help yourself, and you can certainly help the client. I think taking steps along those lines will be a very satisfying thing.

James Crook (44:16.5

Great. Well, thanks. Thanks for all that, Barry. I think you gave us the most fired up soundbite we’ve had so far on this podcast, which is great. It makes a lot of sense what you said. Going off of some of the stuff that you’ve said, I’d like to shift the conversation just towards healthcare professionals, talking about some of these same things. You’ve seen the way the companies approached the DI market. How do healthcare professionals differ in the needs, attitudes, and approaches than other high-income individuals? How are their income protection needs different? How do carriers respond to that?

Barry Lundquist (45:05.5):

I’ve already talked some about this. The healthcare professionals see disability. They understand it. They have to certify disability for insurance companies. They have this huge investment in time and money to get to where they are. One of the unique things with physicians is they have that number, called a sunk cost, and that needs to be protected. Many of them who have achieved specialties, that needs to be protected. It’s a unique thing for healthcare professionals. Own occupation coverage is generally considered to be important, but it’s particularly important for healthcare professionals and specialty coverage even more important, given the years of hundreds of thousands of dollars and perhaps the debt they’ve incurred to achieve that specialty.

Barry Lundquist (45:53.5):

If they can’t perform a specialty, they do suffer a devastating loss, even if they can earn an income in a different way, as a healthcare provider. That’s a major difference. Most carriers do understand the healthcare professional market. It’s important for brokers to make sure they align themselves with carriers that understand the healthcare professional market, specialize in it, and that have products and services that are designed specifically for that market, and that have, this is really important, a demonstrated track record of consistency. You’re selling, particularly for an agent, selling group plans, or multi-life individual plans, you need the carrier to be there over a period of years. You can’t be changing carriers.

Barry Lundquist (47:00.5):

You need to have confidence that who’s ever providing the protection is going to be there in five or ten years in a reasonable way. None of us have a crystal ball, but the best way to predict the future is how consistent have they been over time because there have been tremendous disruptions in that market. Many companies have left that market as a result of that.

James Crook (47:41.5):

Yeah. That’s all really interesting.

Joe Sevcik (47:44.5):

The passion that you have for disability insurance just comes through clearly in your answers. I know that passion, seeing it firsthand when we worked together at the CDA. But I’m going to shift gears a little bit here. If you wouldn’t mind, just riff on this topic a little bit, but talk about your decision to leave the carrier world and open your own consulting practice. Then as a result of doing that, what … talk a little bit about how that world is different, maybe some “aha” moments that you had and things that you saw there that weren’t obvious to you when you were on the carrier side.

Barry Lundquist (48:30.5):

Partly the circumstance was the cause and partly preference. I was working for Unum in Maine, and Unum merged with actually my former carrier, and it was just an odd situation. For a variety reasons, I decided that I would leave Unum. Then the question became, “Okay, if you’re going to Unum, what are you going to do now?” It was a really important part, point my life because my wife and I really … I had one in particular, really good offer, really a perfect offer for me. But it would have required moving … it would’ve required doing similar things to what I’d done in the past. There’s always risk going to a new carrier, a new job that something will happen there.

Barry Lundquist (49:41.5):

Long story short, I sort of decided that … and I had just moved to Maine too. It was relatively recent that had gone to Unum, getting kids settled in school, and all that sort of stuff. It really became what do you want to do with the rest of your life discussion. I like doing things that are different. I don’t like doing the same stuff over and over again. I really enjoy a new challenge. I always wanted to start a business. I decided … let me try this. It was hard. I mean, my finances were okay. I could survive for a while, but basically, I had a phone, a Rolodex, and a computer. I didn’t know much about how to work the computer.

James Crook (50:36.5):

Those are good ingredients.

Barry Lundquist (50:40.5):

Yeah. I had [inaudible 00:49:42] for a while and I put a business plan together. I decided what I was going to do. What was interesting is I didn’t get hired to do the things that I thought I would be hired for. But I did get hired by people who knew me. Many of them asked me to do things that I wasn’t necessarily all that well qualified for, but they just felt like knowing my capabilities and such that I would be able to figure it out. They were right. What was really fun is that a lot of different things that I got to work on with a lot of different companies, and it’s certainly a different world. Going from working for a carrier to having many carriers as clients was really eye-opening.

Barry Lundquist (51:34.5):

I certainly got a broader view of the business. One of the things I really found interesting is that carriers mostly have these inferiority complexes. They think their competition performs much better than they do, in many cases. They recognize their own shortcomings. They know that they have things that they do that they don’t do very well, which is why they hired people like me to help them. But they don’t necessarily see the faults that are behind the curtain, if you will, at their competitors. The bottom line is basically all carriers do some things well, but they have things that they don’t do so well. What they do well and not well, it’s different from carrier to carrier, but they’re all in the same boat in that regard.

James Crook (52:26.5):

That’s interesting. Do you have any specific examples? Not divulging any secrets, but is there any of these behind the curtain issues that you could share with us?

Barry Lundquist (52:42.5):

There’s a lot of different things. One way to answer that is that, when you’re in the market, and we’re going to talk about group insurance carriers here for a minute, and you’re out there pitching your product, and maybe you’re selling one in ten. Maybe if you’re really good, you’re selling one in five. But you’re mostly failing more than succeeding in selling your products. To a large degree, sometimes it’s based on pricing. Not always, but pricing is certainly an important factor. Almost every carrier thinks that the competitors have better prices. Of course, the competitors have the same deal. They’re only selling one in ten, or one in five. From time to time, some carriers do have high prices and stuff. But that’s really a good example. Everybody’s failing to a large extent when they pitch their product, and really the important piece is why are you succeeding when you did one? How can you expand that piece?

James Crook (54.10.5):

Interesting.

Joe Sevcik (54:15.5):

Well, I know from my own experience, that is certainly the case that you would often hear from the field that whatever carrier you are with you, your prices are out of line compared to everyone else. I think every field representative feels the same way. You’ve seen a lot of variation across the industries. How would you respond to the statement that if someone were to say, whether it’s a prospective client or a broker, if someone were to say, “All DI policies are basically the same?”

Barry Lundquist (54:58.5):

On one level, it’s actually true. One of the lessons I’ve learned is we’ve made the business way more complicated than we should have. At its simplest point, the purpose of a disability policy is to provide income to a wage earner who gets sick or hurt and can’t work. They all do that. Now, beyond that, there are obviously many, many, many differences in contract language and pricing and limits and guarantees, is it a group platform, is it an individual platform, or worksite situation. As you drill down into the detail, there are significant differences.

Barry Lundquist (57:57.5):

Maybe when I say significant, oftentimes the companies or the agents or brokers are going to drill in to a particular provision that they feel gives them an advantage that makes their contract better. Some of that’s legitimate, but at times, I think it’s just making it more complicated. I know a lot of brokers will not necessarily agree with the statement, but if it’s a good company and it’s a good group product or good individual product, in almost every case, if somebody is disabled, it’s going to pay them. If they are clearly not disabled, it won’t. It’s really the fringe that people argue about.

Barry Lundquist (56:58.5):

But again, back to my original point, keeping it simple is probably the best approach. The agent broker really needs to understand the differences and to help a client by making a recommendation about what they should do. I use this analogy: I know nothing about computers. If I need to get a new computer, and I walk into a computer store, the last thing I want to hear is all this jargon, and I certainly don’t want them to pull the circuit boards out. I don’t even know if they have those … start explaining all that. I want the person to tell me, for what I’m going to use this for, what should I buy, and what are my options?

Barry Lundquist (57:45.5):

It’s similar here, you have trust in an agent or broker, and they should be the ones who say, first off, ask all the questions in the world about what the need is and what their circumstance is, but then say, “Here’s what I think you should do. These are the reasons why, or maybe here are three options.” Just to make it simple. I do think, one last thing here, is the debate’s changed over the years some. It used to be, in the old days, that individual salesmen literally would say that group insurance is just trash, it’s not worth it, you should opt out of your group plan if you can, and just buy individual because it’s so much better.

Barry Lundquist (58:32.5):

Group people would say individual is so expensive, it’s not worth it. Today, people have a better understanding, generally, that both group and individual plans have value. They’re both important as income protection solutions, and they can be used in combination. I don’t think it does our industry any good for people to be saying this product is great, and this is no good because it just confuses people, and it makes them skeptical.

Joe Sevcik (59:10.5):

Yeah, yeah. I like your example of the going into the computer store and not wanting to know how the thing runs, just wanting to know will it satisfy your needs and get the work that you need done. From your experience, have you seen any claims, disaster stories, where maybe the conversation between the client and the broker didn’t happen like that, and they just had the wrong policy in place or the wrong assumptions?

Barry Lundquist (59:49.5):

I actually can’t think of anywhere an appropriate policy was sold, and the person had a legitimate claim, and the claim wasn’t paid. Perception in the public is insurance companies are out to deny claims; I actually think the opposite is true. They really understand that the reason they’re in business is to pay claims. Companies have focused more in recent years on the claim department as a service center. In the past, it was just at the back end of the company; no one really paid much attention to it. Now it’s really a customer service center. This is a little bit off of you’re talking here but the disaster story is, for me, is really a macro one, and it goes back a long period of time to the ’70s and ’80s, really.

Barry Lundquist (1:00:48.5):

Some of the best environments to sell disability insurance in are when there’s high interest rates, and high inflation, and stable employment. I’m talking now specifically about the healthcare professional market. In ’70s and ’80s, those factors were in place, and if you’re old enough to remember, you guys might not be but I am, inflation was going crazy. I applied for a mortgage in 1982 at 17.5% interest rate. Inflation was rampant; it was running close to 10%.

Barry Lundquist (1:01:34.5):

In the disability world, when you’re having a disability product, so you have these massive reserves that are required by regulators, and in some cases, up to half of the income of a company is the investment income they earn on those reserves, which is basically invested in bonds. The impact of interest rates is phenomenal, really, to companies. Inflation is something that really prevents people from going on claim; essentially, you’re going on fixed income if you’re going on claim. When cost of living is rising and your former coworkers’ incomes are skyrocketing, it’s incentive to not go on claim or to get off claim.

Barry Lundquist (1:02:35.5):

Then physicians back then were in a pretty stable environment. There are a lot of sole proprietorships, individual practices, small practices, and really, the storm of healthcare reform had not yet hit. The disaster was when interest rates dropped, inflation abated, and the whole healthcare reform issue came about. Insurance companies really started intervening, what healthcare could be done and not done, how much they pay, and it just turned physicians’ lives upside down and really created a lot of job dissatisfaction, forced many physicians to consider or actually leave practice. Unfortunately, some of those were on claim.

Barry Lundquist (1:03:31.5):

Back in those golden years, when it was so easy to make money selling disability, then companies competed harder, and they started making contracts more liberal, raised limits tremendously. All that really resulted in the ’90s, particularly for individual companies but group companies as well, a financial tsunami where companies lost literally hundreds of millions of dollars. Companies learned from that, mostly, and a lot of adjustments were made, and profitability has been pretty stable for several years now, although, growth is still weak in the industry.

James Crook (1:04:14.5):

Interesting. Wow, I can’t imagine the mortgage rate. What did you say, 17%? Wow.

Barry Lundquist (1:04:17.5):

It was 17.5% when we applied. I applied for a variable mortgage, which certainly made sense to me. I thought, if they swap any higher, the rule would come to an end, it really wouldn’t matter. But dad actually lectured me about you should have a fixed rate mortgage, and literally, in the time between when we applied to the mortgage, and we got it, rates had dropped two points. I had a variable mortgage for many, many years. It came down year in and year out forever. I don’t think it ever once went up. So funny.

James Crook (1:04:57.5):

Wow. Okay. Well, we’re winding down on the questions that we have for you. Let me ask me you one. What do you feel like what are some of the most critical lessons you learned building your career? Is there anything stands out?

Barry Lundquist (1:05:25.5):

Well, yes, I’ve certainly learned a lot. This is kind of funny. It’s an inside joke for people in the insurance business that we never … none of us ever set out to be in the insurance business. All of us got in one way or another, stumbled into it. For me personally, I got out of college, I was an economics major, which basically meant I wasn’t qualified to do anything. I had loans, I had no money, I needed a job. I didn’t want to work in a factory. I actually wanted to put on a necktie and go to work. I got a job in an insurance company. I figured, well, I’ll try this for a while and what I learned is it is a great business. It’s very interesting. There’s certainly lots of opportunity and so many great people in the business. That’s one thing I learned. I learned, I suppose not specific to the insurance industry, but I learned helping other people succeed is the best way to become successful yourself. It’s really the most rewarding aspect of certainly my career: it’s helping other people be successful.

Barry Lundquist (1:06:43.5):

What else? I’ve learned that there’s no substitute for learning, that you should never stop, that you should read and pay attention and listen. Lots of people have lots of important things to say, if you let them say it. I learned that getting up really early in the morning and working hard is a good way to get ahead. If you’re not the smartest person in the world, which I’m not, I think spending an extra hour or two a day working maybe can help offset that. I actually talk to people about this, but I think having balance in life is critical. I’ve said to many people, it’s more important that you’re a successful person than a successful employee. It’s really hard for someone who’s failing outside of work to be good at doing the things at work.

James Crook (1:07:55.5):

There you go.

Barry Lundquist (1:07:56.5):

Those are few things that I think are important.

James Crook (1:08:02.5):

Wow.

Joe Sevcik (1:08:03.5):

How about a career highlight, Barry, what would you say? Wow, this is what I consider my … the best time in my career or most rewarding experience.

Barry Lundquist (1:08:20.5):

I was fortunate to have a lot of different careers within the career. I never really did the same job more than three or four years. Basically, I liked all the jobs. But I’d say one thing that was rewarding is I did get to hire a lot of people, and I got to hire a lot of great people. One thing, it took me some time, and really some help to figure out how important it was to get the right people and to take the time to do that, and to be able to do that. But one of the things that’s really rewarding for me now is to see many people I hired just right out of college, or early in life that, or had a hand in hiring them and training them and providing ways for them to be successful, and seeing them all over the country in different companies, and really having an impact. That’s really satisfying.

Joe Sevcik (1:09:42.5):

Great.

James Crook (1:09:43.5):

Yeah. Well, thank you, Barry. This has been a great conversation. I feel like we got a lot out of it. We’re really grateful that you joined us.

James Crook (1:09:53.5):

Thanks for listening to the Broker Advisor Podcast. If you enjoyed listening, please take a moment to subscribe. If you’re on the Broker Advisor blog, simply go to the left of your screen and subscribe. If you’re listening on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or any other distribution channel, subscribe there. We’re available anywhere podcasts can be found. Remember, as always, this podcast is sponsored by MGIS, insurance healthcare professionals expect.

James Crook (01:59.5):

Welcome back. This is episode three of season one. If you’ve listened to the first two episodes, I want to thank you very much. We’ve put a lot of work into setting these conversations up and producing and recording. We’re really excited with the insights that we are gaining from these conversations. I don’t know about you, but personally, I’ve learned a lot from the first two episodes. What I love about this episode that you’re about to hear, personally, with Barry Lundquist, is Barry gets pretty fired up about the importance of disability insurance.

James Crook (02:42):

It really is so critical and especially for healthcare professionals. I think it was episode one where we heard Bill Buckle say, “Why wouldn’t you insure the asset that pays for your other assets?” That’s a great point. It really is doing that. For healthcare professionals specifically, there’s a greater risk for disability. Your incomes are higher and your expenses are typically higher, and you’ve got student loan debt. If you’re not insured, that’s not going to end well. Really, it’s fun to hear someone who feels it’s so important for brokers to be having those disability insurance conversations.

James Crook (03:30.5):

But anyway, let’s go ahead and I will introduce Barry Lundquist to you. Barry Lundquist’s professional background includes over 35 years of insurance industry expert experience in risk management, sales, sales leadership, senior executive management, and consulting roles for employee benefits and individual disability product lines, and sales channels at Paul Revere, Provident, and Unum.

James Crook (03:54.5):

In 2000, Barry founded Eastport Marketing Group, a consulting and marketing services company that helps insurance companies and distributors improve results. From 2009 through June of 2014, Barry served as president of the Portland, Maine-based Council for Disability Awareness or CDA. Barry is active in the community and the industry and serves on several nonprofit and for-profit corporate boards. Barry and his family reside in Washington, New Hampshire, and Falmouth, Maine.

James Crook (04:27.5):

Joe Sevcik will be my co-host again today. With that, let’s roll.

James Crook (4:38.5):

All right, Barry. You’ve had a wealth of experience with several great companies, including Unum. Unum is arguably the industry pioneer in group disability insurance, and Paul Revere, now part of Unum, which was a pioneer in individual DI. What has been the common thread that you’ve seen with how carriers approach the healthcare professional market from a DI standpoint?

Barry Lundquist (5:12.5):

Thanks, James, and thanks for letting me do this. I start out by saying carriers generally view the healthcare professional market as kind of a two-edged sword. It’s a lucrative market, but it’s risky. As I think about how carriers approach the market, there’s a fair amount of inconsistency from carrier to carrier and even within carriers, and it may be a bit of hyperbole but a love-hate relationship maybe. From a positive point of view, healthcare professionals certainly recognize and understand the need for income protection, more really than any other market. They’ve got high incomes. They’re more likely to buy DI, either individual or group or both, than any other occupational group.

Barry Lundquist (5:59.5):

They’re willing to pay up for good protection. That means there’s a really significant premium opportunity for companies in that market. Actually, for the same reasons, many agents and brokers like that market, and they focus on it. The other side of the coin is it is a very narrow market, and they’re pretty unique economics attached to it. I think we’re all aware of the healthcare delivery system has changed dramatically over the years. It’s very likely to change a lot more in the future. That creates uncertainty for insurance companies and practices and healthcare providers and even brokers. Of course, COVID more recently has added to that mix.

Barry Lundquist (06:52.5)

A lot of insurers are disproportionately concentrated in that market. They’ve got a lot more premium in that market than other markets relative to the risk and it’s particularly true for individual DI carriers. Some have concentrations of up to 30% or so of their premium in a market that really represents less than 1% of the working population. Because of the high incomes, this propensity to maximize their protection, healthcare professionals tend to have high indemnities, high amounts of insurance. That means, when they have claims, they have large claims. Basically, these factors translate into volatility and risk for insurance companies.

James Crook (07:51.5):

Okay, great. That makes a lot of sense. You talk about it as being having this high degree of risk. Is there anything besides the high indemnity, the high limits standpoint of it that makes it risky?

Barry Lundquist (08:01.5):

Well, again, it’s a concentrated market that has unique characteristics. This whole idea that the market, I’m talking about the practice of medicine and dentistry primarily, can change dramatically based on factors that maybe don’t impact other occupational classes as much. COVID is a great example. A lot of healthcare practices simply had to shut down, while others had to go into hyper gear to keep up.

James Crook (08:38.5)

Right.

Barry Lundquist (08:40.5):

As our political system contemplates—you know—are we going to have national healthcare or are we going to have some other version, all those things impact the healthcare professional market.

James Crook (08:52.5)

Great, thank you.

Joe Sevcik (08:54.5):

Hey, I’ll go ahead and jump in here. You know, we’ve talked about the fact that you have some great experience with some really good carriers on the carrier side. But you’ve also served as the president of the Council for Disability Awareness, which is where I got to know you and know you from. Talk a little bit about that experience and what you learned from it, both from the standpoint of what did the various member companies have in common? You’ve got a unique view or perspective into other carriers, different carriers, how they differed in their approach to disability insurance, and then again, especially, for the healthcare provider market, what were some of the commonalities, and what were some of the big differences?

Barry Lundquist (09:43.5):

Let me, for anyone listening, describe a little bit about what the Council for Disability Awareness does. It’s a …

James Crook (09:49.5):

Sure.

Barry Lundquist (09:51.5):

It’s a nonprofit organization. It’s supported by both group and individual disability insurance companies, and the CDA’s mission is to educate working Americans about their risk of becoming disabled and the importance of protecting their incomes. CDA support comes from these companies, and all of the member companies share an interest in raising awareness about the risks and consequences of disability. Collectively, really, the focus is helping Americans understand the need and that translates into a rising tide lifts on all boats scenario for disability insurers.

Barry Lundquist (10:34.5):

CDA has no product bias. It’s agnostic when it comes to how the companies meet the needs of the market once all these people understand that they have this risk. The differences, really, there are many. Some members are group carriers, others are individual carriers. Some are very focused on the physician market, for example, and others have no physician business. There’s all kinds of different products and contract features and things that they offer. Ironically, they support this together, but they compete against each other in the marketplace.

Barry Lundquist (11:34.5):

Before we leave this topic, I did hand over the reins a few years back to Carol Harnett, the new president there. But if listeners haven’t visited the CDA website, disabilitycanhappen.org, it’s really a good source of information about the risk and the need for income protection. It’s a good place to peruse the information.

James Crook (12:02.5):

Absolutely. I agree with that. It’s been helpful. It’s a good resource. Just jumping in here again, Barry, you started to talk a little bit about some of the features of what makes disability insurance unique. Really, it’s different compared to life insurance and health insurance. Can you go into more about why that’s the case?

Barry Lundquist (12:31.5):

Just so I understand the question, what makes disability insurance so different from those other coverages?

James Crook (12:38.5):

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. What makes it different? Why is it unique?

Barry Lundquist (12:42.5):

There’s many aspects to that question. One part of the answer is people generally understand health insurance. They have it for the most part through their employers. They know they need it. They use it on a fairly regular basis. It pays for those expenses. They get that. Life insurance is a fairly straightforward concept. People are either alive or dead. Every one of us is going to die at some point. That’s an inevitable conclusion. We don’t know when, but it’s going to happen. Disability is a far more subtle and subjective subject. Because, first off, there’s nothing that says that everybody’s going to get disabled. Most people don’t experience a long-term disability, but a lot do. Statistically, somewhere around a third or a quarter of people, in their working lifetimes, will experience a long-term disability. It’s a high percentage in that it needs to be protected, but again, probably three quarters of people aren’t going to even use disability insurance if they get it.

Barry Lundquist (14:02.5):

Then drilling down a bit, the subtleties around what constitutes disability are significant. There are some very obvious disabilities. People have a severe stroke, and they can no longer talk and walk, and they just can’t do most jobs, and that doesn’t mean they can’t do something. On the other end of the spectrum, people can have things wrong with them but not impair their ability to work. It’s all these gray areas in the middle. It becomes very difficult to write contracts to be specific enough to define what is a disability, which enables the people who adjudicate claims, who review the claims and determine whether or not claims are approved. It’s very difficult at their end.

Barry Lundquist (15:04.5):

Just one example of that is there’s all kinds of different tolerances for pain that people have. Some people tolerate pain well; some don’t tolerate pain well at all. Some people tolerate and have good results from medications; others don’t. The same essential problem, say, a specific back problem can really cause one person to be unable to work while another can potentially get through it and continue to work. Those subtleties really make disability insurance more complex and very different from those other coverages. Again, getting back to life insurance, the definition of death is pretty clear. Other than maybe somebody disappearing, it’s pretty easy to adjudicate a death claim.

Joe Sevcik (16:13.5):

You know, that’s a great segue into this next question that I’d like to ask. You mentioned some statistics earlier from your experience with the Council for Disability Awareness about how some companies might have 30% of their block in the healthcare profession industry, and others would have much less, and it only represents 1%, of the working population. Can you talk a little bit about why you feel that the physician market or just the healthcare professional market in general is more penetrated? Is it driven by the amount of income? Is it driven by their experience in just working with people in the medical field and understanding what can happen? What are your thoughts on that?

Barry Lundquist (17:04.5):

Yeah, that’s definitely true, number one. When we compared healthcare professionals with people in other occupations, one very obvious difference is physicians in particular, constantly see people who are sick and injured, people who struggle with health issues, and many of them are unable to work because of those issues. The reality of disability stares these people, the physicians who treat them, in the face every day, and through their training and their day-to-day experience, they can easily see that there is a risk of these disabling injuries and illnesses and also what the impact is.

Barry Lundquist (17:55.5):

In fact, physicians are often participating in the process because disability claims typically have to be certified. The company will go to the physician and say, “Is this person able to work? Are they able to perform these duties?” That’s important.
I think another reason is a significant amount of time and money physicians and dentists, for example, have invested in their careers. It’s very costly and time-consuming to go through the years of school and training they are required to go through in order to become physicians or dentists, and particularly if they go into specialties. They get a later start. They may be in their mid-30s or even older when they actually start to earn an income. At that point, they may have significant debt. They’re catching up, and the pressure on them earning income is even greater.

Barry Lundquist (19:07.5):

This translates into a need to protect their income. Again, combined with their recognition that disability happens, that’s important. Interestingly, a lot of medical and dental school curricula actually have some financial training for rising physicians and dentists. Typically, part of that training is, “Hey, you need disability insurance.” I’m sure maybe the disability insurance industry lobbied for that, but it’s really appropriate. Finally, when protection is offered, and it might be individual policies, it might be a group voluntary policy through their practice, they tend to sign up, again, for the reasons I’ve already talked about. If they are in a practice with other providers, they tend to insist on having a good disability program available to them.

Barry Lundquist (19:57.5):

I guess the last thing, then I’ll move on to the next question, is a lot of sales people who sell disability insurance focus on healthcare professional market. Again, they recognize that the physicians understand the need, they have incomes that allow them to pay for the coverage, and it’s a really lucrative market for the salespeople. All those things, I think, are at least some of the reasons why that’s a much more penetrated market than say other occupation categories.

Joe Sevcik (20:38.5):

Yeah, those are some great insights. The one that I hadn’t really heard a lot of before is the comment you made that the physicians are the ones who have to verify other people’s disabilities and if they’re able to work, which would certainly give them an understanding and an insider’s view as to definition of disability and what it means and that sort of thing. That’s a great comment.

Joe Sevcik (21:03.5):

Hey, I want to build on that question just a little bit. This is based on some conversations that you and I have had in the past. I think you said when you were with Paul Revere, if I’m not mistaken, that you had concerns often with over-insuring a group that might have individual disability in play. Specifically, if there was an IDI policy in place, layering a group policy on top of that might be cause for concern. Can you talk about that, just as a concept, is it still a concern today, is the concern different, stronger, or not as strong for healthcare professionals?

Barry Lundquist (21:45.5):

Yeah, that’s certainly something we can talk a long time about. I would start out by saying that the level of income replacement is the most important driver of people going on claim and people staying on claim. It’s a very sensitive thing if people have too much income replacement. It does result, at a macro level, in more claims and claims that last longer.

Barry Lundquist (22:32.5):

One of my old bosses had this saying, and maybe from the outside or even a broker’s point of view, this may sound a little sarcastic, but he’d say, “If people are insuring their homes for a lot more than they’re worth, there’ll be a lot of fires.” The concept is similar. Basically, the over-insurance I’m talking about occurred a lot more in the past than in the present by the way, but an agent or broker might go into a medical practice, for example, or any firm, but it really happened more in medical practices because of the propensity to buy disability insurance and this understanding of the need to protect what they’ve invested in their careers.

Barry Lundquist (23:28.8):

Agent broker would sell them on the concept that, gee, we can get you more than 100% of your income protected. We’ll go in and we’ll sell you individual policies, and then get the most we can there. Then we’ll later on, go to a group carrier that doesn’t ask any questions about underlying coverage and layer a group policy on top. Basically, what that means is they end up with 120% or more of income replacement, which again can provide people with incentives to go on claim. I mean, it’s not necessarily in someone’s control. I’m just going to go on claim.

Barry Lundquist (23:10.5):

But again, there are these subjective gray areas. Some people are clearly disabled; others are clearly not disabled. But I guess maybe a good analogy is we all know people who are motivated to show up at work, no matter how sick they are. You don’t like it when the guy next to you, especially in today’s world, I suppose and most people aren’t even actively at their office, but you get somebody walking around coughing and sneezing and sounding horrible. But there are those people, they are going to go to work. There are other people that have a sniffle and they’re going to call in sick for a week. I mean, there is this motivational factor involved.

Barry Lundquist (24:50.5):

Some people are going to show up. But anyhow, back to the question, what makes sense, for any worker and this certainly includes healthcare professionals, is to have the right amount of protection. I mean, if you’re healthy, you don’t want to be paying for more coverage than you need. Like I said earlier, most people are never going to have a long-term disability claim, so why pay more premium than you need to pay. But if you do have the misfortune of becoming disabled, you want to have enough income to maintain your lifestyle.

Barry Lundquist (25:33.5):

Basically, over-insurance causes a lot of unfavorable outcomes. It’s not just for the companies. If people are over-insured, and it’s driving up claims, and even what might be considered fraudulent, that means premiums are higher for the people who are buying the right amount of coverage. That’s not a good thing. The other thing is the employer wants their people at work. They don’t want people going out on claim, people they’ve invested in and people that are doing a good job for them. The last thing the employer wants to do is provide an incentive for their employees to leave, which providing too much insurance, disability insurance can do that.

James Crook (26:23.5):

Right. I’ve got a follow-up question to that. From your experience, it sounds like, because you said this happened more in the past where a broker could go in and say, “Hey, let’s get you all the insurance we can.” And people would end up having 120% income protection. How do carriers and brokers, I mean, if that was happening more in the past, what has been done to address that? Why doesn’t that happen as much anymore? How does that relationship work between the carrier and the broker?

Barry Lundquist (27:01.5):

Yeah. Another really good question. I’m going to Integrate again. This is a perception, but I think it happens much less than in the past. A good portion of that is just education that, “Hey, this doesn’t make any sense.” I think many insurance companies have become more aggressive and claim time and contesting those situations that were deliberately put in place. It’s different. Most physicians are going to have some individual coverage. I want to draw a distinction here. If a physician goes to another practice and has a $4,000 a month policy, or whatever it is, and then the practice purchases group LTD, that’s just part of the deal. That’s different than a deliberate process of over-insuring the whole group. I think that’s distinction’s important.

Barry Lundquist (28:17.5):

Insurance companies have gotten more vigilant about policing it at claim time. They might contest the claims, which is obviously a poor reflection on the broker. I think from a marketing perspective, companies have, many companies have tried to do a better job coordinating the group and individual coverage on the frontend in order to prevent this over-insurance from happening. Another example is on the individual side, if group insurance is in place, they will tend to issue more coverage than they might have in the past. The replacement ratio might get up to 80% or 90%, or even 100% of income, whereas in the past, they didn’t think about it that way. Again, companies and brokers are a little bit more enlightened as well. Group definitions are better than they used to be in the past. In some cases, they’re very good. All those things have contributed to making it better. But it probably still happens occasionally.

James Crook (29:32.5):

Sure, thank you.

 

Joe Sevcik (29:34.5)

Say, I’d like to ask an overarching question about the carrier-broker relationship. You’ve had a unique perspective on the industry; you’ve been able to see it from a lot of different lenses. I guess the way I would phrase this is, what do you think that brokers don’t get about carriers and that carriers don’t get about brokers, and frankly, how they might be able to leverage each other better than they do today?

Barry Lundquist (30:13.5):

That’s an interesting question. One thing carriers don’t often get is how much impact the broker can have on the profitability of the business they sell. I’ve got a couple of very specific examples of why I think this. When I was at Paul Revere, and it was some time ago, the company conducted this exhaustive study of trying to identify what indicators during the application process were the best predictors of the eventual profitability of the sole policy. Literally, there were hundreds, 700 I think was a number, somewhere in there, different factors that they reviewed for tens of thousands of applications that eventually became sole policies.

Barry Lundquist (31:07.5):

They conducted regression analysis to isolate and identify the impact of each factor and all this actuarial stuff happened. But the outcome was really fascinating because it identified a small number of factors. There may be 15 that were identified as really part of the application process that would eventually, in the aggregate, predict the future profitability of the business. What was fascinating is about a third of those factors were tied to the broker; it was broker behavior. One example is if, when the application came in, and something had to be changed on the application, maybe the occupational classification wasn’t right or something like that, which is really the broker completing the application with the client.

Barry Lundquist (32:06.5):

If that application required some change, that was a predictor for profitability because it’s likely other things maybe that weren’t noticed needed to be changed. It’s just an example. But the point is that the broker has a huge impact on eventual profitability of that business. I don’t think most carriers have very good information about that. They don’t really do a good job tracking each broker and their characteristics and their profitability and your blocks of business. The carriers really need to understand that if they can work with the best brokers and avoid the small number of brokers that don’t produce good business, that’s a really powerful lever for their business.

Barry Lundquist (32:55.5):

That’s one thing that jumps in my mind about what carriers don’t get about brokers. As far as what brokers don’t get about insurance companies, one thing I would say is maybe they don’t quite understand how important it is for an insurance company to be profitable. Some of the things that insurance companies do to be profitable, making underwriting more challenging or with a broker reviews more challenging or raising prices or things like that, are really ways that they employ to become or retain profitability.

Barry Lundquist (33:47.5):

Obviously, stock companies have owners; they demand returns. They can take their invested capital elsewhere. Companies have regulators looking at their business all the time and rating agencies, and if they want to have good ratings, so they really are required to be profitable. Again, that’s the stuff that translates into things that brokers on the ground can perceive as being negative. Really, the most important thing the insurance company ultimately has to do is stand behind the promises they make and the broker’s making those promises, and they’ve got to be able to fulfill those promises to the customers, and they can’t do that if they’re not solving. That would be my one answer for what brokers can really don’t understand necessarily to the degree they could.

James Crook (34:58.5):

Well, that’s a lot of good stuff. I’m as shocked as anyone that a company expects to be profitable. That’s really interesting. Wow. Joe. Do you have any follow up questions on that?

Joe Sevcik (35:17.5):

Probably the one thing I would say on that is, okay, so looking at this from the broker’s perspective, and I understand exactly what you’re saying about how maybe the pricing decision, the underwriting decisions can seem to be hard to understand. I’ll put it that way sometimes. With that as a backdrop, what advice would you give to brokers who, regardless of where they are on the spectrum of selling disability insurance, if they’re just starting out, if they’re active sellers, if they’re not really active sellers on it, if they’re thinking about adding it to their product listing, what pieces of advice would you give to a broker in this market to enhance their success or improve their success?

Barry Lundquist (36:12.5):

One thing I’ll share: I vividly remember this conversation with a broker in New York named Steve Herman. He’s a great guy. He sold to healthcare professionals primarily, and extremely successful and just really had a wonderful career. I remember him saying to me, “If I ever knew how lucrative this business was, I would have started doing it 20 years before I did.” The compensation people can earn from disability insurance is significant and particularly renewals, which take a while to accumulate, but they last a long time. It’s very unique to the disability business. Group disability in ways is the same way. I mean, it’s level commissions. Just from a financial point of view, agents are business people, and they need to decide how do they make a living. That’s something they should factor in. I would like to start by talking about people who aren’t selling disability insurance, period. I can really get pretty fired up about this. I spent five years…

James Crook (37:39.5):

That’s good.

Barry Lundquist (37:40.5):

…trying to educate people. But speaking to that person who doesn’t sell DI, and regardless of the reason, there might be a good reason, but if you’re not discussing income protection with your clients, you are not doing your job, period. You’re literally being negligent. If you choose to not be involved in selling DI, at least find a disability expert you can trust. Partner with that person, develop a relationship, and refer that task, if you will, of protecting each client’s income to that expert. The last thing in the world I would want, if I were a broker, is a phone call from my client’s spouse because the client has experienced a stroke or some other debilitating disability.

Barry Lundquist (38:39.5):

The spouse has asked me what coverage is in place, and there isn’t any. How do you explain that? As a trusted advisor, it’s your responsibility to make sure they’re protected one way or another. I hope that comes across as being pretty strong. For people who are just starting out or even not selling DI, besides the fact that you can make a lot of money doing it, which is an important consideration, one thing has always occurred to me is disability insurance is a coverage that young people should buy. There are many reasons why buying DI when you’re young makes good sense.

Barry Lundquist (39:14.5):

Premiums are low, and you can lock in those premiums forever. The person’s health is typically much better when they’re young, so they can buy the insurance without much hassle. They can build in ways to preserve their future insurability. Really, I just genuinely think it’s easier to talk to someone in mid-30s about protecting their income than about dying. If you’re a group insurance salesperson, disability is an important protection with a relatively low cost, compared to the medical insurance that you’re dealing within and causes you headaches all the time. If an employer, your employer, your client doesn’t offer disability insurance, and an employee becomes disabled and can’t work, if they don’t have the coverage, it puts the employer in a horrible position.

Barry Lundquist (40:24.5):

Do they keep paying the person, even if they’re no longer working, or how long do they pay him for? Do they cut him off? I mean, how can you hire a replacement because somebody needs to do the work that disabled person was doing before they left, so they got to pay a replacement. When they cut somebody off, basically just say, “Okay, sorry, we can’t pay you anymore.” What’s the impact on that person and their family, and how do the other employees view that because they’re going to know what’s going on. I’m running on here a little bit.

Barry Lundquist (40:56.5):

But one last thing that’s really important in today’s world is that all disability carriers, basically, and individual carriers, group carriers, they almost universally have expertise and will devote a lot of resource to helping get disabled employees back to work. This is such a win-win. Really, when you think about, it’s almost more important than the income replacement. What you’re talking about is getting a person back to their life. This helps the employer get good employees back on the job. Science has shown the sooner you intervene and begin working with the person with the idea that they’ll get back to work, that they’re wanted back to work, that they’re valued, it does help them return faster. That’s a consideration that’s really overlooked to a large degree.

Barry Lundquist (40:05.5):

It’s a little bit that early intervention. You think about having surgery, and I’ve had a few, you guys maybe have or not. But one of the first things, when you have knee surgery, pretty quickly, they have you in physical therapy, the sooner the better. It almost seems like, “My God, I shouldn’t even be doing anything with this knee,” but they’re out there making you do it. Very similar, the sooner someone can start thinking about in taking steps to return to work, the more successful it’s going to be. I’m going to make one last comment. Again, I know I’m being …

James Crook (42:50.5):

No. Barry, it’s great. This is a lot of good stuff. Please indulge yourself as much as you want. We’re happy about it.

Barry Lundquist (43:05.5):

Okay. I want to talk to the broker who’s already selling lots of disability insurance. First off, thank you, and congratulations. Those people know the reasons why they protect incomes, and they’ve seen the benefits of what they do. They get it. I would speak to those experienced disability sellers and say become the Pied Piper for this protection. Give some back and help younger, less experienced agents get into the business. We need those people. If there are people that you know that are selling insurance or investments or anything and not selling DI, approach them about being their partner, and help make sure that their clients are fully protected, and you can help them, you can help yourself, and you can certainly help the client. I think taking steps along those lines will be a very satisfying thing.

James Crook (44:16.5

Great. Well, thanks. Thanks for all that, Barry. I think you gave us the most fired up soundbite we’ve had so far on this podcast, which is great. It makes a lot of sense what you said. Going off of some of the stuff that you’ve said, I’d like to shift the conversation just towards healthcare professionals, talking about some of these same things. You’ve seen the way the companies approached the DI market. How do healthcare professionals differ in the needs, attitudes, and approaches than other high-income individuals? How are their income protection needs different? How do carriers respond to that?

Barry Lundquist (45:05.5):

I’ve already talked some about this. The healthcare professionals see disability. They understand it. They have to certify disability for insurance companies. They have this huge investment in time and money to get to where they are. One of the unique things with physicians is they have that number, called a sunk cost, and that needs to be protected. Many of them who have achieved specialties, that needs to be protected. It’s a unique thing for healthcare professionals. Own occupation coverage is generally considered to be important, but it’s particularly important for healthcare professionals and specialty coverage even more important, given the years of hundreds of thousands of dollars and perhaps the debt they’ve incurred to achieve that specialty.

Barry Lundquist (45:53.5):

If they can’t perform a specialty, they do suffer a devastating loss, even if they can earn an income in a different way, as a healthcare provider. That’s a major difference. Most carriers do understand the healthcare professional market. It’s important for brokers to make sure they align themselves with carriers that understand the healthcare professional market, specialize in it, and that have products and services that are designed specifically for that market, and that have, this is really important, a demonstrated track record of consistency. You’re selling, particularly for an agent, selling group plans, or multi-life individual plans, you need the carrier to be there over a period of years. You can’t be changing carriers.

Barry Lundquist (47:00.5):

You need to have confidence that who’s ever providing the protection is going to be there in five or ten years in a reasonable way. None of us have a crystal ball, but the best way to predict the future is how consistent have they been over time because there have been tremendous disruptions in that market. Many companies have left that market as a result of that.

James Crook (47:41.5):

Yeah. That’s all really interesting.

Joe Sevcik (47:44.5):

The passion that you have for disability insurance just comes through clearly in your answers. I know that passion, seeing it firsthand when we worked together at the CDA. But I’m going to shift gears a little bit here. If you wouldn’t mind, just riff on this topic a little bit, but talk about your decision to leave the carrier world and open your own consulting practice. Then as a result of doing that, what … talk a little bit about how that world is different, maybe some “aha” moments that you had and things that you saw there that weren’t obvious to you when you were on the carrier side.

Barry Lundquist (48:30.5):

Partly the circumstance was the cause and partly preference. I was working for Unum in Maine, and Unum merged with actually my former carrier, and it was just an odd situation. For a variety reasons, I decided that I would leave Unum. Then the question became, “Okay, if you’re going to Unum, what are you going to do now?” It was a really important part, point my life because my wife and I really … I had one in particular, really good offer, really a perfect offer for me. But it would have required moving … it would’ve required doing similar things to what I’d done in the past. There’s always risk going to a new carrier, a new job that something will happen there.

Barry Lundquist (49:41.5):

Long story short, I sort of decided that … and I had just moved to Maine too. It was relatively recent that had gone to Unum, getting kids settled in school, and all that sort of stuff. It really became what do you want to do with the rest of your life discussion. I like doing things that are different. I don’t like doing the same stuff over and over again. I really enjoy a new challenge. I always wanted to start a business. I decided … let me try this. It was hard. I mean, my finances were okay. I could survive for a while, but basically, I had a phone, a Rolodex, and a computer. I didn’t know much about how to work the computer.

James Crook (50:36.5):

Those are good ingredients.

Barry Lundquist (50:40.5):

Yeah. I had [inaudible 00:49:42] for a while and I put a business plan together. I decided what I was going to do. What was interesting is I didn’t get hired to do the things that I thought I would be hired for. But I did get hired by people who knew me. Many of them asked me to do things that I wasn’t necessarily all that well qualified for, but they just felt like knowing my capabilities and such that I would be able to figure it out. They were right. What was really fun is that a lot of different things that I got to work on with a lot of different companies, and it’s certainly a different world. Going from working for a carrier to having many carriers as clients was really eye-opening.

Barry Lundquist (51:34.5):

I certainly got a broader view of the business. One of the things I really found interesting is that carriers mostly have these inferiority complexes. They think their competition performs much better than they do, in many cases. They recognize their own shortcomings. They know that they have things that they do that they don’t do very well, which is why they hired people like me to help them. But they don’t necessarily see the faults that are behind the curtain, if you will, at their competitors. The bottom line is basically all carriers do some things well, but they have things that they don’t do so well. What they do well and not well, it’s different from carrier to carrier, but they’re all in the same boat in that regard.

James Crook (52:26.5):

That’s interesting. Do you have any specific examples? Not divulging any secrets, but is there any of these behind the curtain issues that you could share with us?

Barry Lundquist (52:42.5):

There’s a lot of different things. One way to answer that is that, when you’re in the market, and we’re going to talk about group insurance carriers here for a minute, and you’re out there pitching your product, and maybe you’re selling one in ten. Maybe if you’re really good, you’re selling one in five. But you’re mostly failing more than succeeding in selling your products. To a large degree, sometimes it’s based on pricing. Not always, but pricing is certainly an important factor. Almost every carrier thinks that the competitors have better prices. Of course, the competitors have the same deal. They’re only selling one in ten, or one in five. From time to time, some carriers do have high prices and stuff. But that’s really a good example. Everybody’s failing to a large extent when they pitch their product, and really the important piece is why are you succeeding when you did one? How can you expand that piece?

James Crook (54.10.5):

Interesting.

Joe Sevcik (54:15.5):

Well, I know from my own experience, that is certainly the case that you would often hear from the field that whatever carrier you are with you, your prices are out of line compared to everyone else. I think every field representative feels the same way. You’ve seen a lot of variation across the industries. How would you respond to the statement that if someone were to say, whether it’s a prospective client or a broker, if someone were to say, “All DI policies are basically the same?”

Barry Lundquist (54:58.5):

On one level, it’s actually true. One of the lessons I’ve learned is we’ve made the business way more complicated than we should have. At its simplest point, the purpose of a disability policy is to provide income to a wage earner who gets sick or hurt and can’t work. They all do that. Now, beyond that, there are obviously many, many, many differences in contract language and pricing and limits and guarantees, is it a group platform, is it an individual platform, or worksite situation. As you drill down into the detail, there are significant differences.

Barry Lundquist (57:57.5):

Maybe when I say significant, oftentimes the companies or the agents or brokers are going to drill in to a particular provision that they feel gives them an advantage that makes their contract better. Some of that’s legitimate, but at times, I think it’s just making it more complicated. I know a lot of brokers will not necessarily agree with the statement, but if it’s a good company and it’s a good group product or good individual product, in almost every case, if somebody is disabled, it’s going to pay them. If they are clearly not disabled, it won’t. It’s really the fringe that people argue about.

Barry Lundquist (56:58.5):

But again, back to my original point, keeping it simple is probably the best approach. The agent broker really needs to understand the differences and to help a client by making a recommendation about what they should do. I use this analogy: I know nothing about computers. If I need to get a new computer, and I walk into a computer store, the last thing I want to hear is all this jargon, and I certainly don’t want them to pull the circuit boards out. I don’t even know if they have those … start explaining all that. I want the person to tell me, for what I’m going to use this for, what should I buy, and what are my options?

Barry Lundquist (57:45.5):

It’s similar here, you have trust in an agent or broker, and they should be the ones who say, first off, ask all the questions in the world about what the need is and what their circumstance is, but then say, “Here’s what I think you should do. These are the reasons why, or maybe here are three options.” Just to make it simple. I do think, one last thing here, is the debate’s changed over the years some. It used to be, in the old days, that individual salesmen literally would say that group insurance is just trash, it’s not worth it, you should opt out of your group plan if you can, and just buy individual because it’s so much better.

Barry Lundquist (58:32.5):

Group people would say individual is so expensive, it’s not worth it. Today, people have a better understanding, generally, that both group and individual plans have value. They’re both important as income protection solutions, and they can be used in combination. I don’t think it does our industry any good for people to be saying this product is great, and this is no good because it just confuses people, and it makes them skeptical.

Joe Sevcik (59:10.5):

Yeah, yeah. I like your example of the going into the computer store and not wanting to know how the thing runs, just wanting to know will it satisfy your needs and get the work that you need done. From your experience, have you seen any claims, disaster stories, where maybe the conversation between the client and the broker didn’t happen like that, and they just had the wrong policy in place or the wrong assumptions?

Barry Lundquist (59:49.5):

I actually can’t think of anywhere an appropriate policy was sold, and the person had a legitimate claim, and the claim wasn’t paid. Perception in the public is insurance companies are out to deny claims; I actually think the opposite is true. They really understand that the reason they’re in business is to pay claims. Companies have focused more in recent years on the claim department as a service center. In the past, it was just at the back end of the company; no one really paid much attention to it. Now it’s really a customer service center. This is a little bit off of you’re talking here but the disaster story is, for me, is really a macro one, and it goes back a long period of time to the ’70s and ’80s, really.

Barry Lundquist (1:00:48.5):

Some of the best environments to sell disability insurance in are when there’s high interest rates, and high inflation, and stable employment. I’m talking now specifically about the healthcare professional market. In ’70s and ’80s, those factors were in place, and if you’re old enough to remember, you guys might not be but I am, inflation was going crazy. I applied for a mortgage in 1982 at 17.5% interest rate. Inflation was rampant; it was running close to 10%.

Barry Lundquist (1:01:34.5):

In the disability world, when you’re having a disability product, so you have these massive reserves that are required by regulators, and in some cases, up to half of the income of a company is the investment income they earn on those reserves, which is basically invested in bonds. The impact of interest rates is phenomenal, really, to companies. Inflation is something that really prevents people from going on claim; essentially, you’re going on fixed income if you’re going on claim. When cost of living is rising and your former coworkers’ incomes are skyrocketing, it’s incentive to not go on claim or to get off claim.

Barry Lundquist (1:02:35.5):

Then physicians back then were in a pretty stable environment. There are a lot of sole proprietorships, individual practices, small practices, and really, the storm of healthcare reform had not yet hit. The disaster was when interest rates dropped, inflation abated, and the whole healthcare reform issue came about. Insurance companies really started intervening, what healthcare could be done and not done, how much they pay, and it just turned physicians’ lives upside down and really created a lot of job dissatisfaction, forced many physicians to consider or actually leave practice. Unfortunately, some of those were on claim.

Barry Lundquist (1:03:31.5):

Back in those golden years, when it was so easy to make money selling disability, then companies competed harder, and they started making contracts more liberal, raised limits tremendously. All that really resulted in the ’90s, particularly for individual companies but group companies as well, a financial tsunami where companies lost literally hundreds of millions of dollars. Companies learned from that, mostly, and a lot of adjustments were made, and profitability has been pretty stable for several years now, although, growth is still weak in the industry.

James Crook (1:04:14.5):

Interesting. Wow, I can’t imagine the mortgage rate. What did you say, 17%? Wow.

Barry Lundquist (1:04:17.5):

It was 17.5% when we applied. I applied for a variable mortgage, which certainly made sense to me. I thought, if they swap any higher, the rule would come to an end, it really wouldn’t matter. But dad actually lectured me about you should have a fixed rate mortgage, and literally, in the time between when we applied to the mortgage, and we got it, rates had dropped two points. I had a variable mortgage for many, many years. It came down year in and year out forever. I don’t think it ever once went up. So funny.

James Crook (1:04:57.5):

Wow. Okay. Well, we’re winding down on the questions that we have for you. Let me ask me you one. What do you feel like what are some of the most critical lessons you learned building your career? Is there anything stands out?

Barry Lundquist (1:05:25.5):

Well, yes, I’ve certainly learned a lot. This is kind of funny. It’s an inside joke for people in the insurance business that we never … none of us ever set out to be in the insurance business. All of us got in one way or another, stumbled into it. For me personally, I got out of college, I was an economics major, which basically meant I wasn’t qualified to do anything. I had loans, I had no money, I needed a job. I didn’t want to work in a factory. I actually wanted to put on a necktie and go to work. I got a job in an insurance company. I figured, well, I’ll try this for a while and what I learned is it is a great business. It’s very interesting. There’s certainly lots of opportunity and so many great people in the business. That’s one thing I learned. I learned, I suppose not specific to the insurance industry, but I learned helping other people succeed is the best way to become successful yourself. It’s really the most rewarding aspect of certainly my career: it’s helping other people be successful.

Barry Lundquist (1:06:43.5):

What else? I’ve learned that there’s no substitute for learning, that you should never stop, that you should read and pay attention and listen. Lots of people have lots of important things to say, if you let them say it. I learned that getting up really early in the morning and working hard is a good way to get ahead. If you’re not the smartest person in the world, which I’m not, I think spending an extra hour or two a day working maybe can help offset that. I actually talk to people about this, but I think having balance in life is critical. I’ve said to many people, it’s more important that you’re a successful person than a successful employee. It’s really hard for someone who’s failing outside of work to be good at doing the things at work.

James Crook (1:07:55.5):

There you go.

Barry Lundquist (1:07:56.5):

Those are few things that I think are important.

James Crook (1:08:02.5):

Wow.

Joe Sevcik (1:08:03.5):

How about a career highlight, Barry, what would you say? Wow, this is what I consider my … the best time in my career or most rewarding experience.

Barry Lundquist (1:08:20.5):

I was fortunate to have a lot of different careers within the career. I never really did the same job more than three or four years. Basically, I liked all the jobs. But I’d say one thing that was rewarding is I did get to hire a lot of people, and I got to hire a lot of great people. One thing, it took me some time, and really some help to figure out how important it was to get the right people and to take the time to do that, and to be able to do that. But one of the things that’s really rewarding for me now is to see many people I hired just right out of college, or early in life that, or had a hand in hiring them and training them and providing ways for them to be successful, and seeing them all over the country in different companies, and really having an impact. That’s really satisfying.

Joe Sevcik (1:09:42.5):

Great.

James Crook (1:09:43.5):

Yeah. Well, thank you, Barry. This has been a great conversation. I feel like we got a lot out of it. We’re really grateful that you joined us.

James Crook (1:09:53.5):

Thanks for listening to the Broker Advisor Podcast. If you enjoyed listening, please take a moment to subscribe. If you’re on the Broker Advisor blog, simply go to the left of your screen and subscribe. If you’re listening on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or any other distribution channel, subscribe there. We’re available anywhere podcasts can be found. Remember, as always, this podcast is sponsored by MGIS, insurance healthcare professionals expect.

Subscribe