The number of acronyms in the insurance industry is staggering.
Usually the meaning and meaning of these abbreviations is fairly straightforward (AEP stands for Annual Enrollment Period, when people can upgrade Medicare plans each year), but this is not always the case. specifically, agents may hear and know what fmo, imo, nmo, mga, and ga mean, but not know what they actually mean to the business.
Reading: What does fmo mean in insurance
The five acronyms listed above relate to different insurance marketing organizations that independent insurance agents may associate with to do business. Unfortunately, for new agents, there aren’t really any set industry standards that dictate what an insurance marketing organization is called, which can make it difficult trying to understand what differentiates them from each other. we want to do our best to provide a resource that will rectify that.
Generally speaking, how are fmos, imos, nmos, mgas, and gas different?
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fmo: field marketing organizations
A field marketing organization (FMO) is basically the same as an independent marketing organization (IMO). FMOs are typically high-end organizations that are licensed to sell health insurance products in most, if not all, states. They work with hundreds to thousands of reputable and reputable agents and multiple carriers throughout the United States. Nearly all of an fmo’s contracts are direct with carriers, and fmos can usually offer agent contracts that provide higher commissions than street level.
Overall, fmos also offers many other benefits to agents that they can’t get anywhere else. For example, Ritter Insurance Marketing, the company behind Agent Survival Guide, is a national market FMO for seniors. Organizations like Ritter offer training and support to independent agents (such as the Agent Survival Guide and Agent Survival Guide podcast, help with tough cases, quoting engines, and other tools) to help them get started more easily. in the industry and grow your business beyond your expectations.
While fmos focuses on health insurance products, they may also offer contract life insurance products or other types of ancillary insurance coverage. Agents who work with an FMO may have production requirements that must be met in order to maintain their commission levels. It’s also worth noting that agents who associate with an fmo and then wish to leave the organization will need to obtain clearance from the fmo.
for more information on what to consider when thinking about joining an fmo, check out our post “are you ready to join an fmo? 10 things to consider.”
imo: Independent Marketing Organizations
an independent marketing organization (imo) is basically the same as an fmo. Some agents believe that FMOS tends to focus more on health insurance products, while IMO tends to focus on life insurance products, but this is not always true. IMOs are sometimes a bit smaller than FMOs and may not be able to pay agents as much on commission as some FMOs.
just like fmos, imos tends to be licensed to sell various carrier products in various states. they work with hundreds or thousands of agents and often provide them with valuable training and support as well.
nmo: national marketing offices
as for national marketing offices (nmos), fmos and imos can be this type of organization. In fact, you may hear an FMO or an IMO call themselves an NMO. there really is nothing that differentiates nmos from fmos or imos. It is simply a more neutral term for FMOs and IMOs doing business in the US. USA, or for those who can sell both health and life products.
mga — administrator general agents
Managing General Agents (MGAS) may be associated with FMOS, IMOs, or NMOS, though usually as a downline from those higher-ranking organizations. they also have their own downline agents, who they help with their business. mgas earns more commission than a general agent, but less than a fmo/imo/nmo. they often have to meet and maintain certain production requirements to maintain their status as an MGA. these requirements can vary from one fmo, imo or nmo to another, and even from one operator to another.
The term mga is more widely recognized with life agencies. To add to the alphabet soup we’re already several spoonfuls into, some MGAS may be called Brokerage General Agencies (BGAS), which is also a common term in the business side of life. sometimes mga/bga can be a high level contract. in fact, the mga/bga contract is the best contract offered by life insurance companies.
good mgas/bgas will provide training and support to your downline agents, even as much as a fmo/imo/nmo.
ga — general agents
general agents (gas) can hire under a fmo, imo, nmo or mga. this contract generally allows them to have their own sub-agents and will likely have production requirements that an agent must meet to maintain their ga status.
Like good mgas, good gas will provide their agents with some training and support, but probably not to the same level as a fmo/imo/nmo. again, this is simply because they don’t have as many resources as larger organizations (ie time, money, staff, etc.).
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While the line between some of the types of insurance marketing organizations can still be blurred, there is a reason for it; In reality, there are no established standards to categorize these marketing organizations. That said, if you haven’t noticed, there is definitely a hierarchy to the different marketing organizations/entities out there. this hierarchy tends to go, from top to bottom, fmos/imos/nmos mgas/bgas gas writing agents. (there may be more sublevels, but these are the general categories). And generally speaking, the higher you go on this ladder, the more commissions you tend to get! but definitely don’t rule out smaller organizations for that reason alone.
When it comes down to it, choosing a marketing organization to partner with should be like choosing the bank you do business with. you want someone you like and trust; someone who can do their part for both of you to succeed; and someone you enjoy working with. the rest doesn’t matter so much afawac (as far as we’re concerned).