Tips from a successful insurance agent | InsuranceYak.com

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Yes, you can .. make money as an insurance agent that is.

An anonymous independent agent posted a responce to my comment:  “My advice: if you want to work in sales, find a more lucrative profession.”

His experience:

I own an independent agency and my renewal premium is approximately 6 million, generating over $1 Million in commission annually. Your points may have some validity, but there are not many sales jobs that I’m aware of that provide: A)RENEWALS, B)GROWTH OPPORTUNITY, C)BUSINESS CONTINUATION

Please point out a sales job that in your mind would be as or more rewarding. Many of my friends are in real estate and financing, and they are busting their hump non-stop to keep bringing in new clients while I work on my tan at the golf club.

Yes, I have been in business almost 20 years. However, I started as a scratch agent with nothing. Sorry to come across as rude on my post, but your advice on finding a better sales job irritated me.

Here is my advice on how to grow your agency quickly, and closely mirrors my own experiences.

1)Start at a captive company, but make sure it’s one where you are salaried and not paid on a “loan.” You’ll learn the ins and outs of auto/home policies, and get good training on life/di/ltc sales.

2) Join NAIFA and be actively involved. Meet other successful agents and take some professional courses.

3) After you feel you have your feet solidly on the ground, start making the move to the independent world. Start your own agency, but don’t pick a name like “John Smith Insurance Agency.” Choose a name that you can create a brand around if you decide to get bigger or open franchise agencies.

4) Partner with an existing successful agency that has a good loss ratio and lots of carrier appointments. See if he will work out an arrangement to bring you on in return for a cut (10-15%). The agreement should call for his cut to reduce as your book grows. I had a break-point at $1 Mil, 2 Mil, etc… At $4 Million I could completely split on my own and owe him nothing. With enough good business on the books you’ll have no problem getting your own appointments.

5) Hire agents underneath you to sell and CSR’s to service clients.

How to get this big quick? Buy LOTS of leads when you start at the captive carrier. Most will co-op the cost of the leads or pay for them entirely. Keep these leads in your own database.

Once you are on the independent side, your odds of placing every piece of business you quote are around 9 out of 10. Work your existing leads as well as buy new ones. When you write new clients, make sure to send thank you’s, BDay cards, Christmas, etc… and don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. You should set a goal to get at least 1 referral out of every 2 new clients you write.

My average annual premium is about $1800 per year for auto/home, so to write $50,000 per month in new premium, you only need to write about one new client per day to hit that goal. You’ll also pickup life and commercial opportunities along the way.

If you’re working 8-10 hour days, you have 8-10 hours to find ONE PERSON to write. Not that difficult to avg 5-10 per week.

As you get bigger you should hire other agents that can use your agency name to write business. Offering them their own book at 15% cut like you had is a good starting point. Just be careful about who you hire.

I found this site accidentally the other day. The idea of finding a better sales job blows my mind and caused me to make a post.

Thanks for the input anonymous ..  drop me a note if you’d like your agency link posted.
 

31 Comments on Yes, you can .. make money as an insurance agent that is.

Randy ... 1

Who would you reccomend buying the leads from? Would you target P&C or Health?

Looking at starting my own agency in WI through a broker. No Ins. Sales but 20 years of outside B2B sales.

Thanks,
Randy

Posted date April 15th, 2009 at 11:15 pm
Joe S. ... 2

I’m fresh out of college and I come from a family of three active Farmer’s Insurance agents. I’m currently working as a producer under my father. What next few steps are entirely crucial for me? Also, how can I learn the quickest? I’m currently working under a roof off all three agencies, but feel as though I’m not learning enough as quickly as I’d like to. I’m extremely determined to build a rock-solid foundation of my own cliental as soon as possible.

Posted date June 9th, 2009 at 4:56 pm
Ernesto ... 3

Well, if your licensing and appointments are in order, I’d say there is nothing quite like experience. Get started meeting people and writing business. Sales is a numbers game, you quote a percentage of the people you meet, you sell a percentage of the customers you quote. You’ll need to figure out how to meet enough people.

Make sure you learn to use your father and brothers for what they have: experience and credibility. Some grey hair goes a long way in this business. Remember, a split of some commission is better than 100% of no commission

As a captive or semi-captive agent, an important concept I learned when I was new was this:

Sell policies your companies want to you to sell, don’t chase business your companies don’t want. I wasted alot of time trying to write business my companies where not interested in.

Next, learn good business practices from the get go. Insurance polices are legal contracts; if your paperwork is not spot on, you’re flirting with trouble. Do it right and don’t cut corners. I’ve never met a 30 year agent with sloppy paperwork.

Finally, follow good, successful (and positive) people around and see what they’re doing. After you’ve seen successful people do their thing, don’t be afraid to incorporate what works for you and make it your style. Be creative in your approaches, use what works and discard what doesn’t. Find your own groove in marketing and sales.

Good luck, and take some joy in your work.

Posted date June 10th, 2009 at 9:24 pm
badvegan ... 4

Add to all the above the fact that most Americans no longer use an independent insurance agent. Think about yourself and the last time you took out a car insurance policy, did you use the internet? I can guarantee that that gecko and his friends are not handing out commission checks to your local independent insurance agent. The independent local insurance agent is dead, he might still have a few years, but these are the lean years as those people who are not internet savvy catch up to the curve or die off. One of the largest concerns that i see for the independent agent is the fact that much of their business is targeted at the young family. The age group and market of the young family today are of people who are very well acquainted with the internet, according to amazon 68% of married couples ages 18 - 35 who make between $35,000 and $65,000 annually have purchased a product or service online in the last 24 months. This is the same bread and butter personal market that insurance agents have relied on for years. Add to this the move of small business to use insurance from their professional organizations and what you really have is a recipe for a doomed career. If you don’t believe that an online agency could provide the same service for a better price and that it will not hurt the income of the local insurance agent, maybe you should go talk to your local travel agent. If you can find one. The same move happened sooner in travel agency because of the industry being less regulated, however the same 10 year collapse will occur with insurance and has already started to some degree.

I personally believe that most people that are within 5 years of retirement should be good staying in this industry. If you are farther off from retirement than that i would suggest you take a serious look at your marketable skills. There will soon come a time when your 20th century sales skills will become as antiquated as those Zig Ziegler tapes and YES YOU CAN SELL books. If your only marketable skill is selling you might be out there with the car salesmen, the real estate agents, and the travel agents, knocking door to door trying to sell a vacuum cleaner.

Posted date April 6th, 2010 at 12:06 am
Ernesto ... 5

Thanks Badvegan.

It’s funny, some colleagues of mine were discussing how the on-line insurance companies have flat-lined; Progressive hasn’t grown premium in years. GEICO is about to hit their peak. Other companies have managed to expand by moving into more and more states. At this point, Progressive & GEICO are SO desperate to write premium, they’re moving into Massachusetts (that’s DESPERATE! (and really stupid)).

If you’re looking for property coverage or commercial insurance, good luck finding it online. Why? Because insurance companies need to SEE what they’re insuring. They need boots on the ground, and few companies have developed a reliable method of field underwriting risks without using agents.

Last thing: the 18-35 age group? Can’t drive worth a squat, GEICO is welcome to them. Call an agency when you’re 40 and are done having accidents

Posted date April 6th, 2010 at 7:22 am
bri ... 6

exactly. online services not very good in underwriting and placing risk.. underwriting is too complicated, with too much information required which is specific to type of company being insured. do you think the questions carrier is going to ask will be the same with a food manufacturer compared to a contractor. do you think the insured has much of an idea as too what an insurer needs in order to underwrite a specific risk. i think not. long live human interaction, which is required in underwriting risk, provideing coverages, and saving people money, especially as it pertains to the business owner. people with expertise can explain how changing deductables can affect rates, or that one can tweek with co insurance requirements which will also affect rates. or how much liability is required with regards to the state you live in. or that liability losses cannot affect premium increases where prop losses do. or that insurers would rather pay out nuisance claims as opposed to defending in order to save money, which can effect. you think a csr for geico is going to explain this, and or save you money. my agent always ends up saving me money because she knows what she is doing, and can provide me specific benefits to suit my needs

Posted date May 17th, 2010 at 3:30 pm
bri ... 7

also remember a broker represents the clients interest, a company csr is rep ing companies interest…. ie. broker saves you money!

Posted date May 17th, 2010 at 3:37 pm
pws ... 8

To badvegan …

Your points are all focused on Personal Insurance and possiblely Term Life Insurance.

Commercial Insurance is virtually impossible for the lay person to purchase themselves. The complexity and options require an agent’s involvement to ensure the business is properly covered and getting the best value(price).

Your simple demographic references fail to recognize the market that successful brokers target. Those of us that have succeeded in this industry definately are not spending our time pursueing young families for their personal insurance needs. We have moved well beyond that.

Do some more research.

Posted date May 29th, 2010 at 3:32 pm
bib ... 9

Nicley said. B must just come out of college and thinks he/she knows something about business. I Had a problem with a claim that my agent fixed right away. If I had to deal with someone from the internet they would still have me chasing my tail with no results.

Posted date October 7th, 2010 at 7:33 pm
Chip ... 10

Hello. Ran across your post while doing some internet surfing. I am a very experienced and successful high tech sales guy that is seriously thinking of making a change into the insurance business. I have good sales skills, people skills, drive, and my strength is as a hunter.

My goal is to get to about $100,000 in 2 years. Is that realistic? I am thinking of initially hanging my hat with Farmers or State Farm for starters. Thoughts? I was very interested in your articles especially for buying a lead list. I am very excited to get into this business and even tho I have a solid track record I would be a rookie in this business and just trying to learn from the good ones. Thanks.

Chip

Posted date April 24th, 2011 at 10:49 am
manwithaplan ... 11

The advice in the initial post all makes very good sense to me…. and was refreshing for me to read. I am in my 4th year as a captive insurance agent, and I will say it’s been a rollercoaster ride. I started with a senior agent, but started my own agency last May after a monetary dispute. As my income increased, so did my rent. I looked around and found he was much higher than any other commercial lease per square foot. He was also making a $13,000 bonus off my production per quarter. So I had to ge tout of there and do my own thing.

When I think of independent agents, I think of the two major players in my community. They are very lax, and could care less about bringing in new business or going the extra step for new clients. This tells me that they are either tired as far as their career goes, or they make so much money off of their current book that they don’t need to bust their butts to bring on a lot of new business. I have looked into the independent world, but I don’t think I’m quite ready for that just yet. My book should be over a million by June 2012 if I can keep up the pace. That’s when the bonuses kick in for the company I represent. I do notice a lot of younger people coming in and saying they want to start selling insurance. I always ask them why. And they all say because they want to make good money. I’m not a flawless agent, I’ve made many mistakes, and missed out on a lot of opportunities due to my own inabilities. I was making $65K operating a machine in a factory. I knew I was destined to deal with people for a living, so I took the commission only structure of an insurance agent and dove in head first. The first year I earned $44K, and was questioning myself as to why I left the factory, a 7 and 3 yr old at home, and my wife working full time. After much contemplation, I knew I had to start achieving more each and every day. I looked at a few ways to increase my activity and also ways to close bigger sales which would boost production. The end of my second year I almost doubled my income at $87K. that’s when I realized how lucky I am to have the opportunities I have. The end of my third year I attained my personal goal of earning a 6 figure income (which now I know… income should never be a goal of anyone). My wife quit her job in April, and now works in the office with me. I will argue the point regarding how everyone now purchases their insurance online. I purchase leads to supplement quoting activity, and go head to head with Geico & Progressive each and every day. They shave your liability limits every chance they get. All it takes is a little client education - then they understand the value of a person who looks out for their best interest.

Posted date May 15th, 2011 at 11:36 am
Tom ... 12

Hello, I am considering shifting my career into insurance. I own a Flooring business with a showroom and 20 employees. With construction slow and profit margins non existint I am looking into insurance sales. Does anyone have a reccomendation as to which insurance I should focus on? I am 30 years old and feel I do not have enough grey hairs to sell life. I feel like group health or commercial (comp and gl) would be best. However I don’t have experience selling insurance and am also considering starting with auto and home just to get my feet wet. Any reccomendations? Thanks in advance!

Posted date May 22nd, 2011 at 10:38 pm
manwithaplan ... 13

Tom… I would recommend using personal lines home & auto to start off with. people have to have it… so why not have it through you? once you get your home & auto rockin’ & rollin’ - then you can look into other areas, while still earning income on the home & auto

Posted date May 23rd, 2011 at 9:43 am
Marinoni Insurance ... 14

I have been in business now since August 2010 in Plano, Tx. I originally worked for a captive agency and then managed a Independent agency for 6 years. I would recommend Independent agency over captive any day. I have the carriers to Insure anything that is needed and Choices which is huge considering im not limited to one company. Focus on your bread and butter which is Auto/Home then get Commercial policies. Everyone has to find there own niche. Hope this helps out someone!

Posted date June 5th, 2011 at 8:17 pm
Michelle ... 15

This was a very encouraging post and I just want to thank you for the helpful info. you provided! - Michelle

Posted date July 7th, 2011 at 10:55 pm
Josh ... 16

Hi,
i want to get into insurance broking, say if i sell car insurance i want to know how much cheaper deals i can bring for my clients from insurance companies? would it be way cheaper than the price my client would get directly from a company?

Posted date July 14th, 2011 at 10:32 am
RIHI ... 17

Thinking of purchasing an agency in my local town. My wife has been an agent/csr for 18 years at a large independent agency in the same town. Can anyone give my a successful ratio of csr to either policy count or annual premium dollar for personal lines. The information would be appreciated and helpful.

Thanks

Posted date July 19th, 2011 at 6:25 pm
Don ... 18

I have been a “captive” agent since 2006. I loved haning my hat there as I received a great deal of training and support. Now I feel I am ready to become an independent agent. Reading through this post gave me a great deal of information which confirms my decision. So thank you to all who posted.

Like the post above stated, I am going to an established agent who has over 100 carrier appointments. My fees are 10% with a $1000 per month cap and minimal E&O and technology expenses.

Now is the best time to get into insurance sales. There are many reasons for this:

1. There are many captive agents that have decades of experience (and large books of busines) who are ready to retire. Someone needs to be there to catch the windfall of clients who now suddenly find themselves shopping around.

2. Risk factors and ratings are becoming more and more complex, someone needs to be there to assist in the clients understanding and recommend the correct coverages. An online computer program cannot do this for them.

3. Forces in the economy drive people to personal lines agents to assist them in getting the best value for their insurance dollar. People want to be assured that they have the best mix of coverage, service and price.

Good luck to all currently in or considering a career in insurance sales!

Posted date August 7th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
Mike ... 19

I am partnering with a Senior Agent at an insurance company. I have no insurance experience, but 20 years of sales. I am good at getting appointments. What is a reasonable commission split on all new business?

Thanks in advance!

Posted date April 19th, 2012 at 9:27 pm
Ernesto ... 20

Hey Mike, check out: http://www.insuranceyak.com/the-ideal-insurance-contract/

Good luck with you new partnership.

Posted date April 20th, 2012 at 7:20 am
deborah mezzo ... 21

My husband lost his job in september of 10 2010. he stared selling insurance for mutual of omaha. he was not making much money nor getting much support so he left. H then started working for a property and casualty insurance business, he made only 500 a week with no health insurance so he is going to leave.He is 53 years old with 3 children to support. he really loves the p and c insurance sales and wants to stay in it. does anyone have any advice to give him?

Posted date June 5th, 2012 at 3:30 pm
dan shiotani ... 22

do insurance agents get medical and dental as part of their pay

Posted date December 5th, 2012 at 12:41 am
anonymous ... 23

So I am the agency owner that made the reply noted at the top. Lol i didnt mean to cause any commotion! I am sitting at my mechanic shop,messing on my phone and lo and behold i see my comments from 3 years ago on a google search!

Everyone likes the idea of making money, but to do what I described requires a natural sales skill set, lots of long hours, hundreds of hours learning insurance contracts (CIC, LUTCF, etc,and even more patience as you grow your business. I outlined how i got started, and firmly believe it worked to my advantage. But some of these posts re: jumping into this business and making big dollars are far from reality. If you are already saddled with large debt and financial committments (kids) then this is probably not the career to jump into unless your spouse makes at least $100k/ year or more than enough money to cover ALL your bills and rec spending.

One of my producers is not what i would call a natural salesman, but he has worked hard for the past 4 years and now has $60,000 in renewal commissions. But no health ins provided by employer, no retirement benefits, etc… He will get to 6 figures in commissions, but as i said earlier, to make a lot of money requires that exact recipe for success. Most agents will never get there.

But it is a worthwhile challenge and if you work hard and smart anything is possible. I cant post my link because i dont want to be slammed with job requests or questions. But i will bookmark this link and check it whenever i am sitting around with nothing better to do and try to offer any advice.

Posted date January 26th, 2013 at 10:59 am
John John ... 24

To a Successful/Struggling Insurance Business owner/ And all of above

Hi going to be starting ( next couple of months) a branded ( not well known in east coast) Insurance agency as an Independent agent.
After reviewing all comments what is better to work as an agent or a Independent ?

This particular agency will provide a subsidized loan ( repayable) for a short period of time.
I will be starting from scratch with no Book of business.

Motivational advise as well as Pro of cons would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance

Posted date February 6th, 2013 at 8:24 pm
Jennie ... 25

Hi,
I am a new independent insurance agency. Can anyone show me which carrier I should contact to get appointed to sell Worker Comp policies?
Thank you so much,

Jennie

Posted date February 19th, 2013 at 5:45 pm
anonymous ... 26

If you are referring to “captive” vs independent, I would not go captive, at least for more than a year or two. If you can sell then go independent as soon as possible. But you need to set a goal to write at least $500k in premium your first year. If you go 3 years and your total book size is under $1,000,000 then its time to give up the dream of making tons of money, time to switch your sales strategy, or time to get a new job.

Posted date February 22nd, 2013 at 9:12 pm
Jack ... 27

Local agents can beat the call centers at the internet game. You buy leads and work it from a local angle. You get online reviews. You make a nice website with real pictures of real people in your office. You put a bug in the clients ear that other guys will be calling possibly from out of state. Also topping Google local is a lot easier when you have a local address. Heck I’m number one in a large city for several carriers.

Posted date August 15th, 2013 at 7:05 pm
GSA ... 28

Hmmm. Interesting. I am not concerned at all about starting my own agency. No franchise,please. I am tired of the corporate world and have been blessed enough to do so. I credit folks like Zig,John Maxwell and others for this. I know how to think for myself. I will spend one year with a very goof friend who owns an agency that includes four agents who sell and four clerical. I know how legit he is as I invested large sums for him, annually. I offered to work for free for one year as he knows it’s to learn and open my own, in a year. I have been in his office and he sells twenty to thirty contracts…per week. This all from current customers and walk ins…MANY OF THEM YOUNG!!!!!!! Can you be successful at this? In this modern age? I am sure you can be as successful as you believe you can be. Oops sorry not zig on that one….John Maxwell. Lastly…I only seek advice from those that are incredibly successful. Don’t just jump…prepare a years prospects in advance, put back some money and be prepared to work so hard that in five years….You can be where the average agent would be in 15 years….nothing’s free and nobody can answer how successful anyone can be. To many factors. Investigate…ask for help…and prepare your landing. Don’t just jump. You will like this….he does not mind my working in his office for several reasons…my area will be sixty miles away where my friends and family are….he is also requested I sign a contract not to replace any of his business within ten miles. Fair enough. I have no intention of doing so. Like the other gentleman…he golfs probably four times a week and just donated a six figure check to a local school. he gives back and he started very small. He only had himself. All of this in eighteen years. What a mentor and a blessing. I have been in the financial services for 20 years so it is a advantage as well. I manage advisors. Do what your heart tells you..add some common sense and incredible work ethic. Do your homework and prepare a year in advance. Than As Zig would say, “We will see you at the top”

Posted date August 28th, 2013 at 10:05 pm
Bryan ... 29

Lets say you build up a million dollar book of business….. What is the potential salary for a book that size?

Posted date September 23rd, 2013 at 1:47 pm
Melissa ... 30

I am new to Life insurance and have been working for a job for three months now and my boss has cut our hours to part-time. I actually really do not get much commission when I sell these policies. Since I have been licensed, I have been getting letters and emails from places about selling life insurance. Farmers is one of the companies that I have received a letter from about becoming an agent. Is Farmers a good company to work for as a new agent? Do I get paid for training? What are the advantages of working for a company as an agent and being an independent contractor?

Thank You

Posted date May 31st, 2014 at 5:28 pm
Matt B ... 31

I’m 15 yrs in the biz on every side imaginable. Anyone is welcome to email me to chat. I would be glad to pass along everything I can to help someone.

Posted date June 23rd, 2014 at 11:41 pm

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