The insurance industry is made up of all different kinds of people. So, there is naturally a large variety of types of agents. And the one group of insurance professionals who have been redefining the way insurance is bought and sold is independent insurance agents.
In the past, agents would sell insurance policies by only working for one insurance agency. The one insurance company they have authorization to sell for. In recent years though, more and more people in the industry have decided to move away from this set up. Instead choosing to sell insurance policies without working for a specific insurance company.
Many agents make the decision to be “independent” based on a number of factors. Including the flexibility to choose the products and companies they work with, the ability to offer more personalized customer service. And the freedom that comes with running their own business.
If this is the way you want to work, you need to know a few things to be a successful independent insurance agent in today’s world. It’s important to understand what an independent agent is, the advantages of being one. And the steps you must take to become one. So, whether you’re already an independent agent, looking to become one, or just interested in understanding more about what it means to be an independent agent. Read our comprehensive guide to all you need to know about the power of being independent!
Before taking a deeper look into the upsides of being an independent insurance agent. You first need to understand what makes independent agents different from other professionals in the industry.
An independent insurance agent is someone who operates independently instead of working only with a specific insurance company. What this means is, unlike what’s known as a captive or direct insurance agent, who represents and sells for one particular insurance provider. Independent agents can work with multiple insurance companies. Captive and direct agents work under contract, so they will be limited in the insurance products that they sell. Independent agents are able to choose what products they sell, which opens up various new sales opportunities
For example, a captive health insurance agent only works for Blue Cross Blue Shield will only be able to sell Blue Cross Blue Shield policies. On the other hand, an independent health insurance agent who works for (or runs) an independent agency could sell policies from Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna or any other carriers they choose.
Advantages of Independency
Diversified Selection of Products
As previously mentioned, one of the top advantages of being an independent agent is having the ability to diversify the carriers you represent and the products that you sell. This flexibility will benefit you, making it easier to make sales since you have more options to work with. Additionally, a diversified portfolio of products is likely to increase your customer satisfaction rate. Since you’ll be able to present each client with a broad range of products, coverage options, rates and providers.
Unlike working for a captive agency, if one of your clients isn’t comfortable with the coverage or cost of a policy from one company. You can simply move onto various options from other companies. By having a plethora of plans to work with, you’ll have a greater chance of pairing someone with a policy that they’re happy with. And in turn, your reputation as a trusted insurance expert will only grow.
Another pro of being an independent insurance agent is the ability to always put the client first. Whether they like it or not, captive insurance agents represent the interests of only the insurance company or agency that they work for. No matter how great of a relationship they have with their clients, they have to follow the agenda given to them which ultimately limits the options that they can provide. Independent agents on the other hand, can always have their clients needs and wants at top of mind. By providing clients with personalized choices, independent agents can build trust with customers faster, and establish relationships that may otherwise not be possible.
Also, instead of worrying about specific quotas, restricting marketing tactics or company politics, as an independent agent, you can focus all of that energy on analyzing customer profiles to make sure their needs are met. Listening to your clients preferences and then actually being able to deliver based on those preferences, will make them satisfied and more likely to return to you when they need a new policy.
Continued Customer Support
When working as an independent agent, you will reap the benefits of being more close-knit with your base of clients. With a large, captive insurance agency, oftentimes you are dealing with so many consumers that each person just seems like a number on a screen. Because of this, it’s easy to get caught up in simply treating each person you talk to like a potential sale, and not a human being. When you’re independent though, you can offer clients assistance beyond the initial date of purchasing their policy. This could mean assisting them with policy reviews, processing claims, updating coverage or anything else that they may be concerned with. By helping these clients throughout their insurance cycle. They will be satisfied and will already have you in mind when it’s time to renew.
Freedom and Finances
One of the greatest reasons to consider becoming an independent agent is the freedom of working for yourself. You’ll have the power to set your own schedule, make impactful business decisions, and develop your brand’s image. Additionally, you’ll have the potential to make more money, since you can earn commissions from multiple products and carriers. Though you might have to work harder than others sometimes, the payoff is much sweeter since you end up with the entire cake, and not just a mere slice.
Becoming an Independent Agent
The first step in becoming an independent insurance agent is to obtain the proper license. Each state has slightly different procedures. But every state requires you to pass an exam before being able to apply for the license itself. In order to best prepare for this exam, it’s important to vigorously study test material and complete a study course. Another option to gain knowledge before taking the exam is to get some type of insurance-related job. As many companies offer on-the-job training with someone who already has a license. Once you have properly prepared, passed the licensing exam, and sent your personal information along to the licensing board. You can then apply for your license. Once received, you will be certified to sell insurance products.
If you are a brand new insurance agent, after receiving your license you should set aside time to brush up on your insurance knowledge. This includes studying things like the specific products that you plan to sell, various sales techniques. As well as customer service procedures and risk assessment. Some ways you can do this are by reading literature, talking with a mentor, or attending insurance conferences.
Additionally, as an independent agent, you will need to develop your own network of insurance carriers that you plan to work with. To do this you should research various carriers before reaching out to them to establish a relationship. When doing your research you should focus on the products that they offer and their commission structures. This will give you a good idea of what carriers fit your preferences and who will be able to serve your future clients needs.
Lastly, since you will be working for yourself. Staying on top of your marketing campaigns and customer relationships will be crucial to your success. Luckily you can use technology to help. Work towards building a strong presence online by creating a personal website and regularly engaging in social media marketing tactics. By promoting yourself and your brand whenever possible, you will give yourself the best chance to bring in new clients. Even when you have little to no reputation yet. You should also use some type of software to manage your client-base such as a CRM (customer relationship management system). This will help you to never forget about any of your clients and will keep you organized.
All Things Considered
The number of independent insurance agents are on the rise and this is no surprise since there are so many benefits. Instead of being bogged down by only being able to represent a singular company or sell a limited number of products. Independent agents have all the flexibility in the world. Being able to choose the carriers and products you work not only provides more sales opportunities. But also allows you to have a more customer-based approach. And since you are not reporting to a large agency. You can provide clients with unbiased advice and support them year round.
Additionally, when independent, you can reap the benefits of being your own boss such as making financial decisions. And being in control of your advertising approaches and scheduling. With a simple licensing process and some hard work and studying, it’s now easier than ever to make the transition. If you’re interested in insurance and want the control of an entrepreneur, you might consider making this career decision.
At Benepath we provide insurance leads in real-time and are always exclusive. That means you’ll be the only one working each lead that you purchase! We offer data leads and inbound phone calls for individual health, group health, Medicare, life, and commercial insurance. That can help you grow your sales and take your business to the next level. If you’re interested in purchasing or learning more about our leads and our generation process, visit our homepage and fill out a form. Or give us a call at 888-684-3121.