In a world filled with risks, insurance agents stand as the safeguard who help individuals and businesses to protect themselves against potential financial burdens. While most people know the bare bones of what an insurance agent is — the connecting vessel between clients in need and insurance providers. In reality, there is a lot more that goes into being an agent. So, what exactly do insurance agents do? Whether you are already an insurance agent looking to brush up on your own profession, or someone who’s considering making a career change. Understanding the full scope of the job will help you in various ways.
For example, after reading this you may be able to identify areas of your job that you can improve upon. Or maybe, as someone interested in the field, it could be the determining factor in whether or not you pursue the path or not. Either way, this comprehensive guide will closely examine the average insurance agent. Looking at their job description, the common types of agents, the basic requirements to become one, and their day-to-day responsibilities.
Understanding the Role
Helping people and businesses make educated decisions about their insurance coverage is at the heart of an insurance agent’s job. While in general, large insurance companies are the entities who are actually providing the policies. As licensed professionals, insurance agents act as the bridge, connecting customers with these corporations. Additionally, agents have in-depth understanding and knowledge of a variety of insurance products. Such as health, life, commercial, home, auto and more. Allowing them to match clients with plans that best fit their needs. By also having relationships with various insurance providers, an agent should be able to compare coverages and rates. So, that their clients leave feeling safe, with an affordable plan.
2 Basic Types of Agents
In general, there are two common types of insurance agents: captive agents and independent agents. While the main objective of both agents is to offer customized insurance solutions that cater to their clients risks, needs and financial situations, here’s what makes them different:
- Captive Agent – This is an insurance agent that represents a single insurance company. When working as a captive agent, the parent company will pay your salary, commission and benefits. One advantage of being a captive agent is that you will benefit from the large company name as it will be more widely-known and advertised. An example of a captive life insurance agent would be someone who sells policies directly for MetLife.
- Independent Agent – An independent agent is someone who sells insurance policies but doesn’t work for a specific insurance company or agency. As an independent insurance agent, you are able to sell insurance products and policies from multiple companies. These agents are usually paid on commission for each policy that they sell. Many agents prefer the independent route as it allows more flexibility in coverage options to work with. While allowing them to provide unbiased opinions to clients.
While there are drastic differences between the two, each has a variety of pros and cons. At the end of the day though, whether captive or independent, an agent stands as an educator and advisor. Waking the insurance process more understandable for the average person.
Basic Requirements to Become an Agent
While we have other resources available that go much further in depth about what someone is required to do to become a licensed insurance agent, today we will touch on the basics. There are specific requirements and qualifications that are needed to become an agent. While it is important to look into the specific details for your state (as they tend to differ depending on where you are located). Here are the general steps one can take to become licensed:
Being an agent is a highly available opportunity to most. As it usually only requires a high school diploma or equivalent. While a college degree may help you to get hired quicker (especially for specialized areas like commercial insurance), it is generally not required.
Next, you will need to get licensed. In order to legally sell insurance in the United States, all agents must obtain the appropriate license for their state. In most cases, obtaining this license will involve taking pre-licensing education courses, and eventually passing your state-administered licensing exam. As noted, licensing requirements vary from state-to-state, so make sure to look up the fine print ahead of time.
Once licensed and employed, most agencies will provide newly licensed agents with job training. This could include a variety of aspects such as details about insurance products, sales tactics, customer service training, software training and more.
Many agents want to offer a wide range of insurance coverage types, but others will decide to specialize in one or two specific types. Common insurance specialties include health, life, commercial insurance, and more. There are even specializations within the specialties such as term life vs. burial life coverage. Oftentimes, to become an expert in a specific product, you will need to undergo additional training or certifications. Choosing to specialize in a certain area is one way to separate yourself as a niche insurance expert.
It’s always important to stay up to date and diversified in the skills and traits that you hold. Keeping this in mind, it will benefit you to regularly brush up on things like communication skills (written and verbal), problem solving skills, and customer service techniques. By paying attention to detail and practicing your skills, you will be able to perform to the best of your ability on the job. There are also a variety of resources available such as seminars, conferences, videos and literature.
As an insurance agent, everyday can be different. What makes the profession so interesting is the fact that there are so many different responsibilities that could pop up on any given day, all of which revolve around delivering top-tier service to clients. Here are some of the more common responsibilities that your average agent may face during their work week:
Consultations with Clients
A big portion of the time an agent spends with clients will be to determine the clients specific insurance needs. In these meetings, agents will try to gather as much specific information as they can regarding things like the clients liabilities, risks, assets, and preferences. At the end of the day, the better an agent understands their clients particular needs and circumstances, the easier it will be to provide them with a comprehensive plan that makes the client happy.
Policy Analysis and Comparison
Clients are generally worried about two things when it comes to their insurance policy: the specific coverage and benefits, and the cost. In order to pair them with the policy of their dreams, another main duty of an agent is to effectively research and compare insurance policies from numerous providers. During this part of the job, agents will thoroughly examine coverage details, pricing options, and specific terms or conditions. Going the extra mile by offering side-by-side comparisons, will help make sure that your client is well informed and confident in their decision.
In addition to providing an analysis and comparison of options, as a licensed insurance expert it is also your job to provide personal insight and recommendation. While insurance agents are often viewed as salespeople, they are more so in the game of helping people. If you are helpful in this process, clients will be appreciative and will likely want to return when it’s time to renew. While it’s important to explain the benefits of each policy, you must also provide clients with potential downsides, so they can make the most informed decision.
Selling and Processing Policies
Insurance agents are also in charge of assisting with the application and enrollment processes, after a client has decided on a policy. This will include duties such as working through complicated paperwork, and making sure that all documentation and other client requirements are set in place. Staying on top of this process will ensure a smooth and quick policy issuance.
While making the sales and processing steps easy on the client will make them satisfied, you’ll also need to continue to nurture your client relationship going forward. Some ways of doing this include, responding quickly to client questions, assisting clients with their changing needs, and connecting with them simply to see how things are holding up. Working new leads is a great way to grow your client base, but it’s equally important to maintain your long term relationships, so that clients will renew with you and provide you with referrals.
Claims Processing and Support
In the unfortunate case of an accident, a client will need to submit a claim of the event. This process can be complicated and oftentimes stressful for the individual at hand. In turn, it’s your job to make sure they feel taken care of. During this time, you will help by accurately documenting the event, filing the claims in a timely manner. And ultimately stand as the middleman between your client and the insurance company. Submitted claims often represent a time of need in your client’s life. So, make things as simple and easy for them as possible.
An insurance agent’s job description and duties are not simply explained, as their responsibilities are diverse depending on the day. In general, though, they handle situations ranging from policy research and comparison, to claims assistance, to relationship management, and everything in between. While the insurance process is complex to the average person, insurance agents stand as a helpful intermediary. Connecting consumers with insurance companies, while making helpful suggestions along the way. Whether you’re helping an individual or a business, it is up to you to assist your clients in navigating through the process. And ultimately pairing them with a coverage plan that they are satisfied with. For people who take pride in establishing relationships, and helping others feel safe and secure, being an insurance agent could be the perfect fit!
At Benepath we specialize in providing insurance agents with the highest quality leads, to help increase your sales and return on investment. Whether you work for a large agency or work for yourself as an independent agent. Our leads could help to take your business to the next level! We offer data leads and inbound phone calls for the several verticals. Such as individual health, group health, Medicare, life and commercial insurance. On top of that, all of our leads are exclusive and produced in real-time. So you’ll be the only one working each lead that you purchase. If you’re interested in our lead generation services or simply want to learn more, fill out a form or give us a call at 888-684-3121.