How Agents Are Evolving

The insurance industry, and the agents that champion it, are affected by change, just like any other business. However, the changes are slow in coming. With advances in technology, most people can buy anything with their phones–on the comfort of their own couch.

light bulb to show agents evolving with ideas
It’s a bright idea to keep your skill sharp. You don’t want to fall behind in your industry.

While captive agents are aligned with the more traditional insurance narratives, independent agents are seeing more freedom in how they interact with their client base. However, each niche in the industry is affected by market trends, and the smart agent stays on top of them.

Technology

As we talked about earlier, smartphones have changed a lot. People don’t even have to own a computer now to research insurance policies, contact agents, and have conversations about their purchases. We’ve got a faster, better-informed generation of people looking for coverage.

Apps have bashed their way in, drawing a huge number of consumers with their conveniences.  Basically, as people use technology to buy things in new ways, they’ll expect many industries to adapt to them. If you’re an insurance firm looking to break into a new market, look at what Uber is doing and try to adopt a similar model.

Local vs. Social Media

With the information exchange, it can be hard to decide on a venue to focus on. For agents, the local scene was the best place to invest time and resources. You could capitalize on word-of-mouth and local ads to gain a client base.

However, now everyone can use a search engine to find information. So, it’s no longer about just your local clients. Now, a new obstacle is balancing them with a wider, online audience.

With a new digital era comes a shift in trust. People want to see someone with a user profile online, so they can check out the agent before contacting them. A trustworthy profile on any social media is one asset any marketer can benefit from having.

However, with important purchases like insurance, it is still important for a local presence. While there are more ways to gather information, people still find comfort in speaking face to face with someone. 

In essence, agents should evolve to embrace both worlds.

social media on handheld device for agents to use
You can run a successful business all in the palm of your hand! You just need to streamline the apps that are most useful.

Terminology

The big terms defining the insurance industry are now less defined. A decade ago, you could rely on terminology like “captive, direct channel, or independent agent,” now it’s not as black and white.

It’s become easier and more lucrative to work across industry channels. Captive agents find their companies talking with independent ones more. This is driven by the consumer base. With clients shopping around so much, and with a wider variety of brokers, it makes sense that the entire industry would become more fluid.

All of these together make up the power shift from underwriters to distribution (insurance agencies). In years past, underwriters were the real moneymakers when it came to policy sales. Now? Insurance agents are holding more power and more responsibility.

 

2020 Guide to an Agent’s License

So, you want to be an agent? Congrats on choosing a stable, respected career!  Becoming one is fairly simple, and the process can be completed in under a month. You just need a set of educational hours and a license under your belt, then you can start practicing on your own as an independent agent, or you could apply to a local agency to join a team.

Whether you seek to work in a company or go solo, what separates the wanna-be’s from the success stories is a license. Insurance is a complicated subject, and the boards that watch over the industry don’t want amateurs selling policies. Therefore, licenses are there for people’s protection.

person with notebook and document studying to get an insurance agent license
Study, study, study. Like any good exam, it’s only there to prepare you for the job. Make sure you know your stuff!

If you want to get a license yourself, we have detailed the steps, so you can get yours quickly and efficiently.  Remember that each state has its own requirements, so you’ll have to take a look at what your specific location’s Insurance Board says. The basic requirement is passing an exam, but each location has different ways to go about it.

For example, in Texas, there is a short process to follow:

  1.  You have to take a course (which can be online) to learn the basics of the industry.
  2.  Afterward, you find a testing facility and take the exam. The test ranges about 100 questions and usually takes about 2 hours to finish.

After passing, you are required to submit fingerprints. Then, you can apply for a license. The entire process is fairly straightforward.

While acquiring a license needs a passing score, one underlying requirement is continuing education. The industry you select could have a wide array of factors that play into selling policies in it. To keep your license, you’ll have to take more courses on top of the first exam.

Licensing, exams, and everything else can seem like a big group of obstacles. However, the upward climb to becoming a full agent, like anything worth doing, takes a bit of time. Just plan to study, get web-savvy, and pour your passion into it. After you check off everything on your list, you’ll be celebrating your new agent license!

 

Efficient marketing of prices and features

When selling insurance, the competition is going to be marketing the same or very similar policies to those you sell. The insurance industry is mature and the products tend to not change often. Therefore, the points you have to work with to sell and market your product efficiently are features and pricing.

While it is difficult to market features, it is not impossible to do so. And the best way to do that is to creatively combine features on policies that can put your agency in a competitive lead. The one thing you also need to be aware of is that once other insurance agencies and agents notice that you are combining features, they are going to try something very similar, and that means, you need to make another marketing change. It some ways it is a bit like a game on one-upmanship, except you are always on top of the game and staying competitive in a creative and useful way that appeals to your customers.

What is the end result? The more creative you can get with combining policy features, the more customers will come to you to see what you can do for them. Play with pricing in competition with other agencies and see how it works out for you. A sure way to find the best way that works for your firm, is to perform market testing. Only then will you find out what potential clients need.

You’re in a good group on LinkedIn, but now’s not the time to start selling hard

Even if you manage to join several really good and relevant groups relating to the insurance industry, or even connect with other groups whose participants may need insurance, it is not the place to start selling your services and policies right off the bat. Do not post messages that sell your services. Who wants to be regarded as the pushy insurance sales person only there to sell stuff? Additionally, most groups forbid members selling in the group.

Instead of posting material that might get you on the wrong side of group members, post relevant content about the insurance industry, helpful tips or tactics to deal with claims, how to best help an elderly policyholder find what they need and so forth. Tell stories. Help others. Reply to questions citing your own experiences in selling insurance. All those methods of communicating are relevant and still get the message across that you are an expert in your field.

Sometimes less is more, even when it comes to marketing yourself, your agency, your expertise, services and products.

Write and post good articles on LinkedIn to increase traffic to your profile

Use of the long-form publishing platform on LinkedIn is one of the best ways to showcase your expertise and experience in the insurance industry. Make the article interesting, thought provoking, entertaining and filled with insider tips and tactics. You do not need to focus on what your products are, as readers will rightfully assume you sell insurance.

You want those who read your material to know you are intimately familiar with the ins and outs of buying insurance, know how to find what people need without a hassle, understand the latest changes in the industry and are customer service oriented to the nth degree.

In short, by sharing your knowledge you are demonstrating to others that you are an expert, don’t toot your own horn, know how to make complicated policies and concepts easy to understand and are dedicated to making sure clients and potential customers get what they need, when they need it.

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