Your First 180 Days as an Independent Agent:
Recommendations for Success
In this blog, we are going to cover what you should ask during your introductory meeting with carriers, documents to gather, and a template to keep it all organized. This will be the first in a series of blogs covering different topics that we think all agent owners should consider when transitioning from the captive market to the independent side.
Your “to-do list” as an independent agent is totally different from a captive agent’s. Especially in the beginning, when you are rebuilding your new independent brand, carrier relations and customer base. With this series, we hope to help layout the start of a realistic and digestible pathway to success; at least for your first 180 days as an independent agent.
Alright, let’s dive into the deep end together.
Going from one carrier to ten creates an onslaught of training, guidelines and various types of information to keep track of – all in a very short amount of time. It is vital for any independent agent to quickly become an expert in each carrier product line and underwriting guidelines. With any sales product knowledge is key, but it is especially true when you are selling something intangible like insurance. You are your clients’ insurance navigator and advocate. Comprehensive knowledge of the various product offerings out there, and which one works best for your client, is the fastest and most sure way to become a trustworthy resource in your community.
So, how do you get and keep you (and your staff) up to speed?
We recommend you utilize your introductory meeting with each carrier rep to the fullest by using our suggested checklist below. Your initial meeting is an opportune time to gather as much information as possible while you have the dedicated time/attention of your rep. Leave no stone unturned so to speak. This is your chance to get everything you need for your business to succeed. Want a way to easily keep track of this all? ASNOA also has a template for you to use as you gather the information below.
Documents/Information to Gather During Your Introductory Meeting with Carriers:
- Upfront, you want to gather your marketing rep AND underwriter’s pertinent contact info and communication preference. Do they respond quickly to emails or phone calls? Is there a cell number you can use? Also, and this may seem obvious, but, add each carriers’ customer service line to the document. A few months down the line when you’re sifting through business cards to find that ONE contact, the time and frustration saved will be worth it.
- Save all of your login information and the different URLs needed to access your agency portal with each carrier. This is another obvious step but a necessary stress saver. How many times do you click through the steps to reset your password, only to have it still not work?
- Keep track of your claims number on the same spreadsheet as well for quick reference later on.
- We recommend also putting your different producer codes with each carrier here. It can’t hurt to keep everything in one place.
- Store the different guides for each carrier in a cloud and include links in your spreadsheet as well. Need help putting your different guides online? Watch this quick video here. This is especially helpful if you are outside of the office or away from your computer. You will still be able to pull up visuals for clients on the go and help close the sale more often. Important guides to gather in your first meeting with the carrier rep include:
- Reference Guide
- Product Guide
- Endorsement List
- Underwriting Guidelines
- Many carriers require additional documentation or “proof” for certain discounts to apply. For example, if you are applying a “Good Student Discount,” some carriers require proof through academic records. Many carriers require an alarm certificate as proof that one is installed in the household – just to name a few. Depending on the carrier, it is also vital to store completed signed applications from clients somewhere you can easily access.
Key Questions to Ask and Track During Your Introductory Meeting with Carriers:
- What chargebacks does each carrier have?
- What is the commission schedule? Are there differences in commissions between the different products of a carrier?
- In order to get proper coverage details for a quote, what are the EzLynx defaults I need to know?
- What is available a la cart vs. what is required as packaged products or discounts?
- What kind of training is available? Where can I access videos on my own time?
- What kind of marketing resources are offered on the portal for download?
- What kind of co-op or cost-sharing programs are available, and how do I qualify?
This may seem like a tall order to cover in your first meeting. Just think you are advocating for your business to succeed. This is your time to gather everything you need to make informed decisions for your clients and build that reputation of being a reputable advocate.
ASNOA wants you to succeed. That’s why we put together a template to get you started: link here. If you have any questions about the template or need more recommendations for “getting started,” do not hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help independent insurance agencies grow.
About the Author:
Maggie has been a part of Allegiance Insurance since 2006. She spent these past years building strong relationships with clients while providing personalized service. She is truly passionate about educating her clients on their insurance needs. Maggie lives in the southwest suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Eric. She loves the beauty of the outdoors, enjoys exercising her creative side with arts and crafts, traveling, and has a big heart for animals (especially English Bulldogs!).
Allegiance Insurance is a family-owned business located in Burr Ridge, run by locals who care about their community. With over 100 combined years of experience, we dedicate our time to making insurance easy for you, the insured. We want to protect your future, and we want you to always feel like someone is an advocate for you.
The Agent Support Network of America (ASNOA) is a fully integrated service and support provider that helps independent insurance agents grow their business. We provide more than just carrier access. More than 90% of our staff focuses solely on serving you with accounting, licensing, systems onboarding, marketing, skills training, and continuing education – and it all comes with your membership. You get to extend your staff without the associated costs and hassle. Learn more at asnoa.com.