Becoming Independent: Leaving Captivity

This blog is the first in a series that takes you all the way through your journey to becoming independent; from finishing your career as a captive agent to confidently running your own agency, ‘Becoming Independent’ will highlight each step in the process and what you can do to maximize your success rate.

The first step to become independent is resigning from your captive position. After you make the decision to jump from captive to independent agent, how do you politely tell the company you’ve been with that you want to leave? In this blog, we’ll break down the three major steps (and the order in which to take them) to successfully and politely terminating your employment.

Step 1: Check your Contract and See the Writing on the Walls

When your captive carrier continuously changes for the worse, it is time to leave. Sure, rates go up and down, however when they:

  • Cut commissions
  • Change bonus structures
  • Limit appetite and
  • You lose retention

Unfortunately, there’s no cookie-cutter way to resign. We can tell you that whether or not you decide to notify your District Manager prior to your date of resignation depends not only on your contract specifics (e.g. Farmers has a strict 90 day notice vs American Family who does not have a prior notice requirement), but on your relationship with your District Manager. When in doubt, consult your contract, and take note of the specifics.

Another key aspect of resigning is knowing your contract value. If you are considering selling your book to another agent, the length of your non-compete can extend. It might be better to get your contract value (and abide by your current non-compete).

Step 2: The Resignation Letter

Before you give your two weeks’ notice, it’s time to write your resignation letter. Though it may be tempting to unleash whatever feelings you’ve acquired over the years (good or bad), your resignation letter must be polite and professional. Try to avoid embellishing as much as possible, your employer will know whether you enjoyed the work environment.

Insurancejobs.com says that the best resignations letters are “short, simple, and positive”. You will want to mention how thankful you are for the opportunity to work for the company and for the experience the position gave you. Other important information to include in your resignation letter:

  • Your last day of employment (good practice is to provide at least two weeks’ notice to your supervisor, however consult with your contract for specific timeframes).
  • A very brief, one sentence overview of your next steps.
    • Example: I am leaving to pursue a different path of professional growth.
      The format of your letter should include a formal address of your superior (whomever you report to or work under) and the date you are writing the letter. Here’s a quick template to give you an idea:

Today’s Date

Manager’s Name
Manager’s Title
Name of Insurance Agency
Address

Dear [Insert Supervisor’s Name]:

Please accept this letter of resignation from [Your Position Title], effective [Insert Timeframe] from today. My last day at [Name of Insurance Agency] will be [date].
Thank you for the opportunity to work for [Insert name of Company] and for the valuable experience I gained form you over the years. I am leaving to pursue a different career path.

Again, it has been a pleasure working for you as a part of [Insert name of Company].

Best regards,

Your signature
Your typed name

Step 3: The “Talk”

Set up a five to ten-minute meeting with your manager. Remember: the purpose of this meeting is to inform your employer of your resignation, not for progress reports or idle chit-chat. Take a deep breath, and calmly and resolutely announce your decision to make a career move. Keep in mind that the intention behind having this meeting is also to make the transition process positive. Setting aside emotions, especially feelings of guilt or remorse is crucial during this step.

Here are the different responses for which you should prepare yourself according to insurancestaffing.net:

  • “Clear your desk and leave!”
  • “How can you do this to the client”
  • “What can we do to keep you?”
  • And finally, and most ideally, “I accept your resignation and want to work out a smooth transition”

Although it may be difficult, you should give your supervisor a chance to explain why they want you to stay. This way the discussion is more likely to be reasonable and respectful, and you’re also likely to hear why you are considered valuable. Don’t be afraid to reiterate that your decision is final if your District Manager starts to carry on. If you don’t know how to respond and your boss is giving you a hard time, thebalancecareers.com offers this: “I appreciate and understand your concerns about my departure, but my decision is final and my last day will be [date]. Please let me know what I can do between now and then to make this transition easier.”

Once you have this end date set, you can start creating your agency’s entity and taking action to build your brand. Next in the series, we’ll talk about ‘Forming an Entity: what does it mean and how do I do it?’ in which we’ll walk you through the formation of your own independent agency.

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