Development of Modules
The Agent Portal is a new tool of ASNOA's which will help you manage your agency at launch and all throughout your time in our network. The portal will help provide you things like business analytics, ways to manage your data, resources from ASNOA, and much more. This exists as your one-stop shop for everything related to your relationship with ASNOA. There's a full learning course on the portal in your Learning Management System, and more is being developed all the time based on agent feedback.
Your Learning Management System is your place to learn all about the tools you'll be utilizing as a new independent agent. Your AMS (Applied Epic), Comparative Rater (EZLynx), how to interact with each ASNOA team, how to service your clients, how to write commercial lines, and even carrier trainings are all housed in this system. ASNOA is constantly developing this resource to add more courses for you to take to help you better run your business. Courses are developed by both ASNOA as well as our carrier and vendor partners.
ContentSnare is where you will be providing ASNOA all the documents that we need for you to get setup as an agency with independent carrier appointments. After watching the tutorial video on ContentSnare within our Learning Management System, you'll receive an invite from the system itself to start uploading your documents. These documents help our licensing and contracting team (Agency Services) to submit you to our carriers for producer and direct appointments.
Your team here at ASNOA is always here to help answer your questions and guide you to success. Our team is composed of over 30 support team members who are consistently working to extend your agency and help you succeed in the independent channel. To see all of our team members and find contact information for each department, you can head over to our Team page on the website.
One of the first advantages you’ll notice about the Independent Channel (IA) is picking a place to call home. You get to decide how to invest your capital and what your expected return should be. No greater capital investment at the beginning than your shop. You can invest in a storefront, or you can rent a Regis shared office space, but we are not a “work from home” organization. You’ll have mandatory requirements from LexisNexis as well as expectations from ASNOA. In addition, a physical location is required by LexisNexis, the company responsible for running your MVRs (Motor Vehicle Records) and C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) reporting.
Having a digital presence is no longer an option for insurance agents. Getting a website established as soon as possible should be a top priority. At the very least, as soon as possible you should get a domain (GoDaddy is a great place to start) and plan out when you'd want to launch your website. ASNOA has a few recommended vendors for website creation and maintenance, including Musselwhite Marketing.
Email is your primary method of communication with not just ASNOA, but more importantly, with carriers. As such, a professional email is required, typically created during website development. Personal emails are not acceptable.
- DO: email@example.com (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
- DO NOT: email@example.com
Your primary communication with your clients will likely be over phone, so having an effective phone system in place is both necessary and a great opportunity to create a good experience. Start thinking about things such as:
- Investigate VOIP options (RingCentral, 8x8, Cisco, etc.) VOIP is more common than phone lines,and often allows you to also setup a soft-phone on your personal cellphone, and receive and make calls from your computer.
- Setup a voicemail that is clear, concise, and professional. Do not use the default that comes with the system.
- Make sure you keep your voicemail inbox from becoming full. Few things are more frustrating for clients than attempting to reach you by phone and being unable to even leave a voicemail.
This is the list of documents you are responsible for providing our agency services department to initiate the carrier submission process. The most important thing to remember is accuracy in the documents. All of your documents should have the exact same information written on them. This includes business name, any dba, address, npn, fein, etc. If any document doesn’t match the other, the carrier can reject the submission and we must start all over.
Documents will be collected via Content Snare. Please keep an eye out for the initial email. However, if you'd like to review what all these documents will be ahead of time, you can download this launch documents checklist to begin working on collection.
EZLynx is ASNOA’s preferred personal lines comparative rater. EZLynx is preferred and recommended because:
ASNOA does its best to make sure that your onboarding is smooth and you're always aware of what your next steps are. In your initial call with your state partner, you should be discussing what your Planned Agency Launch Date is, and most of our onboarding will be built backwards from that. Your training, appointments, and contracts will all coincide with when you plan to launch your agency.
For a visual of what your onboarding will look like, go ahead and download this document that details your timeline. This will help you keep track of where you're at within an example three month onboarding process.
Referrals can be one of the easiest ways for you to make passive income at ASNOA.
ASNOA rewards you referring people into our network, and for each agent that you refer that becomes an ASNOA affiliate, you receive 10% of our override for the entire time that this agent is part of our network. Refer an agent in one conversation, and you might make passive income the rest of your career!
ASNOA has a new plan to help you recruit the top talent in your area. “Pocket Agents” are producers in your agency that are provided the opportunity to own their book of business. You host them using appointments within your agency; from time of hire, through their agency launch with ASNOA. Your Pocket Agent will receive the same back-room support your current agency enjoys, and we’ll do the heavy lifting to ensure both you, and your Pocket Agent, are in a position to take full advantage of the new opportunity.
In most ways, a pocket agent will exist just as a producer in your agency, but because they want to run their own agency, they have additional reason to prove themselves to you and to ASNOA.
To learn more about pocket agents, talk with your Agency Success Manager or Partner.
The purpose of wholesalers
Sometimes in personal insurance, and often in commercial insurance, you’ll need to partner with a wholesaler to find a market for an uncommon or complicated risk. GA’s & MGA’s are the place to go. MGA’s (such as BTIS) typically “hold the pen” for their carrier partners, meaning the can underwrite risks directly. GA’s and wholesalers typically submit risks to a carrier for review. You are allowed to partner with any wholesale channel you’d like as an ASNOA affiliate, just remember to submit the override form and still enter the policy into Epic for your tracking (even more important than a standard policy for E&O protection). We do have some preferred Wholesale channels as well.
NBS (Nationwide Brokerage Solutions) is our preferred Wholesale partner. They offer many unique support measures to ASNOA as well as many enhanced compensation plans. If you did not partner with them when launching your agency, simply ask your state partner for an introduction. We have our own rep and onboarding process to get your familiarized with their processes and products. Here is a general information doc as well.
What to expect with wholesalers
ASNOA has an exclusive partnership with IPFS for Premium Financing for agencies. Agencies would work with IPFS to offer financing options to business owners who are seeking coverage. The process is very cut & dry.
- Policyholder arranges insurance through agency
- Agency creates a quote using ipfs.com to generate a premium finance agreement
- Policyholder signs premium finance agreement and pays down payment
- Insurance premium is funded by IPFS in accordance with the premium finance agreement
- Policyholder repays IPFS in installments for loan
Sample terms for a commercial policy might be:
- 25% down and 9 monthly payments
- 15% down and 10 monthly payments
To speak to someone at IPFS, please contact your Onboarding Specialist. You can learn more about the whole process by visiting their website https://www.ipfs.com/
Who else should I work with?
ASNOA tries to work with many different technology and vendor partners in the insurance space to provide you with quality discounts to run your agency the way you want to. On our discounted solutions page on our website, we list all of the discounted partners we have in a number of categories, including:
- Education partners
- Email marketing & CRM partners
- Website development partners
- Insurance Technology Partners (Raters, lead generators, etc.)
We're constantly adding to this list, but feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional questions about our partnerships, or have other vendors that you'd like to work with that you don't see listed.
Communications from ASNOA
Our goal at ASNOA is to set you up for success, and that involves communicating to you important notifications about your agency, your carriers, or opportunities that might help you. Throughout your time as an ASNOA affiliate, you will receive various communications from ASNOA, but the main ones to look out for will be:
The ASNOA Advantage
The ASNOA Advantage is our monthly newsletter that goes over the most important announcements happening in our network, with our carriers, and with our teams. If it's important or urgent, it will be in this newsletter. If you only read one communication monthly from our team, this would be the one.
The Breakfast Brew
The Breakfast Brew is a monthly newsletter specifically from our Education Team, and it goes over any adjustments made in the LMS, new courses that are coming out, and new training or education opportunities either with carriers or with the systems you use. This newsletter is less focused on urgent, important matters and rather on your growth and development as an agent and agency owner.
License Renewal Notifications
Per your Agency Alliance Agreement, you need to provide ASNOA each year an updated copy of your producer, E&O, and Entity licenses. 60, 30, and 15 days out from the expiration of any of these licenses you will receive reminders to renew these licenses and send them to our Agency Services team. Because these are part of your contract, you cannot unsubscribe from these emails.
New Carrier Opportunities or Pilot Opportunities
Another communication you might get from us is notifications when we have a new, high-value carrier or vendor opportunity that we'd like you to pilot. ASNOA doesn't just pilot new carriers or vendors with everyone, we hand-select each agency we trust to partner with new carriers. Be on the lookout for new opportunities!
ASNOA Recognition & Rewards Program
Apex Agents are ASNOA affiliates that have demonstrated outstanding performance and success in their agencies. This recognition program offers our agencies an opportunity to celebrate important milestones along their agency journey, and offers tremendous rewards along the way.
Please review the attachment here.
ASNOA Sales Conference
The ASNOA Sales Conference (ASC) is hosted on a bi-annual basis. This conference is free to ASNOA affiliates and has affiliates from all over the country. We strive for an event that yields thorough professional value while offering our affiliates a chance to unwind and network with their peer group. The event will include speaking slots from our sponsors, classes, a full tradeshow, and time to network with ASNOA staff and other agents attending.
In the alternating “off-years” between the ASC, “Happy Hours” are hosted at regional locations. These events are aimed to build and maintain relationships between local agents and the ASNOA Executive Team.
ASNOA has an Education & Training team which will help you both through onboarding and all throughout your journey as an affiliate with courses, trainings, Q&A's, one-on-one help and more. Specifically, Education helps train on our various softwares like Applied Epic and EZLynx. Lead by Laura Hamilton, ASNOA Education is proud to boast of some of the foremost experts on Applied Epic in the world, with some of our leadership team even being on the board for Applied.
To see the entire Education Team, click here to see each member!
To reach out to Education, you can submit a ticket through our ticketing form or through email@example.com and the training team can help you. Reasons to reach out to Education include any questions about Epic, the Learning Management System (LMS), or questions about EZLynx.
The ASNOA Learning Management System (LMS) is pioneering the industry! Receive specialized training, advance your knowledge, and set yourself up to maximize your income potential. This platform offers exclusive carrier training, specialized learning paths, and all the educational resources needed to ensure elevated performance, and agency success.
Click here to sign into the LMS using the credentials that you received shortly after your down payment.
If you reference your onboarding timeline (the document in the Agency Success section), you'll see that training takes place during most of the onboarding process. You will first receive your ASNOA Onboarding learning path, Department Orientations, in the LMS immediately as soon as you login. These orientations will trigger some other parts of the onboarding process, so make sure to watch them right away!
45 days prior to your launch date, you will receive Epic Essential training in the LMS. You will "Go Live" in the system dependent on a number of factors, including:
- Your agency launch date
- Your progress towards carrier appointments
- How close you are to contract signing
Additional LMS learning paths will be available as your work through your onboarding with ASNOA.
The Breakfast Brew is the newsletter of ASNOA's Education Team! In this newsletter, the Education team groups for you all of the updates that have happened to the Learning Management System over the past month — new courses, adjustments to courses, new paths from carriers — as well as a ton of other content! It's a one-stop shop for everything related to training and Education at ASNOA!
Here's an example of what you can expect to see in the Breakfast Brew, check it out here!
Chances are you may have some prospects you'd like to get into the system to begin to market to. Before importing prospects, do make sure you aren't violating any non-competes by marketing to them. Once you have them though, the Education team can help you with importing those clients into Epic. Some basic things that can be mapped for an import include:
Please Note: You cannot re-import clients into Epic to update properties. Every import creates new records, even if it's someone you've imported before. Because of this, the Education team works with you to make sure each import is done right the first time; there's no easy way to bulk update clients!
Along with the Agent Portal, most of your daily reporting is going to come out of Applied Epic. During your Go Live session, the Education team will help you setup the reports in your account. The basic reports you'll be setup with include:
Most standard carriers will send a policy download of data after the policy is issued. This data will update Epic reports and ensure that commission is paid on time.
The LMS has a learning path to walk you through the process. Once completed, please register for a training session. The link will be at the end of the learning path.
Additional training available at https://asnoa.com/asnoa-university/ scroll down to Epic Weekly Help Session and register.
As an independent agent, your marketing will no longer be done for you like it may have been before. Whereas the freedom of creating your entire own identity, business and marketing plan may seem exciting to some, it can also seem daunting to others. Here’s a checklist of what items you should think about as you develop your agency.
- Develop a tagline. What is it that you provide? (e.g. “peace of mind” “great prices”)
- List your core features and offerings.
- Identify and write down your target audience. What are their demographics, their lifestyle, where do they read and shop? Figure out what their pain points are so that you can best market to them specifically.
- Conduct a situation analysis. What are your competitors offering? What are your differentiators, and what makes you better?
- Detail what marketing pieces you will use you reach your audience. What marketing materials will you need? Who or what service will you use to get these created?
- Establish your estimated marketing budget and work within it.
ASNOA has a number of blog posts that go into depth about many of these items, including links to other resources. Help is always right around the corner.
A big part of your brand is the visual look and feel! Are you trying to appeal to a wealthier
audience? Having a luxurious visual look that resembles other brands they might frequent will help you stand out. Looking to be the neighborhood insurance go-to? Something friendlier can help your clients feel reassured. Here are some of the key brand elements you should consider.
- Logo. This should always be first, since the colors and fonts for everything else will be derived from this primary piece.
- Business Card
- Company Envelopes
- Website Favicon
- Facebook Cover & Icon
- Twitter header & icon
- Linkedin cover & icon
- Branded “swag” (mugs, pens, notebooks, t-shirts)
- Website domain name. We recommend using .com for websites (as opposed to .net, .io, .org, etc.)
- Brochure / Pamphlet
Where to get started?
There are a number of places that you can start developing these materials. Once you have the logo designed, something as standard as VistaPrint can be a great resource for things like letterhead, pamphlets and envelopes.
- For developing a brand identity start to finish, ASNOA recommends DesignHill. With varying tiers and many different options, this would be an easy way to keep all your brand assets in one place.
- If you just want a logo designed, Upwork, Dribbble or Behance can provide you with some high quality candidates at market-value prices. Upwork in particular has a vetting and proposal process that can help you find the designer with the right portfolio.
- If you’re part of your chamber of commerce, finding a local designer is a great way to establish connections in your community and develop a long-term relationship with someone who can help you not just with materials you request, but brainstorming as well.
Your presence on the web is arguably more important than your presence in your community. Over 90% of millennials begin their search for a product on Google. Your brand will need to appear in Google searches for your area, or else marketing will always be painfully manual work. Here are some tips to start going in the right direction:
Develop a Strong Website
Here are a few discounted vendors that ASNOA recommends for website development.
- Musselwhite Marketing. Musselwhite Marketing is a family-founded agency that can both build and maintain a website for your agency. Based out of California, Charles and Linda Musselwhite use their past insurance experience to work with each one of their clients personally and develop a website plan that goes beyond just putting something on the web. Get in touch here.
- AgencyRevolution. Agency launch date rapidly approaching? AgencyRevolution is another partner of ASNOA’s that can help with prebuilt solutions that can be spun up quickly at low costs. With several tiers of website development and maintenance, AgencyRevolution can help you build a website that matches the look and feel of your agency within a couple weeks. Get in touch here.
- Wix, Weebly or Squarespace. Tech savvy and want to build your own website? Luckily, with tools like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace, building your own website is more doable than ever before. Though ASNOA does not have any special partnerships or discounts, all three of these platforms consistently run deals and promotions throughout the year that you can take advantage of.
Whether you have a website or not, you shouldn’t waste any time getting your Google
MyBusiness page setup! This page will drastically influence how you appear for local searches and add you as a location on Google Maps for people to navigate to. This also provides valuable information for clients such as hours, phone number, reviews, and more. If you can, stop reading right here and take 15 minutes to setup your page right now! Here's Google's Guide on setting up your page.
In addition to your Google MyBusiness page, social media platforms are an important part of SEO strategy and a place for new clients to discover your business. Once you start developing a client base, social media is also a great place to keep them informed with updates about your business, insurance in their area, and more. The platforms we recommend you setup are:
- Facebook Business Page
- Twitter Business Profile
- LinkedIn Business Page
- Youtube Account
- OPTIONAL: Instagram business page, Yelp page, TikTok
If you have prospects that you'll be ready to market to right away, we can help you get those prospects into Applied Epic, your new Agency Management System. Getting your prospects in the system right away will help you be able to save history on them, quote them in comparative raters, and send them marketing emails if you get an email marketing system setup. More details about importing prospects will be given by our education team, but it's a good idea to start getting your prospects compiled into an excel sheet so that it's an easy import.
For more details about importing prospects, watch the course in your Learning Management System.
The Agency Services / Licensing Team at ASNOA helps you with all of your agency, appointment, and licensing information. Along with helping guide you to provide the information we need to get your agency setup with carriers through ContentSnare, Agency Services will help you with all the carrier appointments throughout your entire time at ASNOA.
In addition to carriers and appointments, Agency Services collects and reminds you to maintain your different producer, entity, and E&O licenses, all of which you have to keep up to date not just for ASNOA's sake, but for the carrier's sake and for your ability to write insurance in your state.
To see the whole Agency Services Team, you can view them on the website here!
To get started with ASNOA, one of the first things that will happen is an invitation to one of our platforms, ContentSnare. ContentSnare will act as your guide on what documents you need to provide the ASNOA Team in order for us to setup your agency and begin to get you started with appointments.
If you refer back to your Onboarding Timeline (which is in the Agency Success section), you can see that the ContentSnare submissions can take upwards of a month and a half to complete, but we need that to be done before anything else with your carrier appointments can happen.
To see what launch documents you're going to need to provide, you can download this checklist and get started on gathering them. The faster you can provide these, the faster we can get you up and running!
What will the carrier appointment process look like?
During your Onboarding, you and your state partner will put together a list of carriers that best fits your business plan, local area, and what you plan on writing (for more on that process, read the section on Carrier Selection under Agency Success).
Once Agency Services has the list, we will begin the carrier appointment process. The process is in a few steps.
- We will send you paperwork to fill out for each carrier you wish to be appointed with. We will utilize the information you've provided through ContentSnare to fill out the majority of it, but some information (like your signature) we'll still need you to complete.
- Once we've gotten the completed paperwork back, we'll finalize the package and send to the carrier for the appointment. Though turnaround times vary, as a very general rule of thumb, you can expect the following:
Shared / Producer Codes = within 1 week
Direct Appointments = 4-6 weeks
- Once appointed, there will be a bunch of training to do for the carrier's portal, product guidelines, EZLynx guidelines, and more. Just getting the code doesn't mean you're fully ready to write.
Shared Codes (or Producer Codes) are a way for you to get immediate access to write insurance through someone else's setup. Producer codes help provide you with a way to immediately start writing clients without having to go through the 6-8 week process that a direct appointment can sometimes be. Shared Codes also don't have production requirements or quote requirements for your agency, meaning that unlike a direct appointment where it's "use it or lose it," a shared code can act in the future as a way to semi-permanently have access to a carrier or coverage that you might not need all the time.
HOWEVER, there are still rules in place for maintaining Shared Codes! Before you get setup with Shared Codes, you will have to read and sign our Shared Codes Acknowledgement Form agreeing to how you will use them. You can download that document through this link.
Hiring new staff is an important part of any agency growing. Our Education Team has some tips on how to hire new staff, how to train them, and how to create good profit-sharing splits, but the Agency Services Team is more concerned about helping get them setup with appointments so that they can be valuable producers for your agency.
The first thing that you need to do with any staff that you hire will be fill out our Staff Intake Form on the website so that we can distribute the info to all the correct team members. A couple important things to note as you fill out that form:
- Your new staff member will have to have their own professional email with the agency. A gmail or yahoo email address isn't accepted by most carriers.
- Your staff member will need to be able to provide their proof of licensure to our team in order to begin carrier appointments as well, so make sure when you fill it out you're ready to upload their license information!
One of the items that ASNOA will ask for from time to time is copies of your insurance coverage. This is part of your contract with ASNOA.
Your E&O License should meet the following requirements:
- Deductible no higher than 5000
- Coverage limits at least 1million
- Additional insureds
- Allegiance as well as local ASNOA Entity (AZ, NE, CO, MO)
Here's some examples of what it will look like:
Buying & Selling Agencies
As your agency grows, you may find that you acquire someone else's book of business, or perhaps you eventually look to sell yours. The Agency Services and Executive teams at ASNOA will help guide you through the entire process, but you can prepare yourself for what this will look like by downloading these quick guides on the buying and selling process.
For more detailed questions about the M&A process, you can submit a ticket through our ticketing form and someone on our team who's familiar with your question will reach out to you!
Nailing a carrier interview is based on one premise: you need the carrier more than they need you. When talking to your local rep, you need to sell them on why they should want to give you the appointment. Have the following things ready to present to the carrier rep during the vetting interview. They may not ask to see them, but knowing them and having them ready to present will show the carrier that you are taking this process seriously.
Once you've gotten appointed with a carrier, here are things that you should ask the carrier because these are things you need to know in order to be successful. Knowing your carriers inside and out is crucial to your success as an independent agent, since being able to work with various products and get the most out of them is your core value offering to a client.
Commissions, Costs & Quoting
Education & Training
Training is always available on a carrier's agent portal, whether it's hands on from the carriers or a series of navigation videos. You should become acclimated early on with each agent's portal and log-in often. Don’t forget to explore the carrier resources that are available, oftentimes these portals are full of resources that agents overlook.
Talk to your carrier representative about product guides. Review products offered (may vary by state). Product PDF’s and handouts are often available if needed.