How to Become a Property/Casualty Insurance Agent

Once you have decided that a career as a professional Property / Casualty Insurance Agent is what you would like to pursue, just how do you go about accomplishing that? The following steps are required: • Obtain a Property / Casualty agent / Broker license . Insurance is state regulated so you will need to…

Once you have decided that a career as a professional Property / Casualty Insurance Agent is what you would like to pursue, just how do you go about accomplishing that? The following steps are required:

Obtain a Property / Casualty agent / Broker license . Insurance is state regulated so you will need to get your license from the state in which you stay. There are schools specifically geared towards providing the continuing education hours required to get your license. They also usually have preparation classes specifically for taking the test and offer continuing education that is required to renew your license every two years. Most classes are available online.

Become educated in the insurance business . Some universities offer degrees in insurance but they still tend to be somewhat rare. Insurance carriers used to offer training for insurance agents but that is not as prevalent as it once was. Insurance agencies will sometimes hire inexperienced people but the training may be haphazard. If a carrier or local Insurance Professionals offer a “Producer School,” this can give you a very good basic education while gaining experience.

Determine how to gain access to markets. There are several options:

o Join an existing independent agency as a “Producer”. The agency will manage the business, give you access to markets and provide office space with possibly clerical support. Typically you do not “own” your business.

o Join an “Aggregator.” These are operations with access to markets which would allow you to operate as your own business but rarely give you direct access to markets or binding authority. (Binding authority allows you to provide coverage without confirming with the carrier first.) Typically you do not “own” your business.

o Join a “Cluster.” These are agencies that work together to pool their business to create a bigger “presence” with a carrier. This allows them to optimize growth and volume bonuses. This is usually not an option for a new agency.

o Join a “Captive.” These are insurance carriers that hire agents to represent them. They provide infrastructure to manage your business but the inflexibility of representing just one market. You may or may not receive renewal commission. You may or may not have “binding authority.” You may or may not “own” your business.

o Open your own “Independent Agency.” “Preferred” Insurance carriers look for a minimum of 3 years loss ratio experience to consider “appointing” an agency. “Standard” markets can be easier to get appointed with. Optimally, you will want to build your business with “preferred” markets to earn bonuses and for your business to have a much higher value if you want to sell it at some point.

o Join a “Hybrid” organization . These agencies provide infrastructure to manage your business and direct access to carriers. They typically allow you to operate as an independent entity but pools business to maximize bonuses. They give direct access to carriers they represent and allow ownership of business.

All of these options have varying commission levels and / or fees. They will also require that you sign contracts. These contracts vary wildly so it is imperative that you read and compare contracts before you sign.

Learn how to sell . Selling Property / Casualty insurance is unlike any other type of sale. You are not selling a tangible object. You are selling various contracts that promise to perform when there is a loss. The public does not understand insurance. Whether they realize it or not, they need professional advice in most situations to identify their best solution. This is a sale based on educating the client and listening to their needs. We call this “needs” selling or “consultative” sales. Professional Insurance Agents put the needs of the client before their own. They leave the “hard” sell to people selling other types of products.

That's it! Do your homework and you will have a very lucrative and fulfilling career in front of you.

A Strong Insurance Lead Generation Program Should Include an Educational Webinar Series

Insurance Webinars help showcase expertise, demonstrate thought leadership and elevate the conversation from insurance sales to partner and consultant. When combined with insurance email marketing and social media marketing campaigns, they can be a powerful source of leads.

Insurance Webinars help showcase expertise, demonstrate thought leadership and elevate the conversation from insurance sales to partner and consultant. When combined with insurance email marketing and social media marketing campaigns, they can be a powerful source of leads.

Meeting Objections When Selling Insurance

The average insurance agent can remark that he or she can never launch forth into a presentation without fear of encountering some opposition, and that no sale is made without meeting objections. If there were no objections it wasn’t a sale at all; it was an order. The big question, then, is how to meet…

The average insurance agent can remark that he or she can never launch forth into a presentation without fear of encountering some opposition, and that no sale is made without meeting objections. If there were no objections it wasn’t a sale at all; it was an order. The big question, then, is how to meet objections.

How To Think Like An Underwriter – Part 3

Underwriting a prospective risk involves several thought processes that once mastered can lead to moving your expertise to becoming a true “Insurance Professional.” In addition to what was discussed in the previous article, consider the following when working with a carrier to place an account: – Underwriters can only evaluate a prospective risk based on…

Underwriting a prospective risk involves several thought processes that once mastered can lead to moving your expertise to becoming a true “Insurance Professional.” In addition to what was discussed in the previous article, consider the following when working with a carrier to place an account:

– Underwriters can only evaluate a prospective risk based on what information they have or are given. Do you kindly leave out factors that might be viewed as unfavorable hop that no one will find out? If so, that is a very short sighted mentality and will lead to a relationship with your underwriter built on a lack of trust. Trust is the most critical element in determining whether an underwriter will make exceptions or compromises with an agency. Agencies that are better front line underwriters and honestly portrait prospects “win” in every way. They win the respect of the underwriter; they maintain long-term relationships with carriers and their clients are properly insured.

– Once an underwriter receives written documentation on a risk, be it a CLUE report, MVR, loss run or inspection; they must act on that information until they have other reliable documentation to prove otherwise. Underwriters are regularly audited and have large losses routinely re-evaluated as to whether the risk should have been written. They are charged with documenting a file to justify a decision they have made. If you find you are getting a lot of risks denied, look no further than yourself for not providing the means to justify the decision being made.

– Underwriters tend (not always- of course) to be “analytical” personality types whereas agents (producers) tend to be more people oriented. Have you ever found it difficult to present a proposal and sell to an Engineer? Different personality types make decisions based on different criteria. Some like facts and figures and some prefer what's popular or liked by other people. You may need to think “outside of your box” to bridge your way of thinking and the information you need to make a decision versus what information an underwriter will need to make a decision.

– Agencies with large profitable books of business that have been doing business with a carrier for years are going to get more access to an underwriters time and effort in order to be able to present a risk (ie: commercial) and more consideration for exceptions than agencies that are small and newer. It's a fact of life. Get over it! This is one of the reasons “Aggregators” and “Clusters” have been so popular with agencies in the past few years. Be respectful, knowledgeable about your client and knowledgeable of the carriers' appetite for that type of risk (Do not waste your underwriters time!) These factors will go a long way to developing the rapport you want to create with your underwriter much more quickly .

– Carriers have short memories. When they are profitable, underwriting loosens to try to write more business. It's called “underwriting cycles.” That does not mean your agency can not set its' own criteria of risk you will allow to be written by your staff. Stop blaming carriers for your lack of underwriting standards.

All of the technology in the world has still not replaced the personal interactions that are still so critical to an account being properly analyzed and placed. It's in your best interest to start thinking like an underwriter no matter what your job is in insurance.

Two Types of Objections When Selling Insurance

It would be out of the question, of course, to assign any objection to a definite group and to prescribe a way of meeting that object. When your prospect says, “I can not afford it,” he may mean, “I do not want to waste time talking to you” – in other words, your prospect can…

It would be out of the question, of course, to assign any objection to a definite group and to prescribe a way of meeting that object. When your prospect says, “I can not afford it,” he may mean, “I do not want to waste time talking to you” – in other words, your prospect can use this statement as a way of ending the conversation with you either over the phone or when you meet them face to face.

He may, on the other hand, wish the insurance, but raise the objection because of a mortgage on his home which must be lifted, not realizing the important part insurance would play in covering the mortgage if anything happened to him.

Then, too, he may be just “dead broke” and his financial condition will obviously determine a hindrance to the sale of any kind of insurance.

It is only through experience, from what has been said previously over the phone or in the meeting with your prospect, and from the behavior of the prospect, that the insurance agent can determine how to classify a given objection.

Objections as they occur in the sale may be grouped roughly as:

  1. Excuses
  2. Reasons
    • a. Imagined
    • b. Real

Excuses

Excuses occur most frequently as “put-offs” at the beginning of the phone call or appointment, or if they interrupt the sales talk later, they are offered to cover up the prospect's actual reason. If you walk into your prospect's home or office and “off the bat” he says, “No, can not afford it,” “Do not need any insurance, thank you,” “Too busy to think about it now, he has not really considered the subject at all; the observations are part of his defense reaction against the intrusion. It's much better not to argument about these excuses if you can help it.

The prospect himself realizes that they are only partly true, but if you bring up reasons to show him that they are not, he feet bound to bring up reasons to defend his stand and ends by believing the statements himself. Go around them.

One clever agent states that he can overcome most trumped-up objections by writing the most common ones each on an index card, with an answer to the objection on the same card. When the prospect hurls out an objection he smiles and says: “Let's see. That's objection number four and here's the answer.”

For example, a written answer to the ever-recurring, “I do not need any insurance,” like, “You do not, but your widow will,” serves to divert the mind of the prospect rather than attack his statement and switches the line of conversation to the track where you want it.

If he says he is “too busy,” for instance, do not argu the question of whether he is really too busy or not. Get around the objection by, “When will you be ready?” and from his reply you can usually tell whether to put him in the class of “worth-while-spending-time-on” or “not-worth-having.” If he is in the “worth-while” class he will usually react to a little friendly courtesy and give you an appointment at least.

Excuses of the more general type, such as, “I do not need it,” “I do not want it,” “I can not afford it,” if they occur in the to-be-or-not- to-be point in the sale, where actual opposition would be indicated by a specific reason, usually indicate that the prospect is covering his reason by this excuse.

If, for example, you quote the premium and he thinks the charge excess, the objection that he offers is a statement of his opinion. But if your prospect comes out with a “No, I can not afford it,” after listening to you, he probably has an unstated reason for not taking the insurance which he is covering with this excuse, and it's up to you to find out what the real reason is.

Of course, you can ask him the reason, but do this only as a last resort, for, having made a statement, he will probably insist that it is a statement of fact. It is much better to employ the “suppose” method and trust to luck to find out the actual reason.

“Suppose, Mr. Prospect, you had a mortgage on your house, would not it be a tremendous relief to you to know that the obligation would be met if anything happened to you? And the same applies to any kind of financial obligation. ” “If you wish, we could arrange to postpone your payment for a certain period of time, in case you can not have this added expense just now.”

In both cases you have answered a possible objection before it has gained force by actual statement on the part of the prospect.

In Part 2 read about other reasons why people object to you when selling insurance.

5 Essential Marketing Activities Every Insurance Agency, Broker and Wholesaler Needs

Insurance marketing is becoming the norm today, as agencies, brokers and wholesalers seeking to gain a competitive edge and improve their economy of scale. It's rare that an agency owner says they do not care about their website, or that they are unaware of digital marketing opportunities such as insurance email marketing or insurance social…

Insurance marketing is becoming the norm today, as agencies, brokers and wholesalers seeking to gain a competitive edge and improve their economy of scale. It's rare that an agency owner says they do not care about their website, or that they are unaware of digital marketing opportunities such as insurance email marketing or insurance social media marketing. When it comes to Producers, there are five essential marketing activities that should be used to expand reach and build pipelines.

Content Marketing – Content marketing can be an efficient and powerful way to grow an audience and agency. For content marketing to work, agents and brokers need to invest, prioritize and execute. In order to achieve impactful results, content marketing must be taken seriously, and executed consistently.

Social Media Marketing – Fifty-five percent of insurance consumers say they would use one or more insurance services offered through social media. Internet reviews and social media play an integral part in credibility. Potential clients, especially millennials, trust advice that they find on social media about the best insurance products, agencies and brokers. At a minimum, brokers and agencies should have a professional company page, and executive profiles on all major social media platforms.

Insurance Email Marketing – For many agents, brokers and wholesalers, creating a successful email marketing initiative can seem like a formidable task. But insurance email marketing should be a fundamental component of their overall marketing plans. Use the “Five W's” to think about insurance email marketing:

  • Who: Targeted Prospects – Email List Generation
  • What: Relevant, Educational Content
  • When: Campaign Time & Frequency
  • Where: Call to Action – Where The Prospect Should Go
  • Why: Lead Conversion – Close The Loop For ROI

Appointment Setting – Calling in profile prospects is a traditional approach to filling the pipeline, and in certain insurance niches, still has a place within an overall insurance lead generation initiative. That said, it's recommended that Producers with aggressive sales goals should not be making these calls personally, the calls should be delegated to an internal or outsourced appointment setter. Producers should spend their time talking with prospects, not identifying them. Producers need to create an effective call script, determine the key differentiators, and train the appointment setters, or outsource this effort.

Closed Loop Analysis – Closed loop marketing is a simple concept, yet few brokers, agents or wholesalers ever do this. Closed loop marketing analysis can be done on a campaign basis, or a comprehensive monthly or quarterly approach. This goal is simple, which campaign activities are yielding the best results, for both activity and new business results. Closing the loop helps determine the ROI of an agency marketing budget.

Insurance brokers, agents and wholesalers can and should invest in these five essential insurance marketing initiatives to expand reach and increase sales activity. A healthy top of the sales funnel is likely to result in increased revenues, and more successful Producers. Producers should spend more time selling, and less time identifying prospects. Agencies, brokers and wholesalers which do not have sufficient staff or expertise to accomplish the five marketing activities reviewed above, can consider outscoring this initiative to a profitable insurance marketing agency.

Why Working in the Insurance Industry As An Independent Contractor Can be Great

There are quite a few good reasons for working in the insurance industry as an independent contractor. Being able to be your own boss and be the person that is extremely responsible for your own income potential is a pretty great feeling. There are also other benefits to being an independent contractor and working in…

There are quite a few good reasons for working in the insurance industry as an independent contractor. Being able to be your own boss and be the person that is extremely responsible for your own income potential is a pretty great feeling. There are also other benefits to being an independent contractor and working in the insurance industry. As we review some of these benefits think about how your life would be different if you could be in full control over your own earmarking potential.

Benefit One: Being able to offer your customer options

Working in the insurance industry as an independent contractor is a rewarding career field for a number of reasons. If you align yourself with a great firm, and you really care about people, the odds of your overall success increase exponentially. Here's why, first, when you care about the person that you are trying to help it will not be about getting them the most expensive plan in order to increase your responsibilities, it will be about getting them the right plan for their unique needs. As an independent contractor you will have the ability to contract with multiple carriers so you can really offer a unique and customized quote for your clients. This benefits you because you have given your clients what they need, the peace of mind in knowing that their loved ones will be taken care of, and you have established yourself as someone they can depend on to get the best solutions for their needs. This improves your odds of getting personal referrals and growing your business.

Benefit Two: Being able to build your team

You are no longer a party of one when you decide to build a successful team of agents that will work along side of you. As your team grows so do your own commission checks which means that their success is your success. Think about how incredible that would feel if you knew that just by helping someone else take control of their own financial future you could in effect be taking control of your future as well. Taking the time to help them to understand the business, treat their own clients with care and respect and show them how to duplicate their efforts is a great way to build a solid foundation of strong and committed professionals.

Benefit Three: Being covered yourself

As an independent insurance contractor you will want to have your own policy in place and that's a good thing for those that you love. Even if you are single you can still create a policy that you can use as a retirement fund (more on that in another post) so regardless of where you are in your life you can choose a policy that is right for you. You will be able to explore options within your carriers and hand pick a policy that best matches your own unique needs. You will no longer have to worry about whether you got the right policy because you will rest confidently know that you made the right choice.

Mind Blowing Metrics For Insurance Social Media Marketing

Sometimes there are still some insurance agencies, brokers and wholesalers out there who consider social media to be a fad. Something akin to Hula Hoops, Water Beds, Zoot Suits and Rubik's Cube. But looking at these numbers will likely convince even the most skeptical insurance executives that social media is here to stay, and a…

Sometimes there are still some insurance agencies, brokers and wholesalers out there who consider social media to be a fad. Something akin to Hula Hoops, Water Beds, Zoot Suits and Rubik's Cube. But looking at these numbers will likely convince even the most skeptical insurance executives that social media is here to stay, and a force to be reckoned with.

Visitors of the Top 6 Social Media Sites

Most of your prospects will frequent at least one of the top six social media sites. Below are the estimated monthly visitors for 6 of the top social media sites:

  • YouTube: 1 billion unique monthly visitors
  • Facebook: 900 million visits
  • Twitter: 310 million visits
  • LinkedIn: 255 million visits
  • Pinterest: 250 million visits
  • Google +: 120 million visits

When you consider that the current US population is about 320 million, these metrics gain some perspective. A good analogy would be that every person in the United States, visits Facebook 3 times per month. These numbers are staggering, and at a minimum insurance agencies and brokers should have a professional presence on the following five sites: YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. It's much better, however, if agencies, brokers and wholesalers leverage these platforms to help carry their targeted insurance marketing message to cyberspace in general and to their prospects specifically.

Where Should Insurance Agencies and Brokers Focus

Insurance professionals targeting commercial accounts should focus on LinkedIn and YouTube. LinkedIn is all about business, and most of your commercial insurance prospects and clients are now using LinkedIn. YouTube is an excellent repository to compliment your insurance agency website recordings, it's easy to share video recordings, executive briefings or recorded webinars on YouTube. Agencies and brokers should have a professional and branded LinkedIn company page and YouTube channel. Facebook tend to be more consumer centric, although a professional company page on Facebook is worthwhile, especially if you offer personal lines. What about Google+? As it is still in the Top 6, a professional company page, and consistent postings is recommended, although Google+ has clearly lagged the field. And finally, how about Twitter? Twitter is a great tool to extend reach and branding. With little effort, and the many tools that post automatically to all or most of these sites, insurance social media marketing is within the grasp of even small agencies and brokers.

Insurance Social Media Marketing

I often say that great insurance marketing begins with a good blog. An interesting and relevant blog post can be easily shared across all of the above social media sites. The blog does not have to be about insurance. For example, if you are a B2B (commercial lines) agency or an insurance broker specializing in group benefits, your blogs should include educational information germane to those relevant audiences. This could include business related news, regulatory updates, industry news, business tips, etc. When thinking about insurance social media marketing, think about what you as a broker or insurance agent want to share, and what your prospects and clients would find of interest.

How to Succeed in Being an Insurance Agent

Many people think of insurance agents as peddlers. Someone that is just trying to “get the sale” but the reality is those days are quickly fading away and the new insurance agents (producers) are redefining what it means to work in the insurance business. Today, insurance agents are able to offer a wider range of…

Many people think of insurance agents as peddlers. Someone that is just trying to “get the sale” but the reality is those days are quickly fading away and the new insurance agents (producers) are redefining what it means to work in the insurance business.

Today, insurance agents are able to offer a wider range of insurance products to meet the needs of their clients. This means more security and peace of mind for the client and a more successful career for the producer / agent.

In order to succeed in being an insurance agent in today's environment you need to have a few personality traits.

First, you need to have a vested interest in helping people. If you do not care about helping people do not get into insurance sales because the odds of your success are low. People can tell when they are being “sold” something and no one wants to be sold. With the internet you have customers that are better educated and understand their options.

Insurance is a complicated creature but when you become a knowledgeable person that cares about their customer / client you will discover that success is well within your reach.

Second, you will want to study up on the products that you are promoting. This means that you understand the ins and outs of what you are offering. You are the expert and you need to be able to explain to your client exactly what it is that they are getting. If you can do that, you will find that it becomes easier to succeed in being an insurance agent.

Last but not least, you will need to become comfortable talking to people. When you are comfortable calling people, meeting with people, speaking with people, and listening to people, you will find it easier to understand the unique needs of your client.

When you combine that with your desire to help them and your experience understanding the products that your company has to offer, it becomes clear to see why you will be able to achieve the results that you desire in this industry.

While other agents struggle to retain their clients you will be world's ahead of them providing your customers with the service they expect, the product that they need and the support that they have grown to appreciate from you.

Insurance Agent Marketing Online – Build Trust by Writing Articles

As insurance agents it can sometimes feel a little challenging to know how to best market online without coming across poorly. One of the best methods for establishing yourself in the marketplace is to build trust by writing articles. Providing quality content that informs your potential customer about the different products or insurance solutions gives…

As insurance agents it can sometimes feel a little challenging to know how to best market online without coming across poorly. One of the best methods for establishing yourself in the marketplace is to build trust by writing articles.

Providing quality content that informs your potential customer about the different products or insurance solutions gives them an opportunity to learn about you and the services that you give.

It shows them that you are knowledgeable.

It shows them that you have experience and that you know your products. This builds trust and establishes you as an expert in your field. Think about it this way, when you are buying a car you do not want to buy the car from someone who does not know the difference between a V6 and a V8. No, in fact, if you are working with a car sales agent that appears to know less about the car than you do, you may not want to buy the car from them.

Knowing your product places you ahead of your competition because it shows that you care enough about the products that you sell to learn how they work and how they can benefit your customer.

When you market yourself as an expert in the insurance industry by creating quality content that your customers will find value in, you will extremely create a more effective brand.

Insurance agents that take the time to learn their products and spend the time writing the articles will build the trust and build the brand. Potential customers will seek out the most experienced insurance agents to do business with. They want to person that understands what they need and can get it to them for the best price.

Your customers will be looking for someone who knows what they are talking about and puts out articles that articulate that understanding. Marketing online on a smaller budget takes patience and a willingness to become an expert in your field.