Best Practices for an Insurance Agency: Big Name Tear Down
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You've achieved your goal of opening a successful insurance agency and now it's time to focus on best practices for growth and strategies for continued success. It's common for new agencies to experience early growth as a new business before getting bogged down in the day-to-day work of running a business. Insurance is a document-heavy industry with various manual tasks that require considerable attention and time. Successful insurance agencies utilize specific tools and strategies to manage these tasks while prioritizing loyal and new customers. This guide can help you learn the best practices for growing your insurance agency, ranging from tips for new insurance agents to advice for experienced professionals.
What is the Difference Between Name-Brand and Independent Insurance Agents?
The main difference between name-brand (captive) insurance agents and independent agents is that independent insurance agents can sell policies from multiple insurance companies. Captive agents work for a single company and can only sell products from that company's offerings. Customers who work with an independent insurance agent may gain advantages like increased options and lower prices. When an individual works with an independent insurance agent, they don't have to shop around to compare quotes because their insurance provider can offer quotes from several companies to find the best match.
As an insurance agent, deciding whether to work as a captive or independent agent will come down to your personal preferences and the advantages that help you grow as an agent. Working as an independent agent can allow you to provide more product options for your clients, but captive agents generally receive more early support benefits and resources to grow a client base.
Both captive and independent agents sell standard coverages and depend on insurance companies for pricing. However, independent agents have more freedom in running their insurance business and the qualifying process they set for customers. Independent insurance agents work with many insurance companies to offer products from different sources. When a customer is seeking a new policy or group of policies, the independent agent can compare quotes and offer a selection. Working with multiple companies also provides independent insurance agents with ways to offer options to customers facing difficult circumstances.
Captive agents make most of their income on commissions for the policies they sell. Independent agents have the freedom to utilize other revenue categories as well.
Revenue categories for independent insurance agents may include:
- Commissions: The main responsibility of any insurance agent is to sell policies. The commission you make from sales will make up the bulk of your income.
- Growth Incentives: By establishing incentives based on new business and overall growth, you can increase revenue by securing business with specific carriers.
- Insurance Technologies: By investing in insurance technology and software designed to streamline processes and improve customer service, you can boost sales and improve efficiency. As a result, your agency can bring in more money.
- Profit Sharing: When insurance agents meet certain requirements, carriers will offer contracts that share a portion of the profits with your company. This option will involve a combination of growth and loss ratios, so revenue is less predictable than other streams.
Retention rates are often easier to maintain at independent agencies simply because there's more to offer each customer. For instance, if a driver loses coverage after an accident when working with a captive agent, they will have to look elsewhere for service. However, an independent agent can seek options from other insurance companies and even offer the customer options to seek different policies from various agencies to round out the coverage they need. Independent agents can offer new options to customers facing rising prices or other difficult situations that might otherwise convince them to switch providers.
Want to grow your insurance agency, but unsure how to start? Learn how you can 3X your book of business with our 5-Point Personal Lines Growth Strategy Guide.
How To Improve Agency Performance
Operational excellence is the key to increasing business and improving your closing rates. Best practices for agencies include techniques that enhance convenience, provide excellent customer services, and streamline company processes. By using operational data to measure successes and shortcomings, you can calculate which tactics work best. These steps can help you improve the performance of your agency.
Join an Insurance Agency Network
Finding support can be difficult for independent agents. By joining an agency network you can gain benefits like increased market access and profit sharing and find ways to help your agency grow organically. When you join an agency network, you gain the credibility of a larger company and are more likely to grow your book of business.
Invest in New Technology
Insurance marketing tools are new technologies or platforms that help insurance agents manage the insurance marketing and sales process. These tools can automate tasks to streamline agent workflows and improve the customer experience. For instance, many insurance agents depend on claims processing software to centralize information and automate tasks to help manage and evaluate insurance claims. The software gathers data, produces estimates, analyzes claims, and automates communication during the claims process.
Other tools improve the onboarding process. InsurGrid takes the traditional client data collection process to get the information you need in a fraction of the time and with practically no effort from your prospective customer. Instead of spending hours handling paperwork and taking client information over the phone, InsurGrid can allow clients to upload information like date of birth, driver's license information, and dec pages. Agents can send requests for client data including dec pages via text, email, or by scanning a QR code. InsurGrid uses automation to collect 95% of everything you need to prepare a quote, making buying insurance effortless for your clients.
Focus on Existing Clients
Insurance is not just a product. It's an added layer of protection that provides the necessary funds to recover from an emergency. Agents need to understand their clients' motivations and anticipate their needs to avoid gaps in coverage. To accomplish this, it's important to build a relationship of trust and frequently communicate with existing customers. As you begin to address your clients' needs, you'll reap additional financial benefits by upselling and cross-selling. When selling more products to clients with whom you've already established a relationship, you can educate clients about the policies that will address their risk level.
What Can We Learn from the Big Names?
Successful insurance agencies use various tools and proven strategies to grow and improve their business. The country's leading agencies employ thousands of agents and serve millions of customers. We've compared key practices across three major agencies to learn the most effective strategies for insurance agencies.
HUB International Ltd.
HUB International is ranked 5th among the world's largest insurance brokers, with over 530 offices and more than 14,000 employees across North America.
- Pros & Cons: The company offers a large variety of products and is built on core values of entrepreneurship, integrity, teamwork, accountability, and service. Employee reviews from Indeed rate HUB at an average score of 3.2, with the most satisfaction in work/life balance and least satisfaction with management.
- Customer Empathy/Focus: Service is one of the company's core values. Yet customer reviews suggest the customer service is poorly connected, resulting in long wait times. Positive customer focus includes adequate coverage with low prices and a dedication to getting customers the policies they need.
- Staff Expertise/Tech Use: HUB International has robust technology platforms that include automated broker/sales management, expanded market support, online access to product and program information, digital marketing tools, etc. Sales force development includes recruiting and onboarding programs, producer training, and personal coaching.
- Company Innovation: HUB International was built on innovation and continually evolves to provide more products to meet clients' needs.
- Use of Data: The website clearly tracks growth and successes over the company's history, suggesting the use of data to form successful practices and strategies.
Acrisure is the fastest growing brokerage in industry history, with over 1,000 locations globally.
- Pros & Cons: Accrisure offers a wide variety of commercial and personal insurance products along with a host of other Fintech solutions. Employee reviews from Indeed rate Acrisure at a below-average score of 2.6, with most satisfaction in compensation and benefits and least satisfaction with management and culture.
- Customer Empathy/Focus: Acrisure advertises local relationships and a dedication to finding individualized insurance solutions.
- Staff Expertise/Tech Use: Acrisure augments human intelligence with AI powered technology, including tools that enhance client outcomes and speed decision making.
- Company Innovation: The company grew 100x in 8 years by rethinking what's possible.
- Use of Data: Website stats about company growth suggest Acrisure uses data to chart success as an organization.
Lockton has over 8,500 associates, more than 65,000 clients, and an impressive client retention rate of 97%.
- Pros & Cons: Lockton offers a wide variety of products and services. Employee reviews from Indeed rate the company with above-average ratings of 3.9. Highest satisfaction cites work/life balance, pay & benefits, and culture. The lowest satisfaction ranks management and advancement opportunities at 3.4.
- Customer Empathy/Focus: The company uses creative thinking to provide innovative tailor-made solutions.
- Staff Expertise/Tech Use: While Lockton notes an entrepreneurial nature, little information is supplied about the use of technology.
- Company Innovation: Lockton brings creative thinking and an entrepreneurial spirit to the insurance business.
- Use of Data: Statistics on the company website suggest the ongoing use of data to track company success and customer satisfaction.
Best Practices Balance Customer Satisfaction and Company Growth
Insurance companies that prioritize customer focus and invest in technology boost growth and improve closing rates. Using tools designed for the insurance industry is one way to achieve this balance. Investing in tools like InsurGrid that create a rapid and convenient process for customers and streamline manual tasks can help improve closing rates. InsurGrid makes it easy for clients to share essential information for their insurance purchase in a few clicks. Sign up for an InsurGrid demo.