When you’re starting a new insurance agency, one of the final things you need to think about is training your staff. Even if you’re not going to have any employees initially, there’s still your own development to consider.
First, determine who you are training and the objective of each course. Second, the kind of training that is necessary. Third, develop and execute an annual training plan to keep track of each employee’s training goals.
Who and Why
A new hire not yet licensed will need education on the basic insurance principles. Plus, they’ll need education on state specific insurance regulations. Most states require an agent to attend and pass a certified insurance course for each license they want.
In some cases, a new hire may need multiple classes for certification in different areas of insurance. You will also need to train new hires on the standard procedures in your employee handbook.
Licensed staff must stay informed of any changes in insurance regulations and policies. Most states require continuing education classes to renew a state insurance license. Many successful agencies also require their staff to obtain a specific insurance designation.
The ultimate goals for any agency are excellent customer service and gaining expertise in the field. Everyone in your agency will need ongoing development. This will include training on standard agency procedures like workflows. There’s also the technology used in your agency and customer service. And, if someone wants to expand their knowledge in a new area, like marketing, that will also need to go into the plan.
One of the most successful approaches to training is a mentorship program. Ask some of your successful agents to mentor new agents and help them learn the business. This is also a great approach for new producers and customer service representatives.
Review Recorded Calls
No one enjoys listening to themselves on a phone call. But, it is a great way to help new agents with their client approach. It will help you determine if they need more training on insurance terms and policies.
When reviewing calls with staff, listen to the call first. Then, review it with the employee. Give them advice on how to improve the customer experience. Help them with insurance processes they may not completely understand yet.
Continuing Education Courses
Most state insurance departments require agents to complete additional classes each year to maintain their license. Some states may mandate specific classes like ethics, flood, and errors and omissions. You may be able to choose other classes from an approved list of educational providers.
Today we have one of the greatest resources available for training staff… video. Many carriers, vendors and industry consultants have video channels for helping agent education. It’s a quick way to review necessary procedures and daily tasks.
Some carriers have created classes to help train CSRs and producers. Most of these classes are a week in length and do have an associated cost plus travel expenses.
Before sending your employees, check with your local carrier marketing representative. They’ll be able to give insight on whether they think the class will benefit your staff. Also, verify if there are any co-op funds to help with expenses.
Within the insurance industry, there are many insurance designations. Research the designations you think will benefit your staff and achieve your training goals. Designations can give your staff more confidence and help reduce errors and omissions. Plus, it can help with a client’s confidence and trust in your agency.
Most vendors offer training on their products or have information that will help you train your employees. Ask your vendor what they have available you can use when training employees on their technology.
There are many webinars available on a variety of subjects. Some are free and some may have a small cost. Try searching online for webinars on topics you want to add to your training plan. You can also ask carriers, vendors and other agents to see if they have any webinars to recommend.
While attending a conference can get costly, the right conference can really help with training your employees. Associations often have continuing education as part of their conference curriculum. But, they also might have classes on other topics like sales, marketing and technology. There are also many events dedicated to these topics that would be beneficial. You should definitely consider budgeting one or two live events into your training plan.
Your Agency Training Plan
There are many training opportunities available to you. Develop a training plan for new and existing agents. Include management systems, comparative raters, carrier websites, your insurance agency website, document imaging, daily agency procedures and customer service expectations.
Your training plan will be a guide for you to identify what education your staff needs. And, your staff will know what education they need to complete.
Don’t forget to review the training plan at least once a year. You’ll want to see how you’re doing towards your objectives and if you need to make any adjustments.
Training is an essential part of creating a successful agency. Developing a training plan helps to build confidence in your new agents. It also enforces your commitment to staff development.
Keep your focus on training. And, you will surely notice an improvement in staff and customer experience.
Got a question about starting an agency you’d like us to answer in a future post? Leave it in the comments below.
About the Author
George Robertson works to develop strategic partnerships for ITC. With more than 25 years of experience in the insurance and technology industry, George brings an interesting perspective to growing an independent insurance agency and creating better efficiencies. Having been an agency owner for ten of those years, he knows the challenges agents face trying to increase profits and better use resources. George's knowledge of insurance automation comes from years of study and working for some of the leading automation vendors in the industry as well as other leading business technology providers.Follow on Twitter More Content by George Robertson