As you begin the process of starting your insurance agency, you will need carrier appointments. Today there are several options available for new agents.
You might be tempted to start with this step first. But, before you begin to address any of these you will need to do the following.
Develop your business plan. Evaluate your market. Create a marketing plan (more on this later). Evaluate your carrier options.
Obtaining direct carrier appointments can be difficult unless you have history in the industry and/or a book of business to move. However, don’t give up hope.
There are many other resources to obtain markets. Each has their positives and negatives. Make sure you take time to evaluate each option and select the ones that are best for your agency.
- Managing General Agencies (MGAs)
Working with an MGA is a good way to get started in the industry. Most MGAs are willing to work with new agents and usually have little to no volume commitments. Keep in mind that MGAs will require a percentage of the commission and/or a fee for every policy.
- Cluster Groups
Cluster groups are insurance agencies that come together to share markets. Joining a cluster group can give you access to markets, but you should make sure your goals align with the group.
- Direct Carrier Appointments
If you want to get direct appointments, you will need a business plan and a marketing plan. Any carrier you talk to about a direct appointment will want to review these documents.
As part of your process, you should evaluate the carrier’s business focus to make sure it aligns with your agency’s goals. If you plan to operate in multiple states, make sure the carrier also operates in those states. Another great resource is A.M. Best Company. A.M. Best provides financial data and news for each carrier.
Aggregators provide access to carriers along with assistance for start-up agencies.
Some aggregators not only provide access to markets. They also allow your agency to share in contingency pay outs at the end of the year.
Agencies will usually have to pay a membership fee and/or a percentage of the commission to the aggregator. Review each contract with your attorney to identify which aggregator best fits your agency.
- Local and State Associations
Some associations have programs for agents to gain access to a limited list of carriers. This is an excellent way to obtain carrier markets.
You will have to join the association to get access to those carriers. Most associations require a percentage of the commission to pay for this program.
There are also other benefits to being a member of an association. You can get access to other resources such as education, peer assistance, and agency operational assistance.
Getting markets is the biggest step towards starting your independent insurance agency. You have several options available to you as a new agency. Assess each one for the best fit for you.
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