There Is Always Something To Be Grateful For


There is Always Something To Be Grateful For

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarify. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” –Melody Beattie

Every year there are blessings, big and small. Are we grateful for those blessings or do we just brush over them wishing and hoping for more? We all want more. We all want more money. A bigger house. A better car. The list goes on and on. But, as the words by Melody Beattie state, if we can really, truly be grateful, then we are able to see the true gifts of life before us. Through gratitude we are able to realize that what we have IS enough and so much more. What if we stop looking at the arguments and differences as a hindrance, and look at them as an opportunity to show support, love, and acceptance? What if we refuse to let the chaos and confusion of everyday life take over, and see how to add order and clarity to the situation? What if we look at this “meal” as a wonderful feast to not only take a break from life’s distractions, but to also have the opportunity to make memories with family and friends?

Thanksgiving is a day to look beyond the exhaustion of cleaning, cooking, and hosting and to realize that this day is truly about giving thanks, showing appreciation, and illustrating gratitude through our words and actions. Let’s take a moment to look around and to be grateful for what we all have and how fortunate we are.

Smart Choice® wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving! “May the beauty and blessings of Thanksgiving bring warmth and peace to you, your family, and friends!”

You Don’t Have to Use Our A+ Insurance Carriers, but Why Wouldn’t You?

Report card on a desk
Report card on a desk

You Don’t Have to Use Our A+ Insurance Carriers, but Why Wouldn’t You?
By: Michael Miller, Smart Choice® State Director

As an insurance agent, you know that not all insurance carriers are created equal. The experience your clients have as policyholders and you have as an agent can vary significantly between companies. That’s why it pays to be choosy when pursuing appointments with insurance carriers.

Excellent Carriers for Policyholders

The experience policyholders have with your carriers can be a significant factor in whether or not they renew with you. To satisfy your policyholders, your carriers should have a reputation for excellent customer service and offer competitive rates.

Here are JD Power’s rankings of the nation’s top carriers based on a consumer survey:

Where do your current carriers rank? Are they carriers of excellence or just barely making the grade? Many of Smart Choice®’s top-rated carriers perform well on the JD Power surveys.

Excellent Carriers for Insurance Agents

When you’re deciding what appointments to pursue, you also need to consider whether or not the carrier is a good fit for you professionally. Does the commission rate and other compensation make it worth writing the policies? Will carrier representatives respond to your needs efficiently and effectively? Does the carrier have the resources to write the policies your clients demand?

Is Your Insurance Cluster Group a Great Partner or a Ball and Chain?

Weights tied to a persons legs
Weights tied to a persons legs

Is Your Insurance Cluster Group a Great Partner or a Ball and Chain?
By: Michael Miller, Smart Choice® State Director

Choosing an insurance cluster group is a lot like choosing a spouse. You hope you’re both in it for the long haul, and you’d like to think that if you put the work in to sign new clients for your cluster group, the cluster group will reciprocate with giving you access to the industry’s top appointments.

You also know that if the relationship doesn’t work out, breaking up with your cluster group can be painful and difficult. That’s why it’s important to take the time you need to learn all you can about a cluster group before becoming a member. Armed with information, you’ll be able to make a better judgment on whether the group will become a great business partner and help you grow—or a ball and chain that holds you back.

Is It All or Nothing?

Some cluster groups require you to use a certain number of their carriers, and many demand that you use only their carriers. This can often mean cutting ties with your current carriers, resulting in lost clients and policies in force.

An all-or-nothing philosophy is not a win-win situation. You should be able to keep all the carrier relationships you’d like and use your cluster group membership to get high-value appointments with top carriers. Reputable cluster groups know they win when their agents are allowed to maintain their current book of business and carrier relationships.

Is Your Cluster Group’s Slice Too Big?

When your cluster group does allow you to keep your existing carrier relationships, they might require you to split your commission with them. This costs you much and only benefits the cluster group. Don’t fall into this trap when researching your options. Reputable groups will never ask you to share your commissions from existing carrier appointments.

Veterans Day Tribute: Home of the Free, Because of the Brave

military dog tag thank you
military dog tag thank you

November 11th, is a patriotic and spirit-filled day set aside each year to honor ALL of those who have served in the military through times of trial and tribulation as well as during times of peace. Where many confuse this holiday with Memorial Day, Veterans Day is meant to truly acknowledge those who have not only died to protect our freedoms, but to honor and thank the heroes who are still living today. These heroes may be a part of your family, they may be a neighbor, they may be friend, or they may be a complete stranger. Regardless if they were in the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, or Coast Guard, they have sacrificed time with family and friends, have missed birthday and holidays, and have put their lives on the line in order to fight against the various evils this world is witnessing every day.

Behind each of the terrifying events making headlines on the evening news and in the newspaper, there are hundreds of thousands of strangers fighting to keep us safe and to make these headlines just something of the past.

So, how can you show your appreciation? It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Fly your American flag high, shake a Veteran’s hand, and say thank you.

John F. Kennedy once said that “Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul.”  On this Veterans Day, Smart Choice® would like to thank and honor ALL who have displayed true valor as it takes great courage and a strong spirit to do so. Thank you to all who served this country and those who are still serving in order to protect the freedoms many tend to take for granted on a daily basis.

Want to learn more about the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day as well as the history of each? Read the following article!

Independent Insurance Agents Can Find Buying Power in Numbers

International  business team
International business team

Independent Insurance Agents Can Find Buying Power in Numbers
By: Michael Miller, Smart Choice® State Director

Whether you’re just starting your own agency or expanding into a new market, buying power will determine the insurance carriers who will work with you. Joining a cluster group is an easy way to get appointments with the industry’s top carriers.

It’s Tough Going It Alone

Whether you’re newly independent or a seasoned insurance agent, you’ve got a lot of work to do. When your efforts are stretched between marketing, making quotes, signing new clients, and managing your staff, pursuing new carrier appointments can seem impossible.

As a small agency, it’s difficult to get your foot in the door with the nation’s top carriers or meet the profit sharing minimums many carriers require. Savvy agents know they have more buying power when they join forces with other independent agents. That’s why many agents join cluster groups.

Power in Numbers

Cluster groups are able to pool the buying power of their members to make their insurance agents look more desirable to carriers. Instead of looking at the performance of one independent agent, carriers look at the performance of the entire group. Often, cluster groups already have relationships with the industry’s top carriers, so becoming a member can get you nearly immediate access to appointments.

Getting Paid

Joining a cluster group also gives you the power to bargain for better commissions. Commissions vary across markets and carriers, but generally, a cluster group will help you negotiate higher commissions.

Cluster group members also take advantage of a larger share of profit sharing. When you join a cluster group, profit sharing increases because your share is based on the performance of the group, not your individual agency.