5 Reasons Why You Should Resolve to Market Your Agency Online in 2016


5 Reasons Why You Should Resolve to Market Your Agency Online in 2016
By: Michael Miller, Smart Choice® State Director

Many independent insurance agents are apprehensive about online marketing. It seems like a lot of work to set up a website and make updates to social media accounts. But in 2016, the simple fact is that independent agents need to market online to stay relevant and competitive. Here are 5 reasons why you should market your agency online in 2016.

  1. It’s where your clients and prospects are.

It’s just a fact. Your clients are shopping online, reading reviews online, and participating in online communities. Online marketing allows you to connect with your clients where they’re already at.

  1. The big guys are already doing it.

You’re no stranger to competing with big carriers. But nowhere are the large direct-to-consumer insurance companies out-marketing independent agents than online. Invest in a comprehensive website and commit to a strong social media presence to compete with the big names.

  1. It helps you compete on value, not just price.

The big direct-to-consumer carriers have made insurance a commodity and convinced customers to shop on price. But you know that insurance isn’t just about the premium, it’s about the quality of coverage. Use your website and social media accounts to educate your clients and prospects about why shopping on value is a better deal than shopping on price.

  1. Online marketing separates you from the rest of the pack.

Investing in online marketing is a leap many independent agents are unwilling to take. But if you do, it will set you apart from the competition of your fellow independent agents.

  1. The Internet can be a referral gold mine.

Most consumers have asked for a referral from their connections on social media. Many have also written reviews of products and services online. If you’re not connecting with your clients consistently online, you’re leaving these referrals on the table. Make it simple for your clients to refer you by being easy to contact and connect with online.

Online marketing is an essential part of selling insurance, but you don’t have to go it alone. Smart Choice® offers agents free web page design and access to an entire social media network to drive prospects to your agency.

Click here to visit the Smart Choice® LinkedIn Page

Click here to visit the Smart Choice® Facebook Page


5 Ways for New Insurance Agents to Gain Customers

5 Ways for New Insurance Agents to Gain Customers


It can be difficult for an agent just starting out with his or her own office to know where to start finding customers – and it’ll take a lot of hard work to get to a point where you have a steady flow of customers coming in the door. Here are some tips for getting off to a great start and creating lasting practices to help you achieve success.

1) Look Professional

If your office looks shabby and so do you, you’ll lose trust of potential customers almost immediately. Dress the part of a professional by wearing a suit. Keep a clean and tidy office. Post pamphlets, education tools, posters and window labels from your carrier partners. Have a designated waiting area that’s bright, comfortable, and separate from where you speak with clients. If you want people to buy from you, you want them to feel at ease and comfortable in your presence.

2) Partner with as many carriers as possible

This can be difficult when you’re first starting out, because you are likely a smaller agency and may not yet have a relationship with your local carrier representatives. To gain recognition and trust with carriers, you can partner with an “agency cluster group” which will help you gain appointments. Don’t be afraid to reach out and network with your local reps either. Set a meeting and buy them lunch. Interact with them on LinkedIn and other social media networking sites.

3) Use your customers for referrals

Starting a book of business from scratch will require you to build on your successes, and that includes not being afraid to ask for referrals from the customers you win. When you write insurance for someone for the first time, send them a “care package” welcoming them to the agency. Provide a folder with information on their carrier, information on how to file a claim should they need to (a great idea is to have a wallet sized or glove-box sized card for them to keep with step-by-step instructions on who to call first when claims arise), a small giveaway like a key chain or pen with your agency’s information on it, and 4 or 5 business cards for them to “refer a friend.”

4) Sell multiple products

Don’t limit yourself here. You should offer personal, commercial and life insurance products if you can. This will broaden your potential customer base exponentially. Not sure how to sell commercial and life? Smart Choice has programs that will enable you to submit your customers’ information and have the business written FOR you, and you’ll still reap the commissions. Click here to find out more about these programs (Commercial and Life).

5) Partner with a local real estate agent or office

Real estate agents are fantastic networkers. They also spend a lot of face time with their clients, and usually keep lists of recommended resource providers for all kinds of things for new homeowners. If you can become the preferred agent of a real estate professional, you’ll get steady stream of new customers coming in the door each month.

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?

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.


Understanding Insurance Agent Commissions

Hands Giving & Receiving Money

Understanding Insurance Agent Commissions
By: Michael Miller, Smart Choice
® State Director

Knowing how agent pay and commission works can be tricky, whether you’re an experienced independent insurance agent, a producer on an agency’s payroll, or if you’re considering making a career change into the insurance industry. Here’s a quick run-down of the different ways insurance agents get paid so you can decide the best option for you.

7th Best Business Job
This year, US News & World Report ranked “Insurance Agent” as its seventh best business job in the United States. Half of the insurance agents in the country are independent, while about a quarter work directly for an insurance carrier as a captive agent.

While some agents are salaried, most earn part or all of their incomes on commission. This means a lot of an agent’s time is spent finding and following up with leads. Without the right support, it can be tough for new agents—or newly independent agents—to make a living off commissions alone.

How Commissions Work
The amount you earn in commission as an insurance agent depends on how much insurance you sell and the type of insurance you sell. An agent selling life insurance, for example, may make between 30 and 90 percent of a client’s first-year premium. Commissions on premium renewals are typically lower. Agents selling life insurance may only make 3 to 10 percent on life insurance renewals.

The commission you earn also depends on the carriers you work with. Some carriers have more generous commissions (and bonuses) than others. Joining a cluster group can help you gain access to some of the industry’s more generous commissions. Members typically split commissions with their cluster group. Each group splits commissions differently, so do your research carefully before you commit.