How To Get Started as a Captive Insurance Agent
Deciding to work as a captive insurance agent, is a great decision! The world of insurance is a lucrative and revolving career; which means you will always have job stability and endless promotional opportunities. However, insurance is a very big field and can be difficult to transition into. This article will be an informative guide on what you need to know to get started as a captive insurance agent.
Finding a Job
Job hunting can be a laborious and daunting task, but it can still be successfully mastered. There are several questions that you must ask yourself before applying for any insurance positions:
- Why are you interested in insurance?
Just like any other profession, it is extremely important to know why you want to have a career in the insurance field. Are you looking for stability? Do you want to make a lot of money? Whatever the reason is, you will need it as a focus point to stay motivated in your new career. Once you understand the “why” then the “what” will be easier to find.
- What are you passions/interests in life?
Determine what makes you happy. Do you like to help people? Do you like to teach others? Are you good with numbers? The answers to these questions will eliminate job positions that don't suit you; while allowing positions that correspond with who you are to shine through.
- Do you have any certifications/degrees/diplomas that are conducive to insurance?
Insurance companies love when applicants have credentials that are in business or in a business-related field. Having any of these, automatically makes applicants look more alluring and valuable to the company. Also, a business degree gives you a wide variety of positions to choose within an insurance company and will especially be needed if you are planning to move up to a managerial role.
These answers to these questions are sure to point you in the right direction for finding a job!
Selecting a Carrier
After you've gone through the self-reflective process of answering questions. Now, you can move on to the fun part: selecting a carrier. This is the part of the process that requires good research.
One way to determine which carrier to work for is by pretending that you are the customer. Pay attention to commercials to see if the company appeals to you. Advertisements give good insight on what a company's overall tone and core objective is. Think of your own encounters with your insurance company. If there was one thing you could change about the experience, what would it be? What are some things about your insurance provider that you like? And would you work for them? The answers to these questions will help to narrow down your options.
Here is the most fundamental advice: never work for a company that you would not buy insurance from! You must believe in the company! Their product, customer service, and customer costs should appeal to you in a way that compels you to work for them. If you don't feel great about the insurance provider, then this is not the carrier that you should be employed with. Without a doubt, supporting the carrier you choose means longevity and happiness in your career as a captive insurance agent.
You can also find information about carriers by speaking with friends or family who work in the industry, reading online reviews or by researching the company online. Some companies focus on caring for their customers, some care for their employees, some work hard to care for both and others seem to not care about either. Determining the best fit for you and your career will help you find a company that aligns with your values and goals.
Selecting Types of Insurance to Sell
Selecting which type of insurance to sell and to service requires you to go back to one of the questions that was asked under “finding a job”. Knowing what your passions/interests are also helps you to recognize the type of insurance they may be best to you. If you love to drive and take trips with love ones, then auto insurance may interest you. If you are more sentimental and have a niche for helping people think about their family's livelihood after death, then life insurance could be the way to go. Or if you enjoy helping people maintain what they worked for, then perhaps property insurance would be the best fit. No matter where you interest lie, trust there is a type of insurance that is well-suited for you.
Additionally, certain products are complimentary and agents tend to work with both. For example, most people who need home insurance also need car insurance. Working with both not only helps you sell more policies but can help you be a better agent.
Obtaining Your Insurance License
Finally, you've figured out the first two preliminary steps to transform into your career: the position you want and who you want to work for! Now, it is time to do the third step which is obtaining your insurance license. Getting licensed is a strained process and a lot of paperwork, but you have nothing to worry about. Thankfully, working as a captive agent means that the insurance employer will implement the training and do all of the licensing paperwork for their employees. Right after orientation, your employer will place you into training. Pre-license training is the most vigorous part of insurance that new agents face. Understand that pre-license training will require all of your undivided attention. So, it is imperative to obtain plenty of sleep in order for you to retain all of the information you learn. Here are four things to expect in pre-license training:
- State certified training
The specific time period that you are required to be in training depends on the company you are working for, but it is generally no more than one to two weeks. However, you are required to have a specific amount of training hours depending on what type of insurance license you will be obtaining.
- Life Insurance Agent - Requires 20 hours
- Accident and Health Agent - Requires 20 hours
- Property/Casualty Agent- Requires 40 hours
Your insurance employer will either hold the training themselves or have a third party conduct the training for them. During this time, an agent will learn about state laws, limits of policies, different types of policies, and an assortment of other things. Familiarize yourself with insurance terms and create relatable situations that will help you understand what the terms mean. Don’t be afraid to join a study group with others in your classroom. The more help you have to study the higher of your chances of passing are!
- Background Check and Fingerprinting
Due to the high level of insurance fraud, insurance companies are extra particular in checking for criminal backgrounds. It is also required by every state that applicants who want a licensed have completed a background check and are fingerprinted. Beware, that certain felony convictions may disqualify an applicant from obtaining a license. The type of felonies that this included is determined by each state and can vary. It is best to know you know your criminal background before applying for the license. If there is a felony on your record that may be questionable, then talking to your employer about your background or having your records sealed (only after a qualifying amount of time) may be the best option.
When it is time to take the exam, it will be third partied out to a test facility that will administer the test for the state. After completion of your exam, the administrator will hand you a piece of paper that will indicated whether you passed or failed. They will also update the employer on the status of your exam. If you don't pass your test then your employer will make the necessary arrangements for you to retest. Please note that the number of times you retest, rests solely at the discretion of your employer. There could be stipulations that require you to pay for the exam after a certain amount retakes.
This is the time when your employer will send over all of the paperwork: background check, finger printing, and exam results over to the state so that you can get your license. It will take up to several weeks for a hard copy of your license to come through. Unfortunately, no insurance agent can sell or service policies until their licenses have come in. In the meantime, there is still more to training to go through.
Learning the Company
The hardest part is over! You've successfully completed the pre-license training and are ready to enter phase two. Phase two is company training; which still takes place in a classroom. This where you apply everything you learned in licensing class in conjunction with company standards and requirements. There are certain state law regulations, such as limits of liability, that insurance providers have to comply within. Nevertheless, there are certain laws that give insurance providers the freedom to do as the please, such as charging certain percentages for discounts. Company training will properly show you how to merge the two. In this phase, you will learn:
- How to work through companies operating systems
- How to find basic company information
- How to promote products
- How to service policies
- How to handle particular customer situations
Once agents get a good understanding about the basics of how the company works, they will then move into what most insurance companies call, “transition” or “floor work”. This is when all new licensed agents are now servicing customers on their own outside of the classroom environment. Fortunately, you will not be alone. All agents will be separated into groups and give a “transition” supervisor who will be nearby to guide and monitor your performance, so be ready to take constructive criticism. The time frame you stay in transition is based on how well you perform.
Ensuring Success as a Captive Agent
At this stage, you can now consider yourself a trained licensed insurance agent. You've gone through a lot of training and coaching just to get this title. Surely you want to do all you can to make sure your hard efforts don't go to waste. Therefore, it is important to keep yourself valuable and to perform well within the company. All insurance companies use core metrics to measure their agent's skills. Even though different insurance providers use various metrics, they are all based on these four key components:
This metric is highly important! An insurance company has to make sure that their agents are telling customers accurate information and performing the correct tasks with policies. Making sure your quality is great, reassures customers that they are insured with a trusting and reliable company.
This world is very fast paced and no one wants to wait for long. This is why being efficient is just as important as being correct. If you work extremely slow, then it causes irritation to the customer and gives your co-workers more of a load to pull. As you progress in your career, the time it takes to handle a customer's policy should continue to decrease.
- Customer Interaction
Have you ever spoken with a representative who you could tell really didn't want to be at work? How did you feel? You probably felt unappreciated and like a burden. Your goal as an insurance agent is to make customers feel the complete opposite of unappreciated. The quote “the customer is always right” is not always true. There will be times, when you cannot make a customer happy. They will ask you to do something that is not in company policy or that you simply cannot do: such as reverse a payment that was processed a month ago. Regardless, always focus on what you can do as opposed to what you cannot do. Make sure to show a willingness to assist. Customer interaction will always be the metric that carries the most weight in your overall performance because insurance providers cannot afford to lose business. Plus, a customer's happiness goes a long way in a company's success.
- Customer Survey
In the same way, customer surveys are important. Your customer interaction is a mirror representation in how the customer would complete the survey. Whenever you are communicating with a customer, always ask yourself if your provided service worthy of getting an excellent rating on a survey.
If you can excel in these basic four criteria, then your performance will be exemplary. This enables you to become eligible for more pay and higher positions.
Undoubtedly, the process to become a captive insurance agent is lengthy and requires all of your endurance. Nevertheless, the journey is worth traveling. As long as you can follow this informative guide, then you can achieve great success and a long-term career as an insurance agent.
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