Starting an agency from scratch is possible, but can be very challenging. Owning an agency gives you the ability to be you own boss, have the satisfaction of helping people protect their valuables and investments, as well as provides you with good income potential for many years to come.
Plan To Succeed
There are things that you will need to consider when starting an agency from scratch, from a business plan to financing and investment to education. Visit the Small Business Association for help with understanding is being an entrepreneur right for you, questions to ask, steps to starting a business, data development and more.
You will need startup capital to cover things such as office space, equipment and furniture, E&O insurance and marketing. And, don't forget that you have to pay yourself. Visit InsurBanc for assistance with business financing and cash management.
Insurance License and State Regulations
You need to be licensed in order to sell insurance. You will be required to take a certain number of hours of training as well as sit for a licensure exam. In most states, you will need a licenses for each type of insurance that you wish sell. Pre-licensing, licensing and continuing education are state specific so if you intend to sell to clients in multiple states you will need to consider the requirements in each are you choose to do business in. The rules on the sale of insurance and consumer protection information can be found at National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Access to Insurance Companies
After you are licensed, you will need to have access to insurance companies to have insurance products to sell. In order to get an appointment to sell insurance with many companies, you will need a marketing plan, some background in sales, and a solid business plan. Research your anticipated client base and know what companies will best serve them. IIAG may be able to assist with access to personal lines markets through the Eagle Agency program. Other resources:
- Prepare for the conversation through the Right Start Series: A Tool Kit to Grow Your Business and Gain Appointments.
- Understand what insurance markets to representent through A.M. Best Company.
Errors & Omissions Insurance
Before you can go into business for yourself, every agency is required to have an errors & omissions policy. An E&O policy protects you from any mistakes you may make that negatively impact your clients. Think of it as malpractice insurance for your business. IIAG has Risk Management tools that can help you stay informed of E&O best practices and cal also give you a competitive quote on high quality errors & omissions products through our partners Swiss Re. Other Resources:
- Visit the E&O Happens website for tools and best practices to prevent E&O claims.
- Get an Errors & Omissions premium estimate from our E&O program manager, Molly Seides.
Great Management Skills
You need to excel at sales, marketing and administrative management in order to operate a successful insurance agency at the start up level. You will have to wear many hats and will need a variety of skills to ensure success. The Big "I" Virtual University offers members an area dedicated to this topic. Other areas:
- Review available management products: Best Practices Gateway
- Prepare for agency growth through the IIABA's Diversity Task Force's "Right Start" series, starting online on June 29, 2017.
- Get help understanding today's market and consumer base: Market Resource Snapshots
- Develop talent and support the future of the industry through the Young Agents Committee.
- Let technology work for you and see the complete picture through the Agent's Council for Technology.
Extensive Technical Knowledge
You have to fully understand the many different types of policies, forms and coverages in order to provide your customers with the information they need to make informed insurance buying decisions. You will also need to understand how to manage risks for your clients and be vigilant about seeking more knowledge and training. Insurance learning should be a priority in each agency and an ongoing initiative.
- Access online area and the fully searchable resource library: Big "I" Virtual University. Big "I" Members, Only.
- Review and register for webinars being offered through the Big "I" Virtual University.
- Check out your IIAG's education department education opportunities: Click here for a state map.
- Learn about Errors & Omissions insurance and risk management online at IIABA E&O Happens.
Monthly Reading To Stay On Trend
IA magazine brings a monthly focus to areas that are critical to the independent agency system. Through the wide variety of subject matter you can stay ahead of what's next in the industry and incorporate what is learned into agency operations.
- Benefit from agency operations and best practices articles.
- Understand the critical need for recruiting, hiring and training and prepare for the future.
- Develop successful sales and marketing strategies that can help your agency thrive.
- Plan for the future with perpetuation and valuation information.
Join The Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia
IIAG can help you with all of the above considerations, as well as provide extensive networking and education for you and your employees. Associations advocate on your behalf to create a better sales and service environment for the insurance community.