if you ask someone, “what does an insurance agent do?” You’ll probably hear something like “they sell insurance.” And yes, insurance agents and producers sell plans to their customers. so it’s accurate, sure, but it’s not the whole truth about being an insurance agent.
the qualities of a good insurance agent go far beyond selling. Insurance agents provide consulting services and work with clients, including business owners and benefit decision makers, to develop the right coverage plans for each client’s needs. educate and help owners and employees navigate the sometimes intimidating world of insurance. They may be independent business owners themselves, but they know how to partner with companies to maximize everyone’s time and investment. sale? Yes, of course. but there is more to it.
Reading: What does insurance agents do
what does an insurance agent do?
Insurance agents (sometimes referred to as producers) perform a number of tasks, all of which revolve around building customer relationships. Some types of insurance, such as supplemental insurance offered by AFLAC, involve sales at workplaces across the country. For these agents, in addition to preparing their business to be able to serve customers, their main activities include:
- meet with business owners and benefit decision makers to introduce themselves and explain the benefits of the carrier they represent.
- developing coverage packages tailored to each client.
- meet with employees to educate them on available benefits packages and assist with enrollment.
- consult with existing customers to ensure packages are up-to-date with customers’ changing business needs.
- marketing and advertising to promote awareness of new policies or changes in coverage.
- Perform administrative tasks, both to ensure that customer registrations and claims run smoothly, and for their own record keeping.
- leveraging leading technology to streamline your insurance practice.
First things first: how do insurance agents get clients? most use conventional sales techniques such as cold calling business owners, showing up at places of business to introduce themselves, and following up on leads about newly launched or expanding businesses that might be looking for insurance plans. but they are increasingly relying on social and digital marketing while leveraging customer relationship management (crm) and automation tools to manage their book of business.
When working with carriers that offer renewal fees, such as Aflac, this level of active selling can last as little as 12 months; After that, the insurance agent’s income may include policy renewals, not just commissions on new policies an agent sells. Agents or producers who enjoy seeking out new relationships can continue to sell as many new policies as they can handle throughout their sales careers. But many producers who sold policies in their early years prefer to focus on nurturing the relationships they built during that time rather than constantly looking for new customers.
Once a customer or benefits decision maker has agreed to offer the type of products an agent sells, an agent uses their knowledge of the specific business, industry, and benefits landscape to recommend packages that are suitable for the client’s business. Agents may also be tasked with explaining those benefits to the customer’s employees directly.
Agents are constantly developing relationships. They listen to what existing and potential clients are saying, and then step in as benefits advisors to share their knowledge and consult with clients on how to address their business needs with different types of coverage.
Insurance agents also handle administrative and marketing tasks; after all, they are business owners themselves. And while no marketing or business experience is necessary, it can be helpful to know how to market yourself and how to develop a business plan. Agents and producers can eventually hire staff to handle marketing and administrative work so they can focus on building and maintaining customer relationships.
The truth about being an insurance agent
Your career path as an insurance agent is fully customizable. Working as an insurance agent can be a great way to start or continue a career in sales, but some choose to pursue leadership opportunities in the field sales organization. Some agents decide to remain agents or producers throughout their sales career, operating as small business owners in their own right. Some agents work part-time: Parents, military veterans, retirees, and people looking to supplement another part-time job can use the flexibility of this job to help them achieve the life balance they seek.
Others use the experience gained in a few years of the agent’s life to launch into a different branch of the industry, such as recruiting, management or brokerage services. just ask jason naville, aflac recruiting growth consultant who started out as an agent.
“When I joined Aflac, I knew I wanted to accelerate my career in sales,” he says. “I also wanted to see what else I was capable of, so I asked my district manager about management opportunities.” It worked: She has held eight positions during her 22-year tenure at Aflac.
the number 1 responsibility of an insurance agent (you may be surprised)
Yes, insurance agents sell products, write policies, and quickly become experts in their industry. But there’s another unexpected truth about being an insurance agent: It’s not about selling. it’s about helping.
Insurance agents help business decision makers provide the services their businesses need. That’s why you don’t need sales or even insurance experience to be successful. if you want to help people, you can thrive as an agent. It will help them navigate an area that can be confusing and intimidating, and ultimately help protect people from the high costs of health care not covered by health insurance.
“I’m not here just to sell you insurance,” Naville says. “I need the business owner and workers to know that I care about them and their best interests.”
Every day, that means agents are learning about the benefits landscape so they can educate their customers and become valuable experts and partners. not just the landscape of the carrier that the agent represents, but the big picture. it’s part of the real responsibilities of being an insurance agent: connecting with people, building relationships, and finding solutions.
“Even with all the growers and agents we have, [companies] aren’t necessarily saying yes to Aflac,” says Meaghan Mutrie, an Aflac market recruiter in New England. “They are saying yes to the person who is educating them.”