Are you considering starting an independent insurance agency, but you don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry, we got you covered. We have helped many agents break free over the years, and we have this down to an art.
Are you ready to start living your dreams?
The first things you will need to do are get all the necessary permits and licenses to operate your business in your state, and any other states where you intend to sell insurance. Start by setting up your LLC or S-corp and registering your Agency Name with the state, and license the Agency entity and individuals with state Insurance Department.
Next, get at least two separate bank accounts: one for Premium Trust and one Operating Account. If you plan on accepting credit card payments, start that process while you’re at the bank.
You’re in the insurance business, so this should go without saying, but… don’t forget to get E&O insurance, as well as insurance for your workplace and employees.
Opening the Office
Since everybody is working virtually these days, you may not need to rent office space for now (or maybe ever), but you will have other requirements to operate a respectable-looking business that inspires trust in potential customers.
Get a website and an email address - no Gmail or Hotmail, you need your own domain and at the very least a good landing page that tells people online who you are and what you do. Get a dedicated phone line too.
Sort out all the software you will need to run smoothly: an Agency Management System and maybe some accounting software.
First and foremost, get a website. It doesn’t have to be an expensive and complicated one, just make sure it looks professional and has your contact info front and center. You can invest more into it later.
Start with the basics: send out press releases to local and regional press (we have boilerplates you can use), consider getting a listing in the Yellow Pages or whatever is popular locally.
Traditional methods such as flyers and brochures might work, but it’s even better if you update to email campaigns. And don’t forget to create an attractive referral program - good clients bring good clients.
It is very important to have a procedure manual in place, even for a one-person operation. It will be very difficult to delegate and grow without documented operating procedures, since responsibilities, tasks, and operations have not been defined and outlined. SIAA has a Start-Up Manual available, which you can use as a reference and adjust it as needed to make it your own.
It is vital that important communication with your insureds, company underwriters, and claims representatives be documented - if you have an automated management system, this documentation can be done in the “Client Notes” section. If not, make sure you establish a clear system and that all your team members know it and use it every time.
Don’t get carried away hiring people from the get-go, and definitely don’t hire a producer until all other positions (admin, customer service, etc) have been filled.
To keep your office running like a Swiss watch, make sure you write a comprehensive Employee Handbook (SIAA Group has a template you can use) outlining rights, duties, and expectations clearly. Require all employees to read the handbook and sign a document stating they read and understood it.
Finding the right people is not easy, and the vast majority lie on their resumes. We strongly advise using PeopleSense Consulting to help you make sure you are hiring the right people for the job and for your company.