Company Appointments: 5 Steps to Knowing Which to Target
Both new and established agencies have numerous insurance carriers to choose from. Some are better than others in terms of pricing, agency service, communications, and claims handling. Even in a hard market when carriers typically pull back on appointing new agents, the new or established agency can easily access a wholesaler that will have many markets available.
There are different reasons to choose different insurance companies and they all should contribute to meeting the needs of the agent and their prospective clients. Considering what carriers to get company appointments with is important and warrants a step-by-step process to help your agency understand the needs in the marketplace.
- Survey Your Market for Underserved Market Segments: Typically, established agencies recognize the markets where they succeed after several years of offering insurance products. They will settle in on a market category where they are experts, where they are very competitive, and where they are comfortable serving.By surveying your competitors’ advertising, you can determine their major area(s) of interest and expertise and then develop a list of categories that appear to be underserved. You can also develop a list of underserved market segments by monitoring your inbound leads and tracking what insurance products’ prospects are asking for.
- Sell What You Know: Many new agents get into the insurance industry after spending time in another. For example, an agent with a background in trucking will typically focus on that market segment because it is a large segment and they have expert knowledge of the needs of their prospects. Therefore, if you have a background or sincere interest in a particular industry, choose carriers that are competitive in that industry in every category of insurance that applies.
- Competitively Priced Products: Typically, it’s never a good marketing plan to be the low-price leader in the marketplace, but new scratch agents may not have a choice if they enter a market that has a history of being price sensitive. Knowing this, new scratch agents should be prepared to get company appointments with carriers that historically are low-price leaders in the marketplace. When you are a new agency, selling a piece of business because you are the cheapest guy on the block is not necessarily a bad thing. The agent needs to be prepared to educate their clients on the difference between coverages and why cheap is not always better; their E&O can take some hits if they do not. *(This depends on their niche, its good to have at least 1-2 “price-conscious” carriers for some of their clients)
- Select Multi-Line Carriers: Multi-line carriers usually mean multi-line customers, and multi-line customers typically remain on your book of business much longer than single line customers. This will work to an agent’s advantage for personal lines as well as commercial lines.
- Lenient Underwriting Guidelines: New scratch agents (no book purchase) need to be able to offer products for a wide range of prospects. Your intention should be to start building a book of business that you can refine according to your expertise in the coming years. To achieve this, the agency will need company appointments with one or 2 companies that offer more lenient underwriting. So you can accept applications where your competitors cannot, and start building a book of business quickly.
Your agency has an advantage over the competition when you have company appointments for various products. That way you can offer a personal line prospect auto and homeowner’s or auto and renter’s insurance with the same carrier.. It works the same when you can sell a contractor General Liability and Workers’ Compensation. Anytime you can round-out an account by selling multiple policies, you will reduce your rate of attrition, earn more renewal dollars, and become more successful.
Finally, preparing a professional presentation package for each carrier you will be seeking company appointments with will increase your chances of getting appointed. Always put together a presentation package that includes a well thought out business plan, resumes for the principal and team members, proof of a current E&O policy, and an invitation to meet in your office.