The Changing Insurance Industry Landscape – An Agent’s Perspective

 The Changing Insurance Industry Landscape – An Agent’s Perspective

 

Change is a pain. I know. I own an insurance agency. Commission cuts (gashes, in some cases), the Internet, underwriting processes, the direct writers…you get the point. Insurance carriers (whether you are a “captive” or an “independent”) try to understand and react to the change, well after the change has occurred. The wheels of corporate Tax Agent Gold Coast America turn ever so slowly. I write this to convince you why we should embrace these and other challenges we face as Agency Owners.

To this, I unfortunately have to ask you to do that which we have already agreed is a pain…to change. Not change in a physical sense, as our companies seem to continuously force on us, but change in a mental sense. In order to thrive in our business today, it is absolutely vital that you as an Agency Owner (not an Agent-there is a huge difference!), must have an open mind and not turn away any opportunity for agency growth without first fully investigating its’ merits and detriments. Not every suggestion or idea presented here is for everyone. That’s OK. You must realize however, that unless you are swimming, you are simply treading water. Those that tread water, eventually:

Drown (go out of business, etc.) or;
Get rescued (are forced to sell or merge).

The headline carried on the National Underwriter a few years ago basically forecast that by 2003, 20% of the Independent Agency force would disappear. Now that it is 2009…how far off do you think it was? They would quit, sell, or merge. I know I didn’t like any of those three options, especially if forced to do any of them. If I wanted to thrive, let alone survive, I knew the “same old way” of doing business wasn’t going to work anymore. You may agree or disagree with individual points, but all in all, each of my “secrets” is driven by three caveats:

Pro-activity

Positive Mental Attitude

Keeping it Simple

I write this with the intention of preserving and perpetuating the Agency system of insurance distribution. If you do not fully believe that our way or life (goodness knows, it’s not a job!) is just as important to our clients lives as their doctors, attorneys, and accountants, then stop reading here. I do not believe that we will be replaced by the Internet or the direct writing companies. I do believe, however, that if we do not do a better job of satisfying more of our clients needs and desires, someone else will. Insurance, especially personal lines property and casualty is becoming a commodity. We cannot let this happen. As soon as our customers think of their auto and fire coverage as a commodity, we as agents are expendable. We need to give people reasons to need an Agent/Agency. If we do not, we are doomed.

Secret #1
You are not an insurance Agent.

I repeat, you are not an insurance Agent. Yes, according to the state in which you are licensed you may be, but I am not writing of the technical definition. You are the owner of an Insurance Agency. Preferably, you are a business owner. If someone asks me what I do for a living, I answer in that way. If an application or form requires that I write-in my “employer” or “employment”, I complete the blank with “business owner”, not Agent, or self-employed for that matter. “Self-employed” connotes that you work for yourself (and your income). “Business owner” relates that your business (even it is only you presently) works for you to generate income. The difference is far greater than simply the syntax.

THIS IS A MINDSET CHANGE

 

 

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