In the world of insurance, it can be a dog eat dog world. More and more insurance carriers are moving from a captive agent model, where sales representatives are on the company payroll, to independent agents who are often paid by commissions only. So how can you improve the agent experience, and thereby improve your bottom line?
Independent agents can sell policies from an array of companies which forces carriers to invest and position themselves as the carrier of choice for their agents.
Agents are typically going to push whatever carrier makes their life easier. Not just making selling easier, but making their entire duration with a company from on-boarding, to on the field, to rolling off seamless.
In order to do this, companies need visibility and control of the entire agent lifecycle. They need to be able to manage all the components surrounding their agents.
Three ways to improve the agent experience
1.) Keep them compliant and ready to sell: If your agents aren’t selling, you aren’t making money. However, especially in the financial service industry, there tends to be some red tape and compliance components that must be resolved before the agent is green-lit to sell.
It’s not just about ensuring your agents are okay to sell at the moment, but it’s a continual investment on keeping them compliant, up to date, and able to sell.
Now with AI and integrated communications, companies can perform automatic checks when licenses are about to expire or automatically inform and remind agents when education materials are available and need to be completed.
2.) Understand their various roles and relationships: Independent agents typically work with an upline that’s usually another insurance company. Agents usually push multiple types of insurance like health, life, auto, or property and causality, which adds to the complexity of their roles.
In addition, each agent is managing a book of business for insurance carriers, and living and evolving client relationship lists that can be very detailed. The longer a customer’s relationship with your business, the more complex the book of business becomes.
Carriers need to be able to manage all of these complex relationships and business connections of the agent, as well as those of the client.
Carriers need instant visibility into all the numerous hierarchies their agents are part of and the different contracts that are involved. As the relationship changes, carriers need to be able to have historical and future views of how changes will affect their business.
3.) Make compensation easy to understand: With independent agents who are solely paid through commissions, disputes or overpayments are common.
Insurance carriers may not only pay an agent for new business, but also have a negotiated percentage that needs to be paid to the agent’s regional manager and district manager for every new deal or renewal. With the complexity comes a loss of visibility as to why agents are being paid a certain amount, so discrepancies in payments occur.
Carriers need to be able to proactively address any disputes before it erodes an agent’s motivation to sell. Compensation plans also need to be easy to understand. If an agent’s compensation plan is too complex, and they’re not understanding the benefit on why they’re doing something, there’s a good chance they’re not going to do it at all.
Insurance carriers need to focus on how to better manage the agent lifecycle and improve the agent experience. By keeping agents compliant and ready to sell, managing their complex roles, and giving them a compensation plan that’s easy to understand, carriers can create a frictionless agent experience.
Carriers will also be able to differentiate themselves from their competitors, allowing them to become the carrier of choice for their independent agents.