Start Your Own Agency

Preparing for Success

The decision to start an independent agency is an exciting leap in your career as an insurance agent. But even if you’ve spent several years as learning as a captive agent and know the industry well, the process of establishing your own agency can feel overwhelming at first. While there will be challenges, with careful planning and attention to detail, you can achieve success as an independent agent. The freedom to control your own earning potential, build something you own, and even expand to support other agents is a thrilling adventure.

Even with considerable industry experience, founding your independent agency may feel a lot like starting over. Unless you have the capital to purchase a book of business from another agent, you will likely begin with no clientele to rely on for income. Attracting new customers and building their trust in you and your business is a challenge every independent agent faces. But like so many others, you can overcome these obstacles to achieve success as your own boss.

Build Your Business Plan

If you’ve never built a business plan, it can be hard to know where to start. From the basics—such as financing and competitive differences—to advanced growth strategies, there is a lot to consider. But to gain the trust of potential investors, new clientele, and carriers, you must first be able to present a clear strategy for success. Taking the time to build your business plan will ensure you have a thorough understanding of your path to success. If you’ve never built a business and are unsure of where to start, the Small Business Administration has developed a useful guide to help you get started!

Review and Adhere to Legal Requirements

Insurance is a highly regulated industry. As an independent agent, it is your responsibility to ensure your new business operates according to state and federal guidelines. While there are many requirements, there are resources available to help ensure you remain compliant. 

Obtain Appropriate Licensing

One requirement is that insurers have the necessary licensing in place. This helps to protect consumers from fraud and verifies that agents have taken the appropriate steps to care for the needs of their clientele. Because requirements vary by state, it is important to understand your local laws.

In Georgia, you can learn more at the Office of Insurance and Safety.

In South Carolina, more information is available at the Department of Insurance.

Set Up a Record Maintenance System

Another critical requirement to follow is records maintenance. Again, these laws will vary by state, so taking the time to understand local regulations is vital.

In the state of South Carolina, the law states: “All producers shall make and keep a full and correct record of the business done by them, showing the number, date, term, amount insured, premiums, and the person to whom issued of every policy or certificate of renewal. The information from these records must be furnished to the director or his designee on demand and the original books or records are open to the inspection of the director or his designee on demand. These records must be kept for a minimum of five years.” 

Agents in Georgia will find a similar requirement. The law requires that documentation “be kept for a minimum period of five years after the completion of the transaction or the term of any contract entered into in connection with it, whichever is greater.”

Be Sociable

Breaking through the noise to get your agency noticed may seem difficult at first. With so many options available to consumers, many people are exhausted at the thought of changing from their existing coverage, even if they can save money with a different provider. Get your name recognized and establish a friendly presence in the market, both through old fashioned networking and by taking advantage of modern social media. Doing so ensures you build a reputation as someone who can help answer questions and simplify the often complicated world of insurance. Taking the time to get to know potential clients and allowing them to meet you, whether in person or virtually, is critical to the early success of your agency. 

Be Ready to Handle Success!

You've established your new agency, handled all the legal paperwork, and cleared the initial hurdles of breaking into the marketplace. Now what? Be ready to grow! Success will bring with it a new set of challenges. Finding, hiring, and training your first new staff members is an exciting time for any independent agent. Make sure you're ready for this and all the other changes that come with an expanding agency. Learning from other industry leaders, attending seminars, and staying tuned to our blog and newsletter for regular tips and strategies are a few of the ways you can be prepared to handle your new-found success!

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