Your success as an independent agent hinges on making smart decisions—beginning with the insurance carriers you choose to represent.
Independent agents have the freedom and flexibility to represent carriers that best fit their business—and clientele—without being limited to a single carrier’s products; as we all know, one size does not fit all.
However, in order to act on behalf of an insurance company—or in other words, sell their policies—an independent insurance agency must first be granted authorization to do so through a carrier appointment. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of carrier appointments, factors to consider when selecting carriers, and the process of getting appointed.
At a glance:
When selecting insurance carriers appointments, consider reputation, financial stability, product line suitability, and ease of doing business.
Appointments with multiple carriers provide agents access to diverse insurance products for tailored client solutions.
Before seeking carrier appointments, assess carrier reputation, product fit, and ease of business, while also considering agency capacity and growth potential.
Importance of insurance carrier appointments
Independent insurance agents play a fundamental role in the insurance industry, serving as both trusted partners to insurance companies, and expert intermediaries between carriers and policyholders. That’s why it is so important for independent agencies to secure partnerships with insurance carriers whose product offerings align with their market and provide growth opportunities to expand products and access to new markets and resources.
Enhanced product offerings
Clients are unique. So are insurance providers. That’s why securing appointments with multiple carriers enables independent agents to gain access to a diverse range of insurance products. A broad product portfolio empowers agents to meet the evolving needs of clients, providing tailored solutions that address a wide range of risks—and attracting clients who value choice and customization.
Access to markets
Insurance carriers already have an established market presence and brand recognition. Through alignment with reputable carriers, agents can gain leads, benefit from marketing efforts, and establish trust. This association can also significantly boost an agency's visibility and credibility in the eyes of potential clients.
Access to support and resources
Insurance carriers recognize the value of their appointed agents and, as such, provide them with support and resources. Resources may include training programs for professional development, co-branded marketing materials to assist with client acquisition and retention, and underwriting expertise.
Selecting insurance carriers for appointments
Just as insurers will evaluate your suitability to represent their product, agents should do their own due diligence and research carriers to determine who would be the best fit for their agency.
Reputation and financial stability
When selecting insurance carriers to get appointed with, it’s essential to prioritize those with a strong reputation and financial stability. A carrier's reputation reflects their commitment to service, integrity, and the ability to honor policy claims. Partnering with reputable carriers instills confidence in both agents and clients alike. Be sure to research their credit ratings, claims-paying ability, and overall standing within the insurance industry.
Product line suitability
Consider whether or not a potential carrier’s product lines align with your agency's target market and specialization. Evaluate the suitability of their coverage options for your clients. Partnering with carriers that offer products tailored to your niche allows you to better meet the unique needs of your clients and increase the likelihood of business success.
Ease of doing business
A carrier with efficient and intuitive systems and processes can significantly streamline your operations and enhance the overall customer experience. Look for carriers that offer user-friendly online platforms, automated processes, and responsive customer service teams.
The process of getting appointed
Getting appointed with an insurance carrier varies by carrier and state. It often involves meeting prerequisites, and is not an overnight process.
Prerequisites for appointment
Before applying for carrier appointments, it’s essential to meet the necessary prerequisites, which can vary by carrier. Be sure to also familiarize yourself with your domiciled state's licensing requirements (and the states in which you hope to do business) and ensure you maintain active licenses through timely renewals.
Apply for an appointment
Each carrier has their own specific appointment processes, but in general, there are three main steps in the appointment process:
Research carriers and evaluate whether or not their products align with your agency's goals, target market, and product offerings.
Review appointment requirements to determine whether or not you qualify for an appointment.
- Prepare a business plan that highlights your experience, your agency’s accomplishments, and your individual successes.
Final considerations for independent agencies
In addition to the tips provided above, there are two major considerations for independent agencies to consider when determining if a carrier appointment is prudent for their agents: shelf-space and head-room.
Shelf-space is having the pipeline, capacity, and people in place to support a new carrier and their requirements.
Head-room is the ability to grow and having the processes and people in place in order to do so. An agent may want to grow, but if they don’t have the capacity to dedicate the time, effort, and resources to do so, they will have very little head room.
So, don’t seek out carrier appointments just for the sake of it. Be strategic and thoughtful in your endeavors and seek out the right carriers for your agency and clients. That way you’ll be growing your business and ensuring success through productive partnerships in no time.