The future of independent insurance agencies across the U.S. depends on the successful development and advancement of today’s young independent agents and brokers. To help these agents master the skills needed to grow their businesses, many industry associations and carriers have stepped up to lend a helping hand, offering leadership training and educational programs, networking opportunities and technology support.
An event designed to help young agents grow is the National Young Agents Leadership Institute, put on by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA), which gets underway in New Orleans next week. To coincide with the conference, The Drive(R) Group of Progressive Insurance Companies (Drive Insurance), a strong supporter of the conference and the largest writer of auto insurance through independent agents and brokers in the U.S., conducted a countrywide online survey of young independent insurance agents to find out what they think about everything from business growth opportunities and technology to the skills necessary to succeed and the challenges faced by the industry.
More than 750 young independent agents responded to the survey. Drive Insurance followed the industry’s definition of young agents – those 40 or younger, or those who have been in the industry less than 10 years.
According to the survey: Young Agents on Success, Challenges and Succession The Top Five Skills Needed to Become a Successful Independent Insurance Agent 1. Product and risk management knowledge 2. Sales skills; People management skills (tie) 3. Initiative; being a self starter 4. Business management skills 5. Empathy for customers The Top Five Most Significant Challenges Faced by an Independent Insurance Agency 1. Attracting new customers 2. Increasing competition from companies selling direct 3. Finding and retaining good people 4. Having the variety of markets and products to meet customers’needs 5. Retaining existing customers On Succession Of all young agency owners or principals, the majority (67 percent) have a succession plan in place in the event of a planned or unplanned absence. Why an Agent? When asked why they became an independent insurance agent, the reasons most young agents give: To own my own business (26 percent); because it was a family-owned business (18 percent); and to help consumers/the general public (15 percent). Young Agents on Growing Their Business The Three Most Important Ways Young Agents Attract New Business ———————————————————————-Personal LinesCommercial Lines ———————————————————————- 1. Referrals from existing1. Referrals from existingcustomerscustomers ———————————————————————- 2. Cross selling new coverages to2. Cross selling new coverages toexisting customersexisting customers———————————————————————- 3. Traditional advertising/marketing 3. Referrals from other(e.g., local print, direct mail,organizations and areaprinted yellow pages,professionalstelemarketing, etc.) ———————————————————————- Where the Growth Is Ninety-three (93) percent of young agents surveyed are targeting personal lines as a growth area while 75 percent are targeting commercial lines. Young Agents on Technology The Top Technologies Young Independent Insurance Agents Use to Manage/Grow Their Business 1. Carrier Web sites 2. Agency Management System 3. Downloads from carriers 4. Real-time interfaces with carriers 5. Comparative raters 6. The Internet for prospecting, selling or informational purposes The Technological Advantage The majority of young independent insurance agents (79 percent) say technology has been significant in helping them grow their business. Carriers Mentioned Most Often as Providing the Best Technology to Write & Retain Business 1. Drive Insurance from Progressive (72 percent) 2. Safeco (5 percent) 3. Travelers (4 percent) Web Site Usage Only 11 percent of young independent insurance agents have an interactive Web site where people can quote, buy and contact them. Thirty-four (34) percent have a static Web site where people can learn more about their agency and the services they provide and 40 percent don’t have a Web site at all. Young Agents on Carriers The Five Most Important Things Carriers Can Offer an Independent Insurance Agency 1. Competitive rates 2. Technology that helps them more easily write business and servicecustomers 3. A variety of markets and products (auto, home, umbrella) that meetcustomers’ needs 4. Competitive commissions 5. Support provided by dedicated service personnel via phone Banking on a Brand Nearly all agents (94 percent) say a carrier’s commitment to building a brand on behalf of independent insurance agents is important.
About The Drive Group of Progressive Insurance Companies
The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, in business since 1937, provides drivers with competitive rates and superior claims and customer service. The products and services of The Drive Group of Progressive Insurance Companies are marketed to consumers under the Drive(R) Insurance from Progressive brand through more than 30,000 independent insurance agencies in the U.S. Progressive companies using the Drive brand make up a group that is the largest writer of auto insurance through independent agents and brokers in the U.S., based on premiums written. Drive is also a leading writer of commercial auto, motorcycle, boat and RV insurance. Agents and brokers can log in to ForAgentsOnly.com to get an at-a-glance summary of everything they need to manage and grow their Drive business, including referrals, quotes, customer policy information, state and countrywide news and more. For more information, to find a Drive agent, or to get a quote, go to www.driveinsurance.com. The Common Shares of The Progressive Corporation, the Mayfield Village, Ohio-based holding company, are publicly traded at (NYSE:PGR).