bigboy, my experience as a captive agent for over 10 years, and now as an independent agent for going on 2 years:
The days of the scratch start up State Farm agent making a million dollars per year are gone.(with very few exceptions.) Many reasons for this, but it boils down to much different company philosophy towards the agent today from the company view, versus the "Good Old Days" 20 or 30 years ago when it was the "Cat's Meow" to be a State Farm agent. I am sure your aunt started many years ago, and is on a contract with SF that has not been offered to agents in several years. State Farm has changed their agent contract 3 times since 1997, with each contract change being less and less agent friendly each time. Also, customers are much more savvy these days, and smarter. What does this mean to an insurance agent? No longer can you as an agent offer "one brand of detergent" and prosper, starting from the ground up. Again, very few exceptions to this statement. All captive agents, not just State Farm, are singing the blues these days. (Allstate and Farmers for sure) Since your aunt probably rode the wave to growth many years ago, she can sit back and enjoy her renewals as long as State Farm does not get greedy and terminate her contract, which they can do since they own the policies. Allstate and Farmers can do the same thing. (Farmers is incented to "steal agencies" from their agents, because they can assign them to new agents and pay the new agents 4% commission on auto instead of the original agent's commission of 10%.) On the independent side, the agent actually "owns" the policies. If you really want to get into the business to learn it for a career, I would suggest contacting a local independent agent(IA) who is looking to bring on a producer, and work out a business arrangement that is to your liking. With several companies to represent as an IA, your closing ratio for every 10 policies you quote will be in the 60-70% range, versus 10-20% on the captive side.