This post is part of a series sponsored by ITC (Insurance Technologies Corporation).
When you’re starting a new insurance agency, one of the final things you’ll need to consider is training your staff. Even if you’re not going to have any employees initially, there’s still your own development to consider.
Start by determining the experience level of your new hire(s). That will help you find out what they need to know to be efficient. Next, identify training materials that will help your new employee operate within your agency. Set the expectation of future development and execute an annual training plan to keep track of each employee’s training goals.
How Experienced is Your New Hire?
A new hire might not yet be licensed and will need education on the basic insurance principles. That means basic training on state-specific insurance regulations. Most states require an agent to attend and pass a certified insurance course for each license they want.
In some cases, a new hire may need multiple classes for certification in different areas of insurance. Provide new employees with the standard procedures outlined in your employee handbook. Have documented processes ready on their start date so they can hit the ground running.
Licensed staff may have a good baseline understanding of the insurance industry. Have processes ready that will help them stay informed of changing policies and regulations.
Most states require continuing education classes to renew a state insurance license. Show them the process of completing this on an annual basis.
Everyone in your agency will need ongoing development. This will include training on standard agency procedures like workflows. There’s also the technology used in your agency and customer service. And, if someone wants to expand their knowledge in a new area, like marketing, that will also need to go into the plan.
What Do You Focus Training On?
Besides the obvious insurance training, there are a couple other topics to put into your training plan.
Even your experienced new hire could need training on the insurance agency technology you use. They may have used a different comparative rater or agency management system in the past. You will need them to learn how your agency uses technology so they’re meeting your expectations.
Training your new employees on your agency’s specific workflows is an important part of providing good client service as well as having a consistent process that you can measure. It will help your new hire know what is expected of them and how their performance will be measured.
What Training Methods?
One of the most successful approaches to training is a mentorship program. Ask some of your more successful agents to mentor new agents. Mentorship programs help new hires learn about the specifics of your agency from their peers. This will give your new hire multiple resources for questions and help them learn best practices. This is a good strategy for onboarding new producers and CSRs.
Review Recorded Calls
When training new CSRs or agents with little experience, confidence can be an issue. A way to build confidence is to have them listen to themselves on their recorded calls.
Reviewing themselves on recorded calls can help new agents with their client approach. They can identify areas of weakness and learn to change the way they position themselves. It will help you determine if they need more training on insurance terms and policies.
When reviewing calls with staff, listen to the call first. Then, review it with the employee. Give them advice on how to improve the customer experience. Help them with insurance processes they may not completely understand yet.
Continuing Education Courses
Most state insurance departments require agents to complete additional classes each year to maintain their license. Some states may mandate specific classes like ethics, flood, and errors and omissions. You may be able to choose other courses from an approved list of educational providers.
Video is one of the greatest resources available for training your staff. Many carriers, vendors, and industry consultants have video channels for helping agent education. It’s an efficient way to review the necessary procedures and daily tasks.
Some carriers have created classes to help train CSRs and producers. Before sending your employees, check with your local carrier marketing representative. They’ll be able to give insight on whether they think the class will benefit your staff. Also, verify if there are any co-op funds to help with any expenses involved.
There are many insurance designations within our industry. Research the designations you think will benefit your staff. Set expectations for your employees and assign these as training goals. Designations can give your team more confidence and help cut down on errors. Also, these designations can help earn the trust of clients in the agent and your agency.
If you have a quality comparative rater or agency management system, they have training on their platform. More than likely, these training materials exist on their website. If not, contact your representative, and they will provide you with what you need to train your new employees. Save these documents to use for future hires.
There are many training webinars available as free resources to learn about the insurance industry. Try searching online for webinars on topics you want to add to your training plan. You can also ask carriers, vendors, and other agents to see if they have any webinars to recommend.
Attending a conference may not seem possible right now with the pandemic. But, some conferences are going virtual. Check with your local or state association to see what the plans are for their conference and if they’re offering any alternative training options right now.
Your Agency Training Plan
There are many training opportunities available to you. Develop a training plan for new and existing agents. Every insurance agency training plan should include information about the technology you use and your processes and procedures. Here’s a list to get you started.
- Insurance agency website
- Online lead follow up process
- Comparative rater
- Quoted prospect follow up process
- Agency management system
- Data collection and cleaning process
- Carrier websites
- Document imaging
- Daily agency procedures
- Customer service expectations
Your training plan will help you identify what education your staff needs. As a result, your team will know what education they need to complete.
Review the training plan at least one time a year. You’ll want to see how you’re doing towards your objectives and if you need to make any adjustments.
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