Going Independent without going the Captive Route

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jlg150
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Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by jlg150 »

I've been doing research for about a year, trying to find ways to become an Independent Insurance Agent without going the Captive route.

My whole thing against the Captive route is the whole Non-Compete Agreements. I'm very interested in learning without being held back by these Non-Compete contracts I want to find an alternate route.

I've learned as much as I can about Insurance & starting a small business. I figured my start-up & ongoing costs, with everything in between. The only thing that's been holding me back is I've never wrote a policy before...

Most Cluster Agencies don't offer training to new agents trying to become Independent Agents without prior experience in the Insurance Industry. Out of all the Cluster Agencies that I've come across there's only one that I know of that gives training to new agents trying to start as an Independent Agent WITHOUT ANY prior insurance experience and that's Smart Choice Agents, Smart Start program:
[b]http://www.smartchoiceagents.com/for ... start/[/b]

I was wondering if there's any other opportunities like the Smart Start program out there or any other alternate routes to get formal training as an insurance agent without going the Captive Route.

I would appreciate any and all advice on this thread or private message, thank you.
OldIndyAgent
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by OldIndyAgent »

There have been several posts on this topic.
You should learn the business first. Get a job with an agency just outside where you want to locate your agency. Work as a producer for at least a year. Just passing the producer test and being able to get an LLC does not qualify you to start an agency.
d's insurance store
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by d's insurance store »

I think you've got two options here...the first:
Get licensed, find an office location, put up a sign, call a handful of companies and get some appointments, take out a large yellow page ad, join the chamber of commerce, join a service group like rotary, sponsor a little league team, sign up all your friends and relatives for personal lines and life, get a high backed chair, join the country club, lease a Mercedes for show purposes..

Or, you could just take somewhere in the vicinity of $60-75K in cash and burn it in the fireplace

Either way, given your lack of experience in the business and current market conditions, the end result will be exactly the same.
beachagent
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by beachagent »

I would recommend working as a producer or licensed CSR before taking the plunge. You may find this is not the industry for you. Getting an appointment with any carrier when you have no experience is not going to happen.
jlg150
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by jlg150 »

I appreciate the advice. Can anyone comment on the Smart Start program from Smart Choice as being an alternate route? Thanks again.

http://www.SmartChoiceAgents.com/foragents/smart-start/
detroitgirl2
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by detroitgirl2 »

Should we expect the fate ( money up in smoke) to be the same if we get started as an insurance franchisee? My understanding is that a new agent can be trained and assigned if we are part of an insurance franchise. There are several companies doing this now.

Thanks.
d's insurance store
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by d's insurance store »

detroitgirl2 wrote:Should we expect the fate ( money up in smoke) to be the same if we get started as an insurance franchisee? My understanding is that a new agent can be trained and assigned if we are part of an insurance franchise. There are several companies doing this now.
Thanks.
Look, what you're missing is the fact that we're not in the 1970's any more for the retail insurance office business model. It's no longer a growing marketplace for personal lines with the 3 big captives and a couple of independent main street agencies downtown competing and exchanging the same clients as rates go up and down.

The personal lines consumer has LOTS of channels to purchase the product today and clearly not all of them are flocking to the trusted insurance advisor to discuss whether or not 25/50/25 or 50/100/25 are the most appropriate auto liability coverage options.

The key to starting from scratch is knowing just what in the world you're going to offer that's different. What or how are you going to sell that sets you apart, and please, spare me the 'we care about our customers' claptrap. And, it's not only knowing the market place and the available carriers and their rate competitiveness, it's also knowing how to run a business with a clear plan and imagination to market in this new tech world so that people can find you when they're ready to buy, and THEN you have to have that 'x factor' of difference to what everybody else is trying to pitch.

A franchise just gives you a template and access to markets, at a reduced commission. Then what? Direct mail touting your 'low rates'? A neon window sign saying 'safe, strong, secure'? Pay per click promising to save money?

Give me a break! Plunging into the retail insurance business today without a lick of experience is akin to throwing money away.
jlg150
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by jlg150 »

I only know of Smart Choice agents in my area of the Tri-State doing this right now. I spoke with the State Director of Smart Choice Agents & basically he said he would train me or have me trained as a completely new agent with no experience. I made sure he understood I was a completely new agent, I broke down my business plan, he critiqued it, told me what I would need out of it and what I wouldn't need out of it to get started. He said once I was licensed and had everything in place from my business plan to start that he would either meet with me or I meet with him regularly in person, on the phone, or online to teach and train me. He told me that it would be an ongoing training and that he would be helping me with my agency for as long as I'm with Smart Choice.

So far I've been looking for this type of program/mentorship from other companies but haven't had luck which is why I've been on forums looking for differences of opinion or different opportunities that won't hold back my progress in the long run such as a non-compete agreement.
jlg150
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by jlg150 »

d's insurance store wrote:
detroitgirl2 wrote:Should we expect the fate ( money up in smoke) to be the same if we get started as an insurance franchisee? My understanding is that a new agent can be trained and assigned if we are part of an insurance franchise. There are several companies doing this now.
Thanks.
Look, what you're missing is the fact that we're not in the 1970's any more for the retail insurance office business model. It's no longer a growing marketplace for personal lines with the 3 big captives and a couple of independent main street agencies downtown competing and exchanging the same clients as rates go up and down.

The personal lines consumer has LOTS of channels to purchase the product today and clearly not all of them are flocking to the trusted insurance advisor to discuss whether or not 25/50/25 or 50/100/25 are the most appropriate auto liability coverage options.

The key to starting from scratch is knowing just what in the world you're going to offer that's different. What or how are you going to sell that sets you apart, and please, spare me the 'we care about our customers' claptrap. And, it's not only knowing the market place and the available carriers and their rate competitiveness, it's also knowing how to run a business with a clear plan and imagination to market in this new tech world so that people can find you when they're ready to buy, and THEN you have to have that 'x factor' of difference to what everybody else is trying to pitch.

A franchise just gives you a template and access to markets, at a reduced commission. Then what? Direct mail touting your 'low rates'? A neon window sign saying 'safe, strong, secure'? Pay per click promising to save money?

Give me a break! Plunging into the retail insurance business today without a lick of experience is akin to throwing money away.
In my case I'm not going to rely on paid marketing unless it is my website, flyers, business cards, or brochures. My main source of getting customers will be leveraging the relationships that I already have in my current entertainment business. My marketing for people outside of my network will be more personal such as Door to Door & B2B, up close and personal. I'm more of a field work kind of person, I have no interest in buying leads, paying google, & etc. I will try to combine both of my businesses rather than having no income and starting from scratch.

I know I will generate a lose in the beginning such as the losses I've generated in my current entertainment business in the beginning but I personally understand that is just how business works, riding thru the bumps in the road. It about the long stretch.
beachagent
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by beachagent »

After giving this post more thought, I wonder if you will even be able to purchase an E&O policy without experience. If you can, I can't even imagine what the premium will be. Good luck.
jlg150
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by jlg150 »

James Bond
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by James Bond »

Consumers havehave lots of channels in today's market but don't let all the Google Insurance and other tech/web doom and gloom deter you: http://www.connectmyinsurance.com/2015/ ... odel-dead/

D's insurance store hit the nail on the head with differentiation. There are just TOO many agents out there. A lot of IA's think that their differentiation is that they are independent (so are the other 5 to 10 IA's in your local area). You have to find a niche. The more niche you are the more you can establish yourself as the go to person for that niche. Also, if you do end up doing any SEO type of work it will be easier and somewhat less expensive working within a niche. Then you can expand outward from that niche to the broader market. I've seen a LOT of spanish speaking agents grow this way: finding an area where the demographics of the community have changed (a larger hispanic community) but existing agents fail to meet the demand (so these spanish speaking agents move in to that market to fill it).

A franchise is a good place to start and the smart program's training may be alright but there are times when you're going to absolutely need experience. However, it doesn't have to be YOUR experience. Hire a very experienced producer, your other producers and CSR's are going to have questions that SOMEONE is going to have to answer for them. From a management perspective you just can't be clueless, it will kill your morale/culture.

Just be careful, sometimes the 'very experienced' people in the job market are the ones that were just someone else's problem. I would again INVEST in working with a trusted & proven recruiter in your area that specifically works in insurance. In lieu of that, take advantage of LinkedIn and poach good employees from a successful agency nearby (but not too close =D). Random fact: LinkedIn was made so companies could poach other company's employees and they continue to focus on that as their business model. The fact is that there is someone out there that really knows there stuff and works hard but is undervalued.
simonagent
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by simonagent »

I just opened my own independent agency in 2014. It's much harder than I expected but it has it's worth.

Later when you look for an MGA do not deal with Consolidated Agency Partners, Inc. in NV. They contacted my insured after I terminated the contract with them due to their poor service. I made a complain but never received any apology from them.

Good luck to you.
Darmour
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Re: Going Independent without going the Captive Route

Post by Darmour »

I do not recommend Smart Choice. Read the contract throughly BEFORE signing. Just sayin
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