How to Get Direct Carrier Appointments As a New Agent

September 6, 2016
By: Voldico

It's an uphill battle, but it's doable.

As a new insurance agent, getting a direct appointment with a quality carrier is a challenge. But it's also critical to your success.

Most insurance carriers want to work with agents who have—

  • industry experience,
  • a proven sales record,
  • a desirable marketing territory,
  • and a solid business plan.

So, as a new agent, how do you overcome this hurdle? Where do you start?

Here's what we recommend—

Write a business plan

If you haven’t already, your first step should be to write a detailed business plan that's clear, direct, and complete. 

An agency with a solid business plan – including specific, measurable, and attainable goals – has a higher chance for success and carriers only want to work with successful businesses. 

If you're a new agent but can show that you have a strong plan for success, you can increase your changes of bagging a direct carrier appointment.

Consider joining a cluster 

An insurance cluster (a.k.a. alliance, network, aggregator) typically provides agents with access to otherwise inaccessible markets, niche programs, and even direct appointments.

Make sure you carefully review the contractual relationship with any cluster, especially when it comes to book ownership, commissions, revenue sharing, and fees. For example, Voldico's member agents retain complete ownership of their books of business, pay zero membership fees, and are not charged if they decide to leave the network.

Start with a wholesale carrier 

New agents typically start out working with wholesale carriers. Do some research and find out what wholesale carriers are out there. 

Wholesale carriers aren't as well-known as many direct carriers, and they often charge higher rates and have fewer products. But that doesn't mean they don't have value. 

A wholesale carrier can help with customers who might not get good rates or options from direct carriers and, more importantly, they can help agents get the experience and connections they need for direct carrier acceptance.

After you've spent some time building up your book through a wholesaler, you will be in a better position to gain access to direct carriers.

Do your homework 

Before reaching out to direct carriers, do your research. Are they taking on new agencies? Do they have a minimum premium volume commitment? The more you know about the carrier, the more easily you can decide whether you want to reach out to them, or whether it might not give you any benefit to do so.

A good place to start is online. Review what your peers have to say about the carriers you're interested in. That shows you more about how easy it is to start working with that carrier, and can also help you decide if the carrier treats agents and customers well. You wouldn't want to work with a carrier that doesn't.

Find your niche  

Niche marketing can lead to higher that average profit margins, which can make your agency look more desirable to direct carriers. Focus on a great niche you can offer, and start building your business around it. You can still offer other products, as well.

Research other local agencies to see where gaps exist and be the best in your niche. There are always gaps you can get into, and when you do, you'll likely find that the customers who are looking for insurance in that niche will be loyal to you.

Be prepared

Most carriers provide a list of requirements (and an application) on their website for obtaining an appointment with their organization. 

Before you begin the process, make sure you have all the prerequisites met and be prepared to meet additional requirements (such as a background check and proof of licensing for both you and your agency).

Being a new agent in today’s competitive marketplace is not easy. If you need help getting your agency off the ground, explore the many benefits of joining Voldico.