A recent discussion with a potential client sparked this post. Here’s what she said:
“We go to church with an insurance agent, but it seems like he’s in it, then he’s out, then he’s back in. I just don’t think he’s that serious about it and if we’re going to be investing our savings into starting this business, we need someone who knows what they’re talking about.”
Hmmmm. This was the first time in 17+ years I had ever heard a non-insurance person say this.
Here’s a warning: If Your Insurance Agent is selling insurance on the side, then don’t be surprised or disappointed when you get shitty results.
Insurance isn’t an occupation that can be done as an afterthought and inspire your full confidence. There may be some occupations that don’t require a high level of technical know-how and focus, but insurance ain’t one of ’em.
Here’s a few observations that could help you determine whether your insurance agent is “in it to win it” or just biding his time.
They’re either serious about it or they’re not
And when I say serious, I’m not saying an insurance agent can’t ever crack a smile or make jokes. Hell, if I didn’t do either, I’d be curled up in a corner babbling to myself (remember we’re talking about INSURANCE ;p) What I AM saying is that insurance has to be a full-time job. Not something done occasionally. Not something done in your spare time. A prior post offers up other food for thought- What Should You Expect from Your Insurance Agent?.
This industry changes every day. Hell, probably every minute. I can barely keep up with all the changes that apply to the types of insurance I work with. If your insurance agent’s not in the trenches every day? Forget about it. He’s traveling upstream without a paddle. And if you’re his customer????? *glub glub* is the first thought that comes to mind……
Serious also includes a commitment to education
As a way to both “refresh the basics” and improve upon existing knowledge, a full-time insurance agent never quits educating him or herself about the industry. Most states require a minimum hours of continuing education anyway to keep your license. But there are a variety of programs available to earn professional designations- CIC, CRM and CPCU are some examples. These stand for Certified Insurance Counselor, Certified Risk Manager, and Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter, respectively. It may seem like a bunch of “alphabet soup” to those not in the industry, but I will tell you, if your agent has earned any sort of designation, they’re in the industry full bore.
I earned the CIC designation several years ago and would NEVER have put myself through that torture if I wasn’t serious about my career 😉
You know more about insurance than he does
Any hack with an Internet connection can do a search for insurance terms. You can probably educate yourself pretty well about basic concepts too.
If you have a conversation with an insurance agent and you seem to know more than he does, I’d be concerned. Now, no agent knows EVERYTHING there is to know about insurance. Not possible. But, if Agent X can’t explain a loss settlement, coinsurance penalties or navigate the actual insurance contract, you might want to find a different agent.
You can’t EVER find him when you need him
Even full-time insurance agents can be hard to find at times. But if your agent is selling insurance on the side (i.e. has a different “day job”), then it’s virtually guaranteed you won’t be able to reach him when you need him. It would be kind of tough for your agent to answer insurance questions if he’s on the factory floor making widgets.
You know that old saying, “Jack of All Trades, Master of None?” It’s especially true in the insurance world. I consider insurance a craft. I sincerely believe it requires focus, attention and nurturing. There’s always room for improvement. But it requires daily and consistent commitment to reach a professional level of competence.
I just don’t buy into the idea that it’s a career that can be done as an afterthought. I think if you’re the agent, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And if you’re the customer, to quote a Winger song from the 80s song, you’re “Headed for a Heartbreak.”