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How To Start An Independent Agency

5 Minute Read 

Starting an agency from scratch is possible, but can be very challenging. Owning an agency gives you the ability to be your own boss, have the satisfaction of helping people protect their valuables and investments, as well as provides you with good income potential for many years to come.

Making Your Plan To Succeed 

There is a lot that you will need to consider when starting an agency from scratch, from a business plan to financing and investment to education. The Small Business Administration can help with understanding if being an entrepreneur is right for you, questions to ask, steps to starting a business, data development and more.

Investigating Investment Capital 

You will need startup capital to cover things such as office space, equipment and furniture, E&O insurance and marketing. And don't forget that you have to pay yourself. The Big I" has an affiliated bank, InsurBanc, that specializes in helping independent agencies with business financing and cash management.

Getting an Insurance License and Complying with State Regulations

In all states, you need to be licensed in order to sell insurance. You will be required to take a certain number of hours of training as well as sit for a licensure exam. In most states, you will need a license for each type of insurance that you wish sell. Pre-licensing, licensing and continuing education are state specific. Choose and contact your local Big "I" state association for assistance understanding this critical aspect of running an insurance operation. The rules on the sale of insurance and consumer protection information are available through National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

How to Access Insurance Companies

After you are licensed, you will need to have access to insurance companies to have insurance products to sell. In order to get an appointment to sell insurance with many companies, you will need a marketing plan, some background in sales, and a solid business plan. Research your anticipated client base and know what companies will best serve them. Big "I" may be able to assist with access to personal lines markets through our Eagle Agency program for new agencies. 

Other resources include:

  • The Right Start Series: A Tool Kit to Grow and Gain Your Business Appointments helps you prepare for the conversation with companies. 
  • AM Best Company is also a good resource to help you understand what insurance markets to represent. 

Developing Your Great Management Skills

You need to excel at sales, marketing and administrative management in order to operate a successful insurance agency at the start-up level. You will have to wear many hats and will need a variety of skills to ensure success. 

The Big "I" Helps Independent Agents Through: 

  • The Big "I" Virtual University is a comprehensive insurance technical resource with thousands of articles and an area dedicated to agency ownership.
  • Understanding today's market and consumer base with our Market Resource Groups and prepare for agency growth with our diversity resources. 
  • Review available management products via our Best Practices program. 
  • Develop talent and support the future of the industry through the Big "I" Young Agents and Diversity and Inclusion programs. 
  • Build your agency's technology and let it work for you--seeing the complete picture through our Agents Council for Technology. 
  • Market your agency by leveraging tools and resources created by the only national brand for independent agents-- Trusted Choice. 
  • Train employees through the Big "I" VU's Basics and Beyond agent training program. 
  • Learn how Big "I" Professional Liability can protect your agency, including cyber liability coverage, to keep your agency and customers' important data safe.

Building Your Technical Knowledge

You have to fully understand the many different types of policies, forms and coverages in order to provide your customers with the information they need to make informed insurance buying decisions. You will also need to understand how to manage risks for your clients and be vigilant about seeking more knowledge and training. Insurance learning should be a priority in each agency and an ongoing initiative.

  • Access our online and fully searchable resource library: Big "I" Virtual University for Big "I" members, only. 
  • Review and register for webinars being offered through the Big "I" VU 
  • Check out your local Big "I" state association education department for education opportunities. Click here for a state map
  • Learn about important errors & omissions insurance coverage and risk management for your agency at online at E&O Happens.

Monthly Reading To Stay On Trend

Independent Agent magazine brings a monthly focus to areas that are critical to the independent agency system. Through the wide variety of free content, you can stay ahead of what's next in the industry and incorporate what is learned into agency operations. Benefit from agency operations and best practices articles; understand the critical need for recruiting, hiring, training and preparing for the future; develop successful sales and marketing strategies to help you thrive; and plan for the future with perpetuation and valuation information.

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