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How To Start An Independent Agency

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.

Plan To Succeed 

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

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. Visit InsurBanc for assistance with business financing and cash management.

Insurance License and 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 licenses 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 can be found at National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Access to 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 Eagle Agency program.  Other resources:

- Prepare for the conversation through the Right Start Series: A Tool Kit to Grow Your Business and Gain Appointments.- Understand what insurance markets to representent through A.M. Best Company.

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" Virtual University offers members an area dedicated to this topic. Other areas:

- Get help understanding today's market and consumer base: Market Resource Snapshots- Prepare for agency growth through the IIABA's Diversity resources.- Review available management products: Best Practices- Develop talent and support the future of the industry through the Big "I" Young Agents program.- Let technology work for you and see the complete picture through the Agents Council for Technology.- Train employees through the Big "I" VU's Basics and Beyond new agent training program.- See how Big "I" Professional Liability can protect your agency, including cyber coverage.

Extensive 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 online area and the fully searchable resource library: Big "I" Virtual UniversityBig "I" Members, Only.Review and register for webinars being offered through the Big "I" Virtual University. - Check out your local BIg "I" state association education department education opportunities: Click here for a state map.Learn about Errors & Omissions insurance and risk management online at IIABA E&O Happens.

Monthly Reading To Stay On Trend

IA magazine brings a monthly focus to areas that are critical to the independent agency system. Through the wide variety of subject matter 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 and training and prepare for the future.- Develop successful sales and marketing strategies that can help your agency thrive.- Plan for the future with perpetuation and valuation information.

Join Your Local Big "I" State Association

Your state association can help you with all of the above considerations, as well as provide extensive networking and education for you and your employees.  Associations advocate on your behalf to create a better sales and service environment for the insurance community.  

Get State Specific Resources
See below to see if your local IIABA state association has more to share on the starting an agency topic.

Arkansas: Starting an agency 
Arizona: Start an agency
Delaware: Starting an independent agency
Georgia: How to start an independent agency
Idaho: Eagle Agency
Illinois: Choose Independent - Starting an insurance agency
Iowa: New Agency toolkit
Indiana:  How to start an independent agency
Kansas: Starting an agency
Kentucky: How to start an independent agency
Louisiana: New Agency toolkit
Massachusetts: Starting an Agency toolkit
Maryland: How do I start my agency?
Maine: Start an agency
Missouri: How to Start an Independent Agency
North Carolina: Ten steps to an Independent Insurance Agency
Nebraska: Start an agency
New Mexico: Starting an agency
Ohio: How to start an agency in Ohio
Pennsylvania: Starting an independent insurance agency
Texas: New agency toolkit
Utah: Business plan basics
Virginia: Start an agency
Washington: Starting an agency

More questions? Send an email to

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Alexandria VA 22314
​phone: 800.221.7917
fax: 703.683.7556

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