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Things to Consider Before Starting a Career in Auto Insurance Sales
Are you thinking about a career as an auto insurance agent?
A career in auto insurance in Oregon can be very rewarding. You have so many opportunities to meet people, get an education, learn technical and computer skills and provide a service that involves every driver in the State of Oregon. A high level of integrity and ethical behavior are required in all professions. Insurance is no exception.
Some people go through life and never expand their number of acquaintances beyond family and close friends. If you describe yourself as a 'people person' on your resume, then insurance may be one of those careers that fits your personality perfectly. Can you remember the names of every student in your high school? Do you have more than ten names in your favorites email or messaging contact list? Have you talked to more than five strangers today? Are you a good listener? Do you pay attention to other's needs and put them first? If you answer yes to all of these then insurance would fit nicely into your line of business.
Get an Education
Although you won't find insurance listed as a major in a traditional university, you can bring your educational background with you. The insurance industry requires professionals with backgrounds in mathematics, accounting, engineering, marketing, scene investigation and many more. Once you have embarked on an insurance career you can obtain advanced designations from insurance institutes that are as recognized in the industry as any advanced degree from a university.
Technical and Computer Skills
Yes, you know how to turn on a computer. And, yes, you know how to do a search on the internet. You've reached this page! That says you have at least the basic computer skills that the insurance industry now demands. If you are considering a profession as an insurance agent, make sure the company or agency you go to work for invests a good portion of revenues in computer technology. Use caution when investigating a company that still uses heavy paper filing and forms systems.
Insurance companies can most effectively employ computer technologies more than just about any other industry. Why? There is no physical product to manufacture other than the paper on which the contract and endorsements are printed. Okay, yes, insurance companies give out lots of little key chains and stickers to go on your bumper. But, the majority of what insurance companies DO can be done on computers and the internet. Auto insurance companies gather customer data, collect premiums, make changes, process claims, and pay claims virtually without printing a single piece of paper.
You can be a part of all this. It will require that you know operating systems, a word processor and have the ability to quickly learn companies' proprietary software. In addition, knowing other software, computer repair and networking skills will be helpful. Troubleshooting your own computer issues will save you valuable time you need for marketing if you choose a career as an insurance salesman.
Meeting Consumer Needs
Oregon law requires that every registered car have insurance in the State of Oregon. Yes, that is correct--EVERY registered automobile! A car sitting in your driveway, broken down, but with unexpired tags, has to have the minimum automobile liability coverage.
What does that mean for you as an insurance agent? Hundreds of thousands of cars on Oregon highways and streets must have insurance. That is a guaranteed market for as long as those laws stay in effect. As auto insurance laws become stricter and as police's ability to enforce them increases, you can see that the need for auto insurance professionals will be around for a long time. Many insurance salesmen help their clients explore other insurance needs. Full coverage on auto insurance, higher limits of liability coverage and other options available under an auto insurance policy can help to round out the consumer's needs. A professionally trained agent can spot when a client needs these additional coverages and can apply his or her skill in communicating that need. An ethical agent knows at what point to advise the consumer when they are not necessary.
You have a choice of how you want to serve as a professional insurance agent. You can choose to work for one company or for more than one.
Exclusive. You would be called a 'captive' or 'exclusive' agent. Under this method you must sign a contract to work only for that company or its approved affiliated companies. You often can negotiate a compensation plan where they will train you, give you a space to get your business started, and give you a telephone and a call list. Your advance pay is usually considered a loan and it must be paid back. You would rely on your future commission earning potential to pay back the loan. Once you have reached certain production and education goals, you may then strike out on your own and establish your own office. Many times the company will dictate where you may open your business. In return, the company provides national advertising and technology support. Examples of exclusive insurance companies are: State farm, Allstate, Farmers, Nationwide and American Family.
Direct. Many insurance companies, like GEICO, Esurance, Unitrin Direct and Progressive Direct, will hire agents to take calls or review online quotes. Most states require the personnel answering consumer questions over the phone to be licensed for the state in which the consumer resides. This would require that you be licensed in your home state and then seek non-resident licensing in the other states in which the direct writing company does business. The company will pick up the cost of licensing and education requirements and pay you a salary. They may have a bonus program in place if you meet and exceed production goals.
Independent. Most insurance companies operate under the American Agency System or Independent Agency System. This means that you could contract with and represent more than one insurance company at a time. You would be free to select how and where you operate your business. You are compensated strictly by commission. The companies would not offer any training program other than for the products they sell. You would have to learn marketing and office management skills from some other source. All your expenses must be paid by you. The independent agency companies provide some to little national branding. Your customers would rely on you to recommend one of the companies. The companies may provide you with some advertising materials that you can provide to your customers at the point of sale.
In summary, if you have the capital and experience, you could start an agency from scratch and obtain contracts or appointments from insurance companies on your own merit or by purchasing an existing agency. Another option is to go through the rigorous training program that an existing independent agency or a direct selling or exclusive company may offer. Apply your skills and further your education in a challenging and rewarding career. Contact us if you are interested in exploring these options. We'd be happy to discuss all of the above in greater detail to see if a career as an insurance agent is right for you.
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