What does it take to get insurance carrier appointments on your own?

Before I worked with Firefly, I tried to get some appointments on my own.  While I knew Firefly was a great company, I also thought that if I could get the carriers on my own, I might make more money (no commission split should mean more money for me, right?).

I quickly learned that to get an appointment on your own, it’s important to know what a carrier’s requirements are—and you’ll want to know those requirements better than this Hell’s Kitchen contestant knows percentages:

And when they ask how much you can do for them, you’ll want to be able to give them a better answer than contestant number three!

⏩ If you want a shortcut to getting direct carrier appointments with ALL of Firefly’s carriers in your state (and without any per-carrier production requirements) you can learn about that in this article. (It might make you hungry.)

Keeping in mind that every carrier is different, here are some ideas of what most carriers will ask you for if you want to get appointments entirely on your own:

A Track Record of Growth and Profitability

Carriers are generally looking for GROWTH that is PROFITABLE, and they want at least three years of your reports to verify it.

You can’t show profitable growth if you don’t have production and claims reports. If you have worked with at least one carrier for enough time and have the records to show for it, you will want your book to show underwriting profit for that period.

Note that growth and profit over time can have an impact on the way a carrier views you. A $1 million book after three years makes a better impression than a $1 million book after 15 years.

A Business and Growth Plan

Even if you can demonstrate good, profitable experience, adding a carrier will change the dynamics of your agency.  Carriers know this, and they want you to show how you will generate more business in the aggregate with them rather than simply moving one carrier’s customers over to them.

This is when you may feel like a chef promising to give Gordon Ramsay 110 or 125 percent. For example, if you have a $500,000 book of business with two carriers—$250,000 per year, per carrier—this makes a good impression. But new carriers want to be sure you have a plan to grow beyond that $500,000 total if they appoint you. They’re not looking for stagnant agencies that just shuffle customers from one carrier to another.

You might feel like you’re committing to do better than your best, but if you make that commitment, you must follow through on it and grow.

(By the way, in this hypothetical scenario, the two existing carriers will want to be sure that your new carriers do not hurt their position in your agency.)

A Production Commitment

After you present your growth plan, you will have to agree to a production requirement with the carrier.  It will usually be a 1-to-3-year goal. (Don’t forget that many companies have separate production requirements for commercial and personal insurance, and getting a carrier does not necessarily mean that you will get every line of business that they offer).

Production requirements are pretty much universal, and they will limit the number of carriers you can get appointed with. They’ll also increase stress in your agency, because you have to balance your customers’ best interests against your carriers’ requirements for more premium.

For this reason, you’ll need to be cautious when getting appointed with multiple carriers. Adding more insurance companies before you reach your production goals with current carriers will jeopardize your existing or future appointments.

Obtaining E&O Insurance

You will also need to have errors and omissions insurance. This isn’t a big deal, but worth noting.

Book of Business to Roll Over

If you have the ability to do a book roll, you will get a lot more attention from carriers.  In some cases, a carrier might insist you roll a book to them in order to get their appointment.  Even then, they will probably not take ALL of the accounts, and the book you roll will need to have a history of profitability.

Bottom Line:

In short, you don’t have to “know percentages” to get appointed. But you need to know what carriers want, and you have to deliver on some big commitments.

**With a cluster, the principles are the same, but a little more lenient. The experience hurdles will be lower, and the production requirements will probably be lower too. The limiting principle of production requirements vs the number of carriers you get still applies. And commercial and personal lines will still be separate with some carriers.

***With Firefly, once you make our team, we’ll get you appointed with ALL of our carriers and you won’t have per-carrier production requirements.

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