A Day in the Life of an Insurance Agent
By Ed Beggs, CEO, Laser App Software and Independent Agent with Ash Brokerage
For many insurance agents, a day at the office often does not go as planned. The goal of any insurance agent is to spend the majority of time bringing in new business, a considerable amount of time managing existing accounts and the least amount of time on menial tasks like filling out paperwork. After 25 years of experience in the industry, I have seen a pattern day-to-day that is actually quite the opposite. For many agents, their days frequently function in the reverse direction with the greatest time spent each day on filling out forms. Most life insurance agents will probably say the same thing when asked, that they are spending the majority of their time filling out and re-filling out paperwork as part of their daily routine.
An insurance agent comes into the office each day (or sets up in a home office) with the mindset to sell insurance policies, but somehow, whether at the beginning, the end or throughout the whole day, filling out and processing paperwork eats into that time considerably. The agent may have a 30 minute conversation with the client, only to spend the next three hours identifying and obtaining policy forms, filling them out with client information and submitting them for processing. Unfortunately, the forms process does not end there; more than ¾ of all applications are rejected the first time, requiring insurance agents to spend additional time filling out the same forms. So just when a new bundle of paperwork is finished, the old package makes its way back for corrections. The cycle repeats daily with less time to solicit new business. This begs the question: what causes this reversal in the daily routine?
First, it is important to acknowledge how important paperwork can be in the process – which means receiving the correct information and having it input and processed is imperative at the form level. In addition to the business metric of time and money spent on not-in-good order, incorrect paperwork can mean more than that. For example, if the birthdate on an insurance form is off by decades, (an easy inverse of 28 and 82 in the age field) it can severely affect the insurance premium, agent commission and client experience. If that applicant were to pass away before the error was noticed, there could be a major issue with payments given due to the altered policy. Thus, each time there is an error in information the paperwork must be filled again. Paperwork is a crucial part of the insurance agent’s life, but the idea is to minimize the time spent on it while maximizing the return.
The right technology is the answer to the next question: how to reverse the daily routine from paperwork centric to new business focused.
Technology deficiency is the first major issue facing the insurance industry today. It is lagging behind in technology upgrades. Most agents use static pdf documents and usually mail or occasionally faxed them, but they are rarely maintained completely electronically throughout the process. Moreover, the agent does not have all the forms needed in a central and organized place. This is a substantial reason why paperwork is rejected. For example, when processing an annuity contract, if not using a forms management library, an agent must obtain the forms needed from the BGA or insurance carrier directly which adds time to the overall process. For an agent who works with ten insurance agencies, those are a lot of forms to juggle. The trend in the industry toward dually licensed insurance and securities agents makes the life of the typical agent even more complicated – as there is increased pressure to sell and process both insurance and securities products.
In the end, an agent is in the business of helping clients select insurance, not filling out forms. Investing in tools and processes that facilitate forms management and processing is the primary way for agents to empower themselves to adequately address their paperwork requirements and focus more time and energy on clients and prospective clients. If done correctly, the agent can have that ideal day every day- one during which the most time is spent finding new business and making connections, followed by managing existing relationships, and with the least amount of time spent on paperwork.