Does Outsourcing Save Time and Money for Insurance Agents?

How to outsource insurance agent help | Insurance CE
You’ve heard all the talk about outsourcing in the media, and perhaps even seen other insurance agencies take advantage of the benefits of using contractors rather than hiring staff, but will it really work out for you? It depends.

Many companies choose outsourcing because of the cost savings that come from not having to pay employee benefits, but another benefit is freeing your remaining staffers from administrative work, enabling them to spend more time doing what they do best. A number of companies have reported greater employee satisfaction and job performance as back-office tasks are turned over to an outside contractor, as well as a sense of enhanced job security and employee value.

Several outsourcing companies deal specifically with the insurance industry. If you need help with back-office processing or analytical tasks, ReSourcePro of New York can farm out the work to overseas facilities, where an English speaking college-degreed professional will be specifically assigned to work directly with you. Users have reported fast turnaround times on work that could have taken their regular employees many weeks to complete. Another option that’s closer to home is WAHVE, LLC, an agency that matches over-55 retired insurance professionals with insurance agencies needing help with customer service, claims, or processing. WHAVE workers can help reduce overhead and other costs via connection to a client agency’s system, while keeping jobs here in the US.

The Downside: A Cautionary Tale

Some companies have been less than happy with their outsourcing experience. Training and supervision of workers may not meet your standards. There can also be time and communication conflicts due to time zone differences, as well as language barriers and security issues – all of which can create extra problems due to contractor mistakes and unforeseen delays. Once functions are turned over to a contractor, you lose direct control over training, risking accountability and customer satisfaction. You have to keep an eye on the cost, too: in the end, for some companies there are no real savings. Be cautious before letting go of employees in favor of unproven contractors: you may wish later that you had them back!

The Last Word

• The trend among many insurance agencies is to hire mainly ‘core’ employees (sales and upper administrative) and outsource support personnel or those temporary positions
that don’t directly generate revenue. As companies continue to slash costs to remain competitive, outsourcing non-core work is fast becoming the norm.

• If considering outsourcing, ask questions designed to cover as many contingencies and hidden costs as possible, including the status of the contractor’s financial health.

• Get everything in writing about what you will get and what services will cost extra.

• Ask for references and be sure to follow up.

• Outsource only some of your tasks initially, to evaluate the servicer’s performance over a period of time, before risking your company’s reputation and goodwill.

Get to know your clients and watch your business grow

How to grow insurance business | insurance ceBy purchasing insurance through you, your clients gain the valuable ability to call and speak to a knowledgeable person when they have questions or concerns about their policy. If you get to know your clients as individuals, you can show them the benefits of having an agent over an 800 number, and in turn you’ll help your business grow.

Establishing trust

Consumers are becoming used to impersonal business relationships, as more and more tasks can be completed through automated systems on the phone and over the web. The companies they deal with don’t often get the chance to have a conversation with them. You, on the other hand, have an opportunity to get to know your clients on a personal level. When you establish yourself as an agent that cares about their individual needs, you will build a level of trust in your business relationship.

You do not need to be intrusive to begin learning about your clients. Just by collecting information needed to set up their policy you’ll likely learn if they’re married and whether they have children. You may learn about the type of work they do and if they own a home. Keep this knowledge in mind, as it can help you anticipate a client’s future needs.

Keeping track of clients

You can set yourself apart as an agent by remembering the details that make up your client’s life.  Keeping track of information is not difficult. You can use various software programs or keep written details in a secure filing system. Programs like Intuit QuickBase, FileMaker Pro, and Salesforce allow you to design a database to your exact specifications. You can also use calendar reminder programs to let you know when to send birthday or other greetings to clients. This type of service provides the personal touch that establishes you as someone who is more than just a salesperson.

Meeting client’s needs

Once you have your information base, make the knowledge work for you. For example, a family with a home and auto policy has a child about to turn 16. You have gotten to know them well enough to know that the child is eager to start driving. Go ahead and contact them with two or three different quotes for the car insurance they will need.

This provides more than just a quote for your client. You are one step ahead, you have saved your client the time they would have spent tracking down quotes. Apply your knowledge in all of the areas where your clients may have insurance needs. If a son or daughter will be moving out, suggest a renter’s insurance policy. You do not need to use high-pressure sales tactics, you are simply ready with information your client will find valuable.

Growing your business

Getting to know and remember your clients will yield rewards. Your business will grow as you build long-term relationships. As children become adults, they will be likely to turn to you for their insurance needs. Satisfied clients will refer you to family and friends. All you need is to take a little time to treat each client as a unique individual.

3 Tips for Beating Test Anxiety

Many people experience some fear or nervousness when sitting down to take a test. This is a natural response to knowing your work is being evaluated. It can even help you do your best by giving you extra energy and heightening your attention. Test anxiety becomes a problem, though, when it interferes with your performance. Your mind going blank or an inability to concentrate will only hurt your score.

The best way to meet test anxiety head-on is of course to be prepared. Knowing how many hours you’ve spent mastering the material and being able to tell yourself that you’ve learned it inside and out will help you counter your fears with true confidence in your knowledge and abilities. But for some this isn’t enough to make that nervous edge go away, and so here are a few simple things you can add to your test prep routine.

1. Eat Healthy Before the Test

Choose fresh fruit or a salad on the day of the test. Vitamin C will help reduce stress hormones, so citrus, strawberries, and dark greens make good choices. Protein like turkey or chicken can also help you feel calm and ready. A cup of chamomile tea before you go to bed the night before the test may help you sleep better.

Many of the things you know you shouldn’t be eating anyway will make your anxiety worse, including processed and snack foods, foods made with white flour, red meat, anything fried, chocolate, and soda. Don’t have that extra cup of coffee in an attempt to wake up: drinking more caffeine than you’re used to can add to your stress. Sugar will boost your mood briefly, but then cause you to crash and interfere with your concentration.

2. Breathe

It sounds too simple to work, but you may be surprised at how breathing deeply and intentionally can help you re-center. Sit up straight and slowly breathe in, paying attention to how the air is filling your lungs and abdomen. Hold for a few seconds, and then exhale, again slowly. Repeat until you calm down. You may also want to try breathing into your hands as they’re cupped over your mouth, or deeply breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Don’t force your breath but just observe it instead.

If this works for you, you may want to research other breathing exercises or meditation/mindfulness techniques to add to your stress-busting toolbox. More and more studies are showing the benefits of these practices.

3. Chew Gum During the Test

This sounds like a weird tip, but there’s real science behind it. Researchers in Australia found that chewing gum can alleviate stress, going beyond just distracting you to actually lowering stress hormones. Other studies in the UK and Germany have showed that chewing gum helps with memory retrieval. The US military has even distributed gum to troops to help them relieve tension and stay focused.

Why does this work? It may be that the chewing action and increased saliva help to improve blood flow and get more oxygen to the brain.

None of these tips will replace having actually done the work of learning the material, but they are extra tools that can help you calm your jitters and do your best.