Most people have their first contact with an insurance company through an insurance sales Adviser. These workers help individuals, families, and businesses select insurance policies that provide the best protection for their lives, health, and property. Insurance sales agents/advisers who work exclusively for one insurance company are referred to as captive agents/advisers. Independent insurance agents/advisers, or brokers, represent several companies and place insurance policies for their clients with the company that offers the best rate and coverage. In either case, agents/advisers prepare reports, maintain records, seek out new clients, and, in the event of a loss, help policyholders settle their insurance claims. Increasingly, some are also offering their clients financial analysis or advice on ways the clients can minimize risk.
Insurance sales agents/advisers, commonly referred to as “producers” in the insurance industry, sell one or more types of insurance, such as property and casualty, life, health, disability, and long-term care. Property and casualty insurance agents/advisers sell policies that protect individuals and businesses from financial loss resulting from automobile accidents, fire, theft, storms, and other events that can damage property. For businesses, property and casualty insurance can also cover injured workers’ compensation, product liability claims, or medical malpractice claims.
Life insurance agents/advisers specialize in selling policies that pay beneficiaries when a policyholder dies. Depending on the policyholder’s circumstances, a cash-value policy can be designed to provide retirement income, funds for the education of children, or other benefits. Life insurance agents/advisers also sell annuities that promise a retirement income. Health insurance agents/advisers sell health insurance policies that cover the costs of medical care and loss of income due to illness or injury. They also may sell dental insurance and short- and long-term-disability insurance policies.
The growth of the Internet in the insurance industry is gradually altering the relationship between Adviser and client. In the past, agents/advisers devoted much of their time to marketing and selling products to new clients, a practice that is now changing. Increasingly, clients are obtaining insurance quotes from a company’s Web site and then contacting the company directly to purchase policies. This interaction gives the client a more active role in selecting a policy at the best price, while reducing the amount of time agents/advisers spend actively seeking new clients. Because insurance sales agents/advisers also obtain many new accounts through referrals, it is important that they maintain regular contact with their clients to ensure that the clients’ financial needs are being met. Developing a satisfied clientele that will recommend an Adviser’s services to other potential customers is a key to success in this field.