In recent years, the field of insurance has witnessed a great boon. This was the result of the need for various insurance policies as well as the technological changes that the market has gone through. While it is a well-known fact that the insurance market is a complex and dynamic industry, it still presents challenges for all involved, primarily freelance insurance agents.
Recent statistics estimate that more than 170,000 licensed insurance agents are employed in the USA. For freelance insurance agents, who are the backbone of the industry, the challenges presented by the insurance field can be even more significant. Without the support of a large corporation, freelance agents must rely on their expertise and resources to succeed.
To help you on your journey, this article provides a comprehensive resource for freelance insurance agents to protect themselves while operating in the insurance market. It will explore the best practices and regulatory requirements, which are aimed at helping freelance agents make informed decisions and secure their place in the industry.
Whether you're a seasoned professional or starting, read along to find the best ways to protect yourself as a freelance insurance agent in this highly competitive market.
First, who qualifies as a freelance insurance agent?
A freelance insurance agent is an independent insurance professional who sells insurance policies and services to clients. They are typically self-employed and work with multiple insurance companies to offer a variety of insurance options to their clients.
Some of their tasks include assisting clients in selecting and purchasing insurance policies that best fit their needs and budget and providing advice on insurance-related issues. They may also follow up with clients, answer questions, and handle claims.
Finally, as of 2023, freelance insurance agents are making north of $55,000 per year in the USA.
Best practices to protect yourself as a freelance insurance agent
#1- Keep accurate and detailed records of every interaction and transaction.
As a freelance agent, you work closely with clients to finalize their applications and transactions. Since you are dealing with sensitive data, keeping a record of every interaction and transaction that you make is an essential practice.
It is essential to keep accurate records of all interactions with clients. These records may include notes from client meetings, copies of all contracts, policy applications, other vital documents, and records of all payments and commissions.
This practice is essential for two main reasons. First, it will help you stay organized. Since you might be working with different insurance companies simultaneously, the last thing you want to do is mix your documents up and lose important files. Keeping these records helps you avoid that outcome.
Second, as a freelance agent, you are responsible for your client's applications and insurance policies. As such, should any issue occur when dealing with this data, you can protect yourself by using these records to provide evidence in case of a dispute or lawsuit.
#2- Stay up to date on industry changes.
The insurance industry constantly evolves, with new products, trends, and regulations emerging. As a freelance insurance agent aiming for a top spot in this field, you must keep up with all these updates. You can attend industry events and conferences, read trade publications, or participate in professional development courses or training programs.
Staying informed about the different changes in the insurance field is essential for several reasons. It can help you maintain your competitiveness compared to other market agents. Additionally, it can help ensure that you provide accurate and compliant advice to your clients. Finally, staying up to date with the latest changes helps you ensure that your clients are adequately protected. For example, suppose the market changes indicate a higher risk of a particular type of loss. In that case, an informed insurance agent can advise their client to purchase additional coverage to mitigate that risk.
#3- Obtain the necessary licenses.
Another essential practice that every freelance insurance agent should do is obtain the necessary licenses to practice the occupation. To sell insurance in the United States, you must be licensed by the state where you plan to do business. The license requirements may vary from state to state but typically involve passing a certification exam and meeting other educational and background check requirements. In addition, you may need to complete ongoing continuing education to maintain your license.
You should also make sure that your practice complies with industry regulations. The insurance industry is heavily regulated, and it's essential to stay informed about the latest regulations and comply with all relevant laws and ethical standards. This includes ensuring that all policies you sell comply with state and federal regulations and that you are not engaging in deceptive or unethical practices, such as misrepresenting the terms of a policy or failing to disclose important information to clients.
#4- Manage your finances wisely.
Freelance insurance agents are self-employed, meaning they are responsible for generating their income and managing their expenses, hence the importance of managing finances well. Maintaining finances includes keeping track of your income and expenses, paying taxes on time, and setting aside money for unexpected expenses or emergencies. You may also consider setting up a retirement account or other investment vehicles to help secure your financial future.
Why is this practice extremely important? First, sound financial management helps freelance insurance agents avoid excessive debt and maintain a healthy financial position. This can be especially important in uncertain economic times, when the demand for insurance products may fluctuate. Second, Wise financial management can help freelance insurance agents improve their cash flow and ensure they have the necessary resources to grow their business and meet their personal needs. Finally, by managing their finances wisely, freelance insurance agents can build a financial cushion that provides a safety net in case of unexpected expenses or a downturn in business.
#5- Obtain errors and omissions insurance (E&O).
As a freelance insurance agent, you may be exposed to various risks, such as giving incorrect advice, missing important information, or failing to follow regulatory requirements. These errors can lead to significant financial losses for your clients, and if they sue you, the legal expenses can add up quickly. E&O insurance can help cover these costs and protect your assets.
Errors and omissions (E&O) insurance is essential for freelance insurance agents because it protects against financial losses caused by mistakes or oversights in their professional work. The insurance can help cover the costs of settling or defending against a lawsuit, including court and legal fees.
In addition to covering legal expenses, E&O insurance can also help with damage to your reputation. If a client sues you and the case receives media attention, it can harm your reputation and make it difficult to attract new clients. E&O insurance can help cover the costs of repairing your reputation, such as through public relations efforts.
Protect yourself today with these practices!
Being a freelance insurance agent is hard work. You must rely on your skills to find a niche in this competitive market. The outcome, however, is well worth it.
However, don't forget to follow these five essential actions to help ensure you are well-protected!