How to Choose a Jedi Insurance Agent

I’ve come to realize over the course of my four years as an independent insurance agent that most insurance consumers do not have a firm grip on the role independent agents play in the insurance buying process.  So I’m going to use a little pop-culture reference as a means to enlighten those who would like to know how to choose an insurance agent.


Independent insurance agents are the Jedi of the insurance industry.

The Force Is Strong…

“Cheapest insurance you want not… proper coverage you seek… find you a independent agent we will!” ~ Yoda

When working with an independent agent on your business insurance program, the size of the agency (within reason) has little to do with the quality of service and coverage you will receive.  Independent agents are trained (look to work with a Certified Insurance Counselor or CIC if possible) and time-tested in their art and dedicated to upholding the values of the people and businesses they protect.

In this way independent agents are much like Jedi, the fictional heroes of the “Star Wars” saga. (They are not exactly alike, as most cannot move objects with their minds or handle a light-saber.)

So if the size of an independent agency doesn’t matter and all independent agents are trained and dedicated, how can a business owner choose the right agent to do business with?

Here are the three factors I would recommend considering when selecting an insurance agent:

  • Expertise: Look for an agent who specializes in the insurance concerns of your industry.  For some main street businesses (such as liquor store, laundromat or gas station), this may not be a concern as risks are fairly uniform.  But if you have a specialized business (i.e., contracting, manufacturing, professional office), you need an agent that specializes in your industry.
  • Experience: Experience is relative.  I have been in the insurance industry for four years, so most people would say I’m still very new.  However, I’ve probably written 100 professional liability policies (my niche), so I would say I’m experienced.  In my opinion, this is the least important of these three characteristics, but it is certainly worth considering.  My first year in the business, relatively speaking, I didn’t know squat.
  • Attitude: This is the most important characteristic to consider when choosing an independent agent.  Is the agent hungry?  Is he or she actively looking for new insurance solutions to solve your insurance concerns?  Does the agent’s philosophy on insurance match your own?  Does the agent communicate coverage concerns well?  Is the agent responsive to your questions?  These are attitude characteristics and when it comes to the success of your insurance program I feel they are the most important decision point.

The Rub

You know your business better than anyone, but that doesn’t mean that you know the proper way to insure your business.  Take the responsibility of choosing an insurance agent seriously, then lean on the expertise of the agent you chose.

If you could only send one person into battle, you wouldn’t send a Storm Trooper, you’d send a Jedi.  Partner with an insurance agent who shares your business philosophy, knows your industry and has the experience to handle your risk.

Then your business will “Live long and prosper.” Oops, wrong sci-fi analogy. . .

Image from Anneka/Shutterstock

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Ryan Hanley Ryan Hanley is Founder of Hanley Media Lab, an advanced digital marketing agency helping companies grow their audience to grow their business. He also produces one of the fastest growing content marketing podcasts on iTunes, Content Warfare TV.

9 Reactions
  1. I love this post because more like this are needed to help the small business owner navigate the back end of their business. Insurance is a necessary evil and if I could establish trust with an agent or broker not trying to sell out of the gate I would be a client and referral source for life.

    I also admire that you are blogging and have realized the value of social channels for branding.

    Now, in what states are you licensed please?

  2. Very useful advice. This is one of the details that most business owners forgot to pay attention to. They are so caught up with building the business but neglect to properly insure the company. Thanks for sharing Ryan!

  3. As an Independent Agent who has been around for over 30 years dealing with business owners, I find that trust is the most important issue. If you can’t gain their trust, you will not get the sale. Establishing trust means you have to listen well and emphathize with their problems and then provide some solutions to their concerns. Insurance is not a tangible product. It is a promise to pay if something happens and there could be a financial loss as a result. We get most of our customers from referrals of satisfied customers. It is the best kind of prospect. We are challenged in this economy because many businesses are looking to cut back on expenses and are bottom lining more. We have to document more if needed coverages are declined.

  4. Couldn’t agree more. Whether it’s property and casualty insurance or group health and ancillary benefits – an independent insurance agent is the key to comparing benefits and selecting the most suitable coverage.

  5. Jayme,

    Thank you! Relationship first… That is what I try to achieve with all my clients.

    I currently only write in New York State but I’m working on expanding our territory.

    I’m happy to answer any questions you have.

    Ryan H.

  6. Menchie / Mike / Ohio Insurance Agent,

    Thank you for your comments! The Independent Agency System is the lifeblood of Commercial Insurance industry. The relationship you form with your agent is just as important as the relationship you form with your accountant or lawyer.

    Have a great week!

    Ryan H.

  7. Great insights here. I would add that consumer reviews and referrals are also important.

  8. All great points, thanks for sharing! I would recommend going with a local company that has been working in the area for many years. They will have strong relationships with the insurance providers and will know how to find the best rates for your area. Have a good one!

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