The insurance industry in India is the fifth largest life insurance market in the emerging insurance economies globally and is growing at 32-34% per annum. The industry has witnessed exceptional growth and has a mix of public and private players both in life and non-life business.
Becoming an insurance sales agent is a great way to kickstart a career in this industry. Insurance sales agents advice clients on choosing insurance policies that suit their needs. Clients can include individuals, families as well as businesses. Insurance agents can be divided into two broad categories:
- Captive agents who work for an insurance company, and only sell that particular company’s products.
- Independent insurance agents, or brokers, who represent several companies and work on a commission basis.
The Job Role and Responsibilities
An insurance sales agent’s job role and responsibilities would fall under two categories:
- New Client Acquisition
- Seeking out new clients and develop clientele by networking to find new customers and generate lists of prospective clients. Understanding the prospective client’s insurance needs and suggesting suitable policies, explaining features, advantages and disadvantages.
- Ensuring that policy requirements are fulfilled, including any necessary medical examinations and the completion of appropriate forms. Inspecting property, examining its general condition, age, and other characteristics, to decide if it should be insured.
- Calculating premiums and establishing payment method. Performing administrative tasks, such as maintaining records and handling policy renewals. Contacting underwriter and submitting forms to obtain binder coverage.
- Client Management
- Providing consultative service to policyholders by providing information and assistance, suggesting additions or changes to policy through future follow-up visits and evaluations of needs.
- Monitoring insurance claims to ensure they are settled equitably for both the client and the insurer. Helping clients make and settle claims.
Competencies and Skills Required
Being an insurance sales agent is primarily a sales job, and salesmanship depends upon two factors- understanding the products thoroughly and working well with people. Mechanics of selling and techniques can be taught up to an extent, however, connecting with the wide range of potential insurers, and suggesting the right product and solution using the appropriate blend of information and conversation is more art than science. Some qualities that potential recruiters look for in candidates are:
- Selling Skills: The candidate should know basic selling techniques and the art of convincing and persuading others. He should be able to complete the entire sales cycle which includes needs assessment, proposing suitable offerings, objection handling, negotiating and closing the deal and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Result Orientation: The candidate should be performance-oriented and should give due importance to goal setting, performing and achieving. He should be able to develop specific targets, plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish. He must also take initiative, recognize opportunities and be self-motivated to make it happen.
- Interpersonal Skills: a good insurance sales agent must be able to connect and work well with different types of people. Being a personality factor it is a bit difficult to teach someone how to be pleasant and have good social skills. Hence good interpersonal skills play a crucial role in the selection of candidates.
- Communication Skills: Since interaction with prospects & clients is a key part of the sales job, the candidate must be fluent in English as well as the local language.
- Trainability: candidates need to be well versed with product knowledge and industry trends in order to do consultative selling. Hence strong trainability is a desired characteristic. Basic domain knowledge of insurance
Assessment for the ‘Right’ Insurance Sales Agent
|Insurance Sales Agent Profile||AMCAT Mapping|
|Selling Skills||Logical Ability- High|
Emotional Stability- Moderate
|Result Orientation||Logical Ability- High|
|Interpersonal Skills||Extraversion- High|
|Communication Skills||Extraversion- High|
English Comprehension- Mid to High
|Trainability||Logical Ability – Mid to High|
|Domain Knowledge||Insurance Readiness- Mid to High|
Assessments Correlation to Performance
Globally, standardized assessments have been used for hiring Insurance Sales Agents. There is much evidence to indicate that tests of cognitive ability and personality are strong predictors of job performance in an Insurance Sales job. Studies by Arneson et al. (1993)1, Barrick et al. (1993)2 , Mount et al. (1998)3 and Vinchur et al. (1998)4 clearly show that there is a strong correlation between a candidate’s general cognitive skills and personality traits with his Supervisor Ratings, Sales volumes and other parameters of job success in an insurance setting. The objective criteria consist of assessments in English, cognitive skills and personality inventory. Benchmarking studies done by Aspiring Minds at several insurance companies shows that Logical Ability combined with Extraversion, Conscientiousness and Agreeableness shows the strongest correlation to the success of an insurance sales agent at entry level. Implementation of benchmarks on these traits could decrease the non-performers by 64% and increase the performers by 31%. Thus a company can improve its top line significantly by using standardized assessment during selection and recruitment of insurance sales agents.
- Arneson, S., Millikin-Davies, M. &Hogan, J. (1993).Validation of personality and cognitive measures for insurance claims examiners. Journal of Business and Psychology, 7(4), 459- 473.
- Barrick, M.R., Mount, M.K. & Strauss, J.P. (1993). Conscientiousness and performance of sales representatives: test of the mediating elects of goal setting. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78(5), 715-722.
- Michael K. Mount, Murray R. Barrick & Greg L. Stewart (1998). Five-Factor Model of personality and Performance in Jobs Involving Interpersonal Interactions. Human Performance, Volume 11, Issue 2-3, 1998, 145-165.
- Vinchur, A.J., Schippmann, J.S., Switzer, III, F.S. & Roth, P.L. (1998). A meta-analytic review of predictors of job performance for salespeople. Journal of Applied Psychology, 68, 587- 593.