"THE PARTNER FOR INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENTS"
"THE PARTNER FOR INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENTS"
UPDATED May 08, 2021
Marketing and Lead Generation
Business Plan Template
Carriers & Codes
Smart Start™ Personal Lines
Smart Start™ Commercial Lines
Your Carrier Codes
Make More Money
Commission & Producer Reports
Hiring Producers & CSRs
Education & Training
Smart Choice® & Carrier Webinars
State Business Sessions
E&O, Raters, Agency Management Systems
We are happy to have you as part of the Smart Choice® Agents network, the fastest-growing insurance aggregation organization in the country. Our Virginia Program has a great line up of Carriers and Resources to help you to grow your agency. The Smart Choice Agents Program has provided insurance agents with access to carriers and brokers since 1994. Over the past several years, the Smart Choice Agents Program Team has been working hard to make their Virginia Insurance Agent Program even better. The following is an overview that will provide some insight as to why I believe this program is the best opportunity for Virginia Insurance Agents to expand their markets with top rated, diverse carriers, receive higher commissions and bonuses, and have unequaled support services.
|Roger L. Gill |
Smart Choice VA & DC State Director
Virginia & DC
|Carol G. Gill |
Smart Choice VA Territory Manager
|Daniel G. Brown |
Smart Choice VA & DC Territory Manager
Virginia and DC
|Kerry Belcher |
Smart Choice VA Territory Manager
If you have questions, you can always contact the appropriate Smart Choice Department (Smart Choice Help and Support Contact Information) or your State Director Roger Gill or your Territory Manager, who can assist you directly or point you in the right direction toward finding a solution. You may also Visit & Bookmark Smart Choice Virginia Agents Program News for Updates, Info, & Training.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: Smart Choice provides access to direct appointments with many personal and commercial lines carriers with limited commitments. All production with direct appointment carriers adds to the DWP CAP — the pathway toward 100% commissions, contingency bonuses, and more! See the Advantages of becoming a Smart Choice Leadership Agency Here.
Contact Roger Gill to develop your plan to become a Smart Choice Leadership Agency.
ONBOARDING: WITHIN 60 DAYS
ONBOARDING: WITHIN 90 DAYS
There are several webinars for you and your staff to attend. These trainings provide a great overview of Smart Choice® and everything it has to offer. The webinars are live and recorded. They cover several subjects in greater detail: Smart Choice® Overview, Quoting Personal Lines and Commercial through Smart Start™, Express Markets™, Contingencies/Bonuses/Aggregation, and our exclusive agency development program.It is strongly encouraged that you or someone in your office attends these sessions.
Characteristics of a Successful Smart Choice® Agent
Smart Choice® agents are driven, goal-oriented, and self-starters. They take the initiative to learn about all the programs Smart Choice® offers, from our internal brokerage service Smart Start™ and Express Markets™ to training webinars and deals on websites and CE.
Successful Smart Choice® agents take full advantage of all the opportunities the program offers to grow their agencies and train their staff. Our best agents submit two (2) Smart Start™ Commercial applications per month and issue 25 new policies in force or $50,000 in new business premium per company per year.
How Smart Choice® Agents Can Earn Referral Bonuses
Have an agent you think would benefit from joining Smart Choice®? Refer them to us and receive up to $2,600 per referral, based on new agency production. Smart Choice® awards unlimited new agency referral bonuses. Download the Smart Choice Referral Agreement, complete & return to Roger Gill.
What Is Aggregation?
Simply put, aggregation is strength in numbers. By aggregating your book of business with Smart Choice®, you gain bargaining power with the nation’s top insurance carriers. Working through Smart Choice® lowers the barrier to entry to working with carriers, giving you the opportunity to make more money faster. You’ll likely earn a higher commission percentage, lower your volume commitments, and qualify for more bonuses and contingencies. You still own your book of business and are the agent of record on the policies you write through us.
What’s the Smart Choice® Compensation Structure?
When you aggregate your book of business with Smart Choice®, you often enjoy additional compensation. Here is an example using one of our carriers, Safeco:
Contingency splits occur two different ways and is also explained in the Smart Choice Agents Agreement.
Agent’s Portion Explanation
The agent’s portion of contingency is determined by taking the total premium of the agent for the carrier divided by the total premium for the state for the same carrier for a given year.
For example, if the agent produced $200,000 (premium) with Safeco for the year and the state produced $2,000,000 (premium), then the agent’s portion of the state’s contingency could be 10% participation of ($200,000/$2,000,000). If the agent does not meet any one of the requirements above, they will not be eligible for contingency split. If the Carrier was paying 6% for contingency it could be $200,000 (your Premium) x 6% (contingency) = $12,000 to agency divided by 50% (agency retained) for a $6,000 contingency for every program carrier (13) carriers at this time.
All of our carriers pay out commissions once a month, but Smart Choice® pays out commissions twice a month. You get paid the month after the policies are credit released. If you issue a policy in November, you get paid in December; issue one in December, you get paid in January.
This rule is set by cut-off dates as paid by the carriers. Some carriers cut off commissions on the 12th of the month, so any policy issued with those carriers on or before the 12th will pay on the 15th of the following month. So, if you issue a policy between November 1 and 12, you will get paid on December 15. If you issue a policy on the November 13, you get paid January 15 because the policy fell after November 12 cutoff date and is now in the December commission batch.
Accessing Commission Statements
|1. To begin, go to smartchoiceagents.com |
2. Enter your user ID. This will be your 3-digit producer code.
3. Enter your password. This will either be the last 4 of your social security number or Tax ID.
4. You will have the ability to change your password once you login for the first time.
5. Once you have logged in, you will be at the Smart Choice® Agency Business Center.
6. To access your monthly commission statements, click the Commissions tab or the See All Commissions hyperlink.
7. This will take you to the Commissions page.
8. Click the tab that corresponds to the statement desired.
|9. The Carrier Statements tab contains all the individual carrier commission statements. |
10. The Agency Reports tab contains only your Agent Summary Commission Statement.
11. The Paychecks tab contains only a copy of your paystub for each pay period.
12. If you click the Carrier Statements tab a list of statement lines will appear with the most recent statements at the top.
13. To find older statements simply click the Older icon at the bottom right of the webpage.
14. Once you select the desired statement line the corresponding carrier statement will appear directly below.
15. Each statement line represents an individual statement.
Accessing Pay Stubs
|1. The top left of the ASCS is the accounting month. |
2. Below the Agent column will be the 3-digit Smart Choice® producer code, which is also the User ID for the Agency business center.
3. In the middle of the ASCS is the Carrier column. This column contains the 3-digit carrier code for each line entry.
4. To the right of the Carrier column is the Transaction Detail column. This represents the agency’s sub-code with a carrier.
5. The ASCS is used only to show the total commission entries for each sub-code per carrier. It will not list individual policies.
6. To the right of the Transaction Detail column is the Premium column. This represents premium for the month.
|7. To the right of the Premium column is the Total Commission column. |
8. This represents the commission received from the carrier for your agency.
9. The Agent Commission column located on the far right of the ASCS represents the take-home commission.
10. The Commission column amount is derived from multiplying the Total Commission by the % located between the Total Commission and Agent Commission columns.
11. Near the top and at the bottom of the ASCS, each paycheck will be broken apart under the check column.
12. The total commission for each paycheck will appear under the commission column corresponding to the check column total. This amount will match exactly to the paycheck on the Smart Choice® website.
Commission reports and the producer reports can be found on the Smart Choice website (www.smartchoiceagents.com). Two training videos go over how to access this information in detail. Find them under the “Training” tab after you log in.
Smart Choice Support & Training
Smart Choice provides agents with a Territory Manager to assist them with all aspects of setting up and growing their agencies. This is first line of support. In addition to the Territory Managers, Smart Choice
Smart Choice® Training Webinars
We have developed Training Webinars that provide agents with information to learn more about Smart Choice® and the services we offer. These webinars are designed to help you to get off to a fast start.
Carrier & Producer Education Webinars
Our carriers also offer webinars on a monthly basis. This is a good opportunity to learn more about the carriers, their underwriting appetites, and their submission requirements. To learn more about these webinar opportunities, contact your territory manager or state director.
Carrier Educational Programs
Producer Education Opportunities
The Smart Choice® website (www.smartchoiceagents.com) is a valuable technology tool for your agency. Access training videos on producer reports, commission statements, personal lines and EZLynx on your agent dashboard. You can also quote commercial business through our Smart Start™ Commercial Program in the Smart Choice® business center. The business center also includes underwriting guidelines for several commercial carriers. Take the time to review the website, as well as the training videos.
Smart Choice Virginia State Meeting
Smart Choice® Virginia Agents Program provides agents several opportunities throughout the year to gain valuable updates and carrier training in person at our State Meetings located in Richmond and Fairfax Virginia. Topics include planning, marketing and sales strategies, insurance law, writing commercial, and specific training on carrier appetites and products. Our Smart Choice Virginia team also offers Carrier sponsored Lunch & Learn meeting throughout the year at different locations.
Smart Choice® Group E&O Insurance
If you need E&O, Call Curtis Ezzelle at Smart Choice — 888.264.3388 x3053 to purchase the HISCOX E&O email@example.com).
The EZLynx Smart Choice® Rater is a single data entry point comparative rater for multiple real-time quotes. Using “Consumer Portal,” you can receive quote requests directly into your Smart Choice® Raters any time, day or night. EZLynx Agency Suites combine the best insurance software technology in packages that strategically position your agency for maximum efficiency with greater results. Visit EZLynx.com to submit an inquiry, email SmartChoice@EZLynx.com or call 877-932-2382.
QQ Catalyst is another agency management system offered through Smart Choice®. There’s no software to install and includes step-by-step workflows and built-in training. The dashboard gives you a birds-eye view of your agency so it’s easy to manage your tasks and grow your business.
Smart Choice® Agents can purchase a basic agency website form vendor Partner ITC. Smart Choice® agents receive free set-up on standard sites with limited customization and monthly hosting for just $44.95. For more information, visit www.smartchoiceagencywebsites.com.
CE Authority (RegEd) offers an extensive online course catalog for just $29.95 annually. Take advantage of unlimited online CE for life, health, personal lines, and long-term care, among other markets.
When will I receive my carrier codes?
With a direct appointment, you should get your codes within 7 to 30 days, though it sometimes takes longer depending on the carrier. In most cases, your direct appointment codes will be emailed to you. If you do not receive them within a few weeks, please reach out to the carrier rep. When your appointment request is submitted, you are cc’d on the email. If you are writing through Smart Start™ Personal and/or Smart Start™ Commercial, you will not receive carrier codes, as the writing is done through Smart Choice®.
What’s the difference between Smart Start™ and a Sub-Code Direct Appointment?
Smart Start™ gives you an opportunity to quote a carrier without any premium requirements. Typically, once you write at least $25,000 in premium and have good loss ratios with Smart Start™, you can seek a direct appointment with the carrier. Contact your territory manager or state director with questions.
Does Smart Choice® offer Training?
We offer multiple training opportunities. Your territory manager can help with training for you and your staff. The Smart Choice® website (smartchoiceagents.com) has many training resources and videos. We recommend you invest in the time to watch and review them. Carrier reps also offer training on their programs, underwriting, and technology for you and your staff. Carriers and Smart Choice® also offer webinars during the year. Watch your email for announcements.
Do I need a business plan?
If you are a newer agency or just starting out, we highly recommend you create a business plan. Click Agency Business Plan Sample download a sample business plan that your can customize. Your business plan will give the carriers a good idea how you will run and grow your business, specifically the premium you intend to write with them. A business plan is needed for most carrier appointments.
Whom do I contact with questions?
If you have questions, you can always contact the appropriate Smart Choice Department (Smart Choice Help and Support Contact Information) or your territory manager Roger Gill (804) 731-3050, who can assist you directly or point you in the right direction toward finding a solution. You may also Visit & Bookmark Smart Choice Virginia Agents Program News for Updates, Info, & Training.
Growing Your Agency — Sample Marketing Plan
Your agency should create its own marketing prospecting plan every year. It should include specific strategies to reach your various target markets. You should pick a minimum of 5 of these buckets to manage agency growth.
Vendors for Prospecting & Marketing
Smart Choice® does not endorse these companies. Please do your own due diligence.
|Internet Leads |
EverQuote Pro Leads: 844-904-7480 Insurance LEADS Now Available with Discounted Rate: Learn More About EVERQUOTE PRO LEADS
Contactability Leads: 877-323-7750
|Prospecting Lists & List Management |
Cole Information Services: 800-403-5894
Sales Genie: 866-313-0396
Constant Contact: 855-797-4708
Criss-Cross Directory: 800-987-5478
|Telemarketing Companies |
Dial America: 800-913-3331
Full Funnel: 603-782-4323
Answer Net: 800-411-5777
|Telemarketing Acquisition |
HBW Auto Leads & Telemarketing: 800-456-2701
TRI Auto/Home Leads & Telemarketing: 800-255-2717
|Direct Mail Acquisition |
EZ Direct Mail: 800-249-9984
Postcard Mania: 727-441-4704
Neilson Marketing Services: 866-816-1849
This evaluation should include all types of agents, market quality factors, market penetration, and loss experience.
Priority 1: Auto Insurance Issue a minimum of 40 new auto policies per month. Agency will use a combination of direct mail and cold calling (agent calls or telemarketing) to accomplish this.
Priority 2: Fire Insurance Develop a minimum of 40 new property applications per month. Agency will use a combination of direct mail and cold calling (agent calls or telemarketing) to accomplish this.
Priority 3: Life Insurance Issue a minimum of 5 new life contracts per month with a minimum combined annual premium of $5000. Agency will use a variety of lead development processes, including referrals and cross line selling to new P&C customers. See “AIM New Business Life.”
Marketing Action Plan
Priority 1: Auto Insurance
Goal: To issue a minimum of 40 new auto policies per month.
Strategy: Use a combination of direct mail and cold calling.
Action Plan 1: Purchase leads in desired zip codes; mail merge prospecting letters; follow up with phone calls to every household and ask for the opportunity to review their insurance.
Action Plan 2: Ask for referrals from every prospect; call referrals and ask for the opportunity to review their insurance.
Priority 2: Fire Insurance
Goal: To develop a minimum of 40 new fire applications per month.
Strategy: Use a combination of direct mail and cold calling.
Action Plan 1: Working with the Auto AIM processes, purchase leads in desired zip codes; mail merge prospecting letters; follow up with phone calls to every household and ask for the opportunity to review their insurance.
Action Plan 2: Observe where pricing is competitive (by zip, territory, or type of dwelling) and target mail these demographics. Follow up with phone calls to every household that is not on the Do Not Call list. Describe your current marketing campaigns and advertising.
Priority 3: Life Insurance
Goal: To issue a minimum of 5 new life contracts per month with a minimum combined annual premium of $5,000.
Strategy: New Business Life process; AIM Internal Life Process; Referrals
Action Plan 1: Offer life insurance to every new prospect and every new P&C customer.
Action Plan 2: Implement follow up processes (AIM) to existing customers.
Support Staff & Job Descriptions
The job descriptions for support staff need careful consideration and periodic review. They should be specific and include the following information: job requirements, job responsibilities, customer quality responsibilities, work schedules, work location, and expected results. Complete only for those positions that will be filled during the first 36 months.
The office staff will assist in the management of all administrative tasks including quoting and mailing all direct mail processes, ordering supplies, sending out all agent correspondence, and completing all administrative requirements for the agency.
The agency producer will work side by side with the agent to cold call, set appointments, and present the Smart Choice® insurance coverage opportunities to prospective customers. They will assist the agency in customer service, increasing premium and customer retention. The agency producer will be responsible for obtaining a minimum of 5 referrals or leads on new prospective clients per week. They will assist the customers with sales calls weekly to update their files and document their benefits. They will also assist the agency on issuing new households and life applications. The agency producer will attend weekly telemarketing sessions in the agency along with weekly agency marketing meetings to present results in each area of accountability.
Operating Action Plan Worksheet
This worksheet addresses the operational aspects of implementing the goals, strategies, and action plans outlined on the Marketing Action Plan. In addition, it should address any other operational goals needed to develop a successful agency. The Operating Action Plan Worksheet should include advertising campaigns, mailing campaigns, cross-selling strategies and staffing programs. Where applicable, costs and compensation schedules described in the Marketing Action Plan Worksheet need to be included.
|Goal||Hire 1 agency producer to assist agency in completing the goals in this business plan.|
|Start Date:||Within the first 180 days of installation as the agent.|
|Accountabilities:||See current business plan|
|Compensation/Cost Schedule:||$1,800 per month plus commission ($600 to $750).|
|Expected Results:||Meet all agency requirements.|
|Goal||Hire a second part-time agency producer to assist agency in completing this business plan|
|Start Date:||Within the first 18 months of installation as the agent.|
|Compensation/Cost Schedule:||$1200 per month plus commission.|
Personnel Support – Employment Services.
Below are several sources that can assist in finding producers, CSRs, and other staff. Insurance Agent Associations such as the Big I and PIA may also be helpful. Smart Choice® does not endorse these providers, so please do your due diligence.
|● roosolutions.net |
Some companies specialize in the insurance industry and can help with CSRs and producers.
|● insurancejobs.com |
These companies have listings for many different industries and can be helpful for finding new employees.
|● indeed.com||● ziprecruiter.com |