Let me ask you a couple of questions…
Five years from now, how many of the current agency staff will have retired? Where will your agency find qualified people to replace and train them? In addition, as the agency grows in volume, there is a good chance that additional staff will be needed to fill the necessary job responsibilities. How will you train those new staff?
As we all know, learning insurance and its various nuances is not easy and definitely takes time. There is a good chance today that many agencies have internal and sales staff that don’t know insurance to the degree they should and since agency staff can be held accountable for what they say, this presents a very scary picture. In fact, when some E&O carriers look at their statistics that are driving E&O frequency, lack of sufficient product knowledge is high on the list. Clearly, agencies need to have a solid focus on training to ensure their staff know the products they are selling.
There are a variety of approaches to the training of sales staff on the various technical elements of insurance. A key issue is that someone in the agency clearly needs to “own” this issue. This person needs to do the proper evaluation and develop a structure that provides the training to the needed areas. The evaluation could be done using a test or possibly a mock sales presentation where the staff are asked various questions on specific coverages. Some additional approaches to consider:
– Weekly classroom environment where a specific type of coverage / type of business is discussed and the exposures dissected. Consider asking your carriers if they can help.
– Your state agents’ association. They may have some training scheduled on various topics or could possibly at least recommend someone if needed.
– Training organizations such as the Institute or the National Alliance.
Bottom line, training of staff needs to be a key issue within every agency. This will hopefully result in staff knowledgeable on the coverage they are selling but it should also minimize the potential for your agency to face an E&O claim.