Recruiting in Insurance: A Harder Market than Coverage

Insurance industry hiring struggles: aging workforce, lack of training & remote work expectations clash. Discover how agencies can adapt to attract top talent.

2 months ago   •   3 min read

By The ReFocus Team
Photo by Marc Kleen / Unsplash

It’s no secret that hiring in the insurance industry is currently a difficult proposition. Overlapping trends such as the large number of professionals retiring, a shortage of talent entering the industry, a cultural shift in workplace expectations, and a seeming lack of willingness to train are placing a strain on hiring.

  • A McKinsey study places the median age of insurance agents at 59;
  • 75 universities offer insurance and risk management majors in the U.S., limiting the supply of fresh talent;
  • An Owl Labs survey found that 92% of respondents expected to work from home at least one day per week, and 80% expected to work at least three days from home per week.

We also surveyed agents and then talked with industry recruiting expert Nikki Brandt of NB Talent to get some perspective on what impacts recruiting, hiring, and training in insurance.

The current state of hiring in insurance

Our survey found that 66% of respondents use recruitment agencies to identify new hire prospects, while 33% looked to internal referrals. Surprisingly, none said they had used career fairs or college programs in their search.

In addition, the survey showed that “Lack of industry knowledge and terminology” and little “Time and resources invested in training” were identified as the top challenges in hiring new account managers.

Brandt says what she sees supports these concerns: “Every agency wants experience. Many of them don’t have the capacity or structures in place to train effectively, so rather than hiring someone brand new and training them for the role, they are competing with everyone else for the experienced people.”

She added, “Employees want remote work, and most companies are still clinging to in-office presence.”

Those we surveyed also seemed to believe that what differentiates their agency is a “Positive company culture and work environment,” while some said that “Opportunities for advancement within the agency” were a key factor.

Brandt summed up what she has found candidates are prioritizing, “More flexibility, remote work, and more competitive salaries are topping the list.”

How technology influences recruiting

And what role does technology play in finding talent? The agent responses we received showed that it does not rank highly on what they feel best promotes their agency to candidates. It's crucial to note that user-friendly technology and documented processes play a significant role in shortening the onboarding process of new hires and improving their long-term success once they are hired.

Brandt reiterated this by stating that the agency’s existing technology plays less of a role than one might think. “Potentially for the newer folks entering the industry who are younger and demand more tech, but for employees who have been in the industry for 5-10+ years,” she continued. “About 80% of them I talk to are not going to make a decision based on technology at the agency – it’s on flexibility, culture, opportunity, money… I would say the systems/technology in place is important but not as high on the list.”

And what about her own experience in the industry? “When I was a producer, I was completely eaten alive by all the amount of data we had to enter/track – one spot for clients, one spot for prospects, a system to track those getting paid on commissions, etc. It’s a lot! Our account managers had a similar dilemma – maybe not the expenses but had a system for COIs and various carrier portals they had to use.”

So, could tech that streamlined workflow help provide a more attractive environment for recruiting? Brandt summarized, “I think simplifying the amount of entry and grunt work people in producer and account manager roles would probably help with recruitment and retention IF all the other things I mentioned are in place.”

Technology might not be the final answer for your recruitment, but an improved work environment is needed, and technology may play a role.

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