Why Insurance Agents Fail (& How Not To!)

There are many reasons why insurance agents may “fail” or not be as successful as they originally set out to be. Let’s discuss some of those obstacles, and how to overcome them!

Being “successful” in the insurance industry may be somewhat subjective, but we like to think of it as gaining leads, writing business that becomes renewals, and having your clients be satisfied with the coverage you sell them. You may hit some setbacks from time to time, but when that happens, don’t give up! Learn from other agents’ past mistakes and keep moving forward on your road to success.

They Don’t Forge Relationships with Clients

A successful insurance agent is most likely a people person. They make clients feel heard and their opinions valued. The insurance industry involves more than just finding a plan for your clients and it being a once and done deal. An agent who has this mindset could possibly be on the road to failure if they don’t put in the necessary effort to develop lasting relationships with clients.

Studies have shown that having your clients come back year after year is actually better for your business than continually finding new clients. How do you keep your clients coming back for more? Be an agent who cares, who listens effectively, and who goes the extra mile to meet clients’ needs.


Learn ways to improve your client retention rates in our eBook — The Complete Guide to Client Loyalty and Retention!

They Don’t Study for Their Certifications

Even if you think you know all there is to know about insurance, there’s always something new to learn. That’s why Medicare agents must retake their AHIP and carrier certifications every year. Passing certifications like AHIP is very important; if you fail, you won’t be able to sell insurance for that year and risk losing renewals. You have to be willing to put in the effort it takes to succeed in the industry. Those who don’t won’t prosper.

We suggest using modules, review quizzes, and practice tests to help you prepare for any certification exams. Note which questions you get wrong so you can go back and work out the correct answer. Also, take detailed notes to help you retain the information. If you pass the AHIP, or whichever certification you’re taking, on your first go, good job! That’s one less thing to worry about, so you can pave your way to success!

They Don’t Adapt

In today’s day and age, especially in the insurance industry, it pays to be adaptable. If you aren’t, you’ll find yourself lagging behind the competition, so make sure you keep up! Whether it’s adapting to technology or a new way of doing business, you have to make sure you’re adjusting.

This past year, especially, we saw the need to adapt to a “new normal” during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s now increasingly important to make your clients feel safe and that you take the necessary precautions like having meetings digitally instead of in person, for example. Remaining stagnant is never the key to success.

Remaining stagnant is never the key to success.

It could also be as simple as adapting to your client base. Maybe it’s being more available or having more plan options in your portfolio. It could even be adjusting to the technology that your clients are most comfortable using. Learn what your clients need from you so you can show them your support.

They Aren’t Effective Communicators

One thing that will set apart an agent who fails from an agent who succeeds is if he or she is an effective communicator — in person and digitally (phone, email, voicemails, etc.). As an insurance agent, you’re going to be dealing with people — a lot. You need to make sure you know the best ways to communicate with the people you’re working with, and it may vary from client to client. For example, one client may hate when you email them and much prefer a phone call, whereas another may hate talking on the phone and strongly prefer email. It’s up to you to listen attentively and communicate how your client prefers.

You need to make sure you know the best ways to communicate with the people you’re working with, and it may vary from client to client.

Further, it’s just as important to make sure your clients feel heard. They don’t want to have to repeat themselves multiple times about what they’re looking for in plan. And, they don’t want to feel bad or embarrassed if the coverage details are hard to comprehend. If you’ve never heard of “elderspeak,” it’s also important to avoid that with your clients who are 65 and over.

Patience, understanding, and kindness can go a long way when working with beneficiaries. Agents who fail won’t take the time to listen to their clients, or instead, focus on their own agenda (i.e., earning commissions). Don’t be this agent! Take note of what your clients want and what they need to hear from you to feel confident in their benefits and agent.

They Aren’t Familiar with Their Target Market

Last but certainly not least, it’s possible insurance agents may hit some road blocks if they’re not familiar with their target market. The old saying “knowledge is power” definitely rings true for insurance agents. It’s imperative you know the demographic you’re selling to so you know which types of plans should be in your portfolio.

Are you selling to an affluent community? How about an area where a lot of people tend to be snowbirds or sunbirds? Are you focusing on plans with hospitals nearby in the network? These are all things to consider.

If you’re unsure, do some online research and reach out to a field marketing organization (FMO) like Ritter Insurance Marketing to make sure you’re on the right track. If you don’t already have a free profile with our site, you can sync up your NPN and use our free services today!

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Hopefully this advice will give you the push you need to stay on the path to success. Don’t forget your FMO is always in your corner to help you and support you on your journey!

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