My Biggest Lesson Learned As An Agency Owner

Starting an independent agency can be exciting and terrifying all at once. While the rewards can be fruitful in the end, knowing how to start and navigate the process is vital. Gain insight into the new agency ownership experience with this series of posts from IIANC member and agency owner Daniel Rohrbaugh. Check out his previous posts here: 5 Things to Know When Starting an Independent Agency, A Day In the Life of An Agency Owner, and Biggest Mistake You Could Be Making When Starting an Independent Insurance Agency


When I first began my insurance career in the “captive” insurance model, I quickly discovered the Principal Agent that I worked for was on an island. The agency distanced itself from other agencies that were representing the same carrier. Furthermore, it seemed the carrier intentionally created competition amongst its own and pitted agents against one another. Ultimately, this created an environment with very little collaboration and supported the “every man for himself” concept. 

Fast forward nine years to where I experienced the exact opposite encounter from independent insurance agency owners. When I was ready to switch from captive to independent, I reached out to two agency owners, and they could not have been more transparent and forthcoming with their guidance, experiences, time and energy. All this time spent was to help make me a more successful scratch agency owner. My only regret at the time is not knowing the right questions to ask. 

I learned that it is extremely difficult and expensive to do it all alone. Let me explain – learning from your own mistakes can be costly, time-consuming and mentally draining. Having insight into what other agents have found to be successful is a shortcut and will expedite the learning curve. Also, the wrong hire, the wrong marketing plan, the wrong office procedures, the wrong organizational structure, etc., can be very expensive lessons learned and could take years to discover or recover from in the agency. 

I’ve always noticed that successful independent agency owners are well connected and involved stewards to the industry. These individuals are usually more than willing to share advice with a quick phone call or coffee meeting. As a young agency owner, you just need to ask.  

As part of the next generation of independent agency owners, I feel a sense of responsibility to continue giving back to the industry by being involved and helping the next group of potential agency owners.

About the author

Daniel is originally from Lexington, NC, and moved to Raleigh when he attended North Carolina State University. Daniel worked for a State Farm Insurance Agency for nine years before starting Raleigh Insurance Group in 2016 (www.RaleighInsuranceGroup.net). He and his wife, Laura, have been married for ten years and they have a son and a daughter.

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