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Starting an Insurance Company from Scratch – A Complete Guide

Are you interested in starting an insurance company from scratch? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting an insurance company from scratch with little money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample insurance company business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample insurance company marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for insurance businesses. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting an insurance company. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

The insurance industry is wide and global in nature; there are numerous aspects anyone interested in starting an insurance company could choose to specialize in. For instance; in the United States of America and even in Canada, pet insurance is one aspect of insurance that is gradually opening up and it is interesting to state that it is a very promising market.

Anyone looking towards starting an insurance company has the option to choose an area of insurance to specialize in or they could choose to start a general insurance company; an insurance company that is involved in the selling of life insurance policy, health insurance policy, auto / car insurance policy and liability insurance amongst others.

How Easy Is It to Start an Insurance Company?

If you are considering starting an insurance company, then you would be required to get an insurance license from the organization regulating the insurance industry in your country before you are permitted to start your own insurance company. In the United States of America, it is The National Association of Insurance Commissioners that regulates the industry.

No doubt, the process of obtaining an insurance license might not come easy; this is depending on the part of the world you live in. Any applicant of insurance license would be required to meet certain laid down criteria and sometimes it is the bureaucracy involved in the whole process that makes it difficult to obtain.

As earlier stated, you wouldn’t be allowed to start your own insurance company without first obtaining the license required. For you to be eligible to apply for an insurance license, you must first write and pass some licensure examinations. If you are serious and determined, you could write and pass the exam in one sitting, but if not, then you should be ready to take the exams over and over again. The bottom line is that these exams do not come   cheap; so you must prove your worth before you can be issued a license.

It is also important to state that if you are an investor who is interested in owning a portfolio in the insurance company, you may not need to go all the way to write and pass the required insurance exams and obtain the necessary insurance certifications. All you need to do is to provide the finance and connections needed and then get people who have the required paper / documents to partner with in starting your insurance company.

Just like most business, the insurance industry is pretty open for as many people that are interested in the industry as long as you have what it takes to run an insurance firm. Even if you don’t have the finance and other requirements for starting an insurance company, you can come into the industry by starting – out as an accredited insurance broker.

Starting an Insurance Company from Scratch – A Complete Guide

  • Industry Overview

The United States of America has the largest insurance market in the world as indicated by the volume of premium payments. Statistics shows that in 2013 alone, out of the total sum of 4.640 trillion US dollars of gross premiums written in on a global scale, 1.274 trillion US dollars which translate to 27% were actually written in the United States of America. This goes to show how big the insurance industry is in the United States of America.

  • Interesting Statistics About the Insurance Industry

In a report released by McKinsey & Company, it was estimated that the insurance industry in the United States incurs about 13 billion US dollars annually in unnecessary regulatory costs under the state – based regulatory system.

In the insurance industry, it is only the smallest insurers that exist as Single Corporation. It is the practice in the insurance industry for most major insurance companies to exist as insurance groups; they usually partner with holding companies. This practice has loads of benefits and as a matter of fact insurance groups are known to survive the turbulence in the insurance industry year after year and the survivability of single insurance companies is pretty low.

In some countries trust is one of the key factors that is hampering the growth of the insurance industry. Beyond that, the insurance company is still growing and as long as the economy of the country continuous to grow; the insurance company will usually tag along. The fact that there are several insurance companies and insurance brokerage firms does not in any way stop an investor or entrepreneur who wants to venture into the insurance industry. If you know what you want and you have the right strategy, you will definitely make good success out of the insurance industry.

People are encouraged and motivated to venture into the insurance industry because of the profitability of the industry, and also because despite the fact that the industry is saturated, there are still rooms to create your own unique insurance products or even partner with bigger insurance companies if you are able to successfully build your own insurance company to a certain success level.

Starting an Insurance Company – Market Feasibility Research

  • Demographics and Psychographics

One thing about the demographic and psychographic composition of the insurance company is that it cuts across both infants and the elderly people, teenagers and adults, students and working class, corporate organization and small scale businesses, the government (public sector) and the private sector, et al. In essence, the demographic and psychographics composition of the insurance industry is all encompassing; it cuts across as many people that can afford to insure their life, properties, family, pets and other personal valuables.

List of Niche ideas Within the Insurance Industry That You Can Specialize in

When it comes to niches and areas of specialization, the insurance industry has several options. As a matter of fact, an insurance company can come up with creative ideas as regards what the areas of insurance that they want to specialize in. For instance, pet insurance is rapidly gaining ground in the United States of America and Canada.

Here are some niches in the insurance industry that an investor or entrepreneur can specialize in;

  • Life and Annuities Insurance
  • Health / Medical Insurance
  • Car / Vehicle Insurance
  • Pet Insurance
  • Agricultural Insurance
  • Aviation Insurance
  • Financial Reinsurance
  • Guaranteed Asset Protection Insurance
  • Group Insurance
  • Inland Marine Insurance / Marine Insurance / Shipping Insurance
  • Travel Insurance
  • Liability Insurance / Professional Liability Insurance
  • Property and Casualty Insurance
  • Mutual Insurance

The Level of Competition in the Insurance Industry

If you are an active player in the insurance industry or even if you have one or more insurance related business then you will agree that there is high competition in the insurance industry. Every insurance company is out there to sell as much insurance policies to as much clients as they can find hence the level of competition in the banking industry.

Most insurance companies ensure that they position their business in such a way that they can stay competitive which is why rather than stick to just one type of insurance, they engage in general insurance. The whole idea is to do what you know will give you leverage in the market place. If from your market research and visibility studies you realize that specializing in just few areas / niches of insurance will be to your advantage, then by all means go ahead if not, then you should try your hand with the sale of general insurance policies.

List of Well – Known Brands in the Insurance Industry

There are several leading insurance companies in the world whose businesses is not restricted to just one country but other countries and continent of the world. Here are some of the leading insurance brands in the insurance industry;

  • AXA Group
  • American International Group (AIG)
  • China Life Insurance
  • ING Group
  • Ping An Insurance Group
  • Generali Group
  • Allianz
  • MetLife
  • Zurich Financial Services
  • QBE Insurance Group
  • Allstate
  • ACE
  • Munich Re

Economic Analysis

No doubt when you decide to start an insurance company, you should be aware that you are stating a capital intensive business. Aside from the money you would need to rent an office, get the business registered, obtain the required business permits and license and then make provision for the payment of your staff for at least 6 months or more, you should also be ready to meet the financial requirement / capitalization as stated by the insurance regulating body in your country.

Just like the banking industry, the insurance industry is yet another industry that you must have a certain amount of capital base before you can successfully swing into full operations; usually the money required is in the range of several thousands of dollars. This is so because one of the challenges insurance companies usually face is the inability to pay claims. So, in order to cub this challenge, anyone looking towards starting an insurance company must meet the set financial requirement / capitalization.

Is an Insurance Business Worth Starting from Scratch or is Buying a Franchise Better?

Good enough, there are several opportunities for any investor who wants to own an insurance company to buy franchise from a successful insurance company or at least partner with a successful insurance company.

So, if you are looking towards starting an insurance company, then you have two options to choose from; one of the options is to buy a franchise or partner with an insurance company and the other option is to start your insurance company from the scratch.

The choice of choosing whether to start your insurance company from the scratch or to buy a franchise is dependent on loads of factors and it is not a decision that can be taken in isolation; your business plan and of course your business partners should be a major influence on your final decision.

Over and above, if your intention of starting an insurance company is to build a global brand and to be in full control of your insurance company, then your best bet is to start your insurance company from the scratch and build your brand the way you want it to be. But if your intention of starting an insurance company is to own a business portfolio in the insurance industry and of course to make money, then you may consider buying a franchise or going into partnership with a successful insurance brand.

Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face When Starting an Insurance Company

One thing is certain, a weak economy is one major factor that is limiting growth opportunities for the insurance industry. Come to think of it, there is hardly any business or investment opportunity that does not come with its own fair share of threats and challenges. This is why most organization conduct risk assessment on a regular basis so as to enable them produce strategies that will help them stay afloat in the industry.

Another major threat and challenges that you are likely going to face when you start your insurance business is of course the arrival of another insurance company in the same location where yours is located and perhaps sell same insurance policy covers with you. For sure if you don’t have workable and winning strategies that will help you outsmart your competition in the location where you insurance company is located, then you are likely going to struggle to grow your insurance company and also retain some of the best hands under your employment.

Over and above, just as in any other business and investment vehicles, economic downturn, unstable financial market, natural disasters and unfavorable government economic policies can hamper the growth and profitability of an insurance company.

Starting an Insurance Company – Legal Matters

  • Best legal entity to use for an insurance business

If you are looking towards starting an insurance company, then getting it right with the best legal entity for the business will go a long way to determine how successful the business can grow.

No doubt choosing a legal entity for a business such as an insurance company is some worth straightforward. When it comes to choosing a legal entity for your insurance company you have the option of choosing from a general partnership, a limited partnership, an LLC, a “C” corporation, or a “S” corporation. It is important to clearly state that these different forms of legal structure for business has its own advantages and disadvantages; which is why you must weigh your options properly before making your choice on the legal structure to build your insurance company on.

These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your insurance company; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and tax issues. If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your insurance company, then you will agree that limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start your insurance company as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or a ‘S’ corporations especially when you have the plans of going public.

Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your insurance company so as to compete with major players in the insurance industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, stock market, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company; you will enjoy flexibility in ownership and in your management structures.

Catchy Business Name ideas Suitable for an Insurance Business

If you take your time to go through the names of most of the leading insurance companies in the world or the insurance companies that you can find around you, you will realize that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing a name for an insurance company.

As such, if you are looking towards choosing a name for your insurance company, then you have the options to call it whatever you want; it could even be the name of your village or a combination of all the initials of your family. These are some of the catchy names you can choose from if you intend starting your own insurance company;

  • Access Assurance PLC
  • EPL Group
  • Mutual Trust Insurance
  • Peak Insurance PLC
  • Marine Group
  • Whole Life Assurance
  • Headstone Insurance PLC
  • Diamond Aviation Insurance PLC
  • Hedge Group PLC
  • Chicago Life Insurance

Do You Need an Insurance Cover to Run an Insurance Company

The fact that you are starting an insurance company means that you must not be found wanting when it comes to buying all the required insurance policy covers for your business. Besides, it is safe to state that it is impossible to start an insurance company in the United States of America without ensuring that you have the basic insurance policies in place as stipulated by the regulating body.

Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own insurance company in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Risk Insurance
  • Credit insurance
  • Deposit insurance
  • Financial reinsurance
  • Lenders mortgage insurance
  • Payment protection insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance

Getting Intellectual Property Protection for your Insurance Company

Beyond every reasonable doubt, starting an insurance company is indeed a serious business which is why you must do all you can to dot the ‘I’s and cross the ‘t’s and one of the things you need to do is to file in for intellectual property protection. This is necessary because you must ensure that you company’s logo and every other official document like insurance policy document and claims related documents are well protected to guide against people taking advantage of the fact that they are not protected.

So also, you may want to develop your own customized insurance software applications; if you happen to develop your own customized software application, then by all means you would need to apply for intellectual property protection.

Lastly, there may be need for you to also develop unique insurance products for your clientele base. The fact that there are stiffer competitions in the insurance industry requires that you protect your brain child or else other will leverage on it.

Do You Need Professional Certification to Start an Insurance Company?

If you are an investor who is interested in owning a portfolio in the insurance company, you may not need to go all the way to write and pass the required insurance exams and obtain the necessary insurance certifications. All you need to do is to provide the finance and connections needed and then get people who have the required papers / documents to partner with in starting your insurance company.

At least some of your core management team should be chattered in insurance and finance, investment, risk and other financial / insurance related areas of study.

List of Legal Documents You Need to Run an Insurance Company

The insurance industry happens to be amongst the industries that are highly regulated in the United States of America and of course all over the world. If you are considering starting an insurance company, then you are expected to meet the legal documents requirements as stipulated in the constitution of your country.

These are some of the basic legal document that you are expected to have in place if you want to start an insurance company in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Insurance Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Non – disclosure Agreement
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • Online Terms of Use
  • Online Privacy Policy
  • Apostille (for those who intend operating beyond the United States of America)
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement
  • Company Bylaws
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy

Writing a Business Plan for your Insurance Company

One of the first steps that you are expected to take if you are looking towards starting an insurance company is to consult experts to help you draft a good and workable business plan. The truth is that, in order to successfully run an insurance company, you would need to have a good business plan in place.

A Business plan is the roadmap that is needed to successfully run a business; with a workable business plan in place, you will reduce the trial and error approach of doing business. You will be able to manage your business with purpose and perhaps precisions; you will know what to do per time and how to handle business challenges and business growth / expansion.

In essence, if you want to start your own insurance company, you are required to write a detailed business plan that can pass reality test when subjected to it; you should work with the facts, figures and other indices in the insurance industry as it applies to the locations / country you intend starting your insurance company.

The whole idea of writing a business plan is not just for the sake of having a business document in place; but a detail guide on how to effectively run your business from the scratch. Your business plan should outline and cover strategies on how you intend to manage and grow your insurance company. The rule of thumb in writing a business plan is to try as much as possible to be realistic and never to over project when putting figures on income and profits et al. As a matter of fact, it is safer to underestimate when writing a business plan so that you won’t be so disappointed when reality sets in.

These are the key areas that should be covered in your business plan;

  • Executive summary and Company’s descriptions: you are expected to write about the concept of your business, descriptions of your company, your company’s vision statement, mission statement and where your company will be located and also if you intend partnering with other companies or opening branches in different cities in the United States of America and in other parts of the world.
  • Other key components that should not be missing out from your insurance business plan are product offering, SWOT analysis, competitive analysis, marketing and sales analysis / strategies, target market, market goals, pricing, costing and financial projection, publicity and advertising strategy, expansion and growth strategies, budget and start – up capital generation et al.

How Much Does It Cost to Starting An Insurance Company?

When it comes to starting an insurance company, you should be aware that the cost is in the two fold; the costs of setting up the office structure (including branches) and of course your capital base / capitalization. In essence, the nature and size of the insurance company you are looking towards starting will determine the amount you are expected to raise.

As regard the cost of setting up the office structure, your concern should be to secure a good office facility in a busy business district; it can be expensive though, but that is one of the factors that will help you position your insurance company to attract the kind of customers you would want to do business with.

When it comes to starting a small scale insurance business perhaps an insurance brokerage firm, then the following expenditure should guide you;

  • The Total Fee for incorporating the Business – $750.
  • The budget for insurance policies, permits and license – $10,000
  • The Amount needed to acquire a suitable Office facility in a business district with 6 months’ rent up – front (Re – Construction of the facility inclusive) – $50,000.
  • The Cost for equipping the office (computers, printers, fax machines, furniture, telephones, filing cabins, safety gadgets and electronics et al) – $5,000
  • The Cost of Launching your official Website – $600
  • Budget for paying at least 10 employees for 3 months and utility bills – $200,000
  • Additional Expenditure (Business cards, Signage, Adverts and Promotions et al) – $2,500
  • Capital Base – 1 Million Dollars (You can confirm from your country to know the requirement because it seems to vary from country to country and even from states to states in the United States of America)
  • Miscellaneous – $10,000

Going by the report from the research and feasibility studies, you will need about1.2 Million U.S. Dollars to set up a small scale but standard insurance company in the United States of America.

You will need over 5 Million U.S. dollars to successfully set – up a medium scale insurance company in the United States of America.

If you are considering starting a large scale insurance company with several branches in key cities in the United States and in other countries, then you should look towards budgeting well over 50 million United States dollars.

  • Financing your Insurance Business Venture

It may be easier to raise startup capital if you choose to start an insurance brokerage firm, but the truth is that, starting a standard insurance company is usually not a business that an individual can go all the way alone, there is always need for you to invite business partners / investors that will pull cash together simply because the amount required for capitalization.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for start – up capital for your insurance company;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for loan from your bank / banks
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.

Choosing a Location for your Insurance Company

No doubt, location is a key factor that contributes to the success of any business. If you make the mistake of choosing a wrong location for your business, you are likely going to struggle to grow the business and if care is not taken, you might end up closing shop due to lack of patronage.

In view of that, if you are looking for a location to start, your insurance company, then you should be willing to pay experts to help you conduct thorough feasibility studies and market survey; they should go out there to carry out research and then make the appropriate recommendations.

One of the suitable location for an insurance company is a location with healthy and thriving business activities; a place where there is steady cash flow. Places like market, commercial centers and business districts et al are suitable to locate an insurance company.

These are some of the factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your insurance company;

  • The demography of the location
  • The nature of business activities in the location
  • The purchasing power of the residence of the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The numbers of insurance companies in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community / state
  • Traffic, parking and security et al

Starting an Insurance Company – Technical & Manpower Details

If you are considering starting an insurance company, then you should look towards hiring ICT experts to help you develop your own unique insurance related software application, secured internet platform and online payment system (that will help you facilitate easy payment of premiums). These are some of the technical stuffs that you must be ready to sort out before successfully launching your insurance company.

When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an office space, the size of the organization you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your decision. If you are looking towards running a standard insurance company, then you should consider the option of leasing or outright purchasing of a facility; when you lease or buy over a property, you will be able to work with long – term planning. But if you just want to start an insurance brokerage firm, and you are low on cash, renting an office is your best bet.

As regards employing staff to occupy key roles in your insurance company, you should try as much as lies within your power to only hire those who are not just qualified and well experienced, but also those who will be willing to build the business with. In order to attract such people, you can factor incentives such as owning a percentage of the company’s shares. With that it is easier for you to secure the commitment of trusted hands in the industry.

You may need a minimum of full time 10 staff to start an insurance brokerage firm, but if you are looking towards starting a small – scale standard insurance company, then you should make provision for well over 10 full – time employees that will help you man key roles in your organization.

Starting an Insurance CompanyThe Marketing Plan

  • Marketing Ideas and Strategies for your Insurance Company

Starting and running an insurance company requires aggressive marketing which is why you insurance sales men and women are always on your neck to buy one insurance cover or the other especially if you live in the United States of America.

So to stay afloat in the insurance industry, you must be ready to spend good cash in marketing, advertising and promoting your insurance products. Your marketing and advertising departments must regularly come out with new innovations and products that can catch the attention of your potential clients.

It is for this reason that when you are drafting your marketing ideas and strategies for your insurance company, make sure that you create a compelling personal and company’s profile which must include the profile of your board of directors and management team. The truth is that if you have honest, trustworthy and successful professional in your board, customers can easily trust you with their hard earned money. In some countries trust is one of the key factors that is hampering the growth of the insurance industry.

Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your insurance policies;

  • Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to investors and corporate organizations
  • Advertise your business in relevant business magazines (insurance magazines and business related magazines) and make yourself available for insurance related talk shows and interactive sessions on TV and Radios)
  • List your business on local directories / yellow pages (both online and offline)
  • Attend expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your insurance business
  • Join local chambers of commerce around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your insurance products.
  • Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing

Possible Competitive Strategies for Winning your Competitors in the Insurance Industry

Beyond every reasonable doubt, the competition in the insurance industry is on the high side in the United States of America and of course in most countries with loads of insurance companies. So if you intend building a strong and healthy insurance business, then you must come up with unique insurance products and creative strategies to outsmart your competitors in the industry.

First and foremost, you must ensure that you pay claims as at when due and also it will be to your advantage to lower your premiums and offer better coverage and policies et al. Your customer services delivery must be top notch; the truth is that customers will always troop to any place where they are certain that they will get the best of customer services. Aside from top notch customer services, you are also expected to ensure that your systems and processes are seamless and efficient especially if you are involved in online premium payments.

Possible Ways to Increase Customer Retention for your Insurance Business

Come to think of it, if you want to remain competitive and continue to increase your customer retention in any business, then you must be creative and always look for ways to outsmart your competitors in the industry. As a matter of fact, if you can successfully close your back doors and ensure that you retain a minimum of 60 percent of your customers, then your business can be said to be healthy and thriving.

Some of the possible ways you can increase your customer retention is that, you must work towards paying claims as at when due, simplify the process of premium collections, and also to regularly give out incentives to your clients via promos and freebies et al.

Your customer services must be top notches and Your CRM software applications must be effectively maximized so that you can be in touch with all your customers. When you remember and celebrate your clients during their special occasions, you are likely going to get your loyalty from such clients.

Strategies to Boost your Insurance Company’s Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

The insurance business just like any other business requires media hype to get people to buy into the brand. Your brand has to do with the way people perceive you to be which is why you should be deliberate when it comes to communicating and promoting your brand.

In promoting your brand and corporate identity, you should leverage on both print and electronic media. As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use social media platforms to promote your brands, besides it is pretty much effective. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to create brand awareness of your insurance company and to promote your corporate identity in the market place;

  • Place adverts on national TV stations, Radio Stations and Newspapers / Magazines
  • Run your own special TV program
  • Sponsor relevant community programs
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook , Badoo, YouTube, Twitter et al
  • Install your Bill Boards on strategic locations
  • Engage in road show from time to time
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills to targeted areas from time to time
  • Send out introductory letters to multinationals, embassies, and Diaspora organizations and networks in and around your location
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth especially from loyal customers
  • Ensure that all your vehicles are branded with your company’s logo
  • Ensure that all your employees wear your branded shirts at least once in a week during work hours

Tips for Running an Insurance Company Successfully

  • Irrespective of the kind of business you run, your ability to get all the members of your team to be on same page at all times is one of the keys you need to successfully run the organization.
  • As the chief executive officer or president of an insurance company, it is you responsibility to give direction to the business. Part of what you need to do is to ensure that you create time for office meetings; a time where challenges, feedback, projections and relevant issues are discussed. The meetings could be daily, once in a week, twice a week or once in a month. The bottom line is that there should be consistent meetings in your organization.
  • Carrying out appraisals on a regular basis and training your employees will help you run your organization effectively. Encourage your employees to pursue certifications in their various area of specializations; it will help your organization’s profile and of course it will help the individuals. You can choose to fully or partially sponsor some of the certifications exams.
  • Lastly, you should keep your doors open for suggestions from members of your team and your clients. It is very important to reward excellent performance in your organization; it will go a long way to encourage healthy competition in your organization.
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