5 Habits of Successful Insurance Agents

5 Habits of Successful Insurance Agents

I have recruited, trained and motivated hundreds and hundreds of insurance agents over the past two plus decades. I have found that skills, knowledge and work ethic have less to do with success as their habits do. Here are 5 habits of successful insurance agents I have observed throughout my career.

  • Setting Goals—the most successful agents always know where they are going. They know exactly how many calls, emails, ads and networking must be done every hour of every day in order to sell their products to enough clients. If you ask them their goal, they can tell you instantly without looking. They live it every day.



  • Time Management—the most successful insurance agents budget their time just like one would budget their money. They know where they will be every hour of every day. One of my most successful agents once told me, “if I am doing an activity, I ask myself ‘is this making me money?’ if the answer is no, “I stop and do something that will make me money’” There are 24 hours in a day, you decide how they behave.



  • Flexibility—the most successful insurance agents are always willing to change. Competition, regulations and laws are out of our control. We must remain flexible and be willing to learn and change to new things. The fatal phrase of failure is “we have always done it this way”. Some people don’t remember pay phones and Block Buster Video who failed to change. Be flexible with your skills and your systems.



  • Systematic—the most successful insurance agents are systematic with their work. Just like setting goals and managing time, the successful agent works their craft like a factory conveyor belt. Without a consistent system followed daily, there is no consistent sales closed daily. Calls, referrals, follow ups and prospecting are done with an absolute discipline every day without fail.



  • Perseverance—the successful insurance agent experiences the same highs and lows of their lesser counterparts. However, they push harder in the good times and not allow complacency to slow them down. During the tough times, they work even harder to persevere and not allow a tough market to keep them from achieving their goals. Failure is not an option for the successful agent.


I have been blessed to work with some of the most successful insurance agents in our industry. These 5 habits are universal to all of them. The main theme I have learned over these years is success breeds success and failure breeds failure, law of attraction. Be careful who you listen to, we become the people we hang out with most often. To your success!

“Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential”. —John C Maxwell

Image by bluebay at www.freedigitalphotos.net


Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, grandfather of 2, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, employee benefit specialist, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger, author and team leader with over 30 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.

48 Responses to 5 Habits of Successful Insurance Agents

  • Good article; What’s that saying?” it’s commonsense, however commonsense ain’t that common”

  • Love this!

  • I’d agree if you said that habits are equally as important to success as skills, knowledge and work ethic. For example, many people set goals but lack skills, knowledge and work ethic and don’t achieve them. It can be argued that time management is a skill one can learn.

    • Rob, I can equally make the argument that if an agent possesses these habits the skills, knowledge and work ethic come naturally. All of the skills in the world can’t make an agent successful.

  • This is very true… so true in fact we are using these principles to revolutionize the financial services industry

  • I’m going to pass this onto my agents to implement immediately !

  • Francis, thank you for your kind words. Please feel free to share it with your connections and agents. Always glad to help!

  • Great Article

  • This is amazing!

  • Good info..

  • Amazingly correct information

  • Of course goal setting separates the pros from the amateurs as well as the ability to manage time, yet the real major factor is the ability to identify and accept change. I experience the inability to accept change on a daily basis with my recruiting of agents. We have established a new process and uniquely differentiated focus and the resistance is mind boggling. I certainly would appreciate and understand resistance if it were a case of the status-quo being a major success. Sadly the many insurance marketing organizations I speak with are totally unwilling to make any changes and yet they are not maximizing nor hitting their highest potential. It appears the definition of insanity is alive and well because I can testify to the orgs that are continuing to do the same things over and over while expecting different results. I think there should be a mandate to have all the leaders in these orgs read Who moved my Cheese and then write a book report.

    • Karl, I agree, their favorite battle cry becomes “we have always done it this way”. I think that was the slogan of Sears and Blockbuster video. Good luck my friend!

  • Great article. Looking forward to putting into practice these 5 habits!

  • The best article

  • Evolve..Expand…Execute…REPEAT!

  • Very nice

  • Very simple and concise. It is however all in the commitment and execution. I would refer you all the ” master of habit forming and management systems”, Steven Covey who unfortunately is no longer with us. Best read in my opinion is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people. Not to diminish what Tim has states so well just another reference to help build on it.
    Best to you all. We are in a most challenging but rewarding business when it is done right.
    God Bless

    • David, thank you for your kind words, I am glad you enjoyed it. I have read Covey’s book at 2 different points in my career. Definitely in my top 10 books of all time.

  • Fantastic!! Thanks for sharing!

  • So true

  • If there are any health and life agents who are currently displaced and/or dissatisfied, please contact me for some vital information. Thanks

  • Over 30 years in the financial services business and 15 years of coaching insurance and financial advisors caused me to write my book, “What Every Great Salesperson Knows, A No Non-sense Guide to Sales Success”. Get your free download here; http://polarisone.com/free-book

  • Successful producers do what others won’t. They don’t give up and they are creative. Many of them use multiple ways of prospecting and referrals.

  • the information you have provided is excellent. Thanks

  • In an industry where 90% of the overall production is done by 10% of the sales force, one very obvious reality stands out, this type of stat validates a lack of mentorship in the industry. That means that the commitment to growing the sales force is secondary to personal an individual success. The RE sales industry is actually worse with a 94/6 level of production. Of course this information is valuable and helpful yet the truest test and form of career assistance would be solid mentorship. The Life Insurance industry is the economic foundation of the nation and yet it is in peril due to lack of career development. The industry is aging rapidly and recruitment and agent retention is not even close to keeping pace. A very serious reality is this industry could be well become obsolete in 50 years or less. Recruitment and strong training, development, coaching and mentorship is the key to industry retention. This also requires a strong counter-intuitive approach to developing clients.

  • The key to all sales industries is the methods of distribution. The career agency force has slowly been decimated and the shift was to independent brokerage through large marketing organizations funded by carriers. Technology is rapidly developing and carriers are still attempting to replace the agent with digital distribution. Term insurance will soon become a fully digital distribution process, but there still remains the need for relationship based sales for more complex issues such as permanent (whole life) and annuities. Carriers will continue to work on ways to replace the agency force, and so it is imperative that agents develop more creative methods to improve and strengthen relationship selling.

  • Karl, you just made my point on #3 Flexibility. Everything evolves, those that refuse to change become dinosaurs and we all know what happened to the dinosaurs. The successful agent must be unique and relevant in order to continue with success. This very concept was a big part of my second book https://www.amazon.com/Methods-Mastering-Sales-Save-Your/dp/1540795977/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

  • If you really want to be successful selling life insurance, you will need to get really good at the things you don’t like to do. Much of this industry is about being willing to ask the difficult questions that many agents just aren’t willing to ask their clients.
    My agents are lucky, in that they don’t have to prospect for clients. We give our agents a database of at least 600 members to contact. That is what we call the Knights of Columbus advantage.

  • I have never closed a contract, without having to ask some questions that makes some potential clients uncomfortable

  • Just in case there are any life agents who are currently looking for one of the best platform to get occupied and be of assistance to families, please contact me for some details on how. Thanks

  • its oooooooooooooooo wonderfull ideas i like 2much

  • Does anyone have suggestions for a sharp and short text message that would get a response from a prospect?

  • I wrote about this in my book as an email, but it should work just as well as text message. Just text “Do you still want my help with life insurance?” Or what ever product you are working with them on. The response rate is 80% either they are in or they are out. Good luck.

  • Tim, good article but I think there are 6 Habits. Step 6 Perseverance. Far too many of the younger generation want it right now. Building a successful career takes all of your points but they must have the drive, diligence and the perseverance to stick with it… Far too many pie in the sky discussions and promotions from carriers, FMO, et cetera. Just ask an ” old timer” what it takes to be successful. Don’t get caught up in they hype!!

  • Tracy, we are not far off at all. Read it again, step 5 is perseverance, I totally agree with everything you said. The drive and passion gets you through the bad times and keeps you from getting complacent in the good times. Thank you for sharing!

  • Thanks for the crash course a healthy reminder.

  • Believe it or not in the early years of my life, I do not believe in insurance. No insurance agent was able to convince me to buy life insurance. My being in the insurance business today is about helping others as someone did help me understand the word “assurance” and/or insurance. I was told by my mentor that assurance and/or insurance is a contractual document whereby I agree to pay a regular payment for a benefit to be paid to my benefactor whose financial support depends on my income in the event of illness, death, or disability. At the same time I was told by my mentor that selling insurance is a lucrative business but not for everyone. Being educated as a BSC (Bachelor of Science in Commerce) major in marketing and salesmanship, my interest in doing it as a business began to shape. I sold myself the first policy with a monthly payment of $50.00 and I got paid $600.00 and from there I was convinced that it is a lucrative business. So I designed my sales approach.

  • Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  • Loved this! Always helps to get tips from other professionals in our industry.

  • So very true. The stars shine through consistent activity which only comes from these 5 habits being constant.

  • I love this article and the conversation about the “BUSINESS” we are in I have been a licensed agent since 2012 here in California and I must say that I have not made the most of the opportunity.Mainly because of not feeling the right fit in various situations not able to provide 200 numbers that kinda thing all on this island by myself anyways I think I might have found a situation that with all those attribute’s you mentioned and the needed drive and determination I hope to make this new opportunity a success.our mindset is the issue get your mind right as the old saying goes.Great article stay down with your “ABC’S” ALWAYS BE CLOSING…! Mentor Someone Please…!!!

    • Clifton, the great aspect of our business is that today is the first day of the rest of your career! Take the tips and go be GREAT!

  • First and foremost, highly effective insurance agents are hungry.

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