How to Hire the Best Receptionist for Your Insurance Brokerage Firm

Samir Sampat

In the business of insurance, you are responsible for helping people protect their assets and their lives. You do this by providing access to the insurance products that people need, no matter how many products you work with or which companies you represent or are capable of working with. Of course, you’re in the insurance business, not the business of answering the phones, so it might be time to consider an addition to your team. 

Every brokerage is different. However, there are some factors that everyone will want to look into when it comes to hiring help. It will be up to you to take the time to find what’s best for your firm, but we can help you with that, right here and now. 

For starters, are you looking at this as an investment? The answer should be “yes”, wholeheartedly. After all, it’s certainly not an expense because you are gaining something (and a lot of somethings, if you do it correctly) when you choose a receptionist. For starters, you are giving your visitors and others guaranteed access to your insurance brokerage firm, even if you’re not the one available to field the calls and messages. 

Not only that, but you’re freeing up your team from having to field their own calls and messages or worry about whether appointments are scheduled, payments and premiums are collected, and so forth. It’s a lot to handle and they shouldn’t have to do all the work themselves. The less time they spend behind the desk, the more time they can spend building your brokerage and following up on new leads. 

The Internet has increased the flexibility and versatility of the modern receptionist and that’s something that your insurance firm can benefit from, no matter what you have in mind. Make sure that you consider all that you can get when making this investment so that you give your audience the best solutions and make the right moves for your business. 

For starters, let’s get the money discussion out of the way because the cost of a receptionist isn’t the most important thing. Yet some people won’t stop thinking about it—so let’s just cover it and move forward. 


What will a receptionist cost?


This is the typical question that most people want answered right away—everything’s all about the bottom line and the budget. While you obviously can’t hire someone that you can’t afford, there’s a lot more to getting good help than what it will cost you. After all, this is an investment, not an expense, and you’ll need to look at it accordingly. 

With that said, we will say that the going rate for receptionists in the United States right now is between $11 and $14 per hour, with those working in professional services like insurance usually earning toward the top of the range. You may be able to find a good receptionist at the lower end of the pay scale, but there are no guarantees. Plus, then you have to consider the quality of what you’re getting. 

And of course, you can’t consider hiring an employee without considering the cost of onboarding, sourcing, and keeping that employee in-house (overhead, benefits, etc.). Right now, the average onboarding cost for a single hire is around $4,000. Some companies have plenty of room for that. Others might not have the budget. 

The alternative here is to outsource, either by hiring remotely and choosing an independent contractor, or by working with a third-party virtual receptionist service (like Smith.ai, but more on us later). It can give you access to more services for a fraction of what you’d spend to hire someone. For that price, you could even get a whole team of agents to be at the beck and call of your clients, visitors, vendors, and others. 


The value of hiring an insurance receptionist 


As with any investment in your business, there’s a lot of value to be had by hiring a receptionist. A lot of people want to hyper-focus on the “cost” here, but it’s not an expense. It’s an investment. That means you should be focused on what you’re getting for the money. Not only can a receptionist handle fielding your phone calls and taking messages, but they can also provide dynamic solutions for things like:

  • Running your live website chat feature and responding to all chats, as well as escalating people to you or your team if necessary
  • Maintaining the physical and/or virtual office space, keeping things organized, and so forth
  • Handling your social media campaigns and even managing social media messaging and communications
  • Creating content and correspondence, including newsletters, blogs, email responses, website content, and other material as needed
  • Providing personalized service and a professional brand image for your insurance brokerage, no matter how big or small your operation might be
  • Offering temporary assistance when your receptionist is on leave or you’re in between full-time hires
  • Building, facilitating, and maintaining relationships with clients, prospective customers, vendors, insurance agents and providers, and others
  • Fielding after-hours and emergency claims calls

That last one is especially valuable—imagine having a receptionist available 24 hours a day, seven days a week so that your customers know they can depend on you whenever they have a need, no matter the time of day (or night). 

Sure, they could just call the 800 number for the main insurance company that’s listed on their card, but wouldn’t a personalized call feel much safer for them? And if they’ve been in an accident or need some type of assistance, that could be huge. 


Should you outsource or hire in-house?


Now you’ll have to consider the other issue we touched on earlier: will you hire someone on your payroll, outsource to a contractor, or go with a third-party virtual receptionist service that can deliver on what you need?

There’s no right or wrong answer here—you have to think about what’s going to be best for you. Consider:

  • Whether you have the means to manage and delegate tasks to an in-house employee. Not every business has the means to do this and will therefore need to rely on a receptionist or service that is outsourced and self-managed so that there is less to do. Fortunately, these services are readily available. 
  • Do you need to have a full-time on-staff receptionist? Some companies need someone at the front desk, on the front lines, covering the phones, and being a total package receptionist. Other brands and brokerages realize that a virtual receptionist might be just as good, or better. Some might even enjoy the fact that they can get a versatile, robust solution from virtual agents when compared to what they get from hiring someone in-house. 
  • Do you want better talent and selection? Outsourcing also gives you the chance to find better talent and select from a wider range of solutions than you would find locally. Sourcing someone for your office is possible (and beneficial) if you need it, but not everyone needs someone in-house, and going virtual can open up your options. 
  • Do you want more service than you can get from a single provider? In this case, using a virtual receptionist service could be the way to go. Think about what you want and consider a dynamic solution that gives you more for your money because it will make your business all the better in the end. 

You’re in the business of insurance, so you understand the value of risk and reward. If you do not embrace a receptionist and make use of them to improve your brokerage, you are at high risk of losing customers, deterring leads, and otherwise putting your business in a dangerous position. If, however, you are searching for the best receptionist solution, you will be rewarded with better communications and operations, happier clients, and a better brokerage in the end. 


Qualities to look for in your receptionist


Again, no two businesses have the same needs when it comes to hiring a receptionist. That’s why you’ll have to think about what you want and need. Of course, when it comes to finding the right qualities and skills, you’ll want to keep a few different things in mind:

  • Friendly, personable demeanor
  • Able to build and maintain relationships with clients, vendors, and others
  • Confident and motivated
  • Driven and self-starter
  • Problem solver
  • Adaptable to change and can switch gears easily
  • Quick learner
  • Organized and detail-oriented

You should consider their experience in all areas that you need help with, including things like software competency and Internet prowess. However, the latter skills and other hard skills are much easier to teach than things like a personality and the ability to keep things organized. That’s why your focus should be there when you’re just starting to hire a receptionist. 

If you have other factors in mind, feel free to add those to your list, as well. As long as you make sure that you are choosing a solution that suits your needs, you’ll be on your way to success. 


Receptionist hiring FAQs

And now, a few FAQs to wrap up what you need to know when hiring your virtual (or other) receptionist. 


Does my receptionist need insurance training or experience?

While it’s not essential, it will certainly benefit you to hire someone with experience in the insurance industry or a related field. This will give them the chance to provide better service to your audience and perhaps have to relay fewer communications to you for further clarification. If, however, you find someone with good skills that isn’t experienced with insurance, that’s okay, too. You can teach them about the industry. You can’t teach them soft skills very easily, if at all. 


When is a good time to hire a receptionist for my firm?

If you are asking this question, it’s probably a good time. If you find yourself running out of time but never out of tasks, it is time to hire help. If you are getting complaints that it takes you too long to return calls or messages, you probably need a receptionist. The short answer? There’s never a wrong time to hire someone to act as the face of your brand and help improve your communications and administrative operations. 


How much does a receptionist cost to hire?

There’s no single price you can put on this investment. Like we mentioned, the going rate ranges between $11 and $14 per hour, but that’s only a range. You could spend more, or less, or pay a completely different way when you choose a third-party service that bills by services or monthly rates. In any case, it’s an investment that’s well worth making, even if it costs a little more than you anticipated. 


Is a receptionist the most important person in my insurance brokerage?

While there are a lot of valuable people involved in your firm, you do have some that serve a more powerful purpose than others. The receptionist that you choose will act as the face of your brand and be responsible for making the best first impressions. They’ll also have to be resourceful and most of them are very capable of multitasking and offering a Jack-of-all-trades type of solution for your business. A receptionist can be a very important asset.


Make the right investment in your receptionist when you partner with Smith.ai


At Smith.ai, we know that you have a lot on your plate when you’re working as an insurance broker. Communicating with people is what you do, but it doesn’t have to be all that you do. While you’re busy growing your business, leave the tedious tasks to the dedicated receptionists at Smith.ai. Our team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help with anything that you need in this arena. 

We can assist with after-hours calls and messages, live chat, Facebook message, and SMS message answering, scheduling, intake, payment collection for premiums and other payments, and more. And we’ll help you create a strategy to ensure that we take care of everything, no matter how big or small your needs might be. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to find out what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do for your insurance brokerage, from calls and chats to admin tasks and more. You’ll also find us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 


Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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