Insurance Agent Burnout and How To Prioritize Mental Health

Fran Majidi May 23, 2024
insurance agent experiencing burnout

Selling insurance is a rewarding profession that provides a sense of personal fulfillment but it also comes with challenges that can lead to burnout. Insurance agents play a critical role in the financial stability and protection of individuals, families and businesses right in their backyards. Not only do they shoulder a heavy sense of responsibility, the work isn’t easy. 

Good insurance agents must fully understand the terms of complex insurance policies and evaluate client needs to ensure adequate coverage. They have tight deadlines to meet certain goals if they are captive agents looking for a bonus or it’s sink-or-swim because they have little support as independent agents. 

Insurance agents are also people with families–fathers and husbands–who need to think of their personal obligations, despite turbulence in the insurance markets and a long list of clients who need their protection too.

Here is some more information about managing stress, insurance agent burnout and what to do to prevent it.

Do I Have Insurance Agent Burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion caused by prolonged periods of stress.

Understanding the risks insurance agents face and implementing effective strategies to prevent burnout is essential for sustaining a long and productive career. 

While lofty sales goals may tell an agent not to stop, even when it’s 10 pm, because there are more quotes they can work on and deliver in the morning, but there is a limit to how long that agent can keep going without crashing. And that time spent pouring over quotes from 8pm to 10pm is time taken away from friends, spouses, children. Is it worth it to see personal relationships deteriorate? Health experts say no.

For insurance agents, the risk of burnout is high. So let’s look at what is causing insurance agents overwhelming stress.

Factors Contributing to Burnout

  • Pressure to meet sales targets. Insurance agents often face immense pressure to meet sales quotas, to pay the bills and often to pay their staff. This constant push to perform at insurance agencies can lead to stress and anxiety.
  • Client service challenges. Insurance agents have to deal with a wide range of clients, and customer relationship management is not always positive. Dealing with angry customers can be draining on one's mental health, especially if there is a claim dispute that is not working in a client’s favor.
  • Losing existing clients. Losing clients is just a part of the business, and it happens more frequently when prices surge or drop and loyal customers begin comparing rates.
  • Market changes. Some insurance agents have been hit hard because they are restricted in selling certain P&C policies in a list of states that keeps growing and includes California and Florida. Prices have risen in most states and it has caused customers to jump ship.
  • Long hours. Insurance agents need to be available for clients, and sometimes that means after hours. The extra talk time, coupled with administrative tasks, can result in long and irregular sleep hours. Relationships with partners and family members can suffer, thereby creating more stress and tension.
  • Needing to find new ways to quote people. Long gone are the days when insurance agents could scour a telephone book and make calls until the sun went down. Fines for calling people on a Do Not Call list are real. Also, cold calls have little chance of closing, unlike insurance leads.
  • Listening to rejections constantly. Hearing no is a big part of an insurance agent’s life. Learning to keep going is hard and can take a toll on someone’s confidence and energy level
  • Feelings of isolation. Insurance agents who work independently of a staff may experience feelings of isolation which can alter one’s moods and cause burnout as well as emotional challenges.
  • Economic Fluctuations: The insurance industry is sensitive to economic changes, as we saw when interest rates increased. Economic downturns can lead to decreased client spending on insurance as well as increased competition and stress. It can feel overwhelming to suddenly see loyal customers leave to save a few hundred dollars a year.
  • Constant Competition: The insurance market is competitive and requires agents to constantly find new clients and retain existing ones. It can feel like a lot.
  • High Client Expectations: Clients often have high expectations and demand quick responses. Having to juggle several clients at once who expect to resolve issues right away can be draining.
  • Paperwork: Insurance agents often have to handle a significant amount of paperwork and administrative tasks, which can be time-consuming and mentally draining.
  • Complex Products: Understanding and explaining a wide range of complex insurance products and policies requires a lot of work, especially for agents who sell commercial insurance and need to research the types of risks that their clients need to protect against.
  • New Technologies: Learning new technology and integrating it in the agency can be stressful for agents who are not tech-savvy and feel intimidated.
  • Tragedies: Some claims involve loss of life and can be difficult for agents.
  • Lack of Support: Insufficient support from carriers or lack of access to resources and tools can be stressful, even expensive.
  • High Turnover Rates: High turnover rates within the agency can create an unstable work environment and lower morale, causing an agency owner or agent a lot of stress.
  • Remote Work Challenges: For agents working remotely, feeling alone and not having a clear separation between life and work can contribute to burnout, even if it feels like positive productivity at first.
  • Health Issues: Prolonged stress and disturbed sleep patterns can lead to health issues, which can reduce an agent’s ability to cope with job demands.
  • Unrealistic Expectations: High expectations from employers or self-imposed pressure to achieve perfection can lead to chronic stress and eventual burnout.
  • Client Retention Pressure: The pressure to retain clients amidst stiff competition and client poaching by other agents or companies adds to the stress.

Signs of Burnout

Recognizing the signs of burnout is the first step toward addressing it. Some common signs include:

  • Chronic fatigue 
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Reduced performance and productivity
  • Emotional detachment 
  • Frequent headaches and/or physical ailments
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Neglecting self-care
  • Substance abuse

Strategies to Prevent Burnout for Insurance Agents

Preventing burnout involves a combination of personal habits, workplace practices, and professional support. Here are effective strategies to help insurance agents avoid burnout:

Personal Habits

  • Set Boundaries: Only perform duties during set work hours and stick to those hours only. Tend to obligations with family and friends.
  • Practice Self-Care: Prioritize healthful eating and activities that promote well-being, such as regular exercise and sufficient sleep. 
  • Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate meditation, yoga, or deep stretching and breathing exercises into your day to help you stay grounded and focused.
  • Take Regular Breaks: Take short breaks throughout the day to recharge. A 15-minute walk can help you be more productive when you return to the tasks at hand. You can't sustain a constant state of hustle.
  • Take Vacations. It’s important to completely disconnect from work for several days at the very least, at least once a year if not more. Your mental health is a valuable asset to protect, so focus on quality time with loved ones. Taking breaks will also lead to improved job satisfaction.

Workplace Habits

  • Buy Insurance Leads. Cut down on the marketing hustle and invest in leads so you can trim down all the work that it takes to generate leads organically. You’ll be saving time and meeting your call quotas while constantly meeting a fresh batch of prospects.
  • Manage Time Efficiently: Use techniques to manage your time effectively, such as to-do lists, prioritization, and time-blocking. Prioritize tasks and set achievable goals. You can't do it all in one day, so make sure you have a list of what is absolutely essential to get done and tackle those tasks first.
  • Delegate and Automate: Delegate tasks where possible and use technology to automate routine tasks, reducing the overall workload.
  • Take Continuing Education Courses: Not only will these help you keep up with regulatory changes, but you'll improve your knowledge base.