Insurance 101: All About Insurance Carrier Appointments

Picture this: You’ve taken all the necessary steps to become a licensed insurance producer. You’ve completed all of your state’s pre-licensing requirements, passed the official licensing exam, and submitted your background check and fingerprints. You’ve got everything you need to start selling insurance products, right? 

Not exactly. You’re actually still missing one crucial step: Obtaining a carrier appointment.

What is an appointment in insurance?

An appointment is how insurance carriers tell the state which producers or agencies can sell their products. Appointments establish a relationship between a carrier and a producer, and without one, a producer can’t legally sell a carrier’s insurance products. 

Sounds simple enough, but, because appointment requirements vary by state, things can get a little complicated. For example, while most states require carriers to report their producer appointments, there are a handful that don’t, like Alaska, Illinois, Oregon, and any others we consider “Registry” states. Of the states that do require reporting, some regard producer appointments as perpetual (as long as the producer has a valid license), while others require annual appointment renewal. Some states even require producers to have at least one carrier appointment to keep their insurance license active.

“Umbrella” and agency appointments

To further complicate things, some states require carriers to appoint all agencies and other business entities (MGAs, MGUs, and BGAs, for example) that work downstream of them, along with their producers. In some states, these agency appointments mean carriers must pay for all of an agency’s producers to be appointed with carriers they’ll never actually sell products for. Other times, as long as an agency has affiliated its downstream producers to the business at the state level, then a carrier can merely appoint the agency and that agency’s producers will automatically be authorized to operate under that agency’s “umbrella.” And some states require every agency and each producer to have their own independent carrier appointment regardless of who works with whom.

Sidenote: Tracking down state-specific appointment regulations can be its own burden, so if you’re looking for answers to questions like “Where do carriers renew their appointments in Texas?” or “Does California allow for JIT appointments?”, check out our state-by-state insurance carrier appointment FAQ page. 

What are Just-In-Time appointments?

To excuse carriers from having to pay to appoint agents before they ever write business, some states allow for what are known as Just-In-Time, or JIT appointments. JIT appointments let insurance carriers delay appointing a producer and paying the associated fees until the producer actually starts writing business for that carrier. 

JIT appointments can be a huge cost-savings opportunity for the insurance carriers who leverage them. You can read more about the benefits of JIT appointments and how to take advantage of them here

Do producers need multiple carrier appointments?

Carrier appointments aren’t typically a one-and-done thing. Insurance producers typically have appointments with multiple carriers so they can sell a more diverse range of insurance products to address a wider range of risks. And they also may need separate appointments for each state they’re working in from each carrier. Along with the ability to sell their products, when a producer or agency appoints with a reputable carrier, they also gain leads, benefit from that carrier’s marketing efforts, and build greater trust with clients.

Getting a carrier appointment isn’t always a walk in the park, though, and it can be particularly challenging for smaller agencies or producers that are new to the scene. Carriers, especially larger, more established ones, might be reluctant to take the risk of partnering with newer, smaller agencies. However, everyone has to start somewhere, so we’ve put together a few tips for obtaining a carrier appointment as a new insurance agency. 

How should producers choose which carriers to get appointed with?

Insurance producers form the connection between carriers and policyholders, so a smooth partnership is important for the success of everyone involved. As a good rule of thumb, producers should appoint with carriers who are:

A good product/market fit

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Producers should aim to appoint with carriers who offer the products their clients are looking for. For example, if you work as an insurance producer in a flood-prone state, you’ll want to get an appointment with at least one carrier that offers flood insurance. If a lot of your clients are getting married or starting a family, consider carriers with a wide range of life insurance options. Producers may also want to get an appointment with carriers whose product offerings provide opportunities to expand their business into new markets.

Highly reputable and financially stable

Insurance carriers have an obligation to pay customer claims, but unfortunately their ability to do so isn’t always a guarantee. And while unforeseen risks like catastrophic natural disasters can rock even the sturdiest of carriers, producers should aim to get appointments with carriers who have a proven track record of meeting their financial obligations. If the information is available, it’s never a bad idea to check a carrier’s score with a rating agency to better understand their financial strength. 

Able to offer an exceptional producer and client experience

As an insurance producer, your income is directly tied to your ability to sell insurance products. When a carrier’s appointment process is rife with manual data entry and workflow silos, producers get stuck in onboarding limbo, unable to sell until the process is complete. To make things more efficient, carriers can leverage modern technology and automation in their onboarding and appointment processes. Not only can modern insurtech help get producers ready to sell faster, it also shows a carrier’s commitment to offering a world-class producer experience. Talk about a green flag!

And, with the producer experience dialed in, you’ll also want to think about what the carrier offers in the way of client experience. Do you want to sell products for a carrier that gives clients access to mobile apps, quick claims processing, and exceptional communication? Or one that makes it a nightmare for clients to report claims and get them paid? 

What is the insurance agent appointment process?

As we alluded to earlier, the appointment process varies from state to state as well as from carrier to carrier. Generally, once a producer finds a carrier that aligns with their goals and their target market, they’ll need to follow any specific state appointment requirements to qualify. It’s then up to the carrier to submit the appointment request to the state Department of Insurance (DOI) and pay the associated fee. 

If the DOI finds the producer to be in compliance then, bada bing, bada boom, the appointment is confirmed. Of course, verifying that a producer is in compliance with all state-specific regulations can be its own challenge that, without help from integrated and automated insurance compliance technology, can take days, if not weeks, to complete. 

Insurance producer compliance throughout the appointment process

State nuances mean insurance carrier appointments can be a time-consuming, tedious piece of the compliance puzzle, especially when managed by hand. With 50 states and multiple territories all having their own, sometimes contradictory appointment rules, manually managing producer compliance throughout the appointment process can be a little overwhelming to say the least.  

Luckily, there’s a better way. Using a compliance-as-a-service platform that draws directly form the insurance industry’s source of truth can ease the process and reduce the chance of error. If you’re a carrier looking to ease your compliance team’s burden and offer your distribution partners a world-class experience, AgentSync can help. Schedule a demo today.

About AgentSync

AgentSync builds modern insurance infrastructure that connects carriers, agencies, MGAs, and producers. With customer-centric design, seamless APIs, automation, and unparalleled service, AgentSync’s solutions provide data intelligence and streamlined onboarding and compliance management processes that reduce costs, increase efficiency, and get producers ready to sell in hours instead of weeks. Founded in 2018 by Niranjan “Niji” Sabharwal and Jenn Knight, and headquartered in Denver, CO, AgentSync has been recognized as one of Denver’s Best Places to Work, a Forbes Magazine Cloud 100 Rising Star, and as an Insurtech Insights Future 50 winner, and was ranked 65 in Forbes – America’s Best Startup Employers 2023. To learn more, visit

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