How to Work Insurance Leads: 15 Deadly Sins to Avoid

Written by John F. Carroll on . Posted in Lead Generation, Sales

insurance-lead-mistakesI’m not a huge fan of internet insurance leads.

They’re expensive, they’re frustrating.

They degrade agents by turning insurance into a commodity.

The renewal rate on sales is lower than other marketing channels.

And of course, the leads are constantly denying that they ever signed up for anything.

(Sure you didn’t…)


Where else can you get the contact information of a complete stranger who is actively shopping for insurance and might buy it from you today?

What insurance marketing format is easier to calculate ROI?

I don’t like internet leads and you might not either. But they aren’t going anywhere soon. If you’re going to buy them… do it right.

Here’s the 15 deadly sins of working internet insurance leads. Avoid these at all costs!

1) Not Understanding Where Internet Leads Come From

If you want to understand the mindset of your leads you need to understand the process of how a person becomes an internet lead:

  1. He Google’s “insurance quotes” and finds a website promising several.
  2. The website makes him think it’s an automated online process.
  3. He answers questions about his insurance needs for ten minutes.
  4. On the last page he’s asked to provide his contact information.
  5. He doesn’t want to so he clicks “next” and the form stops him.
  6. He types in some fake words and the form stops him again.
  7. He finally enters his personal information to avoid wasting the previous ten minutes.
  8. Just when he thinks he’ll get the quotes, SURPRISE!
  9. He’s told his personal information was just sent to an unknown number of insurance salespeople.
  10. He says a curse word.
  11. For the next few weeks his cell phone rings several times a day morning, noon, and night.

I’m not trying to critique the system here.  To be honest, I think it’s pretty smart and wish I had a successful lead generating website.

I’d be rich!

My point is just that you need to understand what your prospect has experienced before you contact them so you can connect in the right way.

2) Waiting Too Long to Contact

insurance-lead-contact-timeAccording to a study conducted by professor James Oldroyd, the odds of contacting a lead within 5 minutes and 30 minutes are 100 times worse.

Your $15 lead is worth 15 cents 30 minutes after you get it!

It makes sense…

After insurance shoppers fill out the information for your lead, it’s so easy to call someone else or jump over to another site to get a quote that if you wait 10 minutes they may have already bought a policy from someone else!

They’re not going to wait for your call!

Plus, if you’re the sixth agent to call, you’ll be lucky if they pick up the phone.

When a quote comes in, drop everything and contact the lead. Don’t type in their information first, don’t finish what you’re doing, don’t go out to lunch and definitely don’t say, “I’ll call this one first thing in the morning”.

Drop everything and get them on the phone ASAP!

3) Not Applying All Discounts

When people fill out an online form, they don’t take it as seriously as you do.

They didn’t read the questions, they didn’t understand the questions, they probably just took all the default options to finish as fast as possible.

If you can’t get someone on the phone and you’re creating a quote to send to them, give them all the discounts they may qualify for unless you know they definitely do not qualify.

If you’re wrong and the quote increases just explain that you always try to give clients the discount first because getting every client the cheapest rate is the most important thing for your agency.

Who can argue with that?

And by the way, all your competitors are doing the same thing…

4) Not Standing Out


When you’re working an internet insurance lead, it’s a guarantee that other agents are also talking to your lead.

You absolutely need to do something to stand out or you will lose.

Every time.

Be silly, be crazy, be personal, be different. Find a way to get the lead’s attention.

5) Not Tracking Success Rates

I’ve had some funny conversations with agents about lead companies.

One agent says Company A has horrible leads and Company B has amazing ones. Another agent down the road says the complete opposite.

How can this happen?


At some point, each agent had a string of bad leads from one company or a surplus of good ones from the other provider and developed a non-scientific opinion about which one was better.

Moving forward, the psychology of confirmation bias led them to pay greater attention to the leads that supported their opinion of each.

Trust me. All lead providers are going to have hot and cold streaks but only one will actually deliver the best results for you over the long run. The only way to know for sure is to keep track of your close rates.

If you’re really smart, use this calculator to input the number of leads and the percent of sales for two different providers and determine if your difference in close ratio is statistically significant.

6) Not Allocating Leads Appropriately

Many agencies I work with allocate leads to producers in some sort of “round-robin” format. They do this because its “fair”.

Life isn’t fair.

Give your leads to the people most likely to close them.

This may mean giving the higher quality leads to your top salesperson. Or it may mean giving leads from East Bumblewood to your producer who lives there. Or it may mean giving the younger leads to the younger producer and the older leads to the older producer.

I’m sorry if this destroys your perspective of a perfectly unbiased world, but shoppers will buy more from salespeople that look, think, and live like they do.

And just because your producer’s last name is Adams doesn’t make her better qualified to close people with last names starting with letters A-L.

7) Making it Rain Internet Leads

raining-internet-leadsI understand how important it is to keep your producers busy.

But you need to make sure they have a crystal clear appreciation for the money you’re spending on every lead.

I’ve seen producers toss a lead in the trash just because they didn’t think it was going to pan out!

You don’t need to rub it in their face, but make sure your producers are acutely aware how expensive every one of these leads is.

Would they treat every lead as valuably if it were coming out of their own pocket?

I hope so.

8) Being Under-Aggressive

Of course this goes without saying in any sales situation.

But it’s especially  important with internet insurance leads because there is competition EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Your leads get a barrage of phone calls, emails, texts, and letters from insurance agents just like you!

It’s going to take some work to win that battle.

9) Being Over-Aggressive

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take an overly aggressive salesperson over the opposite any day of the week.

But there’s an upper limit to the number of unanswered phone calls you can make without looking like a psycho.

Instead of calling someone ten times a day, think about how you could get their attention and make them want to call you.

10) Living Only for Today

Don’t think of your internet leads as one-time opportunities to make a sale.

Think of an internet lead as a policy expiration date that just so happens to be coming up right now.

You can market to them every 6 or 12 months for the rest of their lives! If you’re consistent and respectful at some point you’ll win them over or sell another line of insurance instead just because they respect your persistence.

11) Not Filtering Enough

Most lead companies allow you to filter the leads you purchase to avoid prospects that would not be a good fit for your line of insurance products.

Typically the more filters you apply to your leads, the more expensive they are.

Paying twice as much for a lead with excellent credit can be hard to justify, but if you close 3 times as many it’s a no-brainer.

(Keeping track of your close rates is very valuable here.)

Consider factors outside of pure close ratio too. For example, are people with better credit, bigger houses, or better health more likely to renew and refer their friends?

12) Throwing Away Bad Leads

discarding-insurance-leadsI know it’s frustrating when your lead doesn’t qualify for your product but don’t burn it too soon.

Remember these four things:

  1. The lead’s life could change drastically in the future.
  2. The lead may have other insurance needs you can help with.
  3. The lead may have friends or family you can help.
  4. The lead was expensive.

Hold onto their information and reach out to them periodically. You might be the only agent who does.

13) Accepting False Objections

“How did you get my information, I didn’t fill out any online forms.” – Truth: Yes you did.

“I already bought another policy, sorry.” – Truth: No you didn’t.

“I changed my mind, I don’t want to change insurance.” – Truth: Yes you do.

Of course these aren’t always lies, but they often are.

In fact there are a lot more lies people will tell you because they just want you to leave them alone. Show respect and don’t call them a liar, but don’t quit too easily.

14) Burning Your Bridges

insurance-lead-mistakesThis is true in every sales interaction, but if you can’t make the sale make sure you preserve the opportunity to do so in the future.

You never know when someone may change their mind or refer you to someone else.

I mentioned above that you have to “stand out”. One way of doing so is by being the most helpful and gracious agent who didn’t make the sale.

I promise your competitors won’t do the same.

15) Relying on Internet Leads Only

I understand that internet leads have some pretty powerful advantages.

No other form of marketing can so quickly take you from money spent to money made.

With that being said, relying exclusively on internet leads for your marketing strategy is like putting all your money in one stock.

Diversify your marketing channels like you diversify your financial portfolio.

And One Last Thing…

If you know another agent who buys a lot of internet leads, would you send them a link to this article? If they’re making any of these mistakes they’ll owe you a favor.

And if you like these tips but don’t know anyone else you want to share them with, would you hit the Like button so I know  you want more material like this?


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John F. Carroll

John F. Carroll is the founder and CEO of InsuranceSplash. For years, John has consulted insurance agencies with internet marketing and sales strategy and he is dedicated to making insurance marketing easy and effective for all insurance agents. If you're an agent, connect with John on LinkedIn, he wants to connect with you!

Comments (7)

  • George


    I totally agree with the need to caclulate ROI…but it’s not about how many leads you close out of the total number of leads purchased. It’s about the quality of the account that you write. One account that you write from an internet lead with a Home/Auto/Umbrella is a much better return than one auto policy with minimum limits. So, I think the accurate measure for ‘return on investment’ is the amount of commission that you’ve generated from all the leads that you’ve purchased …compare the total amount spent on leads vs the total gross commission. That’s the ROI…and you work to keep the account for three years or more to further improve the ROI.


    • John F. Carroll


      Awesome insight George! Couldn’t agree more. Agents who track results taking that into consideration will definitely get even more accurate and actionable numbers for ROI.


  • Anmarie


    Going to print this for our Monday morning agent meeting… we have a lead program at our agency… very helpful! Thanks!


  • Jim Fitzgerald


    In my humble opinion, the foundational underpinnings of an Internet lead are in-congruent with the business equation one would construct to build a profitable book of business. To be a trusted adviser in our business necessitates utilizing a consultative approach to taking care of customer needs in an already to commoditized business environment.


    • John F. Carroll


      Thanks for the comment Mr. Fitzgerald. Took me a couple reads to grasp it all but I understand what you’re saying and I completely agree.
      I know tons of agents who sell internet leads on price alone and then can’t figure out why they lose them 12 months later. Thanks!




    Dear John F. Carroll, I am unable to understand what you mean by internet leads I shall be thankful if you could give me some more details.


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