Is accepting a counter offer a good idea?


Should I accept a counter offer?


Every year has a theme with insurance employment.  Last year was the year of the counter offer.  As insurance recruiters, we can typically smell a pending counteroffer a mile away.  The insurance job candidate will give send us many indications based on their level of enthusiasm, the questions asked or not asked, the frequency or infrequency of communication, etc.  In short, we know that something is awry.


Please recognize that this is not an unusual situation and your insurance recruiter isn’t going to be angry with you – but we need to know what is transpiring.   We have an obligation to counsel both parties, and an employer may have a second choice waiting in the wings for a position they need to fill.  As an insurance recruiter, we will counsel you not to accept a counter offer.  An insurance candidate may understandably view this as biased, but truly it is not.  This is why we encourage you to do your own independent research on the subject.  You can find several credible sources on the internet that will provide you with the potential pitfalls and statistics relating to accepting a counter offer.   Below are some of the key points you will find, but there are many others as well.  The bottom line is that you should be extremely cautious about accepting a counter offer.


  • Statistics show that more than 80% of people who accept a counter offer end up leaving or being terminated within one year.


  • The employment relationship is forever altered.  A counter offer may be extended due to panic at the thought of losing an employee, but once the moment has passed loyalty can be called into question and resentment may build from feeling that they were strong armed into a salary increase.


  • Unless your motivation was strictly monetary, nothing has changed.  Promises may be made, but ultimately once the crisis is over things will most likely remain the same as they were.


  • Sometimes the counter offer is just a delay tactic while your replacement is found.


  • Your reputation with the other employer is damaged.  It is highly unlikely that they would ever consider offering you another position.


Some relationships are meant to end.  Perhaps the employee has outgrown the position, perhaps the culture of the company has changed and it is no longer a good fit for either party.  Fear of change can hold both parties back from moving forward when they really should.  We see this play out time and again, with the vast majority of people accepting counter offers being either let go or resigning again within a 12 month period.


If you were directed to this article by your insurance recruiter and ultimately decide to accept a counter offer, we will tell you what we always tell insurance professionals – don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call us when it doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.


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Yes, this is true even in a conservative industry such as insurance.  For a successful experience, the details and subtleties are important.   Please give some thought to the following with regard to insurance staffing.


Your organization has a reputation to uphold.  Even if you do not wish to extend an offer to the insurance job candidate, you want that candidate to have a good experience.  If your job candidate is ever asked about your company, you want their answer to be that they interviewed there and thought it was a great company but it just didn’t work out.  This is just what you would want a person you dated to tell someone that inquired about you.  What you don’t want is for the insurance job candidate to tell all about their awful interview experience where they felt rejected and disrespected.   Your insurance recruiting agency can help you to create positive candidate experiences.

How do you create a good insurance job candidate experience?  It is just like dating.

  1. If you are interested in the candidate, invite them for an interview in a timely manner.  If you are not interested, let them know that in a timely manner.
  2. Provide feedback.  You don’t have to go into great detail, but some feedback after an interview is customary.  Your insurance recruiter can assist with how to deliver positive feedback even if the candidate is not right for the insurance position.
  3. Make sure the process moves along at a good pace.  Long gaps between interviews create uncertainty with a job candidate.  Uncertainty lowers the likelihood of the job candidate making a move to your company.  This is especially true in the insurance industry where many candidates are risk adverse!
  4. Don’t make the mistake of over-underwriting.  A recruiting process that is too long or contains too many interviews or assessments will ultimately turn off a good insurance candidate.  After a certain point, you aren’t going to gain much more useful information.  What is reasonable?  For the average position, no more than 2-3 interviews and 1-2 assessments or profiles.  All of this should take place within 2-3 weeks if possible.  Positions with more responsibility will take longer – this is an average.
  5. Counter offers are becoming increasingly common.  Talented insurance professionals are in demand and they are sometimes reluctant to “break up” with their employer even when they are unhappy in the relationship.  An effective courtship will help tip the scales and convince them they could be in a better relationship.
  6. Don’t make an offer unless you are fairly sure it will be accepted.  There are many variables that go into an accepted offer other than salary.  The delivery and timing of the offer is also important.  There are many things that can be done to prevent the acceptance of counter offers and other undesirable outcomes.  Consult with your insurance recruiter before making an offer.
  7. Make the insurance job candidate feel welcome.  Keep in touch between the offer/acceptance and the start date.   Realize that they are taking a leap of faith and provide a bridge between their prior insurance position and your company.



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South East Michigan Independent Insurance Agency Survey Results 2014

                      Southeastern Michigan Survey Results 2014


After a long winter, here comes the sun!

The independent agencies that were able to weather the recession have returned to profitability.  A slow but steadily recovering economy has helped, but agencies have also become more efficient and strategic.  The adaptations that were forced by the recession have created more streamlined and flatter organizations.


Due to attrition and growth, hiring demands have been very strong.  Locally we have a shortage of experienced candidates.  We lost a good part of the workforce during the recession to early retirements, career changers, and relocations.  At the same time, organizations suspended or cancelled their training programs during the worst years and now there is also a gap in the pipeline of younger people entering the industry.


We decided to conduct a survey this year because we received many individual inquiries from our agency clients regarding local trends in compensation, benefits, and the business in general during the past year.  Many of the national resources for benchmarking do not address the unique business climate of SE Michigan.


The results that follow were compiled from independent agencies located in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, Livingston & Washtenaw counties.  If there was a discernable difference between counties we have noted it.  We have also included data that we have gathered informally from active candidates and client companies in order to make sure that each segment was equally represented in the summary.  

Agency Revenue 

The reported differences between 2012 and 2013 were fairly consistent between agencies.  All responding agencies reported an increase in revenue between 5 and 10%.  We have seen demonstrated financial health among our client agencies, with many again looking to invest in producer hires and book purchases.


On average, agencies are at a flat headcount, or up by 1-2 employees.  Most agencies do not anticipate adding to staff in 2014.  The average revenue per employee was $124,927, although this was a large range (from approximately $88,000-$180,000).

Employee Benefits 

100% of the agencies reporting offer group medical benefits of some type.  All agencies reported an increase in their group health insurance premiums, with most ranging between 9 and 12%.  One agency reported more than a 50% increase.  Coverage offerings seem to have remained consistent, with some reductions in HSA contributions or small increases in employee contribution amount.  None of the responding agencies planned on eliminating their group health plan.

Flex time / Remote Office

30% of reporting agencies do allow flex time for their workers.  The vast majority of these agencies have set work shifts that employees may utilize.  Only two agencies specifically mentioned working from home under certain circumstances and only for certain categories of employees.  80% of reporting agencies have part-time employees in several categories, notably clerical and receptionist positions.


The below compensation levels reflect a combination of long term employees and recent hires. It is important to note that if we had restricted the compensation numbers to people hired in the calendar year 2013, the averages would have increased.  This is an employee market, and salaries are rising in order to entice people to make a move.

*Macomb and Livingston counties had slightly lower salaries for each category.


Compensation   by position – Average



Commercial AM


Commercial CSR


Personal AM


Emp. Benefits AM


Emp. Benefits CSR/






Producer Compensation

There are as many variations here as there are producers in the workforce.  

  • Average commissions paid were 39% on new business and 37% on      renewal.
  • The lowest reported was 25% on new and 30% on renewal.  Not surprisingly, the lower commissions      correlated with providing a base salary and/or draw against commissions.
  • A straight commission producer (no base, no draw) was paid an      average of 47% on new and 47% on renewal.
  • The majority of reporting agencies paid commission on all      accounts, regardless of revenue amount generated.  Those that did have thresholds set the      guidelines between $1 and $5k.

Training & Development

The majority of responding agencies require that their service staff is licensed.  If it is not “required” it is encouraged.  Most agencies preferred online continuing education courses or carrier sponsored classes.

30% of responding agencies had hired someone without insurance experience in the past year.  Training was mostly one-on-one with experienced staff members.  Sometimes this was supplemented by carrier sponsored classes and/or online tutorials.  Overall the outcomes have been very good, although time consuming.  The positions which were hired/trained for included personal and commercial lines assistants and producers.

Miscellaneous Questions 

The use of service centers and the likelihood of considering outsourcing for policy checking remained relatively unchanged from our 2009 survey:


Utilize   Service Centers67.0%65.0%
 Consider   outsourcing
(policy   checking) 18.0%12.0%


  • Most agencies provide 2-3 weeks of vacation and 3-5 personal/sick days.  The least amount offered was 1 week for the first year.
  • The multiples cited in recent book purchases ranged from 1.00-1.25, however only 2 agencies reported.
  • 57% of agencies report having a no social media policy during work hours.
  • Cell phone use was generally allowed, but there were several comments regarding overuse.  We heard a lot about this during the past year or so, with agencies struggling with setting limits without banning them entirely.
  •  18% of agencies report losing a carrier or broker contract in the past year due to volume demands.


Many of the employers we talk with have shared that although they are seeing profitability rise again, business is more challenging than ever.  There is general financial health with our agency clients and a cautious optimism for continued growth.

Hiring was very strong in 2013, much of it due to pent up demand and a willingness to invest in additions to staff.

We hope that this information is useful to you.  We appreciate your participation and value your business.  Please let us know your thoughts and feedback!



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2013 Insurance Staffing Mid-Year Review

Where are all the insurance job candidates?

Many agencies and carriers struggled to find qualified insurance professionals for their open positions in 2012, and we are seeing that trend continue with insurance staffing in 2013.

  • Our industry has a large percentage of baby boomers looking forward to retirement, or scaling back and working part time or contract positions.  They are not looking for a career growth opportunity.


  • The few remaining insurance recruitment/training programs were scaled back significantly during the recession, and millennials are going to college longer and pursuing advanced degrees.  Often this prices them out of an entry level position within the industry.


  • The fear factor.  Even though we have seen a significant recovery in insurance jobs, the recession is still fresh in the minds of insurance professionals.  Stability and seniority are important to many of the insurance job candidates we speak with, and they are more reluctant to take a chance on a new opportunity as a result.


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Trends That Will Affect Insurance Job Staffing in 2013

There are some unique environmental trends at play that will affect insurance job staffing in 2013.  This year will be shaped by a challenging insurance employment market. The market is shifting away from a buyer’s market. As a result there are two key issues that need to be explored as hiring managers and companies think about their insurance staffing needs for 2013.

A reality check of hiring expectations

Despite continued high unemployment, many companies in 2012 struggled to find qualified insurance professional applicants for their openings. While this is a result in some part of real shifts in required job skills, it is also a reflection of the more detailed and demanding selection criteria that has developed in the current “buyer’s” employment market. Businesses will need to confront this environment as the new normal and respond accordingly.

During the recession it was possible to demand exactly the experience and background you were seeking as an employer, and to be able to find a qualified candidate with reasonable salary expectations. Currently, most companies will need to relax their stringent selection criteria and focus on bright people with great attitudes that can learn the skills that they do not already possess.

Growing awareness of the importance of the candidate experience

As businesses contend with the continued lack of qualified insurance candidates (perceived or real), it will trigger more intense competition for select insurance professionals. As a result, companies will focus more on wooing talent, in part by delivering a distinctive and appealing candidate experience during the recruiting process.

A great candidate experience requires timely communication, feedback, and a display of courtesy with regard to scheduling and interview techniques. This is very important for employers to realize, especially in a tight market. Even if the employer does not ultimately extend an insurance job offer to the candidate – a particularly bad candidate experience will be shared with other potential candidates that are known to that individual. It is a small industry – it is important to take some small measures to maintain a positive employment reputation.

President of Allison Personnel Service, Tricia Millstead is licensed in property & casualty, life & health, and surplus lines. In addition to attaining her CIC and ARM designations, she also holds a BBA with concentrations in marketing and finance and graduate studies in organizational psychology.
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2012 Year-End Recap of Michigan Insurance Employment & Salary Trends

2012 has been a very active year for Michigan insurance jobs. The market is shifting from an employer’s market to an employee’s market in many segments. Salaries have been stagnant and workloads have been high in many insurance organizations. We have seen quite a bit of movement with insurance professionals looking for better employment options now that the economy is showing signs of recovery. We have seen more job offers declined if the salary differential was small. Other areas of concern with potential job changers were vacation time and benefit waiting periods.

Below is a recap of 2012 regarding what we have seen relative to salaries and other trends.

Personal Lines

Salaries are ranging from $30-47k for Michigan insurance positions. This still continues to be an area of high demand as the market hardens and insurance companies are requiring more underwriting information from the agencies. Additionally many policyholders are shopping their insurance renewals, creating more service work with remarketing in order to retain business. It remains challenging to find qualified personal lines CSRs with independent agency experience. Unfortunately we are an aging industry and continue to struggle with attracting and training new people.

Commercial Lines Account Managers/Marketing Managers

Salaries range from $50k+ depending on types of accounts and revenue handled. Some positions provide a bonus based upon retention. Salary levels are rising as truly qualified candidates are not willing to move laterally as they might have done in the past few years. We anticipate that the demand for experienced commercial account managers will continue in 2013. There will be a need for experienced insurance professionals that can negotiate with insurance carriers on terms as the market continues to harden.

Commercial Lines CSR or Client Support

Salaries range from $40-55k. There is still a high demand for qualified insurance candidates for these positions, which may range from a CSR that handles a small business desk to a CSR that supports an account management team on larger commercial insurance accounts.

Employee Benefits Account Managers

Salaries range from $45-70k+ depending on the book of business handled and the size of employer groups. We are finding many brokers and agencies targeting larger employer groups with the uncertainty of healthcare reform and insurance exchanges. Experience with self funding options is in high demand.

Benefits Analysts

Salaries range from 40-60k+ depending on experience levels. These candidates are in high demand, particularly if they have superior Excel skills and experience with self funding.

Part Time Service Positions

Hourly rates ranging from $17.00-$22.00 per hour for licensed insurance professionals in both personal lines and commercial lines. We saw a significant increase in part time insurance employment this year.

Commercial Producers and Sales Agents

There is consistent demand for producers, however, there was a reluctance to provide base salaries and draws throughout the recession. We did see hiring with base salaries this year, although the pace was slower and the hiring process longer. We anticipate higher demand in 2013, as most agencies had a good financial year in 2012 and are once again able to invest in organic growth.

Insurance Agency Claims Professionals

Salaries ranging from $50-60k. We saw more hiring in this area in 2012. Most positions were created by attrition. We still are not seeing additions to staff in this area, however, we anticipate greater demand in 2013 as the market continues to harden.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact me at your convenience!

President of Allison Personnel Service, Tricia Millstead is licensed in property & casualty, life & health, and surplus lines. In addition to attaining her CIC and ARM designations, she also holds a BBA with concentrations in marketing and finance and graduate studies in organizational psychology.
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