Achieving Success with Virtual Assistants


Between staffing difficulties and the increasing push toward remote work, virtual assistants (VAs) are becoming an ever more popular option for independent agencies to get help with their workload, whether they’re reeling from the departure of an employee or need extra resources to grow and scale the business. Knowing where to start with VAs can feel daunting, but the right preparation and implementation plan will help your agency start reaping the benefits of a VA in no time.


In this article:



Benefits of VAs

A virtual assistant (VA) is an employee who works remotely from another location, often a different country. VAs are usually based in countries with lower cost of living, including Latin America, the Philippines, India, and more. This allows their services to be more cost effective than hiring an onsite employee in the US, and provides flexibility with hours if you’re not ready for a full-time employee.

VAs are typically hired through a vendor that sources the remote workers, provides quality control, and offers technical resources. You may pay on an hourly or retainer basis, depending on the vendor’s model. Generally, you train and work with the same VA (rather than rotating members), which allows them to become familiar with your agency and processes.

Here are some of the top benefits of utilizing VAs:

Reduced hiring costs
The vendor does the work of finding, vetting, and matching a VA to you. This cuts down on the time, effort, and cost of hiring a new employee and lets you get help more quickly when your team is overwhelmed or left in the lurch.

Flexible hours
If you need help but aren’t quite ready for a full-time employee, a VA is a great way to pay for the hours you need, with the ability to scale up when you need it.

Faster response time for clients
VAs can help handle client inquiries, meeting their needs faster than they might be otherwise. They can also help you provide service outside your normal office hours, if your VA has different working hours than you.

Free up your producers
VAs can offload time-consuming administrative tasks so that your licensed agents can focus on more complex work that requires their expertise.


“Using VAs at an agency allows licensed staff members to work on higher-level tasks while removing things from their desks that are time-consuming. This means happier employees, which will lead to happier clients, and more referrals.”

- Gabriela Rodriguez, Elevate Teams (HawkSoft Solution Partner)



What tasks can VAs help with?

The type of work a VA can help with usually depends on the vendor and the level of experience you’re paying for. The most basic VA services are usually best suited for administrative tasks, while insurance-specific vendors may be able to provide more experienced VAs that can function more like CSRs and handle policy servicing tasks. Some vendors may even offer VAs that hold insurance licenses, allowing them to take on more of a producer’s work.

Here are some ideas of the types of tasks that fall under each category.


Administrative tasks (little insurance knowledge needed)

  • Data entry or cleanup
  • Directing calls and emails
  • Appointment scheduling and follow-ups
  • Form and intake management
  • Payment processing
  • Reporting
  • Marketing activities (email campaigns, cold calls, social media, etc)
  • QA or file auditing


CSR tasks (some insurance knowledge needed)

  • Answering phones, email, live chat and answering basic questions
  • Quoting/rating assistance
  • New customer onboarding
  • Providing ID cards, certificates, and endorsements
  • Processing policy changes, renewals, cancellations
  • Claim intake
  • Contacting underwriters or carriers


Producer tasks (license required)

  • Binding policies
  • Providing policy or coverage recommendations
  • Authorizing policy changes, renewals, cancellations
  • Claim handling
  • Providing legal or regulatory guidance


“About 80% of our agency’s workload is unlicensed tasks, so we use a VA to help with anything that doesn’t require an insurance license.”

- Rob Bowen, Patriotic Insurance Group



What to consider when selecting a VA

In order to choose a VA vendor that’s a good fit for your team, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of both your agency’s needs and what the vendor offers. Here are some questions to consider on each side when looking at VA solutions.


Questions for your agency

  • What type of tasks do you need help with (administrative, CSR, producer, etc)?
  • Are you looking for someone that will interact with customers, or perform work behind the scenes?
  • How many hours of work do you need done per week/month? Is it a temporary or permanent need? Do you expect the needs to increase or decrease in the future?
  • Does your agency have the infrastructure and processes in place to support a remote worker?


Questions for vendors

  • Services & quality
    • What level of experience do their VAs have? Are they specific to insurance?
    • Where are the VAs based? What is the time difference from your location, and will they be working during your office hours or theirs?
    • How do they vet and train their VAs and ensure quality service?
    • How do they select a VA that’s a good fit for your agency?
    • How proficient are the VAs in English? Will there be a language barrier?
    • Do the VAs speak additional languages? Does this align with the languages your clients speak?
    • Are the VAs trained on any specific software, systems, or tools? Does this align with what your agency uses?
  • Technology
    • What technology do they provide for the VA to interface with your team, systems, and clients? Will you need additional licenses, logins, or equipment for the VA?
    • How do they ensure data security if the VA will be accessing sensitive data? Will you need to implement anything on the agency side, such as a VPN?
  • Pricing model
    • What pricing model do they use? Is there flexibility to increase or decrease hours as needed?
    • Are you tied to a particular VA, or can you switch if it isn’t working out with that person?
    • Is there a contract required for a certain period of time? Is there a trial period so you can try it out before committing?


Tips for successfully incorporating VAs into the agency

A VA can only be successful if the agency takes the time to ensure they have the training, resources, and processes in place to carry out their responsibilities. Here are some tips for getting started and achieving long-term success with VAs.


Provide thorough training and onboarding

In order for the VA to be an effective member of your team, they need to have a solid understanding of your agency and the work you do. Putting in a little more effort at the beginning of the process will ensure that they have a solid foundation to build on. “It requires an investment in comprehensive onboarding and training,” says Gabriela Rodriguez of Elevate Teams, a HawkSoft Solution Partner. “This upfront time is crucial for VAs to understand your agency's specific processes and expectations.”

A VA for admin work may not require as in-depth training, but those that will be interacting with customers or working with policies should receive the same level of training you would give a CSR. “If you lack documented operating procedures, consider using the VA training process as an opportunity to create step-by-step guides for each task,” Gabriela suggests. “Provide them with a sample workload and encourage them to follow the documented procedures. This ensures the VA is well-equipped and also creates a valuable knowledge base that benefits future team members as your agency grows.”

You may want to have the VA shadow other team members to get an understanding of the work you do and the level of service they’re expected to provide. In the beginning, they will need extra support, guidance, and monitoring to ensure they know how to handle tasks.


Outline specific expectations and goals

Because VAs are not in the office, it’s crucial to have clear communication about their responsibilities and expectations. Make sure both the VA and the rest of the team understand which tasks the VA will be handling, and have defined processes and workflows for handing off work. If the VA will be interacting with customers, ensure that they understand what types of questions or issues they can handle, and which should be escalated to another team member.

Set goals with the VA so they understand what success in their role entails and how they’re expected to perform. Make sure they have everything they feel they need in order to meet these goals, and that they know what to do if they have too much or not enough work.


Have regular check-ins to make sure needs are being met on both sides

A VA is not a piece of technology you can “set and forget.” They're a person who has needs just like you, and their performance will be better if they feel valued, respected, and supported. Have regular check-ins with the VA so they have a place to bring up questions or concerns. You can check on the progress of their projects and goals, and it’s a good opportunity to assess whether they may be ready for more complex tasks.

Finally, make sure your VA feels included and like they’re a member of the team. This may be easier if you already have remote staff members, but if there are staff in the office a remote VA may feel isolated from the rest of the team. Do your best to make sure information is always passed to the VA as well as the rest of the team, and include them in team building activities as much as possible. For example if your in-office team goes to lunch, you could send the VA a gift card to purchase a meal. The better your team’s relationship with the VA, the likelier they are to be satisfied and perform well.



Achieving virtual success

VAs are a flexible, affordable solution for increasing your agency’s productivity without the headache of hiring staff. While they shouldn’t be treated like a plug-and-play solution, a little preparation and effort from your agency can yield great results for your team and higher satisfaction for your clients.




Find VA solutions for your agency

See HawkSoft's Solution Partner page to find VA services that are partners of HawkSoft. 

   See HawkSoft Solution Partners   





Rachel Stauffer

Author: Rachel Stauffer

Rachel is the Content Manager at HawkSoft, where she focuses on creating engaging content for the independent agent community.

industry topics, remote work, hiring, virtual assistants, staffing