How To Choose Your Clients – Part I

Time is money. If you are a preferred personal lines insurance agency, you understand that concept very well. So then why have you or your staff become professional “voters?” Here is how to pre-qualify your prospects to help you grow your agency more profitably and quickly. – Stop quoting just anyone who wants a quote.…

Time is money. If you are a preferred personal lines insurance agency, you understand that concept very well. So then why have you or your staff become professional “voters?” Here is how to pre-qualify your prospects to help you grow your agency more profitably and quickly.

Stop quoting just anyone who wants a quote. Does your advertising say, “Call for a free quote?” Does anyone “charge” to do a quote? What you're really saying is that the only value you and your agency brings to the table is checking to see if you have a cheaper price. Change your advertising.

Do fewer quotes-get a higher “close” ratio. What's your agencies “close” ratio? You will not want to know this unless you're concerned about how much time you and your staff is wasting. Out of 100 quotes done, if you're closing 40% or 40, maybe you're thinking that's pretty good! You do not get paid to quote, so maybe you should not be willing to quote everyone who calls. But what if you closed 80%? You would have had more time to spend properly analyzing the risk and educating the right prospects rather than wasting time doing quotes for prospects you should not want to have as clients.

Other professionals pre-qualify prospects. Attorneys, Doctors and CPA's for example do not do business with just anyone. The last attorney I deal with was only willing to talk to me because a friend of his had referred me. Doctors qualify you by the insurance you carry or your ailment. CPA's qualify you based on your “net worth.” As an “Insurance Professional”, why do you take “all comers?”

So- who should you disqualify?

The prospect wants to write one policy. Agents tend to think that the first policy will get their “foot in the door.” You “plan” to write the other policies later. Writing one policy is not in your or your clients' best interest. If you only write one policy for a client, the likelihood that you will keep that policy for more than six months or a year is very small. Commission is coming down. The cost of client acquisition is going up. You will not make a profit on that one policy. It's costing you money to do business that way. One client has 3-5 personal insurance policies on average. You need to be writing at least 3 to keep that client for multiple years to grow your business. With all the account discounts available from carriers and the potential for coverage gaps, why would a prospect not want to place all of their business with you right away if they understand this?

There is additional information on pre-qualifying prospects in my next article. Hope you will consider changing how you do business to improve your business.

How To Choose Your Clients – Part II

Preferred personal lines prospects need to be pre-screened. This article concludes some additional ways to pre-qualify prospects to make sure you are doing business with people who will help your agency grow profitably and quickly. Here are additional prospects that should be disqualified. – Prospect is not willing to insure properly. If you think a…

Preferred personal lines prospects need to be pre-screened. This article concludes some additional ways to pre-qualify prospects to make sure you are doing business with people who will help your agency grow profitably and quickly. Here are additional prospects that should be disqualified.

Prospect is not willing to insure properly. If you think a prospect is not giving you accurate information or is willing to “cut too many corners” on their insurance program; there is a much higher likelihood this will be a “problem” client in the long run. Move on to the next prospect.

Prospect is too knowledgeable . Most people know very little about insurance and how it works. If you have a prospect that knows too much of the “lingo” or procedures or has specific claims questions, this can be a definite warning sign to end the conversation.

Prospect has wrong “attitude” towards insurance. To be efficient, you will want to pre-screen prospects over the phone before you spend additional time and resources on them. Think about a question or two that will give you information on how they view insurance and what it should be used for. If you do not like the answer and it can not be corrected through education, steer clear! Insurance should not be expected to fix every problem or be considered a “maintenance” policy.

Prospect has an unusual issue or coverage need. We all like helping people solve a problem. Sometimes, prospects have needs that can be time consuming to research and resolve. Be careful to weigh the cost benefit of working with folks where you or your carriers do not have expertise or appetite.

Prospect does not want to follow your advise. Hopefully, you've been able to screen out folks early in the process that want low deductibles or low limits. You will occasionally learn later in the process that your prospect has an exposure that they were not forthcoming about. Maybe it's the pit bull that's just going to be visiting for a “few months.” Whatever it is that leaves that “uneasy” feeling in your stomach-go with your gut and do not write the policy!

The insurance business today is very different than doing business even 10 years ago. Agents are still trying to figure out the best way to do it. The access to information where people can do research on what they want is more available than ever so we as agents have to be on top of our game to grow profitably. It's important to work “smarter” therefore because the number of hours in the day has not changed.

Why Should a Professional Insurance Designation Be In Your Future?

Let's face it-most of us started our careers in insurance because we had gotten a degree that we really could not do much with and we needed a job to pay the bills. That was my story. Sound familiar? I basically “fell” into insurance. I started at the bottom and worked my way up. I…

Let's face it-most of us started our careers in insurance because we had gotten a degree that we really could not do much with and we needed a job to pay the bills. That was my story. Sound familiar? I basically “fell” into insurance. I started at the bottom and worked my way up. I did have a degree so I was at least “trainable.”

Honestly, my plan was not to stay in insurance. I was always somewhat embarrassed to tell people that I worked in insurance because once I mentioned it-it always seemed like the person I was talking to had some horror story about a claim that they just had to tell me about …

So, I got another design degree – about as useless as the first one. (I guess I'm a slow learner!) This was about seven years after my BA degree. What I finally realized is that I would have to start at the “bottom” again in this new field and I decided that I really could not stomach “starving” again. I was making a pretty good living at that time in insurance. My pay would have been cut in half if I tried to make the move.

That's when I finally realized that Insurance could be how I make a living and Design could be my hobby. I also realized what I really enjoyed about working in insurance. My job allowed me to work with people, constantly face new challenges and be creative solving problems. I'm very proud to say that it's a great industry and I feel fortunate to be a part of it.

I received my Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) design about ten years after that second “useless” degree. I basically thought of those five years as accomplishing something rather than watching television. It was the best thing that I ever did for myself! Itave me credibility. It means that you're serious about your career. I was given respect and it opened doors to better positions. It also gives me the confidence to participate in leadership positions in insurance organizations outside of work and speak to groups on various insurance topics.

Frankly, I believe everyone should have a CPCU design. Everyone should have a basic knowledge of Law, Accounting, Economics and Insurance to successfully understand how business and the economy works.

I recently opened an independent insurance agency with a respected co-worker. I can not help thinking that my CPCU design prompted my willingness to take on this new challenge. I just hope your journey is as fulfilling and interesting as mine has been so far. I recommend that you do not wait so long to get your career really started.

Condo Homeowners – What Makes These a Tough Exposure to Insure Properly

Condos, Townhomes, Row Houses and Attached Homes- Oh My! There are many names for exposures that may seem similar but can have some very different insurance needs. There are six main reasons why these risks are difficult to insure properly: – Insuring space vs. owning land- Typically , if the exposure is to insure the…

Condos, Townhomes, Row Houses and Attached Homes- Oh My! There are many names for exposures that may seem similar but can have some very different insurance needs. There are six main reasons why these risks are difficult to insure properly:

Insuring space vs. owning land- Typically , if the exposure is to insure the living space and not the land, then the risk should be written on an HO-6 form. When the insured owners the land also and there is a firewall between the insured property and the neighbor (s), these are generally written on the HO-3 form. Either way, insuring them with the proper amount of lodging coverage (Cov A) is key here.

Is there a Homeowners Association? If there is a HO Association, it is imperative that the agent reviews the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC & R's) of the association and master association policy. These will tell you what the insured is responsible to insure. This is especially important if you have a client that has owned the condo for some time. The master policies written to insure the buildings and common areas have changed dramatically over the years. Associations have switched to large deductibles and less coverage to make the amount that the association has to pay for insurance more affordable. The individual unit owner must be sure to fill in any gaps in coverage with their own policy. The other issue for your client (if you have an opportunity to counsel them before they purchase) is the solvency of the association. With the economy being depressed the past few years, insolvency of associations have grown. Owners not paying dues, associations being mismanaged and aging buildings requiring maintenance have all contributed to the problem. Before your client signs on the dotted line, they need to see some audited financial statements to see how good of a deal the home really is!

How much lodging coverage is needed? How often have I seen a lot of confusion regarding how much lodging coverage is adequate? More often than not, clients are required to insure from the “studies” in. (Remember the CC & R discussion earlier?) All of the drywall, wall coverings (including the $ 200 per roll grasscloth wallpaper), cabinets, plumbing fixtures, floor covering and lighting fixtures need lodging coverage. You need to determine an amount per square foot determined by the quality of the surfaces being used. This coverage is definitely not one size fits all.

A tale of two Loss Assessments. There are two main types of loss assessments that could be faced by this type of homeowner. The first is generally insurable. If there is a covered loss, fire damage to a building for example; the insured could be liable to pay his share of the association master policy deductible (which could be thousands of dollars.) Again, the CC & R's should include information on this. The other type of assessment that is more difficult to get insurance for is a “maintenance type” loss assessment. Let's say it's time to replace the roofs of all the buildings in the association. There may not be enough money in the HO association bank account to be able to pay for this, so individual unit owners can be assessed to pay the difference. Not every carrier has this type of loss assessment available so you need to make your client aware of this exposure.

Some exposures are tough to insure. The main ones that come to mind are Earthquake Loss Assessment and Earthquake Sprinkler Leakage (EQSL). These are coverage's that can be difficult for an individual unit owner to obtain. If available- are you offering them?

Increased Liability Disclosure. Stuff happens. If your client leaves the water running for too long in the bathtub and water overflows and goes down through the walls into the unit (s) below, the liability exposure can be huge! This is an exposure that you do not have with a stand alone lodging. Be sure to give your client adequate liability limits.

I tend to believe that the Condo owner is one of the more difficult personal exposures to properly insure because there are so many variables possible. These policies tend to not get the “care” needed to write them properly due to the relatively low premium involved. I hope you'll think about what you can do to offer your clients the best coverage available.

Types of Insurance Agents: A Basic Guide

There are many times in your life when you'll need to purchase insurance. Some of those times are fairly straightforward, and you can easily compare plans on your own and make an informed decision. However, there are also times when choosing the right plan, or even finding out what types of plans are available are…

There are many times in your life when you'll need to purchase insurance. Some of those times are fairly straightforward, and you can easily compare plans on your own and make an informed decision. However, there are also times when choosing the right plan, or even finding out what types of plans are available are not so clear-cut. For example, when you're buying insurance for your small business, when you're buying house insurance, or when you're buying life insurance, you're making some very important decisions about a very complex topic.

When you are shopping for insurance that could impact your life in such a serious way, it's a good idea to find an insurance agent to help you decide on a policy that's right for you. There are three basic types of insurance professionals who can be of assistance:

Independent Insurance Agent

An independent insurance agent is an agent that is not in the employment of a single insurance company. Typically, the agent will work with a select number of companies, helping clients to choose policies from one of them. This can be helpful because different insurance company's policies may have different strengths and weaknesses, with which the agent is familiar. An independent agent is a good option if you're not sure which company you want to go to, but you know that the price ranges and coverages they offer will be comparable to one another. In essence, you just need the agent to make sure you're getting the best deal.

Captive Insurance Agent

A captive insurance agent is one which works only for one specific company. Obviously, this type of agent is the right choice when you already know you want a policy from that insurance company. These agents will help you to compare different policies to determine which coverage and price point are right for you. They'll just be policies from the same company, that's all. Sometimes clients already hold one type of insurance with a particular company, and prefer to buy new policies from the same company.

Insurance Broker

Insurance brokers are not agents in that they do not directly sell policies. Working with insurance brokers is typically reserved for the most complex insurance needs. Insurance brokers contact agents from many different insurance companies to determine what policies are available, how much they cost, and what type of coverage you can hope to receive. An insurance broker may even negotiate with insurance agents to bring the price down.

Another reason you may wish to use an insurance broker is if you want a highly customized insurance policy. If you're looking for an insurance agency that has policies which can be tailor to your exact needs, an insurance broker could be a helpful resource. However, more and more insurance agencies are recognizing that there is a large demand for personalized policies. As a result, you may find an agency which offers such policies relatively easily, wherever you are.

5 Tips For Insurance Referral Prospecting

Selling is a very important function to any business. A company may have beautiful projections, attractive brochures and marketing materials and a message that resonates well with the public. Its mission and values ​​may be succinctly spelled and understood by its target market but until a sales person actually delivers on the company's promise, there…

Selling is a very important function to any business. A company may have beautiful projections, attractive brochures and marketing materials and a message that resonates well with the public. Its mission and values ​​may be succinctly spelled and understood by its target market but until a sales person actually delivers on the company's promise, there is no business relationship. Without sales, companies do not have a guarantee for the future. This is especially true for insurance companies, which sell intangibles.

Insurance agents must always prospect for new business in order to keep the sales cycle active. Prospecting is the hardest bit of selling because it involves getting out of one's comfort zone and facing the possibility of rejection. We all hate rejection. If there was a simple and sure way of growing your business with minimal pain would you be willing to try it? The truth is, there is no painless way.

The following are 5 simple tips that will help insurance marketers and agents grow their business by getting referrals.

1. Ask for References: This is a very obvious step but rarely used by most sales people. When was the last time you asked for a referral from your existing clients? Think about it, you can get a lot of business by asking your existing customers to refer you to somebody they know. As simple as it sounds, most agents are actually guilty of not asking for referrals. Try it, it does not hurt to ask.

2. Nesting in Your Target Market: Trust is an essential ingredient in selling. You want to gain a reputation of trust before your client start giving you referrals. Establish yourself in you area of ​​interest as an advisor without necessarily pitching yourself. People do not want to be sold to. People want to buy. References will grow from your “nest” gradually as your credibility and reputation grows by the day.

3. Excellent Service: You can service your accounts without necessarily bending over backwards to please your clients. This will create loyalty and who does not want that? Want to get unlimited referrals, serve your customers well. Listen to them and endeavor to resolve their issues with speed. Word of mouth will work for you.

4. Work closely with your competition: Insurance agents forget that their competitors understand clearly what they offer. It is very clear that no matter how good your pitch is, some customers will always be loyal to their current providers. Try to cooperate with other insurance agents and marketers in the industry.

5. Network, Network and Network: The Importance of networking for a sales agent / marketer can not be undressed. By positioning yourself well and networking with people in other industries, you are bound to get endless referrals.

Having mentioned all this, get up and start asking for referrals. I wish you all the best.

Personal Insurance Underwriting – A Lost Art

According to Wikipedia, “Underwriting involves measuring risk exposure and determining the premium that needs to be charged to insure that risk.” Oh- but if it were only that easy! Measuring risk exposure is very different now than it was even ten years ago. As an Insurance Agency, are you considering how you measure risk in…

According to Wikipedia, “Underwriting involves measuring risk exposure and determining the premium that needs to be charged to insure that risk.” Oh- but if it were only that easy! Measuring risk exposure is very different now than it was even ten years ago. As an Insurance Agency, are you considering how you measure risk in order to grow your business in the most profitable way possible?

  • Comparative Raters: The single most destructive tool to the art ofwriting! If a company has the cheapest price, they must “want” that business- right? Wrong. Companies must file in personal insurance with the Dept. of Insurance for that state to update rules or pricing. With the speed of information today and the speed of competitor changes, most companies have great difficulty keeping up with changes in the marketplace. Especially in light of the fact that they have to “file” to make changes to their products and pricing which can take months and requested changes do not always get approved.
  • Carrier Appetite: If you're an Independent Agent, you're probably doing business with way too many markets. With changes coming from carriers almost on a weekly basis nowdays- how can you or your staff possibly be knowledgeable about what all of your carrier's appetites are?
  • Auto Insurance has become commoditized: It's our own fault; the industry now advertises this product especially on television commercials as only being differentiated by price. That is far from the truth. Contracts vary wildly and companies have specific appetites for certain types of risks.
  • Meeting Expectations: Underwriting is a two-way street. You should be “qualifying” the risk to match a carrier's appetite but also matching the consumer's expectations of what is important to them about their insurance program to which carrier will best provide that.
  • Failure to Communicate: There are way too many “Insurance Professionals” assuming that price is the most important consideration to a client when choosing a personal insurance program. You know what they say about assuming …
  • Insurance Interrogation: Yes- we need a certain amount of information to analyze a risk. Think about how you are asking your questions and are you explaining why you need the information?
  • Seller Beware: Consumers are extremely savvy today about what they should say to get the coverage they want. They may no longer “own” Spike, the Pit-bull after talking to a few insurance agents and are finding themselves unable to get homeowner's insurance.

Underwriting a risk still involves developing a relationship with a prospect and matching their expectations with a carrier that has an appetite for their risk profile. Can you do that and properly analyze the assets your prospect may have “at risk” in 71/2 or 15 minutes? Is it worth taking the proper amount of time to profitably grow your business and do the right job for your clients? It's up to you.

Insurance Companies in Bangladesh

In the context of Bangladesh it is essential to have partnership between private and public sectors and NGOs to implement IBI. The public sector role would be to set a policy and regulatory framework in place to ensure reliability of insurance services and protection of those purchasing insurance products. SBC and larger private banks can…

In the context of Bangladesh it is essential to have partnership between private and public sectors and NGOs to implement IBI. The public sector role would be to set a policy and regulatory framework in place to ensure reliability of insurance services and protection of those purchasing insurance products. SBC and larger private banks can serve as reinsurers as private companies will want reinsurance support before introducing crop insurance. NGOs and MRs are best placed to implement at the grassroots level due to their existing network and reach in rural areas.

Salesperson or Sales Manager: Which Career Should You Pick

Sales is a wonderful position. If you choose to be involved in it you can decide to become either a salesperson or a sales manager. But how do you decide which position is best for you. Let us look more closely at whatever position is and what it takes to be successful in each. Sales…

Sales is a wonderful position. If you choose to be involved in it you can decide to become either a salesperson or a sales manager. But how do you decide which position is best for you. Let us look more closely at whatever position is and what it takes to be successful in each.

Sales – you have the responsibility of presenting your products to the public. In order to do this successfully you need to know your product, know your client and know how to sell. Just because you offer something people need and probably want not mean they will purchase from you.

What makes a good salesperson is to have someone who can consistently provide sales to your company; they are nice to your customers and build a referral base because of how well they do their job. Sales is the backbone of American companies and without it, most corporations would crumble and fall by the wayside.

For the person who likes working with different people each day, who wants some control over their income and to be rewarded for their efforts, a sales career could be right up your alley.

Sales Managers – this role seems to have some confusion for many people. I have had managers in the past who felt like they were salespeople who managed instead of managers who had sales people. There is a big difference.

A good sales manager knows their job is to manage the sales people under them. They need to make sure their agents have all the tools that they need to do their job, engaging in making sure their staff is trained in both sales and product knowledge and helps them to get paid as quickly as possible on all submitted business. When managers run around constantly trying to outsell their sales people you do not have a manager; you have a confused agent trying to wear two hats and not really succeeding as well as they could if they would focus on one position.

That is the real key to making it either as a salesperson or as a manager; focus. Why do you do what you do? Where should you be spending the major of your time?
If you are sales, I can tell you that all the other activities you do should lead to a sales opportunity because that is the only way you will make money. If you are in management you should be mentoring and training your staff to become as great as they can be. That is the acid test of a truly great manager.

I do not know which position suits you best. But please, pick one and become the best at it you can.

Six Simple Steps For Effective Insurance Agency Blogs

Insurance agency blogs help attract website visitors, showcase expertise, and improve social media marketing and insurance search engine optimization. Every insurance agency website can and should have a blog.

Insurance agency blogs help attract website visitors, showcase expertise, and improve social media marketing and insurance search engine optimization. Every insurance agency website can and should have a blog.