Mobile Marketing Tips for Insurance Agents and Brokers to Increase Leads

Mobile marketing is increasingly being used to launch new campaigns. With traditional marketing channels phasing out mobile marketing is the effective use of mobile devices to advertise and launch promotions and campaigns, specifically via SMS (Short Message Service) text messaging to target audiences. The world today has become so connected with increasing number of apps…

Mobile marketing is increasingly being used to launch new campaigns. With traditional marketing channels phasing out mobile marketing is the effective use of mobile devices to advertise and launch promotions and campaigns, specifically via SMS (Short Message Service) text messaging to target audiences.

The world today has become so connected with increasing number of apps available to consumers who want business information delivered in few words and available for reading on the fly. Thanks to the explosion of Internet-enabled mobile devices, you and your customers can now communicate on the go. Studies by the Pew Internet Project report confirmed that 84 percent of adults in the United States own a mobile phone, and 43 percent of them own an iPhone, Blackberry, or a similar smartphone. Also 88 percent of smartphone users access the Internet or email on their device and two-thirds of users do so daily.

Increasingly, just as how the home broadband Internet connection remains always on, the mobile phone environment seems to be ever available.

For you to develop a sound mobile marketing project there are creative ways you can deliver on mobile devices marketing that encourage customer interaction. You create a marketing strategy to take advantage of this unique marketing tool and consider the following mobile marketing tips in the development of a robust mobile campaign :

  • Offer incentives in order to receive in return. Endeavor to offer incentives such as expand your service with special promotions and send a mobile message or link to a coupon for the discount or special service you are offering. You can also provide additional opportunities such as access to relevant information (news alerts, local event information, weather alerts, etc.), or mobile content (“tip of the week” or trivia question messaging) to increase take rates and consumer participation.
  • Use mobile marketing channels to confirm and set appointments . You can use mobile marketing to schedule appointments. Nothing is more immediate than doing it via text.
  • Customize your mobile phone device with icon-based links to business apps and videos . Mobile phones have become even more popular as personal devices used to manage consumers' lives with scheduling, banking, GPS, and games management functionality. As such, you may want to make your mobile strategy easy to access and more importantly, relevant and personal.
  • Consider the mobile phone as a productivity tool as well as a source of entertainment . Design your mobile marketing offers with an inherent sense of value or urgency to drive a mobile response by providing consumers with either meaningful information or entertainment in bite-size chunks as consumers always look to mobile as a source of engagement and entertainment.
  • Endeavor to be in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act . Legally you need to. Have a formal or informal opt-in process in place and include a way your clients can opt-out in the future.
  • Give mobile customers what they need. The most thought-after information (a company's hours, locations, and directions) and popular features should be front and center where customers can easily find them.
  • Encourage reviews on the run . Encourage customers to share their thoughts about your product or service. Be sure you stay on top of any customer reviews posted about your company.

With the market so connected and more mobile technologies springing up, enabling businesses and customers to stay connected, regardless of location, the growing popularity of gadgets and apps can support your marketing and let you package your business information to better reach a wider audience. Mobile marketing therefore creates some unique opportunities for savvy business professionals to market products and services to a market leader.

Securus Vs NAA – What Is an Insurance Marketing Organization?

Securus and NAA are both fairly large Insurance Marketing Organizations (IMO). IMOs primarily function as a major and marketing resource for both independent and captive agents. They also function as the liaison between an agent and the various carriers. Some Insurance Marketing Organizations allow you to contract with carriers in and outside of their portfolio…

Securus and NAA are both fairly large Insurance Marketing Organizations (IMO). IMOs primarily function as a major and marketing resource for both independent and captive agents. They also function as the liaison between an agent and the various carriers.

Some Insurance Marketing Organizations allow you to contract with carriers in and outside of their portfolio while others only contract captive agents. This means their agents can only contract with the carriers in which they are contracted or can only sell their suite of products. Both Securus and NAA are non-captive. Although it may or may not be to your advantage, you can contract with other carriers while maintaining a contract with them.

Once you contract with a carrier through either of these companies generally, you can not contract with the same carrier independently or through another IMO for a period of six months to a year. Most waiting periods are only six months but with NAA it could be as long as twelve months. Some carriers do offer dual contracting; however, they can only offer you a contract that's equal or lower than your current contract.

While there are many differences between NAA and Securus, I found the major differences in their lead purchasing structure and their training platform. If you plan to ever build a team of agents, you will want to ensure that you understand lead purchasing as it relates to you and your team as a whole. You will also want to know the quality and the cost of training. Viable lead sources and or programs and proper life insurance sales training are two of the major keys to long-term success in the insurance industry.

With Securus, each individual is responsible for the purchase of their own leads. As a result, you are never required to pay for or to donate any monies towards your team's lead purchases. NAA's lead structure requires you to be responsible for purchasing your own leads as well as having to pay a portion of the leads purchased by your team. This includes your personal enrollments and also your team's recruitments. Also, if one of your personal records orders leads and they fail to pay for them, that lead bill becomes your responsibility. An outstanding lead bill generated by anyone on your team either or not you enrolled them if left unpacked can roll up to you as well. The money is automatically deducted from your bank account and you can not purchase new leads until the lead debt has been paid. According to NAA, having to pay a portion of your team's lead bill will prompt an agent to work hard to help team members achieve their individual success goals. Some agents may see this as a negative. While they may provide stellar agent support and training, they have no control over an agent's implementation. As a result, they do not want to assume any financial liabilities linked to their team's lead purchase.

Having been a member of both IMOs, I found that another noticeable difference between Secures and NAA lies in their training and marketing platforms. While both companies offer quality training, I found Securus' training to be very structured and consistent. Every aspect of agent activity from the beginning of the sales process to the end is broken down into detailed training modules and scripts. Their training is totally free and every agent has access to all of the training via their back office. On the other hand, I found NAA's training to be a lot less structured with little consistency. Also, the majority of their training was fee based either through purchasing cd's or through a monthly fee deducted from your bank account for their weekly training.

From a marketing standpoint, Both Securus and NAA offer affordable targeted leads to their team of agents. Securus however does have a free program in place to help agents learn to produce their own leads. Their literature indicates that extremely they expect purchased leads to become a supplement if needed as opposed to an agent's main source of marketing. According to Securus, this marketing strategy is designed to keep agents' expenses low therefore resulting in more “money in the pocket”. Although there are various other differences between Securus and NAA, the ones noted touch upon important aspects that will assist you in choosing the IMO that is right for you. Before choosing, it is imperative that you have a clear understanding of your financial goals and objectives and how well they align with the IMO's overall business plan and their daily method of operations.

Long Tail Keywords and Insurance SEO

Long tail keywords, whether they happen to be related to insurance or any other business, are typically three to five word search phrase, though they can be a longer and highly specific search term. These phrases can be reliably broad or extremely narrow, as internet users seek relevant content when searching for information, products and…

Long tail keywords, whether they happen to be related to insurance or any other business, are typically three to five word search phrase, though they can be a longer and highly specific search term. These phrases can be reliably broad or extremely narrow, as internet users seek relevant content when searching for information, products and services. Google and Bing search bots index website information including Meta and on page content, and when users enter search phrases, the engines temporarily display their search results allowing users to navigate to the relevant pages (SERP).

Engines offer both organic and paid results, allowing users to select those responses that they deem most germane to their query. What does this mean to the average insurance agency, broker or carrier? Insurance agents and brokers need to determine the long tail keyword phrases applicable to their organization and optimize their website for those phrases. Some insurance SEO long tail keyword examples include:

  • New Mexico Truck Insurance
  • Arizona Machine Shop Insurance
  • New York Restaurant Insurance
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Florida Property and Commercial Insurance
  • New York Coastal Condominium Insurance

The more keywords included in a phrase and the more specific the term, the narrows the results, and the less frequently that term is searched. Conversely, the shorter the phrase (auto insurance for example), the broader the results, and the greater the competition for the phrase. It's important to note that the on page insurance SEO optimization is only part of the job. For effective insurance SEO, off page optimization is extremely important including news releases, social media marketing and ePublishing. Effective long tail research and optimization can and will result in improved insurance website traffic, and when combined with an up to date website and advanced insurance website tools, should translate into an increased book of business.

How does the Google Penguin and other algorithm shifts impact your insurance SEO and long tail keyword initiatives? These types of algorithm shifts were directed at websites that violate Google's Webmaster Guidelines. The algorithm shifts account for greater emphasis on original content and social media than back link popularity. Further, insurance organizations which were concentrated heavily on backlink building, link swapping and directory submissions, often in pursuit of pioneer keyword phrases were adversely impacted by this shift. These algorithm shifts actually favor long tails keywords, as the content surrounding those keywords should be very specific, and that is very relevant to both users and search bots (search engine indexing engines). As Google, Bing and other search engines continue efforts to deliver more relevant content, quality content and focus on long tail keywords should be the mantra for an effective insurance SEO initiative.

Although organic insurance SEO and social media marketing is an important aspect of insurance marketing, insurance organizations seeking to rapidly build their pipeline will find the fastest path to B2B insurance lead generation remains insurance eMarketing and appointment setting calls. B2B insurance marketing often requires targeting a very specific niche, carrying a specific value proposition to a predetermined title or titles. For example, an insurance agency might want to discuss restaurant insurance or business interruption policies with dining and entertainment establishments. Although effective use of insurance SEO for this target market is important, agents and brokers should remember that insurance SEO initiatives are only one tool for insurance agency lead generation. Insurance SEO initiatives should be completed with insurance eMarketing and appointment setting campaigns to ensure optimum lead generation attainment.

Why Insurance Agents Should Have a Dedicated Web Site

Visitors expect it The ever expansive attributes of the web have made it more or less mandatory for serious business professionals to host their own sites. People often tend to search on the net first to look for insurance related information. If they can not find your site, they would invariably end up looking for…

Visitors expect it

The ever expansive attributes of the web have made it more or less mandatory for serious business professionals to host their own sites. People often tend to search on the net first to look for insurance related information. If they can not find your site, they would invariably end up looking for information from a competitive agency. Also in many cases customers decide to directly contact the agent only if they are happy with what they have just read on the site. Here it is crucial for all agents to have their own web site so that all potential customers can be properly routed to them.

They are more professional

Even if the agent works from a condo, a good looking site will lend you an air of credibility that can do wonders for business. People often have a tendency to assume that a good looking and well informed site correlates to a big and professional insurance firm. Having your own insurance site has another added benefit as well. You can have your e-mail id extensions with your URL ID rather than using regular service providers like Gmail or Yahoo. These small details go a long way towards building your creditability as a reliable insurance agent.

Increasing relevancy of buying insurance online

It is way easier for users to buy insurance policies online compared to having to run up and down various agencies. There are several insurance sites on the net that cater to specific geographically marked states and cities which makes it highly convenient for users to get quotes and other information. They can then compare this with what is being offered by other competitive agencies and make informed decisions based on that effect.

Your competitor has a site

All insurance companies have realized the need and the scope behind hosting a well developed site on the internet. The more you delay, the better the chances of your competitors towards acquiring a sizable share of prospective clients.

Market expansion

A website allows the agent to expand their opportunities and reach out to a wider audience. Put in some effort to develop key word rich content and market the site online using SEM techniques. This will help you rise up the ranks in search engine queries and will bring a reasonable amount traffic to your site. You can have all the necessary contact information posted on the site so that the client can get in touch if they are interested.

Web sites that are quote featured enjoy greater flexibility and are more popular with users. It's easier to make comparisons with other schemes and the visitor does not have to download multiple documents which can become tedious and annoying to sit and sift through.

Social media integration

It is easier to promote your insurance products on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can add your web site details that visitors or community members can check for reference. You can also start your own company profile pages which will give you more scope and exposure on these social platforms. Happy visitors can 'like' the web pages of your sites which further increase the influx of visitors to your web site.

SURVIVAL – How Will Health and Life Insurance Brokers and Carriers Survive in 2013 and Beyond!

The days of slowly and reluctantly accepting change are over for Brokers and Carriers in the Health, Life, and Voluntary Benefit Markets. Forces that are out of their control have taken over! For decades the Health and Life (H & L) Insurance Markets – Including the Insurance Carriers, Brokers / Agents, and Service Providers -…

The days of slowly and reluctantly accepting change are over for Brokers and Carriers in the Health, Life, and Voluntary Benefit Markets. Forces that are out of their control have taken over!

For decades the Health and Life (H & L) Insurance Markets – Including the Insurance Carriers, Brokers / Agents, and Service Providers – have reluctantly accepted change on an Evolutionary Basis. While competition was stiff, most parties were enjoying a stable and profitable marketplace utilizing the same basic: Plans, Programs and Services; Product Designs; and Marketing Strategies. Their Target Markets – Employers, Employees, and Individuals – were reliably complacent and satisfied with the limited information that were provided through Carrier's Media Promotions and the Brokers and Agents Knocking at their Doors.

Here is a sample of the Evolutionary changes that were reliably accepted by the Carriers and Brokers / Agents over the years:

  • HMOs – Originally focused on promoting early detection and wellness.
  • Cafeteria Plans – Employers offering Employees workplace Benefit Choices.
  • Voluntary / Worksite Benefit Choices – Providing Employees the freedom of “Choice” at the Own Discretion and Cost on a Payroll Deducted Basis.
  • Section 125 of the IRSC – Pre-Taxing Qualified Benefits making the Plans more affordable by reducing the bite of Income and Payroll Taxes.
  • Reimbursement Accounts – Medical, Dependent Care, and Transportation / Parking Plans that assist in reducing the cost of essential Plans, Products and Services for Employees. These are tax-advantaged plans.
  • Consumer Driven Heath Plans (CDHPs) – Health Insurance Plans that Promote and Support Employees and Individuals in becoming better “Consumers” of Health Care.
  • HRAs and HSAs – To Implement with the HDHPs providing a savings component to promote Consumerism.
  • HDHPs – High Deductible Health Plans that support the HSAs and HRAs.
  • Gap Plans – To assist in off-setting the Risk of High Deductible Health Plans.
  • Ancillary Benefits – Non-Insurance Based Employee Benefits that provide additional Employee “Choices” and often Reduce the Costs of Goods and Services for the Employees.
  • Wellness Plans – That benefit the Employers and Employees by improving Individual Health and in Reducing Health Care Costs.

For a number of reasons the days of Evolutionary Change are giving way to Revolutionary Upheaval ! These include:

> Skyrocketing Costs for Health Care !

> Skyrocketing Increases in Health Insurance Plan Premiums for Employers, Employees, and Individuals!

> Disruptive Change promoted by Entrepreneurs and a Competitive Marketplace!

> The Internet and Search Engines providing Employers, Employees, and Individuals expanded access to Plans, Programs, and Services – as well as their Providers – on a more competitive basis.

> Social / Business Media Driven by the Internet is being utilized by Brokers and Carriers to cost-effectively reach Employers, Employees, and Individuals with information about and access to their Plans, Programs, and Services.

> Federal and State intervention with Reform – including PPACA, MLRs, etc.

> Public Demand for Change!

What are the Revolutionary and Disruptive Changes being faced by Brokers and Carriers ?

  1. Insurance and Benefits Industry Reform by Government – Federal and State intervention in the Insurance and Benefits Industries! Whether Obamacare or Romneycare – as they are amended – regulations are inevitable and will be extremely disruptive!
  2. MLR (Medical Loss Ratios) – in one form or another – will negatively impact on the compensation package for Brokers to hypothetically reduce the Premium Costs.
  3. State and the Federal Exchanges – will become the access point for millions of US Citizens for access Health Insurance Coverage.
  4. Health Care Coverage Navigators – Internet Portals, Individuals, and / or Organizations providing information about the Exchange based Plans – with some method of compensation (probably not commission based). Navigators will provide the guidance required by Individuals, Employers, and Employees to make their Health Plan Coverage decisions.
  5. Insurance Carriers, Brokers, Large Employers, and Third Parties will develop Private Exchanges including: Mandated Plans; Innovative Plan Designs; Self-Funded Plans; HDHPs; HRAs; HSAs; Gap Plans; Voluntary / Worksite Plans; Ancillary Plans; and more – all on a Defined Contribution (DC) Platform .
  6. Technology Companies Providing Platforms for Private Exchanges and Defined Contribution Models will become the hub for Carriers, Brokers, Employers and Employees for providing and accessing Plans, Programs, and Services.
  7. Companies Providing Education, Communication, Enrollment, and Data Management Capacities will integrate with the Technology Companies to better accommodate Private Exchanges and Defined Contribution .
  8. Insurance Carriers will “Mass Customize” Plans and Programs – that are in compliance with the Federal or State ” Base Plans ” that will provide additional coverage for those who desire and can afford a more robust Health Insurance Plan.
  9. Voluntary Benefits and Ancillary Benefits – will continue to dominate the Insurance Markets as all Benefits and Insurance Plans become Voluntary within Private Exchanges within a Defined Contribution Strategy.
  10. Broker Commissions – will continue to be reduced by Carriers for the Health Insurance Plans based on MLRs.
  11. The Internet – will become the Distribution Channel of Choice for Carriers attempting to replace Brokers as the direct contact with Clients and Potential Clients.
  12. Social / Business Media – will continue to grow in importance as the interface between Carriers and Brokers with potential Markets – Employers, Employees, and Individuals.
  13. Brokers Compensation Models Will Change – they will be forced into ” Fee Based ” Compensation replacing the traditional ” Commission Based ” Models. Employers, Employees, and Individuals who need assistance in making decisions about Insurance and Non-Insurance Based Plans, Programs, and Services will pay Fees to Brokers for their assistance.
  14. Employer's Participation in offering Benefits – will utilize Private Exchanges and Defined Contribution (DC) Strategies to continue to offer Employee Benefits and remain Competitive.
  15. Brokers Will Leave or Change Their Industry Focus – many experienced Health Insurance Brokers will not be willing to accept change or have the flexibility required to survive – they will retire or go out-of-business.
  16. Consolidation of Mid-Sized and Larger Brokers – as Brokers shift from Traditional Norms to delivering Benefit Packages based on Private Exchanges, Defined Contribution (DC), and a Fee Based Compensation Model, many Organizations will Partner, Acquire, or be Acquired to remain Competitive .
  17. Consolidation of Insurance and Benefits Carriers as they seek to leverage their assets, Merge Client Bases, Reduce Marketing and Advertising Costs, and Strengthen Balance Sheets that they will Merge.
  18. Employers, Employees, and Individuals will Gain Control – they will be more demanding of Carriers and Brokers to provide Plans, Programs, and Services to meet their needs within a framework of Private Exchanges and Defined Contribution Strategies.
  19. Government Entities at the Federal and State Levels – will continue to increase their control of, and participation in, the Insurance and Benefits Industries.
  20. A Single Payor System and Nationalize Healthcare – will continue to be the ultimate goal of the Congress and Federal Agencies.

As the above outlines, Brokers and Carriers no longer can keep their heads in the sand hopping that these Revolutionary Pressures and Changes will subside and go away – That their will be a return to the Good Old Days ! Surviving for Brokers and Carriers in 2013 and Beyond will be based on their willingness to abandon old Strategies and Models. It will be essential for them to Embrace Change. Brokers and Carriers must become creatively involved in building new Plans, Programs and Services – as well as Delivery systems to accommodate the above changes. 2013 Is Almost Here – Will You Be?

It’s Insurance Renewal Season – Make Sure You Help Your Clients Get Prepared

Fall is here! That means it's time to consider all of your clients who business insurance policies are coming up for renewal at the end of the year. It's important to reach out now and help your clients not only renew their policies, but ensure that they have the right coverage, taking into account any…

Fall is here! That means it's time to consider all of your clients who business insurance policies are coming up for renewal at the end of the year. It's important to reach out now and help your clients not only renew their policies, but ensure that they have the right coverage, taking into account any changes that have occurred to their business over the past year.

Rule # 1: Do not take any renewals for granted

Just because you sold a policy to a business client, there's no assurance they'll automatically renew. More than ever, businesses are looking for quality and service – and this time of year, your clients are being pitched by other agents promoting better quality and service than you can provide. (You know this is true, because you're probably making the same pitch to other agents' clients right now.)

The good news? You have the advantage with your clients because they already know you and trusted you enough to purchase a policy. Being proactive now will help you maintain (or expand) your business with existing clients, as well as insure them that you are looking after their changing insurance needs.

And remember: No matter how much effort it takes to reach out to your existing clients, it's always easier (and cheaper) to keep a client than to find a new one!

Rule # 2: Help your business clients analyze their coverage needs

Prepare a year-end checklist to help you and your clients review any changes to their businesses and how those changes affect their insurance needs. Changes to discuss with your clients include:

  • Revenue: If a client has experienced revenue growth in the last year, offer your congratulations – but remind him or her that the company's level of insurance may need to be revised to protect their revenue stream.
  • Equipment and inventory: Yearly variations in the amount of equipment a business owns and uses – as well as the amount of inventory it contains – are critical in determining the proper level of business insurance coverage. Increases generally require more coverage to fully protect a company's assets, while decreases can allow a business to reduce coverage and redirect cash flow to other business needs.
  • Employees and payroll: Changes in payroll have a significant effect not only on business and general liability coverage, but workers' compensation coverage as well.
  • Government regulations: Make it a point to stay informed about regulations that affect your clients and their insurance needs.

Always keep in mind that, when appropriate, helping clients save money on insurance is a great way to build trust over the “long haul” – which can lead to many more renewals.

Rule # 3: Help your clients understand new trends in business coverage

Are there areas of risk that, due to changing technology and other factors, your clients need to consider? For example, “data breaches” where confidential information is compromised are a threat to just about any company, large or small. This could happen if a laptop is stolen or confidential papers are not properly shredded. Data break coverage is one emerging area of ​​business insurance that many of your clients should be considering.

Rule # 4: Think long term!

For most agencies, long-term, loyal clients are the backbone of their businesses. Treat them as such, and you'll have a successful renewal season – not only this year, but for years to come.

Getting the Right Level Of Critical Illness Cover For You

Taking up critical illness cover provides you with a piece of mind. If the worst should happen, and you are diagnosed with one of the recognized serious illnesses, then your policy can pay out a monetary sum to cover both the initial expenses relating to your treatment as well as the ongoing costs incurred during…

Taking up critical illness cover provides you with a piece of mind. If the worst should happen, and you are diagnosed with one of the recognized serious illnesses, then your policy can pay out a monetary sum to cover both the initial expenses relating to your treatment as well as the ongoing costs incurred during your recovery.

However many people grossly underestimate the amount of critical illness cover they really need. Although you may consider that if you were ill you would only require your policy to cover any loss of income you incur, consider all the other activities that you carry out which someone may need to do on your behalf.

If you are a parent, then it may be the case that you will no longer be able to care for your children or take such an active part in their lives. If you want to ensure that your kids have as much stability and continuity as possible when you are ill, then you may need to find additional funds to cover childcare, transportation and even residential care should you need to spend some time away from the home for treatment.

For those that live alone or do not want to put the onus of nursing on a loved one, critical illness cover may also need to help with the financial cost of housekeeping, basic laundry and even personal care when you are unable to support yourself.

Once you have recovered from your illness, it may be necessary to change your lifestyle to ensure a continued and healthy future. If this means reducing your hours at work, transferring jobs or completely changing your career, the financial implications can be immune but the right critical illness cover can help.

An individual is five times more likely to rely on critical illness cover than the standard life cover taken up with the average mortgage. And though taking the first step in acquiring critical illness protection is a great way to start, ensuring that your cover is going to be sufficient when your situation changes is essential for your ongoing peace of mind and the security of your family.

Conversely there also a number of people who hold critical illness cover above the level that is strictly required. Individuals who have been oversold this type of protection will pay out higher premiums than they really need to, increasing their monthly costs unnecessarily.

Critical illness cover is a reliably cheap type of insurance and getting the cover right is essential to ensure you have everything you need if the worst should happen without monthly costs that could affect your situation today.

To make sure you have the cover appropriate to you and are not either under or over insured, talk to an independent insurance broker about your needs and personal situation. They will be able to provide experienced and professional advice to ensure that you have the protection to keep prepared no matter what hurdles life may throw your way.

How a Commercial Insurance Broker Can Help You

Insurance brokers have become increasingly more important today compared to many years back. Given the heavy loads of competition in the California insurance market, customers should have kept well-informed so that they will not be led astray into getting frivolous deals. Most especially in the aspect of commercial insurance, entrepreneurs are usually better off with…

Insurance brokers have become increasingly more important today compared to many years back. Given the heavy loads of competition in the California insurance market, customers should have kept well-informed so that they will not be led astray into getting frivolous deals. Most especially in the aspect of commercial insurance, entrepreneurs are usually better off with brokers beside them.

What is a Commercial Insurance?

Commercial insurance is just an insurance to protect businesses in the state. It is considered as one of the most vital investments for business operators. Depending on the specific type of commercial insurance, this security protects various aspects of the business. It can provide financial security in times of theft, liability, property damage, work-related employee or customer injury and even during times of business interruption. Those who have not secured insurance for their business are at risk of sudden financial depression. It has also been observed that uninsured businesses place the personal assets of the owner at risk.

Before setting out for an insurance hunt, make sure that you are already equipped with ample knowledge of what you really need. For example, you may be better with one specific type of commercial insurance, rather than having all forms of commercial insurance in one package. If you do not have company vehicles for operating your business, you can do away with auto insurance and just go for property insurance instead. But you still need to know everything about these specific insurances because nobody is certain when your business might expand. Together with this growth is an expected change in insurance needs.

Looking For an Insurance Broker

Finding the right commercial insurance in California involves tapping the services of a trusted insurance broker who, as much as possible, is specializing in business insurance. It is important that you interview more than two brokers and check who among them makes you more at ease when it comes to dealing things. It is expected that he discusses the different options that surround commercial insurances.

As there are various classes of business insurance, your broker can guide you through the entire process. Using his expertise, he can easily recommend the most suitable plan for your immediate needs. A good place to start looking for brokers is the Internet. If not, search for them via networking organizations for local businesses. Your friends in the industry or business advisers may also refer you to seasoned brokers in the state.

Insurance brokers are in place to make it easier for business owners to get the right insurance. However, even with their ability, it may be difficult for some to get one most probably because of their company background. For example, if the business has already suffered some degree of loss in the past then it may be considered a high-risk entity. This means most insurers will back out making any deals with you. Another reason for the increased difficulty in procuring commercial insurance is the owner's history of making frequent claims, which easily makes it a liability. In addition, new businesses will surely have a harder time getting insured because of not having a proven history of business sustainability and strength compared to more established businesses. Still, business owners have higher chances of sealing the best deals with a broker nearby.

Insurance Agency Marketing – A 7 Step Approach to Marketing Today’s Insurance Agency

Marketing your insurance agency has changed so much in the past 10 years; it is difficult to know where to start. Most of the new clients that hire us, have URLs that are less than 5 years old. This shows how dramatically and quickly the industry has changed when marketing their agencies. Today, most consumers…

Marketing your insurance agency has changed so much in the past 10 years; it is difficult to know where to start. Most of the new clients that hire us, have URLs that are less than 5 years old. This shows how dramatically and quickly the industry has changed when marketing their agencies. Today, most consumers will utilize the internet to find your information through various directories, organic search results and even social media.

You may be wondering, “Where do I begin?” We've put together a short list of ways to increase your web presence and reclaim your position as a top insurance agency marketer.

Step 1: Update your website

If your website looks like it has not been updated since 1997, it's probably time to do so. There are many resources to easily build a website such as “WebSite Tonight” by GoDaddy or services such as Wix, which will get you a nice looking website using templates. But, be careful of websites that utilize too much flash as it will likely hamper your ability to get much traffic to your website, including direct traffic.

Step 2: Invest in SEO

If you're unfamiliar with what SEO means (Search Engine Optimization) you probably should talk to someone about optimizing an existing website or building you a new one that is optimized from the start. SEO is all about getting organic search traffic to your website. For instance, if someone types in “Insurance Agency Seattle” you want to be the agent who Google shows first or at minimum on page one. If you're not on page one, you're missing out on almost 93% of all search traffic.

Step 3: Get Email Hosting

I can not tell you how many of our clients still use email addresses at email providers like Yahoo and Hotmail, such as: “taber@hotmail.com”. Show your prospective clients that you're an established business by using domain registered email accounts. Most hosting companies will provide at least a generous of them for free with your website hosting, so take advantage. Customers are more likely to buy from an agency that shows professionalism on all fronts, including their email.

Step 4: Fix your local listings

The web is littered with directories. There are so many, it would be nearly impossible for you to go to each one and update the listings absolutely. Furthermore, it would be a waste of time. Go to the big ones like Yelp, Yahoo, Google Plus Pages, etc. Complete the lists in the 20 most popular ones, ensuring that your (NAP) name, address and phone numbers are consistent on all of them. If you spell out Avenue in one, do not use AVE. in another. Many directory links are rated like SPAM now, so they are not giving your websites any credibility.

Step 5: Be Social

Social media is the new trend. It can be time-consuming, but it allows you an opportunity to stay in touch with existing customers and also, attract new ones! Begin simply by setting up a Facebook page for your business and add content, news, links to other articles, etc., at least one time per week. Social Media is not going anywhere soon, so do not let your agency get too far behind by not participating in this area where millions of Americans are having conversations!

Step 6: Install Analytics on your Website

Google offers a tremendous tool to track your website traffic called Google Analytics. This tool allows you to see what keywords people are using when they find your website. If you find that your website is not getting much traffic, this tool can help you fine tune it so that you can capitalize on search traffic. Furthermore, Google has a keyword tool so you can search for terms before optimizing your website. If you hired someone for step 2, they should have taken care of this!

Step 7: Send out Electronic Agency Newsletters

The number 2 reason that customers leave their insurance agent is because they have not heard from you! Stop attrition in its tracks by communicating with your clients about new products, new team members at your agency, local events, a local charity you're working or any other news. If you're not communicating with your existing customers, someone else is. Electronic newsletters cost about $ .02 per email. Most agency management systems and some carriers can help you sort your collected email addresses. If you have a larger budget, around $ 1,000 per mailing, consider mailing a quarterly newsletter. A couple of email service providers to consider are: MailChimp and ConstantContact.

This should get you started getting your agency marketing up to snuff!

Rules and Regulations for Fair Energy Marketing/Retailing

To better provide you with a sense of security when enrolling with an electricity and natural gas marketer / retailer, we have outlined the regulated procedures for registering new consumers, and soliciting door to door sales. This article outlines the rules and regulations for energy marketer / retailers in Ontario, to better protect you and…

To better provide you with a sense of security when enrolling with an electricity and natural gas marketer / retailer, we have outlined the regulated procedures for registering new consumers, and soliciting door to door sales. This article outlines the rules and regulations for energy marketer / retailers in Ontario, to better protect you and your natural gas and electricity bill from marketing scams. This article provides a number of warning signs to help you identify unnecessary sales practices before signing up to a contract with hidden conditions.

Fair Energy Marketing Practices

The rules and regulations are considered fair sales practices that each and every energy marketer / retailer should abide by when soliciting door to door sales. These guidelines are explained in detail in the Code of Conduct which is regulated by the Ontario Energy Board. This code describes exactly what every sales representative bought to do in order to honestly solicit home and commercial sales in Ontario.

Speak to a Legitimate Home or Business Owner

Sales representatives are told to exercise caution when soliciting home or commercial sales, and should make sure that they are consulting with a legal account account holder before advancing with any sales presentations.

Who is Qualified to Sign?

Whether the contract is for a brand new fixed price agreement, a renewal or the extension of a pre-existing contract, the contract has to be signed by an appropriate signing authority. Energy marketer / retailers are also advised to use caution when selling to anyone who may have a language barrier, are over 70 years of age or under the age of 18, and does not clearly qualify the terms and conditions of the contract.

  • In residential cases, contracts should always be signed by the account holder, the account holder's spouse or the account holder's common law partner in order to be considered valid.
  • In commercial selling, contracts have to be signed by the business owner or a representative with permission to enter into contracts with respect to the business.

Provide a Business Card

Sales representatives should always offer every consumer a business card upon arrival. Standards for the business card consist of; the sales representatives name, Ontario Energy Board license number, the energy marketer / retailer's name and address, toll-free telephone number and website address.

Provide Business and Product Material

Sales representatives should always supply accurate business and product information. They are required to mention to the consumer, that the business they represent is offering a fixed pricing agreement for the supply of natural gas and / or electricity and express that they are not the consumer's utility. Sales representatives are also instructed to inform consumers that they are not affiliated with the Ontario Energy Board or the Government.

Communicate Pricing and Contract Terms and Conditions

Sales representatives need to indicate the rate to be paid per unit under the contract as well as the terms and conditions of the contract. At this time account holders should have the opportunity to read the contract and examine the terms and conditions, price comparison form and disclosure statement.

Do not Pressure the Consumer

When implementing door to door sales, sales representatives are to abstain from exerting stress on an account holder and are required to permit consumers the chance to look at all paperwork presented before making a decision to sign.

Provide Updated Sales Material

All sales content provided is required to contain accurate, factual information that will not mislead the consumer, and in addition offer current pricing, an up-to-date disclosure statement, price comparison form and the contract's terms and conditions.

Be Truthful and Consistent with Communication

Sales representatives should always be consistent with all information and facts communicated to the account holder. Inaccurate information or a deceptive portal of the products and services offered are considered inappropriate sales tactics and a sales representative's compliance with the code of conduct is imperative.

Display a Legitimate Identification Badge

Every sales representative is provided with an energy marketer / retailer identification badge that should be displayed on external clothing making it recognizable to consumers. The representative's badge is required to contain the sales representatives identify, in addition to photo identification, the marketer / retailer business name, a valid identification number, and the badge expiration date.

Signing a Contract

When opting into a brand new contract, be certain to request a copy of all sales material, prior to the sales representative exiting. Make sure you have been supplied with the following paperwork;

  1. A signed and dated copy of your contract
  2. A signed and dated disclosure statement for natural gas and / or electricity
  3. A signed and dated price comparison form for natural gas and / or electricity
  4. The energy marketer / retailer's Terms and Conditions
  5. The sales representative's company card

After enrolling with the energy marketer / retailer you should receive a hard copy of any sales document on the spot. Among these sales materials you should have; the contract, price comparison form, contract terms and conditions, disclosure statements and any additional product information available.

3rd Party Affirmation Call

A call center representative will contact the account holder and approve the contract after the 10 day cooling off period, end date. The affirmation call permits the account holder the chance to have any information clarified and questions answered. The affirmation call is digitally recorded, and is initiated as an outbound call from the energy marketer / retailer.

The affirmation call describing the product (s) and service (s) purchased, contract pricing, and the terms and conditions of the contract through several Ontario Energy Board regulated questions. The energy marketer / retailer will keep this affirmation call on file for the course of the contract. Account holders should be able to request a digital copy of the affirmation call through the duration of their contract if desired.

10 Day Cooling Period

Under the Energy Consumers Protection Act 2011, otherwise known as the rules and regulations for selling to a consumer, a 10 day cooling off time period is allocated to provide account holders a time line during which they have the option to cancel their contract. Under the Energy Consumers Protection Act, consumers have the opportunity to terminate their contract cost-free, and without penalty, up to 10 days once the account holder has recognized receipt of a text-based copy of the contract.

When You Initiate the Sale

The affirmation call is not mandatory if the contract was entered into over the internet or if the account holder responded to an energy marketer / retailer's direct mail advertising campaign.

Signs of Unfair Sales Practices

  1. Any phony, misguiding or fraudulent statements made to the consumer this includes; The terms and conditions of the agreement. Example: Leaving out significant details about; the contract length, termination of contract, renewal policies, contractual dates, extra charges, etc.
  2. Information regarding the quality or characteristics of the energy source and / or products supplied. Example: Stating that they will provide you with green energy when they do not.
  3. The track record of an energy marketer / retailer, or the businesses association with an alternative electric supplier or gas marketer. Example: Misleading statements which include misrepresentation, pretending to be from the utility or the government.
  4. The contract pricing and any extra fees are required to be clearly stated in the contract.Example: Not telling consumers that the contract rates will only come into play in the event that the utility cost surpasses the energy marketer / retailer.
  5. Taking an unconscionable action on the part of the account holder. Example: When a sales representative has unfairly exploited an account holder who might not fully grasp the agreement terms and conditions, has a language barrier, elderly, disabled or pressured into entering into a contract.
  6. Failure to communicate specifics details on products, services, or the energy marketer / retailer's business. Example: Leaving the account holder with the perception that the sales representative is associated with or represents a local utility, the government or Ontario Energy Board.
  7. Permitting an unqualified individual to sign into a new contract / renew or extend the length of a contract when the individual is not the account holder or an appropriate signing authority for the home or business.

Examples of forgery or fraud include, but are not restricted to:

  • Signing the account holder's name on the contract
  • Performing configurations to the contract after the account holder has authorized it
  • Pretending to be the account holder during the course of the reaffirmation call
  • Registering an account holder under deceptive pretenses

If you decide to buy natural gas or electricity from an energy marketer / retailer near your local utility, you should be informed of your legal rights as a consumer. The Code of Conduct for energy marketer / retailers is regarded as, the rules for ALL energy marketer / retailers supplying energy in Ontario. There are no exceptions to these legal guidelines and each and every sales representative must abide by these procedures and guidelines.