10 Tips For Renewal Retention


1 Verified Reviews - 5 of 5.0

Much has been said and written about the costs of acquiring new business. These costs are so high that it's essential to retain the business already on the books. An improvement in your account-retention ratio can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line, and your planning initiatives should address this.

Here are 10 tips to improve your retention ratio:

1. Visit the insured before each renewal and perform a risk-management survey.

A survey allows you to identify new or changed exposures, and provides a terrific opportunity to get feedback from the client. You can use it to discuss other lines and to cross-sell Life, Disability, and Health coverage. A personal inspection of the premises may make you aware of a risk that the insured did not deem important enough to tell you about.

The on-premise survey enables you to do a much better, more complete renewal proposal. You may even be able to determine which of your competitors want to write the account and what sort of information they were given to formulate a quote. If they are basing a quote on your old policies, then any changes you find on the survey will be missing in their proposal-making it harder for them to compete with your more timely quote.

On-premise surveys provide an opportunity to discuss future plans with the insureds and possibly to talk to the client's CPA or attorney. You may also be able to review any contracts and leases or policies related to other activities. This puts you in the driver's seat; you are in control.

2. Conduct an annual sit-down review of all coverage and recommendations with the insured.

In other words, conduct a proposal/coverage summary meeting. After completing the risk-management review just described in No. 1, go back to your office and put together a proposal that will allow you to sell the renewal to your client when you deliver it.

The proposal should be up to date, with no waiting for other alternatives (in most cases). You should even be able to take a renewal binder and a statement with you. If you have done your job well, you should land the renewal on this visit. Your competitor will usually not be able to use price as a selling point-unless your pricing is extremely high, a fact you would have recognized before the meeting.

The review of coverage (in the form of a proposal and coverage summary) will incorporate all the items discussed and agreed to in your earlier risk-management survey.

3. Keep cross-selling and developing the total account. As mentioned earlier, landing a new account costs you more than adding coverage to an existing account. You aren't being pushy by developing the account; it's what the client expects you to do.

More important, this allows even further bonding with the client, making it difficult for him or her to move business to a competitor. By writing all lines, including Life, Health, and Disability, you are, in effect, the source the client goes to in all cases. And what is the alternative? If you do not have all of your client's coverage, another agency has the same chance that you do to take over the account.

Controlling the entire account lets the client know that you are a one-stop servicing agency-which is bound to improve your credibility and increase your clients' confidence in you.

As a simple example of the process, let's say that you write the Workers Comp for a client, and that someone else writes the Health insurance. If the competitor writes P/C lines, you are vulnerable. Handling Health, the competitor knows the number of employees, what they do, and the payroll. If you write both lines, however, your competitor can work only with whatever the client gives them.

You may think that working on Health insurance today is a total waste of time because of the prospect of a universal health plan. But it's very doubtful that the Clinton Administration's health plan will pass in its current form. The private sector is likely to remain heavily involved. If you accept that, it makes sense to get in on the ground floor of the solution to your client's problem. Put another way, wouldn't it be prudent to be the authority to whom your client turns when decision time comes around?

Account development also applies to the area you already control (we hope!):

the P/C side of the account. Picture a client who invested in a sophisticated automation system, and whose business depends on the system. Make sure a system breakdown is covered. A Property form may cover a few perils, or you may even have a policy with some limited breakdown coverage-but you need to see that the coverage is complete. Very broad breakdown policies are available. Imagine how impressed and grateful your client would be if you covered even one small loss! This is the kind of account development that should be going on all of the time.

4. Send promotional mailings regularly to your client.

Even if clients don't need coverage now, they may need it at some point. Regular mailings do more than advertise; they keep your agency's name in the forefront of clients' minds. By keeping those reminders coming, you'll be the first one they think of when they decide to investigate additional insurance.

Life salespeople have a good technique: They hand-write a note on the mailing piece and sign it. This personalizes an otherwise cold piece of advertising and tells insureds that you're looking out for them!

5. Stay in regular contact with the client, via telephone, mail, and personal visits.

Even if you don't get to see the specific insured, talk to someone in his or her office. Establishing rapport with the insured's staff is important, since most Commercial clients have their calls screened and mail prioritized. You want your messages to be at the top of the pile. Train your CSRs and support people to maintain the same rapport with client staff people. Send birthday cards, business anniversary cards, flowers for new location openings, and so on.

Disseminate customer surveys and questionnaires asking clients to rate your services. Follow up when anything negative is mentioned. Find out what prompted the negative comment, and correct it as quickly as possible. After a period of time, follow up to see how you are doing again.

With the advanced capabilities of most automation systems, surveys are easy and inexpensive to administer and track-not to mention a wonderful form of advertising.

6. Send topical information to the client.

Insurance companies are always publishing newsletters, handbooks, pamphlets about legislation, risk management, and safety, and other informational materials. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) alone impelled carriers to put out a flood of publications.

Most of these are free. Order a supply from a carrier and distribute them to your clients in person or by mail. At the same time, discuss any exposures they might have or schedule an engineering audit by the carrier, to save the client some anxious moments regarding compliance. Who knows, you might even write some new coverage as a result of the visit!

7. Let clients know about new developments that may affect their operations.

Many current events affect the insurance industry. To name just one, the prospect of universal government health care has a huge impact on the financial well-being of a business. Insurance trade papers and magazines, carrier communications, and various journals are writing about it.

Send copies of some of this material to your clients. You might even consider doing a seminar or workshop on the subject for selected clients or groups of clients. Some call this "seminar selling"; whatever it is called, it's a form of communication that tells the client that you are a professional and a leader in your field-and that your agency reflects this leadership.

8. Hire and develop "people people."

People skills include nurturing, bonding, empathy, and advocacy. Any relationship you have with a client should be pleasant and display professionalism, service, and concern. You as an agency principal should expect no less than this from your staff. This means talking to-not down to-clients, and projecting a friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable image.

This takes time-but it costs very little, and the benefit to the agency is phenomenal. Along with that, you must convey that you are the only insurance source the client needs.

Business planning should address this. Personal skills should be a part of every job description and employee-evaluation process. Good performance should be rewarded; average performance should prompt coaching and monitoring; and incorrigible below-average performance should trigger probation and eventually dismissal. Consider doing a seminar or workshop for employees on the subject of putting a smile in their voices and written communications.

Attitude is catching. It contributes to the positive morale essential to an agency's success.

9. Take a special interest in all claims.

This is the most golden of all opportunities. Your service should be at its best when a client suffers a loss-this is why the client bought the insurance in the first place! The loss is traumatic enough; don't contribute to the trauma by failing to do something.

Since it's difficult to guess which claimants are likely to be most distressed, assume that they all are: if not the specific client, then the client's employees.

That makes the goal easy to define. Walk claimants through the claims process. Tell them what to expect: that you will not be doing the actual claim adjustment but will still be assisting them all the way.

Unfortunately, many clients report the claim directly to the company, and problems have already escalated by the time the agency finds out about it. Sometimes the agency doesn't learn about a botched claim until losing the renewal.

If you can get clients to report all claims to the agency, give them advice and empathy from the start-and enter the claim into your automation system to track it. Fax it to the carrier, get a claim number and the name of the adjuster who will be handling it, and describe the client's frame of mind and sense of urgency to the adjuster. Having done that, send a card telling the insureds what to expect and advising them to call if they don't hear from the adjuster in a reasonable time.

Follow up periodically. Once the claim is closed, send a postage-paid survey reply card asking for the client to evaluate both the company's and the agency's service. Any negative responses should be followed up with a personal call or visit by agency personnel.

Think of all of the natural disasters that have struck over the past couple of years: hurricanes Hugo, Andrew, Iniki; the Midwestern floods; and California's fires, mudslides, and earthquakes. Entire communities were traumatized, presenting an opportunity for savvy agencies to shine!

10. Take every opportunity to refer other business contacts to your clients and let them know you're doing it.

This tip speaks for itself. Put clients in touch with each other for their mutual business interests. In effect, you're creating your own affinity group, bonding them to you and helping the advocacy process to your benefit. The possibilities are enormous.

Login or Register (for FREE) to gain access to thousands of other great articles.

There are no comments posted.
Search Articles/Libraries 
Select a Category
Choose a Content Package
Content Packages 
  • ~/Upload/Images/ContenPackages/editor@completemarkets.com/imms_logo.png
    This article is part of the IMMS Library, which contains more than 2451 documents published by industry-leading authors.