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Best Practices for Independent Insurance Professionals

Insurance Agents Best Practices for Independent Agents and Brokers

Are Independent Insurance Agents Asking Enough Questions

Scott Scott , 8/5/2016
1 Verified Reviews - 5 of 5.0
The other day a prospect of mine, was tired of my questions, and basically said "Can We Hurry This up Please?."

Not wanting to upset the future client, I quickly obliged.   However I can't help but wonder that with the age of Emails, Chats, Text Messages, Online Blog Posts, and "Flo" that something has been lost in the world of risk management.

First off just let me say that I am the biggest fan in the world of technologies for the insurance professional.   Esign, Email, Online documents, Text Message, even Insurance Blogging.   But sometimes I wonder that when the Online Revolution finally hit the independent insurance agents channel - if we didn't lose some of the quality time that we all used to have with our clients.  And thus we also lost some of our insight to fully protecting them.

In the old days, when you set an appoint with a client, it was usually a face to face and often at their home.  Today an appointment often means a conference call.    There is a much lost without the face to face meeting.
1.  Since you do not meet the client at their house, you lose the ability to scan the property for obvious building characteristics and underwriting issues.
2,  Conference calls tend to be less warm and you have less "get to know you "quality time" with the prospect.
3.  Its much easier to avoid or forget the call, at least in my opinion.   It can be hard to avoid the independent insurance agent that is knocking at your door.

Why does any of this matter?  This matter because good risk management requires a detailed understanding of the future clients risks and this is MUCH harder to do without face to face meeting.  It is even harder to do when all the client wants to do is chat by email.

Customers that refuse to talk on the phone, respond to all the questions requested, and/or just don't know/care about certain build characteristics of their properties make is more difficult for the independent professional.

Clients that don't want to go through the typical liability review are really mostly just robbing themselves of the coverages that they need.

Prospects that just want a premium and don't care about the coverages.   They believe that Flo allows them to just set the price.

What is the Answer to this Technological Conundrum?  how do we compete the age of Flo and still offer Best in Class Services? If I knew the full answer, perhaps, I would not be writing a blog post about it.   However I have developed a few common thoughts:
- Leverage Google Maps and Zillow - Obvious, but I am surprised still how many agents don't use it.
- Google the clients email address.  Much less obvious, but often this can give me a feel for what the people do for a living and or groups that they are associated with.
- Use E Signature Technologies and make the client do more than just sign the document.   Rather surprising to me is how many agents didn't know that you can request more than just signatures at the bottom.  Ask clients to initial multiple places when reviewing quotes.   Initial at the Premium, the Coverage A, the listed Exclusions such as Flood and Earthquake.
- Ask for scanned Declarations Sheets - Again rather obvious, but if you are working with a potential client by phone only, this can dramatically save you some time.
- Set the Right Expectations from the Start.  Be honest, "this will take at least 15 minutes of your time."
- Have a list of questions and stick with them.  Honestly for E&O reasons its a good best practice.
- Be Frank.   "The more time you allow me, the more protection we can review."
- Consider Text Messaging clients to prod them to respond when you know that they want something done.  Although, I'm sure this bothers some people, Often it can be the best method.
- Don't be afraid to suggest that possible clients stay where they are, if they are already properly insured, are not overpaying, and have a good relationship with their agent.
- Keep in touch with them More often than the old days.

Those are my thoughts... What are yours?

Scott W Johnson is an Independent Insurance Broker and Agent based in Marin County California.  He owns and manages Marindependent Insurance Services LLC.  California License #0H11625.  415-294-5454.