3 Things to Expect From Your Insurance Broker

I’m going to hit you between the eyes, and you may like it, but not at first. I’d like to think I know a couple of things about insurance.

I’ve worked in the Insurance Industry for over 30 years.  My ultimate accomplishment was owning an Independent Insurance Agency. Additionally, one of my favorite clients trains insurance agencies so I see what thousands of agencies do wrong, every year, all across the country.

Here it comes, the part where I hit you between the eyes:  Your Insurance Broker may not be servicing you properly, and it could be costing you money, and maybe a lot of money.

I know, I know, insurance isn’t something you think about all that often, maybe once a year, when it’s renewal time. And, that’s when you discover how your Insurance Agent is managing your account.

Maybe your premium went up. A lot. And no one from your Insurance Agent’s office contacted you to let you know that they are aware of the situation. So, you go through the strife and stress of dealing with that situation, whether you go through the motions of switching to another company, or you complain and ultimately pay the higher premium.

You get through the moment. Then, return to your normal life. Until the same thing happens next year when you’re stressed out again.

My Insurance License in Connecticut is still active. I kept it as a matter of convenience for the occasional client. During the pandemic and the assistance we provided to thousands of business owners seeking disaster relief funding, we were exposed to many other elements of their operations, including their insurance, as part of the financing process.

When I see how business owners are being serviced by their insurance professionals I am, quite frankly, surprised and confused. What I see most often is these businesses have insurance policies where their business is under-insured, over-priced, and minimally serviced.

I didn’t run my Independent Agency that way nor for the clients we assisted during the pandemic. Your insurance agent or broker is a licensed professional and as such, they should be doing these three things.  If they’re not doing these to honor your business relationship, then you may want to consider who is managing your insurance.

  1. Annual Review. Your Agent should contact you 60-90 days prior to the policy renewal to review your current policies. The review should include questions about the status of your business and plans for the future. They should be reviewing current coverage and premium as well as other life changes so that could affect the policy and any potential claims.

  2. Updates on Coverage. Insurance Carriers can change their underwriting standards from time to time. It’s up to your Agent to be aware of those changes and to update you when those changes can affect your insurance, negatively and positively.  Your Agent is the one with their finger on the pulse of the industry, and as a licensed representative, while you’re busy running your business.  Your Agent should notify you when a change will affect your business.

  3. Servicing the Heck Out of You. Practically every business owner I’ve come into contact with in my financing business states that they never hear from their Agent. When we needed an insurance document for their financing, the process of obtaining that document takes longer than necessary because of the lack of communication. The Insurance business is a SERVICE business.

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Easy, Breezy, Pleasy

When you think of what is most important to prospects and clients, many would probably guess “price” and that’s not wrong. Price is typically high on the list.

PUN INTENDED!

Most prospects get right to it with questions such as:

  • What do you charge?
  • What are your rates?
  • How much will it cost?

However, did you know that one of the Top 5 Values to customers is EASE OF USE? According to Ian Golding’s article, “What do customers really want? The top five most important things revealed”, ease of use is actually #5; on a list of 5…which is actually LAST. 

Hold the phone, so what’s the big deal then?! 

The answer is to make it easy for a client to engage. And if we don’t, they will quickly turn to another option.

What does “easy” mean anyway?

It depends. Comfort for both the seller and the prospect warrants understanding the expectations of the potential client.

Let’s make this easy. What are some things you can do?

Over-Inform

Let’s start with a simple scenario gone awry. If a client is coming to your office, do you prepare them for every possible eventuality, such as:

  • Do you prepare them for where to park?
  • Is it metered parking?
  • Is there a landmark next door?

It seems to ridiculous doesn’t it? People have GPS for goodness sake! 

Here’s what I mean. I invited a woman to an event I hosted. I gave her the address thinking that would be sufficient. However, she couldn’t find the location and ended up frustrated driving around and gave up. I could have, and should have, indicated that it was next door to a well known hotel and conference center.

Over-Phone

If there are more than 3 emails about a simple question that isn’t being answered, pick up the phone. All too often, there’s too much opportunity to feed our brain’s need to multi-task because emailing seems easier. But, email can delay a simple task from being completed while we wait for an answer and get distracted with another task.

Over-Prepare

Do you prepare the client with an on-boarding process so they understand what they should expect from us for next steps?

When I used to write insurance for a new client, I would outline what they should expect after purchasing the insurance. It’s a comprehensive checklist summarized in these 3 basic topics. 

  • Documents procedure
  • Billing procedure
  • Communication procedure

Let’s go back to the concept of managing expectations. It seems like a lot of work, however, if you create a process with templates, it will be set you up for each client when they hire you.

These days, the pundits are pontificating about the customer experience and the customer journey.
And it’s no small feat to achieve customer satisfaction. 

If you have multiple product lines, you can’t be just “ONE AND DONE”. You have to train clients to keep you top of mind for any of their future inquiries. Do the tough steps first and the easy stuff follows.

Applying Sunscreen to the Status Quo

It’s summer time…the joys of barbecues, boating and the beach. Except when you fall asleep on the beach without reapplying your sunscreen. I hate when that happens!

The worst part is when you’re showered, refreshed, and ready to relax from the relaxing, the negligence kicks in. BAM! 

The savage tan you were hoping for is replaced with red, blotchy skin that stings to the touch. It’s painful, isn’t it? The raw burning pain is all we think about. We focus on seeking that remedy, that magical ointment, that will relieve the burn.

These ailments are physical…and visible. They can limit us in our mobility because they devour our thoughts with the pain while waiting for the relief to set in. When will the pain stop?

Unfortunately, there are no physical signs when we are STUCK in a RUT. And just like forgetting to apply sunscreen, there is no warning that this rut is imminent or happening as we speak.

To make matters worse, unlike the relentless focus on physical pain, we justify and defend our lack of progress. Isn’t there an ointment for that?

Think about it, the status quo is like walking around with a sunburn and not knowing it. It’s safe; it’s NOT uncomfortable. We aren’t in pain. Or are we?

Overcoming the status quo is like the ointment on the burn. As much as we try to maintain the status quo, the more we find the outside world will force us out of our comfort zone, through no fault (or desire) of our own.

There’s a big, bad, world out there waiting to spin us around in an attempt to try something new, whether we like it or not.

Is your status quo any of the following:

  • Is sales and/or marketing not your forte?
  • Do you think you don’t know how to sell?
  • Do you not like to bother people with asking them to buy from you?

Many of you may feel dread and trepidation thinking we’re intruding on someone’s privacy. What’s up with that?

What happens if YOUR service and/or product is something THEY really need? We only hurt ourselves with missing out on that next new client who wants, nay NEEDS US!!! 

We hurt ourselves by sticking to the status quo; you know, like a sunburn.

Learning how to overcome the hesitation we have about asking for someone’s business is a lot easier than you think. It’s like putting the ointment on the sunburn. Failing to overcome that hesitation results in losing money for no reason other than your awkward shyness. Failing to apply the sunscreen results in that nasty sunburn.

Pretend that sunscreen is merely a shield from your shyness and go burn it up!

Prospecting: TR(Y)AL & (T)ERROR

I’m a broken record when it comes to new business development.

Unless your business never (and I mean never ever) has clients that retire, relocate, downsize or die, you must consider new business development strategies, aka PROSPECTING.

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “prospecting”?

Networking, maybe?

Cold calling? Did you just shudder and break out in a sweat? I don’t blame you. 

Did you know that dictionary.com defines prospecting as:

    • to search or explore (a region), as for gold.
    • to work (a mine or claim) experimentally in order to test its value.

That’s pretty cool even though I know that they are not distinguishing the word in a sales capacity.

Sales & Marketing gets a bad wrap, and prospecting, to me, is the gritty way to say new business development. 

Most people DO NOT have the same reaction (shudder and sweat) when you discuss customer service. Some people think it’s “safe”. We get to respond to clients who are looking for us to help them. Makes sense.

I don’t want to be a party pooper, but customer service involves its own form of prospecting. Every interaction with a client is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, solve a problem and….wait for it…remind them why they do business with us. 

Not so fast. That’s the easy part. 

The hard part is not letting them off the hook (literally and figuratively) once you managed the task at hand. Taking a few minutes to ask them for feedback on how you’re doing and reminding them what else you do in your business, gives them a reason to think about why else they need to hire you.

It’s harder than it sounds. In the insurance world, we call that “account rounding” and “cross-selling”.

Without getting too dense, if you’re not getting uncomfortable with how to find new clients, you are not growing. It may not seem like it now, but there will come a time when a shift will happen. The key is, either doing it voluntarily and proactively or reacting to circumstances beyond your control out of desperation.