The winter thaw is officially over in most of the country and while, for most of us, this is cause for celebration, for some, it may not be such good news. As the ice melts and everything turns green again, homeowners could be uncovering potential damage sustained during the winter months and others may be seeing wear and tear on roads and on their vehicles due to the elements. Here are eight spring hazards that could be plaguing you which may or may not be covered by standard insurance policies.
1. Spring Flooding
When winter snow starts to melt, rivers and creeks may rise. Mix in some spring rains, and there is potential for flooding in many parts of the country. While a standard home insurance policy covers water damage from sudden occurrences - such as burst pipes - it will not cover destruction related to spring floods. Fortunately, you can buy flood coverage but it has restrictions, such as coverage limits and exclusions for basement improvements. And coverage usually does not kick in until 30 days after the insurance is purchased - although there are exceptions to this waiting period, such as when a lender requires you to purchase flood insurance as part of a new home loan.
2. Ice Dam Damage
When wintry snow or rain falls, melts and refreezes on rooftops, ice on shingles can form a dam that causes subsequent snow melt or rainwater to back up. Those backups may allow water to leak into the home and ruin walls. Fortunately, you can usually file a claim with your homeowners insurance. While damage to our walls is likely to be covered, your insurance company will not pay to remove the ice dam itself from your roof.
3. Pothole Damage
Driving through a pothole may ding up your car or cause damage, but you're typically covered when you have collision coverage with your car insurance. If you don't have coverage, however, you're likely stuck with paying for the costs out of pocket.
4. Cracked Driveways
The freezing and thawing of severe ice and snow could encourage cracks in your driveway come springtime. But those cracks are considered wear and tear, so you probably won't be able to make an insurance claim for damage under a basic policy. One exception is if your neighbor somehow damaged your driveway - perhaps when laying out salt and sand to melt ice. In those cases, the neighbor's homeowners insurance may end up responsible for the bill.
5. Hail Damage
Springtime storms can bring hail that destroys siding and roof shingles. Fortunately, homeowners are usually protected under their home insurance policies. And if a window breaks because of a storm, that's typically covered too, along with resulting water damage.
6. Flattened Bushes, Trees or Landscaping
If a freak spring snowstorm flattens your prize bushes or spring rains wash away your landscaping, don't expect home insurance to cover your losses. This is considered normal maintenance on a home.
7. Rust Damage From Salt
Cars that drive through winter snow may become damaged due to the salt that's used to help melt snow that's fallen on busy streets. However, if the salt causes rust-related damage to your car, it's usually considered wear and tear, and isn't covered under typical auto insurance policies. The good news? Rust damage isn't as much of a problem with newer cars as it was in the past. But to be on the safe side, it's recommended that you thoroughly wash any vehicle that's exposed to salt or other potentially corrosive substances now that spring has arrived.
8. Damage From Snow Plows
If a snow plow operated by your local government takes out your mailbox or dings your car, your municipality would likely have a procedure in place for reimbursement. If this happens to you, check with your local jurisdiction to learn how to file a claim. If it's your neighbor who damages your property with their snow removal equipment, they (and their homeowners insurance company) would likely have to pay.
Even though springtime should be a time of renewal, you might have to clean up a bit of the mess from the previous season before the renewal can get underway. If you're concerned about any of these damages to your home or vehicle, make a call to your insurance agent to see if you're covered or not. Coverage could vary by state or carrier.
It's no secret to any insurance agent that the way to build a solid customer base is to create solid relationships with your clients. From the first point of contact, you're presenting yourself to the customer as someone they may want to do business with. But how do you seal the deal when there are so many other agents and options for a client to go with. The answer is connection.
Whether you're a new broker trying to grow your business and build a client base, or you've been in the industry a long time and are looking to maintain and grow your client base, there are some basic things you can do to create meaningful connections with your clients.
Being organized with the details of your product helps you sell to the customer, but you need to maintain regular contact with your existing clients to ensure their needs are being met, particularly when they initiate claims. Getting referrals from an existing client helps to make more sales. As a well-organized agent, you keep track of existing clients, stay alert for potential clients and remain aware of new policies available for all clients.
Marketing studies show that clients expect authenticity when it comes the people with whom they do business. By maintaining an open and honest relationship with your clients, you are showing them that you value them. Building a customer base through lies or false information and promises will only backfire on you and hurt your business. Cultivate trusted relationships with your clients and watch your client satisfaction - and their loyalty to you - grow.
KNOW YOUR STUFF
By becoming a trusted resource on all topics relevant to your industry, you can build trust and loyalty with your clients. Perhaps you share information on benefits, or updates in the industry that your groups need to know, or even information on wellness tools and tips to keep their employees healthier and happier. Doing these simple things and sharing relevant information with your clients, you become their go-to resource and trusted expert. Quick tip: Target the information you share to particular client groups, and try not to overwhelm your clients with information that is not useful or relevant to the services you provide.
Clients love to be rewarded, and a rewarded client is often a loyal client. Loyalty keeps your business strong and encourages positive word-of-mouth – which is the most effective form of marketing. Referrals from your current client base can help you grow your business further. Consider sending your loyal customers a thank you gift or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, or even writing a hand written note. This special treatment will keep your clients coming back. You should encourage your clients to share the positive treatment they receive within their influential circle.
Whether it's by in person meeting, phone, text or social media, stay in touch with your clients. This is key to building and maintaining relationships. Let customers know about changes to your business and in the industry, discounts and advantages you can provide, and how your business can help them. Start a blog or email newsletter and use it as a central place to communicate with your clients. Be sure to keep all communication professional yet friendly.
When you establish more meaningful relationships with customers, they’ll be more likely to return to you with future insurance needs. They’ll also be more likely to send their friends, family, acquaintances, and others to you to fulfill their insurance needs, creating a snowball effect of business that can keep your pipeline full.
For insurance agents, tackling marketing strategies can be daunting enough. When you factor in the dos and don'ts of marketing online, it can seem downright impossible to get things right. Once you get stable footing on a strategy, the online gods seem to pull the rug out from underneath you again. And while in marketing, you'll always be striving to hit something of a moving target, we've uncovered a few key mistakes that you can avoid to help you stay on the right track.
1. DON'T OVERDO IT ON EVERY SOCIAL SITE
Once you get your social pages up and running on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc..., you're going to be tempted to spend vast amounts of time crushing it on each site and the reality is that it's just not possible, even with a team of social media marketing experts. So for an independent agent or a small agency owner, our best advice is to pick one or two where you see you're getting the most meaningful engagement from followers, and focus your time there, while still posting to the others periodically.
2. MAKE SURE YOU IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
This one seems obvious to anyone who has marketing experience either on or offline, however, lots of digital marketers are so eager to get started, they skip this crucial step of finding their target audience. If you haven't done the proper research to shine a light on exactly who you want to reach, you'll be spinning your wheels and you won't be reaching the people who you need to reach the most.
3. PUT YOUR HEART INTO THE CONTENT YOU SHARE
Anyone can follow an insurance account that posts generic, surface level infographics and banal statistics. When your followers are choosing who they're going to do business with, they're going to want to work with a human being, not a robot. Be sure to share pieces of yourself (to a certain extent) in your social media posts. They want to see that you have a certain level of passion about what you do and that there's a real person, with a real life like theirs, behind the scenes.
4. DON'T TALK INDUSTRY TRASH
People are naturally attracted to others who share their interests. Sure, some people are so egocentric that they view their industry peers as roadblocks, obstacles to broadcasting their own message. But those are the people who are having a hard time gaining traction as an online marketer. Don't forget that other people in your industry have embraced online marketing just like you. And guess what? Once they see that you have, as well, they may just become one of your biggest advocates.
5. PACE YOURSELF
Sometimes people in sales make fools of themselves by pouncing on a new lead like they’re prey. I don’t care what line of business you’re in. No new contact or follower is going to want to hear your sales pitch as soon as they give you their info or start following you. Make sure each point of contact you make and each piece of content you put out serves a purpose to the person on the other end of it. You need to build trust with your target audience before attempting to sell them anything, otherwise they'll be gone before you know it.
If you're just starting out in online marketing and you feel lost, you're not alone. It takes time and lots of energy to get your flow when it comes to reaching your audience in the right ways. Follow these tips and stay true to yourself and your brand, and you'll be making meaningful connections with clients before you know it.
Mother's Day is just 5 short days away and it's likely that you either haven't found the moms in your life the perfect gift yet, or maybe you're going with one of the same old things you get them every year. Flowers, perfume or gift cards to their stores will surely put a smile on their faces, but this year you can give your mom, wife or even sister a different type of gift. It might sound strange, but the gift of a term life insurance policy could be just what moms need!
Purchasing a life insurance policy and naming a mom in your life as the beneficiary will show them that you're thinking past bouquets and boutique gift cards and instead, giving to them in the long term. If this sounds completely crazy to you, we get it. But if you're still on the fence about what to get, here are a few of the benefits of shaking things up and giving the gift of life insurance this year.
AVOID THE STORES
Chances are that you've got lots of planning to do for Mother's Day and running around, and then standing in line at a packed department store isn't going to work for your schedule. This is a great bonus when giving life insurance. because you can apply for term life insurance online. And - even better - if you're approved, coverage starts instantly. This gives you plenty of time to research which term life insurance policy is best to give and to work on that Mother's Day brunch you said you'd host.
IT'S A MEANINGFUL GIFT
Yes. Flowers are always a beautiful gesture, this time of year especially, but they last a short while and then they're gone. Taking out a life insurance policy that would be paid to your loved one if anything were to happen to you, is a powerful way to say “I love you" and "I want you and our family to be taken care of." It means you're thinking about their well-being which is the ultimate gesture of love.
AFTER THE YEAR WE'VE HAD...
Still in the very real wake of the pandemic, everyone is thinking more about the future of their families and how to keep them safe. There's no way that giving the gift of a little extra security during these uncertain times would go unappreciated. And it's never too soon to get life insurance since younger people generally receive lower premiums.
WOMEN COST LESS... IN THIS CASE
Ladies love big gestures and this is one big gesture that won't break the bank. Policies for women typically cost less than policies for men. That’s because women tend to outlive men by five or more years, which makes them less of a risk and thus cheaper to insure. This means that you can hit it out of the park both sentimentally and financially.
ONE LESS THING FOR MOM TO WORRY ABOUT
When you give someone a life insurance policy as a gift, you're alleviating a certain level of stress about the future. If it's a young mom in your life, this policy could mean the difference between replacing an entire income or putting a child through college. If it's for a more seasoned mom, it could ease the stress of potential medical or general living expenses.
The way we see it, mom can get chocolates and hand lotion from you any time of the year, but maybe Mother's Day is the perfect time to show mom that you're thinking about her on the next level. A life insurance policy will say just that, and then some.
Summer is rapidly approaching and pandemic restrictions are beginning to loosen which means everyone has their eyes set firmly on taking some much needed time off and heading out for a vacation. With sites like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeToGo wildly gaining popularity, rentals of private properties has become the go-to for jet setters and adventure seekers. This means that the lucky ones who OWN those properties - the apartment in the city, the beach house, the mountain retreat - are in a great position to earn extra rental income, but not without being sure they're properly protecting those homes away from home,
Depending on the rental scenario, your standard homeowners policy may not cover losses incurred while your home is rented out, and you may require a more specialized insurance policy. So, whether you own a second home that you lease to to tenants, want to rent out a spare bedroom in your house periodically though Airbnb, or make a little extra cash renting out your beach cottage the weeks you’re not using it, the first step should be to call your insurance professional. Here are a few types of renter's insurance you should familiarize yourself with before doing so.
Short-term rentals/Primary residence
If you are planning to rent out all or part of your primary residence for a short period of time, for instance, a week or several weekends, there will likely be two insurance scenarios.
Long-term rentals/Second home
If you are planning to lease your home to one person or a couple or family for a longer period of time, say six months or a year, you will likely need a landlord or rental dwelling policy. Landlord policies generally cost about 25 percent more than a standard homeowners policy to pay for increased protections. If you are regularly renting out a vacation home or investment property, this would also require a landlord or rental dwelling policy.
Landlord policies provide property insurance coverage for physical damage to the structure of the home caused by fire, lightning, wind, hail, ice, snow or other covered perils. It also offers coverage for any personal property you may leave on-site for maintenance or tenant use, like appliances, lawnmowers, and snow blowers.
The policy also includes liability coverage; if a tenant or one of their guests gets hurt on the property, it would cover legal fees and medical expenses.
Most landlord policies provide coverage for loss of rental income in the event you are not able to rent out the property while it is being repaired or rebuilt due to damage from a covered loss. This coverage is generally provided for a specific period of time.
As the landlord, your coverage is only on the structure itself and your financial interest in it. Your tenant’s personal possessions are not covered under your policy. In order to avoid disputes arising from damage to the renter’s belongings, many landlords require a tenant to buy renters insurance before signing a lease.
If you're in the position of owning an extra property, make sure you do your homework to make sure that you are protected in the best way possible when others are using your property. Accidents can happen, but being prepared for anything is always your best bet!
Here at the Soup HQ in New York, we're happily starting to see, smell and feel the first real push of spring. This means it's time for the dreaded winter cleanup that so many of us in the northeast have come to know. One thing that's important to remember is that we're not JUST tidying up our properties, we're also taking serious steps to keep our properties safe in order to avoid any accidental homeowner's insurance claims.
While some homeowners policies might provide coverage for less serious claims, carefully prepping your home for the warmer weather helps you protect the health and safety of your family and anyone who visits, which protects you financially. It's a real win-win.
1. Check Kitchen and Bathroom Caulk
To mitigate water damage, keep an eye on the caulk around your home. Over time, the caulk in your bathroom and kitchen can deteriorate, producing cracks. These cracks can lead to leaks, and water contamination can spread within minutes.
Water damage causes your claim costs to skyrocket, but when you stay aware of the condition of your caulk you can prevent or minimize destructive effects. Regularly recaulk your bathtubs, showers, and sinks to maintain your house’s plumbing system.
2. Clean out the Dryer Lint Hose
Lint can easily clog the hose on your dryer, even if you meticulously clean it from the lint trap. This buildup can make your dryer less effective, and it raises the risk of a household fire. Dryer lint is extremely flammable, and a single spark can ignite this material.
Each year, homeowners report 2,900 clothes-dryer-related fires, which cause an estimated five deaths and 100 injuries. Reduce this danger by inspecting the hose and wiping out residual lint.
3. Change Detector Batteries
Detectors are vital warning systems that ensure the safety of you and your family, so be sure to inspect them year round. Approximately twice a year, exchange old batteries for new ones. It takes only a few minutes to replenish both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms during your spring cleaning.
4. Remove Drain Build-Up
When your sewer backs up, your drains can overflow and you may have to replace interior or exterior elements. However, one or two internal issues can indicate simple drain build-up. An accumulation of toothpaste, hair and debris can effectively clog your drains. Open them up again by dislodging deposits of grime. Plunging, snaking, and hot water can restore your drains as well.
5. Replace Air Filters
Through the winter, your heating system has been actively circulating warmth for your house. Before you rely on it to produce cool air all summer, look over its air filters and swap dirty ones out. To prolong the life of your HVAC system, periodically install fresh filters.
6. Inspect Weather Stripping on Windows and Doors
Frigid temperatures can wear on the weather stripping of window and door frames. Exposure to the elements can cause it to loosen its hold and weaken the seal. Assess your weather stripping for signs of decline, and switch out the old stripping with resilient new material.
7. Clear out Gutters
Clogged gutters and downspouts can impair the exterior of your house. Water spots and foundational damages are a few of the potential issues that come from untended gutters. This spring, empty your gutters and dispose of the collection of leaves and gunk.
8. Look Over the Roof and Siding
Harsh weather can compromise your roof and siding. While you’re cleaning your gutters, appraise the outside of your house for damages. If you spot areas of sagging or any missing shingles, contact a roof repair service.
9. Repair the Driveway and Sidewalks
An uneven walking area can be a tripping hazard on your property. Investigate for developing cracks and holes in your sidewalk, and patch up these spots to bypass accidents. Revamping your driveway is also better for your vehicle.
10. Investigate the Porch and Deck
As you’re tidying up outside your house, look over your porch and deck for rotting wood and loose material. Loose nails and unfastened railings can turn hazardous, so fix any vulnerable areas to bolster your home’s safety.
There are many things we can do to make our homes cleaner, safer, and less vulnerable to costly insurance claims. Following these spring cleaning tips to properly waterproof, fireproof, and weatherproof your home can help prevent unwanted injuries, accidents, or claims.
Aren't we lucky to live in a time with online reviews? We don't know about you but we're avid readers of customer reviews on everything we purchase. It's a great practice to check out someone else's experience with a product that we're about to spend our hard earned dollars on. This is why we were pumped when we heard that agents who are using our Agency Elephant automation software wanted to share their thoughts about using our product!
We shot this review of Agency Elephant with Dallas Downey, an agent with Clemens Agency Co. in Indiana. Dallas had been in the insurance space for a while before he decided he could free up the funds for automation software, and he's glad he finally did.
Click the video to hear his thoughts on bringing automation into his insurance agency and see why he'd recommend it to anyone who may be on the fence about trying Agency Elephant!
Most people in sales have a product they can lean on. They have a service or a physical ware that they can point to for their buyers to be sold on.
As an insurance agent, you're in a unique position of selling a product that your customers can't reach out and touch, see or smell. This means that insurance agents have to lean even more heavily on the connection they create with the client. The client is buying your policy based on YOU and their feeling and belief that they can trust you. For this reason, the client/agent relationship is at the forefront of your business. This makes CRM, customer relationship management, incredibly important for insurance agents. The following are a few ways that CRM really comes through for the insurance industry.
BETTER CLIENT COMMUNICATION
Getting in touch with your clients and customers is easier when a CRM system for insurance sales is used. CRM insurance software easily connects with different email programs while also connecting using text messaging/SMS and social media options. These connectivity options let agents seamlessly communicate with clients and customers on a more personalized level, send messages and replies, and offer tailored solutions to fit the client's needs.
BETTER CLIENT OPPORTUNITIES
One big bonus of CRM for insurance sales is the ability to use the “opportunities” feature. This allows agents to organize your leads that allow users to track potential clients for the entire arc of the client experience - from initial contact to closing the deal. Moreover, this feature allows agents to create forecasts and reports, and to even set specific notifications for birthdays and appointments.
BETTER MANAGEMENT OF DATA
Insurance agencies have a TON of information to keep track of. The daily upkeep of data management is a huge task for agencies of any size because the information they need to generate accurate customer profiles can be scattered over lots of different policies, claims, files and documents. Using CRM software makes organizing all of the data way more time efficient for agents.
With everyone's data available online, data security is very crucial for every insurance agent. Client data MUST be protected from unauthorized access to prevent it from being tampered with, destroyed, or disclosed to others. Without any CRM software, customer data and management are at a high risk of being breached. This data contains important information about the financial transactions of each customer and IS NOT something an agent can risk getting out. Many CRM solutions contain built-in data security measures with features for agents to use certain security protocols to gain access or change data.
Agencies and agents can use CRM for insurance sales data because it builds a better sales prediction model and that makes customers feel important. Agents are able to better understand what the clients might need in the future by looking closely at their behavior, history, and profile information. Brand loyalty and business relationships are improved greatly by using every advantage available.
Customer relationship management is extremely important for creating a level of customer satisfaction that gets agents to a more fruitful client/agent experience. When agencies use CRM for insurance sales, they empower their insurance agents with the most advanced tools to get to know their customers, what they want, and deliver the best product possible.
This post originally ran on Quotit.
The insurance industry is highly competitive. Even if your brokerage or agency is doing a great job, there’s a good chance some of your clients will leave—if for no other reason than that research suggests people switch insurance plans often. To get your brokerage or agency to the next level, you need to do everything within your power to boost customer retention rates. Not only is it easier to sell to an existing customer than to a new one, but it’s also more lucrative.
One of the easiest ways insurance agencies and brokerages can increase retention is by using modern tools that make it easier to provide top-notch service to their clients. One such tool is called a customer relationship management (CRM) system, which helps you keep track of client-specific information while automating repetitive tasks and reducing human error.
What Is a CRM and What Does It Measure?
A customer relationship management solution helps you keep track of all kinds of information about your clients. Your insurance agency or brokerage should use a CRM to store the following information:
In addition to helping you keep track of all of this data, today’s leading CRM solutions can also be integrated with other tools. For example, by integrating your CRM solution with an online quoting and enrollment tool, you can improve your relationships with existing customers while strengthening your outreach to cold prospects and optimizing lead management—all of which ultimately translates into increased retention rates and more referrals.
With a CRM for insurance agents in place, you get the peace of mind that comes with knowing you won’t have to rely on bad data or—worse yet—no data. Instead, you’ll also have access to robust client profiles that are always just a few clicks away. With more information on hand, you can launch targeted, data-driven marketing efforts that will enable you to enjoy better business outcomes by serving up personalized experiences to your clients, leads, and other prospects on a regular basis.
Set Your Agency or Brokerage Apart with Modern CRM Tools
If your insurance agency or brokerage is still relying on spreadsheets to run your business, it’s time to consider moving to a modern CRM solution.
A CRM enables you to automate repetitive tasks while ensuring that you stay on top of important milestones—such as birthdays, policy renewals, and aging into Medicare.
Add it all up, and it’s an easy and fast way to provide better, personalized experiences to your clients, increasing your competitiveness and boosting your retention rates. What’s not to like?
This post by Kelly Donahue-Piro originally ran on Agency Nation.
Technology has assisted us to do many thing these days (such as ordering more dishwasher tabs by voice from my Alexa). So as an insurance agency have you researched and implemented a strategy to infuse technology into your sales process?
Now, this doesn’t mean that artificially intelligent bots are binding coverage (although that will probably happen someday). What it does mean is you’re stacking the deck in your favor by using modern tools. When everyone has to buy your product, finding the cool factor is critical. I will stand by this, people value convenience over price and infusing technology into your process can do just that!
We have created this technology checklist that you can use in your agency to identify where technology can help you attract more opportunities, improve your closing ratio and generate additional referrals with the assistance of technology.
1. Building and Maintaining a Modern Website
Your website is on your sales team today. This means you need to be in tune with best practices and the overall health of your website. A few notable items you should consider: Contact forms on the home page, phone number at the top right, mobile friendly and speed to load.
A great website encourages submissions and a terrible one, well the leads have to burn too many calories to want to do business with you. Also, consider chat bots on your site for those who would rather “chat” than speak to someone (Remember, a great deal of people still shop for insurance at work).
Now you may think “What does a headset have to do with sales?” Everything. If you can be more mobile you can complete application information even faster and with greater accuracy. Better yet you can get rid of the outdated hand written quote sheet and become far more efficient.
3. Templated Emails
It’s always better to automate them whenever possible, however for the ones you can’t templetes are a great way to save time. The fewer emails you have to write the better your life will be. You can call more people, or follow up with more leads when you aren’t spending all that time typing routine emails. More importantly the quality will greatly improve.
4. Integrated Proposals
This is tricky, but it can be done. Your agency should absolutely have its own customized proposal. No doubt.
You can look into some automated proposal features such as Pandadocs or Proposify. This will help make you stand out from the crowd and upsell.
5. General Branding Emails
During the sales process people are generally getting several quotes. If someone is getting 3 quotes what’s the likelihood that they remember your name. Not high but sending out general branding emails during the process helps stack the deck in your favor.
6. Video Proposals
You should look into Loom, eventhough I might suggest trying to push your agency to deliver pilimnary quote information on the first phone call. Getting that price in their hads on the phone helps get you closer to a yes.
But if you can’t (not don’t want to) then to set a time to deliver the quote to the person over the phone and ask for the business. If you get an objection you should then use a video proposal to review what you already discussed. Nothing will ever beat asking for the business from a real live voice.
7. Building Your Database
When you build a database you can then start working contacts through your pipeline. Many of your contacts are not in active buying or consideration mode today. This means you need to nurture them and keep your brand front and center. If you use the right tools (we recommend Hubspot) you can literally see leads being warmed up through the system. We can predict with pretty good accuracy when someone is going to become an opportunity!
8. Follow Up and Pipeline Management
We all get busy right? For many, follow up or prospecting can fall short. The way to safeguard your leads is to automate reminders for follow up. You can have checks and balances on how leads are being handled. Also, many management systems fall short in the area of visualizing the pipeline. When you can’t see your pipeline many leads can fall through the cracks. Hubspot sales has a free tool anyone can use that is great!
Why have more people when you can have better systems? Technology that assists your sales people will help you grow with less effort!