I am of the conviction that MOST insureds are only with you for a time no matter how well you treat them.
Well as Lauren Oliver once said, “Everyone you trust, everyone you think you can count on, will eventually disappoint you.
Now that is not my saying that you, my fair reader, are going to disappoint your insureds. You would never do that. You offer the best customer service and sage wisdom. Your clients LOVE you (I hope) and if they do not… well I will cover how to fix that perhaps in another article down the road.
But the sad truth of the matter is every relationship, no matter personal or business, if it lives long enough… will experience disappointment and in OUR industry… that usually precedes an exodus of your Agency.
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Back to the article.
What is frustrating about it for Agents in particular; is how many outside forces we deal with that can ultimately totally ruin a great relationship.
Relationships that go beyond business at times.
An Underwriter does not like the way something on a photo looks from the house – denied.
A claim not being handled properly or paid in full when the insured distinctly remembers having “Full Coverage”
A rate increase that you have no control over.
A bad interaction with one of your staff.
The list goes on and on of ways that outside forces can ruin relationships you hold near and dear in your Agency.
Which leads me to my topic today….
Knowing that EVERY relationship has a shelf life…
Knowing that SOMEHOW... SOMEWAY... at SOME POINT.... the likelihood is that SOMEONE or SOMETHING is going to sour a household…
Why do MOST Agents fear trying to deepen a relationship with an insured from the on-set?
If you took an honest accounting of your Agency and staff…. What percentage of the interactions you have with your new insureds are tackling the whole enchilada?
Most Agents are scared to go too fast, too hard, too soon with a new insured.
They’re comfortable selling the home and auto together. Some are even ok trying to position a term life or a disability policy in with it… but most are not.
And once that client LEAVES your office that first time… for MANY of them… it WILL be the LAST time.
It will also be the last time you speak to many of them until they have a problem with you.
I am 40 years old and I have been a customer of the same exact insurance company since I have been 18 years old, for my auto insurance.
Do you know how many times they have EVER called me?
ZERO. LITERALLY ZERO. Someone call their local carrier suit and tell them what a bad job they do making their insureds feel special!
I get a birthday card from them every single year though with a printed fake signature AND a Christmas card from them so I know Im on their minds though. Real genuine stuff.
But my experience with my car insurance Agency is NOT unique and MANY insureds also NEVER hear again from their Agent or Agency.
Knowing your insured is never going to call you… and knowing there’s a good chance you are the type of Agent / Agency that rarely or never calls your actual insureds….
Why are you not trying to cross sell the heck out of them WHILE the relationship is STILL GOOD?
Sitting down with the client during their first 6 months with you is CRUCIAL in creating depth in the relationship and really anchoring that household down with you for a bit.
The client is at their happiest. They have not had any interactions with outside forces yet. They haven’t called in yet in a bad mood and been rude to your CSR and got some back from them in return. They probably do not have a claim. They have not experienced a rate increase. No one has rocked the boat with them yet.
On Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 album, there is a track called On to the Next One.
The lyrics tell stories of people who are not happy with what they have in life and are moving on to the bigger and better thing.
Id like to implore you to pay attention to a key line of the song though…
“Hey bring it back, now double your money and make a stack”
You need to think like this with your new households.
If you are not cross selling that client to the fullest during that first policy period with them and you just are “On to the next one”
In 3 months from now when they have a fender bender and do not like the claim handling… in 6 months from now when their rate goes up $4.61/mos… in 18 months when their cousin opens an Agency… in 9 months when SOMETHING happens that rubs them the wrong way…
Theyre “On to the Next One” too…
But when you “Bring em back” you “double your money and make a stack”
Let’s say for sake of the conversation you just booked the Jones families 2 cars.
They do not want to bring their homeowners over just yet as they feel it will be a pain and it's set up through escrow.
So you close the deal and move on. $1000 semi annual premium at 12% commission.
You make $240 on that client the first year.
You do not think twice about them because you're in hunter mode and you cant try and convince your existing book to insure further.
Month 11 they get a renewal notice and they're upset. They shopped you – didn’t even tell you – and are out the door.
Now you made $240 on the sale over the year … but had to pay Johnny boy, your producer, 50% commission on round one – so you really made $180… oh yeah and Johnny makes $15 an hour and the deal took 2 hours to chase down and set up… so you’re down to $150… of that $150, 40% is going towards your overhead and costs… youre down to $90… and you have not paid taxes on the money yet.. so you are really down to about $65 profit….
Oh yeah and Mrs Jones called in once to ask questions for 30 minutes… $58 profit…
And she called in with the rate increase to ask why and Johnny spent another 30 minutes with her…. $50 profit
On paper you made $240… in reality you made $50. …
And to replace that household you need to buy 8 internet leads… at $10 each…
And congratulations… you are officially in the red on that household. Don’t like that math at the end of the equation? Throw it in at the beginning. Took 8 leads to acquire the household. Results are the same.
Stay with me.
Now in walk the Smiths.
Same situation. They ONLY want to give the cars. Home is set up through escrow. They have enough life through work.
They leave that day and you ONLY closed the cars… 2 cars… $1000 semi annual at 12% - $240…
But even though you did not close the home or life, you spend your first 90 days following up with them to make sure they're happy and after hearing from you in month 3, they agree to come down to your office and make sure they have what they need protected, protected.
No other Agent has ever done this for them before and it feels special.
They come in and the relationship has become whole. It is no longer transactional or quick commission and the Agent is able to share their human side, laugh together with the prospect more as it’s a comfortable meeting, and truly deliver some candid value and advice the insured needed to hear but wouldn’t listen to when they were being “sold”
Now the Smiths bring their home over for the auto home discount - $1800 annual premium at 12% - $216 in commission…
During the conversation you were able to truly overcome why life insurance at work doesn’t cut the mustard and even though its not the whole life you felt the PH SHOULD have, they did take a term life policy out to cover their mortgage and provide each other 5 years income should one of them pass…
First term was $30/mos and the second was $22/mos - $924 year one premium. Lets call it 40% commission because that’s what captives seem to accept as the norm.
That’s an additional $370 in commission…. AND a third product they now have with you… that they purchased based on your advice and expertise… that you did not get a chance to display while just closing the auto.
And then on month 11… when the Smiths get that rate increase… they remember that you saved them money by bringing their auto policy over… they remember that you saved them MORE money when they brought their home over… they remember that they saved even MORE money on BOTH by bundling… and they remember that YOU are the FIRST person who spoke to them about the situation theyd be in if they didn’t have the right life insurance set up. And MOST powerful? They remember YOU and the RELATIONSHIP.
Now all those things that are out of your control do not seem nearly as big a deal to the insured. Moving to a new insurer is a pain in the ass. They have so much with you. They trust you even though they are not happy with the rate increase.
And the Smiths stay with you for 8 years….
That auto policy paid you $1,920 over that term… the home paid $1728… and the life paid $370 year one with some trailers over the years, albeit small.
That household that would have left you at the end of the first year with just 2 cars and you earning a meager $50... before having to replace them.
Instead you have a relationship that paid out about $4,000 while you protected them that also sent you in 2 referrals a year on average…. With ½ of them becoming new households themselves.
Do you follow what I am driving at here?
You HAVE to pursue a deeper relationship with your new policyholders.
You can not just be “On To The Next One”
You HAVE to “Bring em Back” so you can “Double Your Money and Make a Stack”
Deepen those relationships my Agent friends.
Its far superior to always looking for the next one.
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There is an epidemic amongst the insurance agent community
An inability to really do well with social media. And it is really so easy if you know how.
Stay with me.
As the hosts of Insurance Soup, we see a TREMENDOUS amount of insurance agent activity on social media. With 30,000 in our free group, 4000 people on both our friends lists being agents, 4600 Agents on my Linkedin contact list, 8000 in our Linkedin group, and a horde of Twitter followers, our social media basically looks like it should be called LinkedInsurance or FaceBookofbusiness.
That said our news feeds are really bombarded with the messages Agents try and leverage to motivate and mobilize their audiences into doing business.
Here are 7 of the larger problems we see on the social platforms on a regular basis.
#1 – Lack of authenticity or fear of acceptance
This is problem numero uno for most Agents. The fear of being disliked online. Agents are so afraid that they are going to do or say the wrong thing that they wind up either staying very vanilla and opinion free OR do not really post at all and simply lurk and watch.
Understandable that you would want to keep your audience happy. But social media is a revolving door and you have the ability to build and craft an audience that falls right in line with all the things you are about.
Afraid that you have drastically different views than most of your audience but have a hobby or interest that you absolutely love? Use your platform to speak on that hobby or interest and join communities of like minded people and begin adding friends.
You are able to create an audience online that mirrors who you are… you do not need to try and mirror what you think your audience is comprised of. If you are trying to mirror your friends list you are doing it wrong. Your friends list should mirror who you are as a person and the audience is easy to build as most people at this point are open to new friend requests particularly if there are things or people in common.
#2 – Lack of original thought and content
This is an issue on multiple levels.
The first one really grinds my gears and I’ve addressed it in Insurance Soup.
Every now and then an Agent will have a tremendously powerful post. Perhaps theyre sharing a story or just driving an idea home in a way that just makes sense.
Its obviously an attempt at marketing to anyone within the industry. To a casual friend or contact it reads as a wake up call or reminder of something they need to take care of. People begin to show interest based on the post....
And then it happens.
A Rogue Agent will hop in the comments and comment “Stealing This!!” as an attempt to compliment the original poster. And the post comes to a screeching halt as future readers now look at the post skeptically and like the Agent was fishing for business and not sharing something thought worthy.
On the flip side, when Agents actually DO steal content or posts only to learn that oh it didn’t work with my audience.
Now normally these posts are the silly, off the wall, random posts and not the insurance related ones. These posts are to build edgerank.
Edgerank, if you are not familiar, is the momentum you have on the Facebook platform based on how much engagement and interaction you have. The more often someone interacts with you the more often they see your posts.
Low hanging fruit edgerank posts are not universal skeleton keys.
Think about it.
I am 40 and live in a liberal, white collar, upper middle class suburb. Do you really think that something my audience finds funny is going to be the same as yours if you are 25 and living in a conservative lower income blue collar rural area?
We are not the same. Travel the country a little. We live in different worlds. Different species of humans practically.
Utilize your noggin and put out your own stuff. Attract like minded people. Let people know who you are and what youre about. It goes far in building the know, like, and trust factor that most consumers are seeking.
#3 – Locking down their profile
Agents who do this make me scratch my head. I get it. You want privacy. You want to keep strangers away.
But you are also a business owner, an entrepreneur, and whether you like it or not, in a social industry that is forged with RELATIONSHIPS.
If you are on social media and trying to uncover opportunity and people come across you and your profile is locked down?
They aint going to work that hard to figure out how to get in touch with you.
We have tremendous capabilities to manage privacy on social platforms. Hell I have custom audiences for posts I do not want my family to see, posts I do not want Agents to see, posts I do not want anyone outside of XYZ circle to see…
Locking down your profile so no one can message you or send you a friend request is the quickest way to detur anyone from ever reaching out.
And yes ladies, I do know that you are bombarded with bullshit. You are solicited for dates, sent dick pics, and asked to do some really odd stuff by the creepers of the internet.
Unfortunately it is just part of what you signed up for if youre in the business and attempting to use social media for business.
Learn to love your block feature. Hell host a block party. Just do not avoid conversations online because some of them may ask for your hand in marriage if you would only move to Nairobi. I know I am writing about it more cavalier than how intrusive and offensive some of these requests and pictures you receive may be... but it is something that you just need to get past and understand that until society evolves a bit more its just a stupid thing you have to deal with that you do not like.
Simply eliminate those you do not like in your social sphere once you know who they are. Do not keep everyone at a distance out of fear of the occasional boogey man that you have the power to make disappear.
#4 Insulting Their Audience
This always perplexes me.
La-a (pronounced Ladasha), in a moment of frustration, throws out a post that is either a well-intended rant or a jab at something they just saw online.
Sure we can joke about it in Insurance Soup all we want. Its an industry water cooler. We all know the struggle and we are all fighting the good fight. A rant or jab at the consumers in a safe haven amongst friends in the trust tree.
But when it is done with your AUDIENCE?
It looks poor.
GO FUND ME IS NOT LIFE INSURANCE!
Think about that for a moment.
Youre just casually going through your newsfeed as a member of the public. And there it is.
GO FUND ME IS NOT LIFE INSURANCE.
Was not really sure what that was about but the insurance guy on my Facebook just yelled for some reasn.
Now imagine it if you are currently dealing with a loss and have a gofundme going.
That asshole just insulted me. Not going to work with him.
Even worse are the Agents who go on a rant about how irresponsible people are.
Will you get business from it? Will I get a comment on this blog post telling me that they yelled at people and got a policy from it?
A broken clock is right two times a day. That doesn’t mean it tells the time.
People like to feel good about the decisions they make and they like to feel smart and intelligent.
Guide and educate. Tell stories. But never insult someone that would buy easier if you were to make them feel good about taking the steps necessary to fix a problem then berating them for having the problem.
#5 – ALWAYS POSTS ABOUT INSURANCE
You know this Agent.
The only thing they talk about on social media is Insurance. How much money they saved someone. How many appointments they have today. Rates just went down. Im at BNI.
No one cares.
Don’t believe me?
Then look at your engagement. Conversation over.
#6 NEVER POSTS ABOUT INSURANCE
The opposite end of the spectrum.
One out of every 5-10 posts SHOULD be career focused.
The audience needs a reminder of what you do and if done correct will prompt many a quote request over the years.
Keep it light and fun. Tell stories about what happened at work or with a Policy Holder.
When you NEVER talk about your career on social media no one knows what you do… and that is just as big a problem as when you talk about it TOO much.
Do not make announcements about how much money you saved a fictional new client. People can not envision that. Tell stories about what the savings is doing for the new family. Tell stories about how you helped someone plan for the future or clean up a mess from the past.
“I just saved a man $116 a month on their car insurance! Whos next!” is not a real strategy.
It also attracts price shoppers. Our favorite clients.
#7 – The Group Spammer
You know this Agent. Hell maybe you ARE this Agent. Hopefully not.
Theyre a part of 217 groups… and once a day your notifications go off and you get all excited that there’s some new stuff to check out… only to find out Cletus is at it again posting the same post in 19 places the last 74 seconds.
Not only does Cletus get kicked out of several groups every single day that are ripe for the picking if he just knew how to navigate… but the ones he is NOT kicked out of are definitely not paying an ounce of attention to anyone that just walks into a group, screams something, and leaves.
Could you imagine doing this anywhere else?
Walk into your BNI next week and just yell that you’ve got some great insurance rates and helped one of their neighbors earlier today and walk out.
Go back to your office.
Report to me at the end of the day how many people did business with you from your announcement at BNI.
You need to get involved in your local community groups and be a resource. Honestly, we advise you go a step further and start your own community group and be THE resource.
What other things do you see Agents doing wrong on social media?
Chime in the comments section and let’s all work together to help one another not make big mistakes while navigating the social media jungle
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On to the show.
With the dawn of a new year and a new decade we are bound to see some pretty big changes in our industry the next 10 years or so.
I decided to whip out my crystal balls and make a few predictions for the decade to come… so here is my list of 7 things to expect in the insurance industry in the 2020's
1 – We are going to see a LOT of large, established companies from outside the industry join the fray.
We already know that Amazon is pushing into the market. Exploring both home and auto insurance, and a new emerging health insurance plan called Haven; it is evident that this is a space Amazon is interested in… but who else is thinking about jumping in the pool?
Well Walmart has jumped into the Health Insurance space partnering with Directhealth.com to bring plans to market.. and while already owning one of the country’s largest pharmacies
CVS and Walgreens already offer small-scale clinics in some retail locations and both have plans to expand those services.
Costco is already selling auto and home through Ameriprise.
With all these mega box and online retailers pushing into the industry and consumers looking for easy experiences and transparency do not be surprised if in the future you will be asked by your cashier at Walmart if you would like to put next month’s insurance premium on your card at the point of sale.
How will all of this impact the local Agent at the Agency level?
2 – The Rise of Data
Data has become a tremendously useful tool in calculating rates throughout the history of our industry but never has it been so abundant. Carriers large and small are all beginning to look at tons of data points that barely or did not even exist just 10 years ago. While your MVR, CLUE, credit report, and zip code may all have played factors in the past…. The future will consist of models that incorporate data received from smartphones, telematics, drone data, video monitoring, and more.
That data will affect underwriting in ways that are currently not easy to predict but many of the newer data points being studied show far more accuracy to pricing a risk than older models.
But the future of data is not simply in underwriting – There are programs in development already that are able to study algorithms on a mass scale to predict the future needs of your clients and when they are most likely to actually want those needs….
Imagine getting a notification that 5 people in your book are probably at the right stage to buy life insurance because they just turned 40, make over $100k a year, have a large mortgage balance, are the primary wage earner, and have a 13-16 year old child who will be starting college within the next 5 years.
3 – Self driving cars
Now I am not sure to what extent this will impact the roads by the end of the decade but my prediction is that the self-driving car will be relevant and on the rise by the end of the 20s. They will be available to the public but probably still very expensive.
It brings about a ton of questions as to how to insure, though. How can you be held responsible for an accident that occurred while you were not driving?
Does the liability fall back on the manufacturer?
Does the cost roll back into the sale of the car? Does it reflect in loan payments?
With new cars all coming equipped with WIFI and the manufacturers already able to run diagnostics on most newer cars virtually, will there be a “big brother” element that is introduced at a higher level than the consumers perceived intrusion of privacy of telematics that allows insurance companies to get a true idea of how everyone is driving whether they like it or not? The data already exists and the manufacturers have access to it.
Could it lead to a significant reduction in consumer auto insurance premium and if so how do Agents make up for this loss of income in their business?
There have been bold predictions claiming that cars of the future may not even be able to go over the speed limits as the car will not accelerate faster than the limit.
Self driving cars have implications far and wide in our world.
4 – Smart Homes
Smart homes are on the rise and the number of things your smart home can “do” to protect your home will only continue to increase. Imagine a pipe busting in your home and your house knowing to shut the water lines off. Imagine a fire breaking out in your home while you sleep and the house notifying the fire department at the same time your fire alarm wakes you up out of a dead sleep. Considering a small fire can double in size every 30 seconds that extra 3 minutes can keep the fire from becoming 4-6x as big a problem to put out... while saving that much more of the structure from peril.
5 – Weird new product types
With the rise of the digital age and there being so many industries that operate digital and virtual there will be a significant need for new products. Interesting and weird stat – 2 out of 3 kids growing up today will find careers in fields that do not even exist yet. One of the more interesting policies I uncovered while researching this article is from a company called Insurninja –
What does Insurninja cover? Virtual video game profiles and characters. With the amount of time, resources, and money many gamers put into building their stats online the losses have true real-world impact on financial stability and have become an all new coverage type that did not exist a short time ago. Ridiculous? You may think so but don’t go telling Chad. He’s got Deathknight all the way up to level 62 and it has taken him 3 years…..
6 – The rise of Insurtech allowing smaller carriers to compete better with the larger carriers.
While I have always believed that the captive model is being eroded every day simply by the amount of information available to Agents on social media these days.. the independent agent is becoming more and more agile and competitive every single day with the advances in technology that they have access to that the captive agent is not allowed to use.
As more Insurtech companies get their footings and deliver impactful services to the “small guy” expect the smaller carriers and independent agents to be able to deliver on many of the things that the large carriers are either doing extremely well right now that small agents are not… or to outperform the giants in niches that render large carriers irrelevant
Open APIs allowing technology and software owned by different vendors to communicate with one another will only expedite the closing of the gap as one of the largest problems facing independent agents and smaller carriers is getting all their systems to sync up and talk to one another. The mere elimination of manual data entry from one software or service to another is enough to provide smaller companies a nice amount of
Many smaller carriers and independent agents do not have the ability to provide some of the easier communication access points that the big boys all have standard but with automation, chatbots, a rising comfort in Virtual Assistants, and a reduction in cost around app creation, and the rise of social media… smaller carriers and independent agents are able to provide the same types and levels of service across the same communication channels as the big boys with ease.
7 - The Decline of the Captive Model
Now I am not going to be so bold as to say it is going extinct. But the reality is as the world continues to get smaller and Agents continue to have access to more and more research, peers, and information the migration will continue to pick up speed.
Many of the captive carriers such as Allstate have expanded their offerings to now let independents sell their policies while others like Nationwide will be out of the captive game by July of this year. Farmers seems to be consolidating in many areas of the country as well with District Managers all making their way to the unemployment lines and Agents that miss their production numbers by the slimmest of margins being told to kick rocks and close up their Agencies.
Compound that with the smarter, savvier consumer who is able to do more research and pursue the type of experience they want out of their insurance and the cookie cutter, one product fits all, one culture fits all captive model will continue to struggle until they evolve.
That is not to say these companies will go away. My prediction is quite the opposite. As more and more enter the independent model system I predict that many of these companies will thrive more than ever before.
As a captive not being able to place turndowns anywhere means letting good business walk. Having a home for them while they fit the larger carriers mold a little better can keep clients unhappy with a carrier in house with an Agent until it is a good time for them to return.
8 – Health Insurance will remain a hot button topic with no clear path solution.
That’s all I am going to say about that to keep the comments section clean.
What kind of predictions do you have for the next 10 years in our great industry?
Weigh in below!
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