The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of change for the nation as a whole. Concerns are continuing to grow about the impact of COVID-19. Likewise, insurance agencies have increasingly become worried about their near-term future.
I’m here to say that there is a basis to that concern. We all feel it. But, the insurance industry is strong. Now is the time to show our strength and capture the essence of what makes working with an independent agency great.
While everyone tries to determine what businesses are essential, we can clear one thing up. Insurance is such an essential service that it is required by law.
The time for insurance agents to shine is now. You can do that by being there for your clients during this constantly changing situation. But remember… Being essential does not mean you need to have your offices open or make in-person visits. It does mean that you must be readily available to service your clients from anywhere.
You can provide these essential services to your clients. Through the use of browser-based tools, you can enable your agency to work remotely. These solutions include VoIP phone systems, comparative raters, agency management systems and automated marketing tools.
We have been talking with many agencies who are feeling the collective pain right now. They are justified in their concern. So are you if you’re feeling concerned too. Keep in mind your clients are feeling the same pain, just in different ways.
Insurance is the one thing consumers have to buy, yet they hope to never use. Your clients might forget that while they are sheltering in place and not driving as much. They might even think of insurance as non-essential and choose to allow their policy to lapse.
This where you can step up and offer them options to retain their coverages. Here are some ideas.
We all know that you must keep insurance on your vehicles, And, if you are wise, anything else that is valuable to you. Remind our clients of the that.
Risk does not get sick. It does work from home. It is out there everywhere. On your way to the doctor’s office. Coming back from the grocery store. Risk is always there. Whether one goes out once a month, or once an hour. Insurance is the cure for that risk.
Many consumers feel that insurance comes in only one size. They are often unaware that there are many levers controlling the cost of an insurance policy.
Agents can use these levers to assist clients who are looking to lower costs. It is better for a consumer to remove comprehensive and collision coverages, rental and towing as they drive less rather than allowing their policy to lapse altogether.
What sets an independent agent apart from the others? Choice.
Should a client become concerned about the cost of their insurance but require the same level of coverage, agents have another lever, the choice of carrier. There might another carrier that offers the same level of coverage and service but provides lower commissions and contingency bonuses.
It is better to keep the client than lose them altogether.
Available in the majority of states (I’m looking at you, California), prior coverage is one of the largest discounts and most influential rating factor used in insurance. The everyday consumer does not understand this facet of insurance.
It is an agent’s duty to inform their clients that allowing policies to lapse is a short-term gain with long-term pain. The additional premium paid later far outweighs the money they save now.
Changing Laws and Regulations
Another option available to agents is the ever-changing laws and regulations provided by various relief acts. For example California Insurance Commissioner Richard Lara has called for a 60-day grace period on premiums in response to COVID-19.
As you can imagine, sweeping changes like this can create more damage than they are meant to help. Are commissions paid during this period? Are insured’s really insured? How will claims be handled? Can carrier’s policy systems properly handle these changes? Will consumers have to pay back premiums? All unanswered questions persist.
While a change in the regulatory environment is our backstop, insurance agents should do what they do best. Play it safe and stay on the side where they are comfortable.
You can start all the suggestions above through offering consultative policy reviews for your clients. Make sure to conduct these reviews with the client’s interests in mind.
Yes, you might have a loss to your book of business through these trying times. However, as stated above, it is better to keep 75¢ than lose $1.
An automated marketing system can assist you in this task. Use it to send automated emails offering policy reviews. You can also send timely notices of policy lapses, changes and other pertinent information your clients may need.
As we start to get the economy back on track, consumers will need their agents more than ever. As their financial advisors, agents must step up and help their clients through this time of need. All of this is available to you without stepping out of your remote or home office. It is time to use technology to make your job easier no matter where you are. We’re here to help. Contact us to learn more about our browser-based solutions that enable you to work remotely.
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