When Agents Fail Their Clients

June 26, 2019 Laird Rixford


upset-woman-by-laptop
 

Yesterday I had a realization. It has been roughly a year, and I hadn’t heard from my insurance agency.  

This agency handles a specialty line of insurance outside of my normal auto and property. I was pretty sure it was nearing a year since I bought the policy, but I wasn’t confident. So, I dug up my policy and lo and behold… it expired two weeks prior. 

Well, isn’t that embarrassing. I immediately had two questions: 

  1. What can I do?  
  2. What options do I have?  

The agency’s website did not give me any insight into what happens next. So, I called the agency to inquire about my now-defunct policy.  

After a few prompts of the phone system, I spoke to someone who confirmed that indeed my policy had lapsed. They also told me they had sent AN email two months back with my renewal information. Begrudgingly, I searched my entire mailbox only to find it hanging out in the junk folder. 

I was promised a call back the next day. I waited for two days, uninsured. 

This is a real life, personal example of a breakdown of an insurance customer experience. 

 

Up to Expiration 

A single email is not an experience. But, the email did further this poor customer experience in three significant ways.  

  1. It came from a different individual than whom I had originally bought my policy from. (I whitelist people I work with, so their emails don't end up in my junk folder.)  
  2. The email came from a different company. (In the year since I purchased the policy, the agency had been acquired by another agency.)  
  3. The subject line stated it was a quote. It did not mention renewal or convey any existing business relationship. 

Better communication from the agency could have avoided this terrible customer experience. A simple email stating my point of contact had changed. Or, an email stating the agency had been acquired and to expect a new look. Or, an email, call or mailed notice stating they sent a renewal quote and had not yet heard from me. 

Even without a notification of the ownership or contact change, they could have made that final attempt at customer service... An email or a call a few days before expiration. A simple message conveying they had yet to receive a renewal and to call immediately to avoid a lapse in coverage would have saved a lot of heartache and stress. 

 
Upon Expiration 

People go without insurance all the time. I don’t. It scares me.  

Had I known my policy expired, it would have been the first call I made that day. Yet, I was oblivious.  

Could you argue it was my responsibility to know when my policy was to renew? Yes. Is that a good argument? No.  

Most businesses build long-term value through retention of customers. The insurance industry is no exception.  

To a consumer, insurance is a product you should forget about. We pay for it for once or twice a year. It is something we hope never to use.  

For these reasons, agencies should be hyper diligent in their efforts to keep policies renewing. You do this by creating a complete customer experience before, during and after the sale.  

 
After Expiration 

I’ll admit in the time that I was uninsured in this matter, I put myself at significant peril. If I had an incident during that lapse in coverage, it would have devastated me financially. Consumers need to understand this risk.  

There are four scenarios where I may not have wanted to renew the policy:  

  1. I no longer need the coverage.  
  2. I chose a different provider.  
  3. I had an oversight, which lead to a lapse in coverage.  
  4. I could no longer afford the insurance.  

Attempting to find out why an insured chooses not to renew a policy can lessen the possible risk for all parties involved. It is also the best time to educate consumers of the risks of being uninsured.  

 
It Shouldn’t Be This Hard 

Technology today allows agencies to create a curated and holistic customer experience. Like comparative raters and online portals linking with agency management systems and automated marketing platforms.  

Such technologies allow agents and brokers to send timely customized emails to their clients throughout the customer journey. 

Consumers have come to expect a higher level of customer experience. It is time for the insurance industry to catch up to that expectation.  

If you need help with this, let’s talk.  

Oh, and I did end up getting covered again with a new policy. But, I bought it from a different insurance agency. 

About the Author

Laird Rixford

As CEO, Laird Rixford is responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership for the company. Rixford has a proven executive management track record and has more than 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship and insurance technology. An expert in insurance technology and marketing, Laird is a recognized public speaker and has presented at industry events across the United States.

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