Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tague Alliance - Insurance Study On Serving Future Customers

The member insurance agencies of Tague Alliance and SIAA can learn a few interesting things from watching this video. Does "trust" rank as the most important factor that comes to your mind when considering what our client really wants from an insurance company? My guess is that you would say great products and/or a low price. Based on the study conducted in 11 countries with 4400 insurance consumers price is a factor but not the most important factor. You will also see in the video that about half of the consumers who are classified as being "people" centered prefer to work with an insurance expert, i.e. an agent.

So while "trust" is hugely important for the insurance carriers to foster with insurance clients, it is equally important for independent insurance agents to foster and focus on trust building with their clients. One key element in building trust with clients is being able to place their business with top rated insurance companies who have a stellar claims handling reputation and claims processing. A claim is when the trust factor is put to the biggest test.

Tague Alliance members need to realize that they must engage the client multiple times throughout the year in a number of different ways. Trust is built in multiple ways, but one key foundation of trust is the "relationship" that the agent has with their clients. This does not mean that you have to be best friends with every client, but it does mean that you need to be accessible when the client needs you, respond with relevant and efficient service, and be consistent in the handling of the client needs.

In addition, trust can be facilitated through "transparency" and "openness". A simple way to be more transparent is through the use of Facebook which can be used to create more personalization of your agency to your clients. This is a simple concept and one that takes time to create and manage. However, this personal extension of your agency helps to to foster relationship which in turn breeds more trust. Side note - if your agency is not careful about what is posted, said, and shown on a site like Facebook you can destroy all your good intentions very quickly. So the agency must be aware of posting only relevant consumer focused information that works toward building more client relationship.

The video below is meant for insurance companies, but has some good insights for Tague Alliance members and independent insurance agents in general.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tague Alliance - Do Not Lie On Your Insurance Application

By Tony Veteto
Tague Alliance, a SIAA Master Agency

As an insurance agent one of the most challenging things to work through with the insured is the "truth". There are many prospects that come to us for a quote on auto insurance and when we question them about accidents and tickets they suddenly have selective memory. To be fair, many of us cannot remember exactly when we may have received a ticket or had an accident. However, most of us know that we have had some type of incident during a given time period. I recently came across an article from Rough Notes Magazine regarding a court case where coverage was denied due to misrepresentations by the insured.

Insured responsible for statements on application

On October 22, 1992, Jaber (first name not shown) met with William Kasirye, an independent insurance agent, about automobile insurance from Prudential. He stated that he was married, employed, had not been cited for or convicted of a traffic violation in the past 60 months, and had not been involved in any losses or insurance claims during the 36 months preceding his application. At that time, Jaber paid a premium of $129 and Kasirye issued a binder effective immediately.

Prudential then requested and received a report from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles which showed that Jaber had moving violations in 1989 and 1991, and had been involved in an accident on January 2, 1992.

On November 9, 1992, Jaber submitted a notice of loss in which he reported his car had been stolen two days before. On December 7, Prudential sent him a letter denying liability and declaring the policy void from inception. The company returned the premium that Jaber had paid.

In May 1995, Jaber filed suit for declaratory judgment and sought reimbursement for his car and compensatory and punitive damages. Prudential asserted that the policy was void from inception since his statements in the application were warranties and that the application was a part of the policy. Also the binder had been issued based on the application.

The trial court entered judgment in favor of Prudential, and Jaber appealed.

Jaber contended that, although he had signed the application, the agent had filled in the answers to the questions and, thus, he was not responsible for the falsity of those answers. Furthermore, he asserted that the policy did not warn that any misrepresentations in the application would void the policy.

The higher court pointed out that the policy contained the following statement: "By accepting this policy, you agree that the statements on your Application are true and correct. This policy is issued relying on the accuracy of these statements." The binder that had been issued also contained a similar statement.

The judgment entered in the trial court in favor of Prudential was affirmed.

Jaber, Appellant, v. Prudential Insurance Company of America--No. L-95-347--Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District, Lucas County--August 16, 1996--681 North Eastern Reporter 2d 478. *

©COPYRIGHT: The Rough Notes Magazine, 1998

After reading the case above there should be no doubt in the mind of the agent or the insured that true and accurate information must be represented on the insurance application! The insurance company has grounds to deny a claim if an insured misrepresents the facts when applying for the insurance policy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tague Alliance 5th Annual Awards Dinner

Well another successful event is in the history books and what an evening it was! Thank you to all our members, staff, and sponsoring companies. Everyone had a wonderful time of fun and networking. Tague Alliance works hard to provide resources to our members through SIAA so they can grow their insurance agencies. Our Annual Awards Dinner is a celebration of the Tague Alliance member agency results!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tague Alliance - Stay Educated and Connected

The blog post below by Penny Hagerman is a great reminder that insurance agents need to get out of their office and start networking with other professionals. In addition, it is critically important that the agent become educated and knowledgeable on the coverage and products they are selling. Get out and make it happen. Tony

The Importance of Staying “Edumacated”

Last week, one of the agents on our network called to speak with me directly after reading this blog. He wanted to contribute his views on a previous post “in person,” rather than leaving a comment.

During that conversation, which ended up lasting nearly an hour (and I loved every minute of it!), we ended up talking about the challenges of being an agent, from persistency, to the cost of underwriting, to finding ways to stay in touch with clients.

But one thing this agent asked resonated especially loudly with me: Why aren’t agents getting out away from their desks, taking seminars and conferences, becoming experts on their products, and networking with other professionals?

And he’s right. There’s a definite perception in the industry that if you’re not sitting at your desk working leads, making calls and following up with clients, you’re not making money.

In fact, a recent article published online at American Agent & Broker indicates that “…agents aren’t particularly keen on lunches and conferences for new product information. Just 4 in 10 say they learn about new insurance products at lunches or speaker events, while less than that say they go to conferences to gain this knowledge.”

I’d like to pose another question I think has equal merit: How much more time could you save and money could you make if you started:

  • learning everything there is to know about the products you’re selling (as well as new ones being introduced)
  • networking with other agents to gain their perspectives, ideas and opinions (and possibly find some you’d consider partnering with)
  • talking and role-playing with others to learn techniques for educating, selling and forming long-term relationships
  • Staying up-to-date on the laws and regulations that govern insurance in your state
  • Visiting with customers “in person” (as I did with this agent) to let them know you’re there if they need anything and are always willing to help (this can be accomplished in person, by email from a PDA or by phone while you’re on your way to another appointment or out grabbing lunch)

We all know the power of referrals. They cost you nothing and can result in some pretty substantial income. By staying educated, possibly trading business with other agents whose products compliment yours, and using your knowledge to educate clients and promote yourself and your agency, you’re likely to, in turn, increase your referral volume.

Staying educated can also help you gain confidence in yourself and what you do, enabling you to more effectively convey value to new leads and clients.

Do you sit at your desk day after day, working leads but neglecting opportunities to grow your business in other ways? If so, I’d like to encourage you to make a change today. You never know what you’re missing until you try.

P.S.—Please pardon the title. I couldn’t resist! :)