Archives for Agencies

Celebrating Cinco de MayoTexas and Mexico have a long history together, from Spanish colonies in both places in the late 1600s, through the Texas Revolutionary War against Mexico, to the current $41 billion per year in Texas exports to Mexico.

So it’s no surprise that in Texas any major “celebration of Mexican heritage and pride” is celebrated widely.

It may be a surprise to you, though, that while Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862, it’s NOT Mexico’s Independence Day, which is September 16. Given the long and rich history Texas and Mexico share, though, it probably should not be surprising that the victorious commander of The Battle of Puebla, Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza, was born in Goliad in 1829.

Cinco de Mayo is primarily a regional holiday celebrated only in the city and state of Puebla, and “is a holiday that is virtually ignored in Mexico”.

You Never Know What Will Catch Fire

The Battle of Puebla was a relatively insignificant event. The French forces were beaten back, but they did capture Puebla only a year later. It’s not even a national holiday in Mexico. Yet on this day each year millions of people, of Mexican heritage and not, will celebrate the day in the United States.

What has caught fire with your clients? Are you trying different ideas? The only way to know what will work is to test many options. When one does catch fire – run with it! Next thing you know you may have a surprise holiday of your own.

What has surprised you? What has resonated with your clients that you didn’t really expect? Share your experience in the comments.

Marco Rubio and Bernie SandersNo matter who you’re rooting for in the presidential primaries this year, there are lessons we can take as professionals from the results and the reactions to them.

In the Iowa caucus held yesterday the candidates who received the most votes and delegates were Ted Cruz on the Republican side and Hillary Clinton on the Democrat side.

But arguably the ones who gained the most were Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders.

Only a short time ago both those candidates were polling in the single digits. In both cases other candidates were widely expected to win, and in some cases, expected to win by a very large margin.

But with a lot of hard work and some good fortune, both clearly exceeded expectations. This will energize their teams, earn them more attention from media, and give them opportunities to capitalize on the shift in perception that simply didn’t exist for them only a few days ago.

Exceeding Expectations Matters

In our businesses it is important that we perform well consistently. Any business that does not do so will lose customers over time.

But significant change – and meaningful growth – comes from exceeding expectations, not just meeting them. Just as for Rubio and Sanders, a positive surprise can energize your team, help spread the word about your offerings, and open new opportunities that haven’t existed before.

Exceeding expectations is hard, which is both why so few companies are able to do it and why the impact of doing it is so big.

At iMGA we work hard to find ways to exceed your expectations. We’ve recently been able to introduce changes that actually mean a decrease in cost and down payment to many of your clients. Those kind of improvements are hard to make happen, but we’ve been able to do it, and we hope it helps us exceed your expectations this year.

Calendar-January2015The start of each year is a great time to take a moment and commit to taking your agency to the next level.

If you have not already done so, we suggest you seriously consider these top resolutions for this year. Committing to and pursuing them can make this year your best and most successful yet.

Know Your Numbers

There are a few critical numbers that drive the growth and profitability of your agency. Do you know those numbers on an annual/quarterly/monthly basis? If not, put in a system or process that ensures you will see them at least monthly. Your critical numbers may vary slightly, but they likely include:

  • Total Number of Clients
  • Average Premium per Client
  • Average Commission Rate
  • Quote-To-Close Ratio
  • Retention Ratio

If you know these numbers and take steps each month to consistently keep them at or above the prior month’s level, you’ll be amazed at the compounded impact over the course of the year.

Know Your Customers

If you’re like many of agents you probably take this one for granted. You know your clients well. You probably know the names of their children – they are likely even neighbors of yours. But it’s critical that you resolve to take this to the next level.

Spend some time this year getting to really know your customers’

  • Pain Points – If you’ve addressed their need for a home or auto insurance policy, what pain points still remain? Knowing that could lead you to offer other products, look for markets that offer other coverage options, or could lead you to offer other services or change your services. Banks have started offering the ability to deposit a check via a smartphone app so customers don’t have to drive to the bank. Even without an app, what pain points can you address by providing different hours, more payment options, or some other process change that really smooths out a current pain point?
  • Needs –  Is cost most important to them? You might be surprised how for most people that’s not the most important factor – and when you start to doubt that just look around for someone carrying or buying bottled water! Even if cost is a need – is it total cost or monthly cost? Can you offer alternatives that address that? If not cost, is it coverage? What coverages do they really need that you can help them get at an affordable price? Finally, is what they really need more or better advice? Is there a scalable way for you to offer more, and more tailored, advice to all your clients? Really knowing these needs – and reviewing them frequently – will help you improve your agency significantly in the eyes of your clients.

Know Your Markets

Whether you are considering entering into a relationship with a new carrier or evaluating your options with a market that you’ve known and worked with for decades, take some time this year with each one to be sure you really understand the options they have available on:

  • Products – You’d be surprised how many agents work with us that focus so much on just one of our products that they don’t take advantage of all of the ones we offer (Renters, Dwelling, MobileHome, Homeowners and Vacant).  Don’t assume you’re familiar with all they offer – make sure.
  • Coverages – Even within each of our products there are a wide range of coverages available. Whether it’s the ability to tailor coverage to be able to provide a place for an older, lower value home or optional coverages for home based businesses or small farms and ranches – there is a lot available to help you. Make sure you and your staff are familiar with those options. If you’d like a refresher on all iMGA has to offer – just call. We’ll be happy to help.
  • Compensation – Different markets offer wildly different commission rates for similar products at similar price points. Are you sure you know how much your being paid by each of your carriers and why? At iMGA we offer different commission levels depending on volume, so just a little more production with us could mean a big increase in pay for you. Some markets, like iMGA, also make it easy for you to charge and collect an agency fee when appropriate, which can make a significant difference in your agency income. Make sure you understand the details with all your markets.

 

These are just three resolutions – with some suggestions on how you can dig into each. But if you make them this year – and stick to them – you’ll see a dramatic improvement in your agency.

At iMGA we’re thrilled to work with agents who are constantly improving – and we’re happy to be a key part of helping them do that. If you are a Texas personal property insurance agent who doesn’t already work with iMGA and would like that kind of support, contact us.

New Office Front DoorLast month we had to change. For the first time in over five years we had to change our address.

Moving is a pain. We had to deal with utility hookups and disconnects, setting up the new network, and transferring or establishing new services – and we were only moving a mile away!

But as a result of this change we now have a great new space with:

  • Room to grow,
  • Space designed for easier collaboration, and
  • Helpful new production areas.

What change(s) can you make that would take your agency to the next level?

Hopefully you won’t have to move any time soon, but don’t wait until you’re forced – go ahead and make some of those changes now. They won’t be easy, but if you are deliberate about them they could be the key to your next growth spurt.

Go for it!

If you’re a Texas Independent insurance agent who wants to work with a personal property market who is constantly looking to grow and improve, contact us.


“Ease of use.” That was Don Miller of Texian Insurance Agency’s answer when asked, “What is most important to you when working with a carrier?”

It’s easy to see why that’s his answer. We all have much more than enough to do every day. The last thing any of us need is more work than necessary to achieve our goals.

New Business

Don went on to add more specifics. He thinks it is particularly important that an agent be able to “easily transfer the information to get the policy issued.”

We couldn’t agree more. At iMGA we work constantly to make quoting and issuing a policy as easy and fast a process as possible.

That’s why we include:

  • Automatic Data Integration with services like ISO and local tax records
  • Instant Policy Issuance
  • Real-Time Policy Document Creation

Endorsements

Don also pointed out that after the sale, “ease of use in making any changes that might need to be made to the policy via endorsements” is also critical.

That’s why some of our most common endorsements can be done by our agents instantly.

For those that cannot, our underwriters are ready and able to help you complete those endorsements in as easy a manner as possible – usually during your call or live chat session.

At iMGA we understand that ease of use is critical to our agents, and we do everything we can to make issuing and managing policies as easy as possible.

If you’re a Texas insurance agent who would like to do business with a company that knows how important good communication is, let us know.

“Their communication with me.” That was Ruth Andrade of Action Express Insurance’s answer when asked, “What is most important to you when working with a carrier?”

It’s easy to see why that’s her answer. Good communication is critical to any healthy business relationship, but it’s especially critical in insurance.

Independent agents need to be able to communicate coverages, exclusions, conditions and terms to their clients. Because independent agents work with multiple markets, it’s critical that those markets do a good job staying in communication with their agents.

At iMGA we work hard to make things easy for our agents, and to provide clear and consistent communication.

That’s why we have:

  • Weekly updates like this one,
  • Automatic emails about every policy transaction,
  • A letter with each insured renewal package explaining coverage changes and options,
  • Help text inside the quoting system, and most importantly,
  • Experienced underwriters able to clearly discuss issues and solutions.

We agree – communication is critical.

If you’re a Texas insurance agent who would like to do business with a company that knows how important good communication is, let us know.

PIA Convention 2014 CE Course PictureThe Texas Professional Insurance Agents annual convention June 4-7 at the Historic Menger Hotel in San Antonio will offer up to 12 hours CE. All CE seminars and the Trade Show are free for agents and CSRs, compliments of iMGA and the other sponsoring companies.

The only cost to agents and CSRs is for optional luncheons and golf if you so choose.

Valuable Continuing Education Topics Covered

On Thursday morning you can learn “How to Evaluate, Buy & Sell a ‘Mom & Pop’ Insurance Agency” or “How to Get Heard in this Noisy World”. Learn the fundamentals of branding and ways to promote your message online, through social media, and through traditional media channels.

On Thursday afternoon you can learn the “Basics of Flood Insurance” or find out why “Medicare is a Must-Have Addition to your Portfolio” and everything you need to know on how to protect your agency and commercial clients from “Cyber Hacking”.

Also on Thursday afternoon you can attend a mock trial in which the agent is accused of saying “You’re fully covered” in a homeowner loss or learn the new changes in Flood Elevation plus how to create a marketing video for your flood insurance program.

On Friday morning you can earn 2 hours Ethics CE and learn how to be on page #1 in Google search or be updated on workers compensation and nonsubscription plus the art of arbitration.

We wrap up the 4 day event on Saturday morning with a 3 hour seminar on “Agency Profit and Growth”.

Fun Activities Too

Why not dress up as your favorite Hollywood star and be in the drawing for $25 gift cards during the Young Insurance Professionals Hospitality Suite on Thursday evening?

Agents and CSRs can tour the Trade Show Thursday and Friday afternoons followed by a wide range of Hospitality Suite events.

 

Registration is free but you must register online at www.PIATX.org because seating is limited.

 

TU-UTEP Football GameYou can’t turn on a football game these days without seeing one or two (or two dozen!) commercials for auto insurance companies promising to save you money. Many of those companies expect you to do most of the work and want you to call only them when you’re considering leaving your current insurance company.

There is a much better way, and no animal (small or large) has to be involved – work with a local insurance agent.

Agents Can Offer Options

Sure, you could spend hours or days visiting multiple web sites and/or calling multiple 800 numbers to try to be sure you’ve gotten the value, but who has the time? Independent insurance agents – and all the agents representing iMGA – can collect your information only once and then use that to get the best value best combination of price and coverage from every company they represent.

Agents Understand the Details

When you buy insurance you’re buying coverage, and there are a LOT of coverage options with every different company and product. An independent insurance agent is a professional whose full-time work is with the details. Using an agent ensures you don’t get any nasty surprises when something happens.

At iMGA we’re proud to work with some of the best insurance agents in Texas. Contact us so we can help you find one.

If you’re a Texas agent that would like another great personal property market, tell us a little bit about yourself.

iMGA Football Contest Winners As with all the best things related to the National Football League, the contest for the authentic Roger Staubach-autographed pigskin was epic:

  • a contest of wills,
  • a test of determination, and
  • a gut-wrenching, nail-biting, hair-raising race to beat the clock.

But as with the Super Bowl, there must be a winner, and the victor in this contest was Benavides-Rhodes Insurance Agency of Eagle Pass.

Please join us in congratulating them for their hard work and excellent results.

And remember, it’s never too early to start warming up for the next iMGA adventure, so quote all your personal property needs with iMGA today!

 

If you’re an independent insurance agent selling property insurance in Texas who doesn’t already work with us and you’d like to up your game, contact us.

George Washington From Dollar BillInsurance agents provide valuable services for their clients.It is important that they stay financially healthy to be able to continue to provide those services.

On many transactions the commission paid by the carrier provides adequate resources for the agency. On others, though, a reasonable Agency Fee is both necessary and appropriate, as the Texas Insurance Code has made clear since 2005:

§ 4005.003. FEES. (a) A general property and casualty agent may charge a client a fee to reimburse the agent for costs the agent incurred in obtaining a motor vehicle record or photograph of property described under Section 4005.002. The fee may not exceed the actual costs to the agent.

(b) For services provided to a client, a general property and casualty agent may charge a reasonable fee, including a fee for: (1) special delivery or postal charges; (2) printing or reproduction costs; (3) electronic mail costs; (4) telephone transmission costs; and (5) similar costs that the agent incurs on behalf of the client.

(c) A general property and casualty agent may charge a client a fee under this section only if, before the agent incurs an expense for the client, the agent: (1) notifies the client of the agent’s fee; and (2) obtains the client’s written consent for each fee to be charged.

At iMGA we’re constantly looking for ways to make life easier for agents. One of the ways we do that is by fully supporting Agency Fee collection and compliance in our Dwelling, Homeowners, MobileHome, Renters and Vacant programs.

If you enter the amount of an Agency Fee when submitting a policy, we’ll:

  • Disclose the fee on the application and on the declarations page,
  • Include the fee in the calculated down payment amount,
  • Calculate, collect and remit the surplus lines tax and stamping fee on the agency fee, and
  • Collect the Agency Fee and include it in your next monthly commission payment.

Any future renewals will also include the agency fee, including its repeated disclosure on the declarations page.

Simply have the insured sign the iMGA application with disclosure wording (or your own fee disclosure form) for your records and you’ll be in full compliance.

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