Archives for agency

Agent with clipboardAgent involvement is important throughout the entire customer experience – and agents add real value to the process.

By their actions, many of our competitors are proving that they do not feel agents add value at renewal. Some of those competitors are now slashing renewal commissions by as much as 33%. Others are slashing both new and renewal commissions significantly.

Because we work hard to keep everything as simple as possible – and value agent involvement – iMGA pays the same commission rate for both new and renewal business. We really like renewals.

It is also why we made it so that the agency fee would be collected on all renewals and not just on new business when we implemented agency fee options in our Rental product.

We appreciate our agents and work to show that appreciation in many ways every day. We know we’re better off because you work with us. We want your agency to be better off because we’ve worked with you.

Home and AutoDeloitte Consulting has released a new study of auto and home insurance policyholders and the results are significant for independent agents.

The online study of 1,080 each auto and home policyholders, titled “The Voice of the Personal Lines Consumer/Buyers in the driver’s seat”, reaches several relevant conclusions:

“there is a sizable group of consumers who still prefer the human touch in personal lines, choosing to establish a trusted relationship with an insurance professional who can help them shop for a policy (sometimes for more than one type of coverage) as well as show them how to navigate the claims process and be their advocate in case of a loss”

“fewer companies are dedicated to distributing through any one channel. Many are looking to reach prospects and more regularly communicate with policy- holders over multiple platforms, both to take business away from competitors as well as improve retention of their own customers”

“there are demographic factors at work that make some prospects more viable than others in terms of taking them away from the competition”

“while some respondents are committed to buying with an intermediary and others without, there is a significant percentage of “independents” that are more open to switching from agents to a direct purchase (or vice versa) given the right circumstances and enticements”

“overcoming suspicions about the integrity of insurers and agents can play a major role in drawing prospects away from rival carriers and channels”

“Price remains the biggest single element respondents consider when purchasing personal lines insurance. However… price is far from the sole decision point when a prospect is determining whether to become (or remain) a policyholder”

If you think your agency is “destined” to lose clients to direct sales, never to retrieve them again – that is definitely not true, especially if you offer homeowners insurance products. 39% of homeowners currently buying direct said their top preference the next time they buy a new policy is to work with an agent. The same was true with 30% of direct auto policy holders.

Homeowners Clients are Better

55% of homeowners who responded to the survey had been with their insurance agent for at least 6 years. Only 49% of auto insurance customers said the same.

Home policy owners are:

  • Less likely to think buying direct would save them money (59% for homeowners vs. 67% for auto customers)
  • Less likely to strongly agree that buying direct would be more convenient (29% vs. 33%)
  • Less likely to consider price extremely influential in their decision (45% vs. 54%)
  • Less likely to switch agencies (only 20% had been with their agency two years or less and many of those were younger consumers who had been purchasing homeowners coverage for a shorter period of time)

With all those great characteristics, it’s clear agencies need to attract homeowners policyholders as much as possible.

What’s the most important step in doing that, according to the survey?

Get Homeowners Policyholders as Young as Possible

Nearly half (45%) of homeowners said they had never switched carriers. So being there first made a huge difference to their agent and/or carrier.

iMGA products let you bring in homeowners clients that are buying their first home or mobilehome. Even before that you can offer your clients a renter’s policy through iMGA. Later if they purchase a rental dwelling or vacant dwelling, we can help you protect that for them also. Together we can help you build a book of quality homeowners clients that will make your agency more successful in the long run.

Higher retention, less price sensitivity, more appreciation for the value agents bring. Who wouldn’t want that? iMGA – and a focus on providing quality homeowners protection to your clients – can make that a reality in your agency.

Every business needs a “hook” . A great hook is something worth talking about. Better yet, it’s something worth driving out of your way to get.

Snuffer’s restaurant in Dallas has a hook. It’s their cheese fries. In my case it’s their cheese fries topped with bacon, chives and jalapenos.

For $8 or less they’ve come up with a dish that is truly noteworthy. It’s special. It’s unique. It made Snuffers our choice for lunch over the thirty other choices we had within 5 miles that day. It’s remarkable in the sense that it’s worth remarking about.

What’s your agency’s hook? What’s the one really unique thing you give/offer/do for your customers? What makes doing business with you special?

At iMGA our hook is that we go crazy making things easy for agents. To do a homeowners, vacant, rental or mobile home quote with us takes well under 2 minutes. We look up the protection class for you. When possible we look up the square footage, construction type and year of construction for you. We don’t ask a single question or require a single piece of paper we don’t have to. We keep our focus on easy in the application and underwriting processes also.

Our goal is to be so easy that it’s noteworthy. We’re obsessive about it because we know it’s our hook. We’re not the biggest or oldest market you have – those spots are taken. But we know we can be the easiest – and we’re determined to be – and as a result agents are telling their friends about us.

How about you? What’s the thing that makes your clients tell their friends about your agency? Please tell us about it in the comments so we can help you spread the word.

In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania every Groundhog Day up to 40,000 people gather to see if Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most famous groundhog, will see his shadow. If he does, then tradition says we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter and people can prepare accordingly.

A large crowd on Groundhog Day.
Do you have a “groundhog” in your agency? An early indicator that lets you know what to expect – and how to prepare for the future as a result. If not, think back over the last few years. When has your business gone up? When has it gone down? What preceded those changes?

Have a Groundhog

Managing a high-growth independent insurance agency is much easier if you have just a couple specific leading indicators you always watch. Not your sales or cash (those are lagging indicators – by the time they’re dropping there’s already a problem somewhere much earlier in your sales funnel). For many insurance agencies it might be something like the number of incoming phone calls, number of new quotes issued or number of inquiries via your web site. Whatever it is, make sure you have one. It can make the difference between having the time to prepare and being caught by surprise.

In our business there are several, but a couple that are much more reliable than others. Which brings us to the other important step.

Make Sure Your Groundhog is Accurate

Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow nearly 100 times, has not seen it 15 times, and nine years are unaccounted for, but his prediction as to whether there will be six more weeks of winter or not only has an accuracy rating of 39 per cent. That’s not very reliable. In fact it would make more sense to see his prediction and do the opposite.

So, look for those leading indicators in your agency, but always test the results against expectations. Otherwise you may find yourself in for a very long winter.

Photo courtesy of Aaron E. Silvers.

At iMGA we’re extremely fortunate to have an incredible Board of Directors. Each member of the board has many years’ experience in running a wide range of insurance businesses. On Monday most of the board was here, and we had a couple extra days with our Chairman.

During those two days we talked about the business: what’s been working (great agents, a system we all love, products that are meeting unique needs), and what still needs more work.

It’s amazing how much clearer things are now. Our Chairman didn’t point out things that were new ideas. Yet the advantage of both an understanding of our business and the ability to look at it from a little distance, helped him ask the questions and make the comments that helped reinforce and refocus our plans for the rest of the year.

Who helps you do that for your agency? If you don’t already have such a person, I highly recommend finding one. If you do, please tell us about your experiences with them in the comments.

↑ Top of Page