If you’re reading this, it’s likely you are an insurance agent.

So let’s get nerdy for a bit and talk about insurance and the new fast-paced World Wide Web charge to get new customers and revenue.

Meeting and interacting with insurance prospects online requires a different mentality than traditional sales approaches, and if you have that mentality, great.  You’re ahead of most other agents.

But a warning is appropriate here.

We all should guard ourselves and remember that just because the sales process is beginning to evolve in the way we build relationships with customers, the contracts we’re selling aren’t.

Insurance policies are long, complicated, legal agreements with tons of features, conditions, limits, sub limits, exclusions, limitations and available endorsements.  Any agent worth their salt knows that one-size does not fit all.

A good example is a BOP (Business Owner’s Policy). 

Business Owner Policies have been around since the mid-1980s. Behind the idea was a desire to decrease the time and expense of customer acquisition.

Quote it, book it, and forget it.

They were designed to be easy to rate, easy to underwrite, easy to understand policies for main street shops.  And they were, for a while.  Then gradually, they began to change.

Carriers added extra coverages, higher limits, and special packages of protection to either:  meet the needs of a business niche (good idea); or to distinguish themselves from their competitors (completely understandable).

But as the BOPs became less and less “standard,” there arose a new hazard.  An agent could easily assume what a carrier’s BOP covered and be wrong.  One carrier offered this limit for “X,” another a higher or lower limit.

In addition, the feature of the BOP could be entirely inadequate for the business owner.  At first blush, that $10,000 of employee dishonesty coverage looks great, but when the business owner discovers that his long-time bookkeeper had embezzled a couple of hundred thousand from him in recent years, not so much.

The point is that most every customer (unfortunately) needs at least a little time with their agent to reflect on their risks and meet it with appropriate and affordable protection.

The Personal Lines Package Policy

These same arguments apply to personal lines as well.  Home valuation issues, special limits for categories of personal property (like jewelry or instruments), special protections (like earthquake coverage), appropriate limits for liability (like umbrellas), or other property (like boats or snow machines) all deserve consideration.

And that takes time.

While insurance agents jumping into digital marketing are great for the agency’s future revenue growth, they shouldn’t take the nanosecond approach of digital communications and try to apply it to risk management.  It won’t work.

It will eventually lead to errors and omissions claims for inadequate protection or other allegations.

Conclusion

So, what can or should we do to balance the two? 

First, we’ve got to get ourselves or our organizations somewhat compartmentalized (like many are today already).  Separate the relationship and solicitation from the coverage placement.  Perhaps these are done by separate people (that can work).

Perhaps the producer segments his time into sales time (go, go, go) and green shade underwriter time (stop, talk, think, decide).

Second, we’re going to have to find some new customer education approaches.  Experienced business owners understand the process of getting effective insurance in place.  Entrepreneurs and personal lines customers who found an agent on the internet may not.

Finally, we can use our relationship to slow things down – sort of like internet dating. Yeah, they met on a dating website, but at some point they meet, talk, and share.  They get to know each other.  We need to as well.

In all the excitement and hurry to jump into new ways of connecting with consumers and business owners, let’s not leave our insurance training behind.

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