So I get the call this morning. They almost all start the same way. The tone is usually exasperated, and the statement comes out more as a resignation than a request. “I need a quote on my insurance”. It’s like the poor caller knows there are going to be questions and this process is going to be painful.
The reality of this situation is it’s a perfect time to really get involved in the process. This is the very best time to get real answers to some very scary questions. If you really “plug in” to the insurance underwriting process you are going to get some very useful information concerning your specific situation. Not your neighbor’s situation or a friend at works situation, not even your mother’s, brother’s, sister’s or father’s situation…your situation.
So many of us believe that all car and house insurance is the same, but once you start getting proposals for coverage you start to realize that these contracts of insurance are very customizable to you and your needs.
Back to the caller this morning; “I need a quote on my insurance” (more question than statement on her part).
“Great, let’s get started. Tell me about your last insurance relationship?”
“You know, your last agent or company. Did you buy your insurance from the internet or did you have a local agent? Were you happy with the service, did they answer the phone when you called, did they explain your policies.”
“Why do you need to know all that?”
“Well, it’s a great way for me to find out what kind of service you expect, and what you are looking for in an insurance relationship”.
This is the most important moment in the whole call. If she says she isn’t looking for a relationship I get to refer her to the internet or an “800” number. Hopefully she’ll find her solutions for the short term. I suspect she will never really believe that insurance is anything more than a requirement of the bank or the State. “My last agent never called me back when I had questions, and I never really understood what I was getting.”
Now is when I start to get interested, there are no better customers than those that are engaged and want to know what they are paying for. I like to run figures for these customers. I like to show options and “line item costs”. How much does my collision insurance cost? How much can I save if I raise my deductible? Are there some credits available that I’m not getting? This is an interested customer.
So we start with the questions; how old is your house? Do you have a dog? What kind? Have you ever replaced your roof? Do you have any rental property? Seems like it goes on and on, but the beauty of the questions are their ability to identify those exposures that are unique to you and your situation.
After a lengthy conversation about all the things that concerned the caller we were able to place a homeowners policy, an auto policy with three cars and an umbrella policy. We never really talked much about price, but she was very happy with the endorsement that covered her major appliances; refrigerator, furnace, central air conditioner for break down. She hadn’t had this coverage in the past and she thought the $25 annual premium was a real bargain.
The best part of the transaction for me was that she felt “listened to” and she had a pretty good understanding of what she was buying. I think she can answer the “what was your past insurance relationship been like” question a little better now. Hopefully she won’t ever feel the need to shop for coverage again. I may have forgotten to mention that she did save about $800 a year by going through the process. She wasn’t unhappy about that either.