As the end of 2011 approaches, this is a good time to reflect upon what went well and what didn’t during the year — as well as what changes you should make in 2012. Here are a few errors and omissions (E&O) tips to implement in the coming year.
12 – The minimum number of staff meetings you should hold during the year. Communication in the agency will be enhanced by meeting at least once a month. Include an education component to boost your staff’s technical and sales knowledge and competency. This is also a great means to discuss how each staff member perceives their E&O exposure and the positive changes that can be made.
11 – The number of times a week you should emphasize the importance of documentation. There is no doubt agencies that take an aggressive position on documentation reap the benefits. It is projected that 90 percent of E&O claims would either not happen or have a happier ending if there was solid agency documentation.
10 – The number of files per employee upon which you should perform a quality control check each month. This is a great way to ensure the staff is following agency directives and to reward your solid performers.
9 – The minimum number of times you need to check the current A.M. Best rating of your carriers. This is easily done through the A.M. Best website (www.ambest.com) or by signing up for email alerts that will notify you promptly of any rating changes.
8 – The number of times you should say “thank you” to your staff for a job well done. Insurance agencies, like most business, are only as good as their employees. A staff that is appreciated will be a staff that will be with you for years to come.
7 – The number of times you should, over the course of a year, say “thank you” to your customers — without whom you are not in business. Surveys show this is the minimum number of times required for customers to know that you appreciate their business.
6 – An ideal number of times to communicate with your customers. This is a perfect way to let your customers know about the latest available products or how their insurance policies will respond to various types of losses. As a result of this process, your customers will probably secure additional coverages when the exposure arises. Identifying your clients’ exposures can greatly reduce the likelihood of an E&O claim being made against you. Doing this periodically will also enable you to address any seasonal issues.
5 – The number of staff (if you have a staff of 10) you should send to an education class in 2012. Whether it’s a program like CPCU, CIC, CPIA, one of the CSR programs, or a seminar on telephone skills or customer service, your staff will appreciate the commitment you have made to provide them with the tools necessary to do the job.
4 – The number of positive E&O changes you should make in your agency in 2012. The goal is for constant improvement and growth in your E&O culture and commitment. Many are easily implemented. In addition to the ones mentioned in this article, when you send out the policies to your customers, include a cover letter requesting that the customer reads the policy and, if they have any questions, contacts the agency promptly.
3 – The minimum number of policies you should write for each of your customers. If you have fewer than this amount, set three as a goal. Cross-selling will improve your retention and will also lead to additional sales opportunities.
2 – The minimum number of staff that should attend an E&O seminar in 2012. For a staff of 10 or fewer, this will qualify you for an E&O credit with many of the E&O carriers. If possible, at least one member of management should go. With some E&O carriers, this is a requirement for the credit. In addition, this is a powerful way to show their commitment to E&O prevention.
1 – Show a strong commitment to doing the right thing. Lead by example. Your staff will be proud to work with and for you. Set a goal of being the #1 agency in your community. This might not mean being the biggest, but it does mean being the best!
Wishting the best to your agency staff, their families and all of your customers. See you in 2012!
Pearsall, CPCU, ARM, is president of Pearsall Associates Inc., a risk management consulting firm specializing helping agents protect themselves. He is also a special consultant to the Utica National Agents E&O program. Phone: 315-768- 1534. E-mail: email@example.com.