Insurance Academy

1 Simple Step to Lose Customers if That’s What You Want

By | September 25, 2019

There’s something wrong with the insurance buying process. That’s not really accurate. There’s a lot wrong with the insurance buying process. Specifically, the process of getting personal auto insurance is broken.

I’ve been helping a friend with their insurance buying. My help is a little hamstrung because I’m not a licensed agent. If I were an agent, most of their troubles wouldn’t have existed, but I’m not. That’s why I pointed my friend to an agent that I had trusted for my insurance needs in the past. Good people who had provided me with good service before. I had hoped that they would serve my friend well.

What my friend got was an email with one quote. That’s it. There weren’t multiple quotes, which is what independent agents are kind of known for. There weren’t any options. There wasn’t any explanation of coverage or conversation around pricing. When my friend missed the email, there wasn’t even a phone call to follow up. Nothing. An email with a bad quote, no answers as to why, and no follow up call.

Then my friend asked me to help him with some online quoting sites since my agent contact wasn’t much help to him. We spent hours submitting the same information to online quote engines. We got quotes, but the nature of self-service insurance quotes is that you have to look at the options and then make decisions. Then each time he decided that there was a quote that he understood and that he liked, he tried the purchase button. That was met with one of two results.

The first result was a call us page. That meant that the quote changed from what was online and they wanted to have a conversation. The second result was a change in the quote with mysterious wording like “our underwriters made a change to your quote”. To be fair to the insurance companies in question, this friend doesn’t have a perfect driving record. It’s not the worst. He doesn’t need a SR-22, but it’s bad enough to give him prices that he didn’t like.

That’s when he turned to me and told me that my industry is a racket.

In the moment, I couldn’t disagree with him much. I tried to explain to him that personal auto insurance can be based on multiple factors, including age, gender, driving history, and credit score. That really didn’t matter much in a moment when he was disappointed, feeling overcharged, and considering joining the ranks of the uninsured drivers that litter our Florida roads.

Agents, wake up, please.

I understand that a single personal auto policy is not going to bring any profit to your office. I get that it’s not the piece of business that’s going to make you a million-dollar producer. I also know that the small personal auto policy is not the point. That customer with a small personal auto policy can turn into a homeowners’ policy. Those policies can turn into a personal umbrella one day. Maybe this customer opens a small business and because you were there to help them in the past, you can help them in the future. There’s a snowball effect from one small personal auto policy.

Can I remind you that the one small personal auto policy belongs to a person in a generation that uses Yelp? For those that don’t know (and you already know who you are because you said to yourself, what’s a yelp?), Yelp is a review website. You would be surprised the businesses that have Yelp reviews and how proud people can be about their reviews. I had an agent once send me a review that someone wrote on him.

The generation that’s following the much-maligned Millennial generation grew up in the digital space exclusively. They don’t remember life before the internet. They grew up with a cell phone in hand, many of them with smart phones before they got out of junior high school. They swear by the reviews that they see about your business. That small personal auto policy that you generated a quote for, emailed to the prospect, and then waited as they went somewhere else for their insurance will tell someone else. They no longer just tell a friend. Now, they tell the world what they think about you.

Let me skip to the chase. You are helping the app-first agency and carriers drive you out of the business. This is natural selection on a business scale.

Let me tell you what I think the agent should have done.

When the agent first met with the prospect, he should have had a conversation that would tell him about his potential customer. Talk about anything, video games, vacations, plans for the next six months, Gator or Seminole. The conversation needs to gather important information for the insurance, but it also needs to build a relationship and it can’t be that phony relationship building that you practiced at that last sales seminar. You have to build a connection.

After collecting the information about the customer, the agent should have sent a text within an hour. The text should include a thank you and a link to an article about how to get better prices for auto insurance. It wouldn’t hurt to say something like, “text me if you need anything.” While working on the quotes, the agent should anticipate what this customer needs. Do they need a really low price? Do they need really great coverage? Is there a middle ground somewhere in there?

When the quote (and options) is ready, send a text. Hey. Your quotes are ready. Can I call you and talk you through them? It’ll take 10-15 minutes, tops. Nail down the time for a call and make it last 10 minutes or less while you get everything out. Tell them about the quotes you got and the options that you’re offering. Then tell them the why. This quote is high because they looked at your driving record and saw this. That quote is low because they always come in low and then turn around and bump it up later. Give them the info and then ask when a good time is to text and find out what they want to do.

You might be wondering why I go back to texting with the customer. My son tells me all the time that he doesn’t check his email because email is too slow. If I need him, I text him or call him. The only email he checks is at work and that’s because he’s learned that offices communicate that way.

We cannot stay on the sidelines any longer. We cannot just send people a quote and hope they call back and beg us to take their money. It doesn’t work that way anymore.

About Patrick Wraight

Patrick Wraight, CIC, CRM, AU, is director of Insurance Journal's Academy of Insurance. He can be reached at pwraight@ijacademy.com.

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Latest Comments

  • October 3, 2019 at 12:24 am
    okt0ber says:
    An independent agent does not have to send multiple quotes to people who call for a proposal. They generally know which company is going to be most competitive for the particu... read more
  • September 27, 2019 at 10:53 am
    helpingout says:
    I agree that the online tools should be more accurate, but I think the issue with that is people want a quote within 10 or 15 minutes, and they don't use enough information. I... read more
  • September 26, 2019 at 4:02 pm
    CO_yeti says:
    Should be titled: "1 Simple Step to Run An Unprofitable Business" I'm sorry, there have been a string of these lately and it shows a major flaw in understanding our business. ... read more

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