10 Ways to Retain More Commercial Lines Accounts

By | October 19, 2015

It’s costly to sell new commercial lines accounts. In addition to the various prospecting and marketing costs, there is fact gathering/front line underwriting, pricing, proposal preparation and presentation – and when you’re successful, there’s policy delivery.

The time and treasure spent on each element in the sales process commonly varies in proportion to the size and value of the subject account – but even for many BOP-type risks, the effort and expense can really add up. That’s why you need to do everything you can to make sure each quality account that you land stays on the books.

Below are 10 ideas for keeping more of what you sell.

Account Defense Team. Establish a team made up of agency sales and underwriting experts. Task them with the mission of saving key policies that are in jeopardy. They set the office’s overall retention strategy and suggest specific tactics for keeping accounts within the agency. For instance, they may recommend a different producer take the lead on a particular renewal (with commission allowances) if they have more experience, a more compatible personality, etc.

Point out the true cost of switching from one agency/ insurer to another

Avoid Policy Mistakes. Write each account properly in the first place, including offering smart coverages and limits, using proper classifications, accurate payroll and sales projections, etc. Doing right for your client is your best defense against losing their business.

Future Owners. Be on the alert for the next generation. Don’t disregard potential successors to current ownership and top managerial positions. For instance, pay thoughtful attention to an owner’s child who is learning the business or they may replace you when they gain the authority.

Stay in Touch. Do more than output impersonal blogs, newsletters, emails, and random social media posts. Make them interesting, informative, and target-specific. Also call or visit those insureds who want or need it. Some businesses prefer digital only communications, but others crave actual human contact.

Sell More. The more business you organically write for a particular carrier or MGA, the more willing they’ll be to help you on pricing when you really need it.

Plan Ahead. Try to leave a little pricing room on new business quotes for renewal time — but only if it doesn’t unfairly overprice a policy or jeopardize the sale.

Hot Buttons. Remind insureds, at renewal time, of the top sales points that helped you to initially land the account. Business insurance clients in pursuit of a better deal may forget why they first bought from you. Push those early hot buttons again and recap what you’ve done for them lately.

Costly Move. Point out the true cost of switching from one agency/insurer to another. It’s never free. There are many time-consuming pre-move and post-move activities that add up to significant hours. Multiply these hours times the value of the executive’s time. Display your calculations to help convince the potential shopper that moving their account isn’t worth the effort.

Extra Services. Offer tailored value-added services, not offered by competing rivals, when a premium reduction isn’t possible.

Don’t Threaten. Never warn a company that you’ll move your entire book from them if they don’t lower a specific premium for you. At best, this all-or-nothing approach works only once or twice. And if they say no, you’ll either look foolish or must initiate an unwanted book transfer.

Topics Commercial Lines Business Insurance

About Alan L. Shulman

Alan Shulman, CPCU, is the publisher of Agency Ideas® sales and marketing newsletter (free basic subscription at www.agencyideas.com/join). He is also the author of “500 Sales Ideas for Commercial Lines Producers” among many other P&C sales resources. Email: alan@agencyideas.com. Website: www.agencyideas.com. More from Alan L. Shulman

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Insurance Journal West October 19, 2015
October 19, 2015
Insurance Journal West Magazine

Top Commercial Lines Agencies; Data Services and Analytics; Commercial Property