Gartner research shows mobile consumers spent $4.2 billion in 2009 at mobile applications stores, and that figure is expected to jump to $30 billion by 2013, said George Redenbaugh, assistant treasurer and senior director of risk management for eBay. With such statistics, there’s no reason for insurance companies not to understand what social networking means to their businesses, said Redenbaugh, who is responsible for enterprise risk management, risk insurance programs, treasury systems and international cash management for the online auction site, and recently spoke at a Golden Gate Chapter of the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Society meeting.
Some innovative agents are already reaping the benefits of social networking. Jason Kennedy of Preferred Personal Insurance Agency in Frisco, Texas, for instance, said he wrote more policies last year as a result of tapping into the latest tech tools.
Preferred Personal Insurance Agency is a personal lines agency that writes coverage through Travelers, Hartford, Safeco, and MetLife, among other carriers. While the company’s owners aren’t frequent users of new media, Kennedy, said he’s taken it upon himself to use the tools.
His involvement with social networking tools began because he had so many friends on the network that they encouraged him to join in. He set up a personal Facebook page about a year and a half ago that includes information about what he does, such as describing that he’s a sales representative in the insurance business. He later developed a Fan page that is slightly more career-focused, and has helped him to write more policies that he probably wouldn’t have found, if it wasn’t for the new media, he said.
“Facebook has been pretty good for me … because it put me into contact with some people that I went to high school with that I probably never would have spoken to had it not been for connecting with them on Facebook,” Kennedy said. “I’ve written [insurance for] several of them, just because people see I’m on there and they’ll say, ‘I trust this guy, so I’ll get a quote from him.'”
He noted that having an online presence helps to distinguish him from the competition. “It’s an extremely competitive market out there. Up here, everybody wants to write. Anyway I can get my name out there, I’m going to do it. … All my business is on referral and word of mouth.”
Other agents are also involved in social media. The other profiles include:
Insurance Journal Editors Stephanie Jones and Ken St. Onge contributed to this article.
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