What does your agent do for you?

So in theory what do they actually do for you?

  1. help explain insurance terms
  2. help lower your rates
  3. help keep your rates level
  4. help filter through a claim

EXPECT MORE 

This is YOUR partner, you are exchanging money for promises of good service if something should go wrong.  Well the “going wrong” doesn’t happen very often so what can they do in the meantime?

  1. help you by being a resource for ALL things insurance related
  2. make introductions to other professionals
  3. help you grow your business by hiring you
  4. follow you on twitter
  5. like you on Facebook
  6. donate to your cause

The list can go on for days.  Bottom line is EXPECT MORE from your agent.  Don’t just hire the “Smith Agency” make a partnership with the agent.  Make it mutually beneficial beyond just a transaction.  On some level be friends.

Just some thoughts.

$8 to park at a hospital?

Seriously, that is what it cost when I went to visit my grandmother at the hospital.  That is awful, I have paid less to go to professional sporting events.  $8 can provide adequate nutrition for at least 1 person if not 2 for a day but instead it bought me a parking spot for 1 hour.  There is more than enough evidence that it is the presence of loved ones that truly enables healing yet they make it difficult.  So let’s dive a little deeper;

You enter a very nice lobby with some wonderful statues and a very comfortable atmosphere, but than you go up the elevator.  The hallways are immediately darker and you go into your room with two people inhabiting space that is better fit for one.

“But Grandma at least you have the window…”  Than I looked out that window on and off for the hour I was there and realized a window is pretty useless if you cannot get fresh air and have something appealing to look at.  But hey why would a multi-billion dollar operation want to make your experience better?  See Apple or any nicer hotel that does successfully try every day.

Oh and on the insurance note; overheard a woman being denied appropriate treatment because she did not have insurance.  Here is the Hippocratic oath, nothing about insurance in this but than again what else would you expect when you submit to letting a corporation dictate health care.  So much for the system protecting those that need some help.  

Either way , just some thoughts.  Pardon the negativity, I could not believe I was  actually hearing it out loud.

Who causes “higher” insurance rates?

Most people will immediately think it is the company.  The company sets the rates and the underwriting standards that you accepted when you signed your contract with them.  The company determines which of your tickets, accidents and claims will have an impact on your rate and for how long. ** Despite what you may have heard corporations are not people and cannot get tickets or have accidents or claims**

The company determines which of your personal  characteristics influence the rate.  They also decide which factors of the house or  other property you chose to buy will determine the cost to insure.  Insurance companies decide what the rates are where you  chose to live.  The company set up any billing fees that exist as well as any discounts that exist for paying your premium in one or two payments.  Each year before your policy renews the company mails you new paperwork to review so you have a chance to ask questions and make adjustments.  You  also have a chance to review everything on your policy and if you felt so inclined could call around to other companies for a review. **Per a Google search, there are about 2648 insurance companies doing business in the U.S. that offer auto and home coverage***

So who makes insurance rates higher?

P.S. You  also may be with an agent or company that takes advantage of your loyalty and offers you some sort of silly ploy about accident free credits, etc.

P.S.2 Just like when looking for somebody to date, there  is somebody out there that likes you and your characteristics.  Maybe it is time to find that company….and be willing to find a new one next year.

 

Just some thoughts to consider.  You have more control than you think.

 

Is time the best Insurance Discount?

It might be.  It might also be the most under used and least asked about.

If you are between the ages of 16 and 25 your lack of time on this planet is a reason why you spend more on insurance.  BUT what if you pay attention?  Maybe you start on your parents policy and make sure they have solid coverage so when it is time to switch you are in a better position.  Then, typically after three years of being licensed, it is time to shop.  Now just stay on top of things because you get a little older you can likely improve your rate, assuming a clean to fairly clean record.

What about the rest of us?

Ask yourself this, How much is your loyalty worth?  In my opinion your loyalty is priceless.  That being said, how many physical dollars is your loyalty to a company costing you?  Could be hundreds if not thousands of dollars.  How does this happen?  Well, many people get lulled into thinking that staying with a company for a long period of time is some how beneficial. **Please get this in writing and show it to me***

I appreciate your loss free discounts, deductible rewards, bonus checks and whatever else may be the hot marketing flavor of the day.  Key word in there is MARKETING.  These are ploys to get you to stay around so you are less aware of what you are spending.

FACT: YOU SHOULD BE REVIEWING YOUR INSURANCE EVERY 12-18 MONTHS

That remains unchanged.  So why would you trade your loyalty and time for a potentially higher insurance rate?  No idea.  Might I suggest an alternative;

Look at what your insurance costs, typically best to think of the policies that tend to go together; auto, motorcycle, home, boat, umbrella, RV, rental property.  Basically where you live, what you drive and the things that go along with that.  Now see what the whole package costs, this is important.  Once you know your bottom line lets see how that goes up against your budget or more specifically what you would like it to be.  Now you can take advantage of any leverage you may have because of the policies you have in place.

FACT: MULTI-POLICY DISCOUNTS CAN BE WONDERFUL……

BUT

FACT: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH USING MULTIPLE COMPANIES TO MAKE A SOLID PLAN

Now, it is important to know, just because a company can do a lot of advertising doesn’t mean they are worth you giving them more than a year or two.  PLEASE do not allow marketing to influence your bottom line.  Instead establish your own baseline for what your package should cost than make the company earn your dollars by staying consistent over time.

LOYALTY IS EARNED NOT BOUGHT

Just some suggestions.

 

 

Price versus value

Want to change the discussion from Price to value?  STOP ADVERTISING PRICE.  Advertising on price is the easy way.  It is basically telling the consumer we are a commodity and can not come up with anything original that might bring some value to your life.

Want some evidence?  Follow your mail for a month and count the generic garbage being put in front of you that thinks your only concern is price. Even worse , I received the same exact awful letter from four different State Farm agents.  Not only is it an awful, demeaning marketing piece but why does State Farm allow there agents to cannibalize each other?

Even worse continued; A local Allstate agent sends a ridiculous letter.  First it is on cheap yellow paper, color is ok but please invest in your marketing if you want a return.  This was a solicitation for home insurance yet they had obviously not looked for new information; I was sent a home replacement cost of $200,000, currently my coverage is at  $300,000.  Also, I have never been at $200,000 and every estimator I know of would never have even come close.    That is bad marketing and pretty irresponsible; Why would I want to hire you?  A couple of lines down is $100,000 in liability coverage.  Seriously, let’s look at this agent’s policy and see if she has $100,000 in liability.  Lot’s of bad to be thought about as an insurance agent but if this is a solicitation why would I call someone that put together such awful numbers.

In both these samples the agents did not even attempt to bring any value to me or whomever else received the letter.  If you want results you need to apply some effort.  If all you can talk about is price maybe you should talk to your customers more and find out what they want to here, maybe even why they hired you.

IF YOU CANNOT BRING VALUE DON”T LEAN ON THE CRUTCH THAT IS PRICE.  INSTEAD FIGURE OUT HOW TO BRING VALUE SO YOU DO NOT NEED A CRUTCH.

Yes, it is easy.  Unless of course you consider giving some effort hard.  Either way just some thoughts.

Real estate, the internet and some random ideas to use

Random thoughts that are resulting from watching a friend try and sell her  home.

Started off good, Realtor helped them buy this home around 8 years ago and kept in touch.  Then, when approached gave some solid ideas on little things to improve the home.  So you have a homeowner doing the right things and now the house is on the market.  Now you also have 5 houses for sale in your neighborhood and yours only shows up when specifically searching for your address.

So your first listing that shows up only has one bad photo, FIX THIS.

Your Realtor has no on-line presence or contacts outside of his/her office.  If she does she seems to only want to invite Realtors from his/her office.  FIX THIS

**Folks, whether you like it or not you are always competing.  Why would you hire a Realtor with no digital plan.  Why would you hire someone who is unwilling to spend $200 to make $3000.

Pardon what some would think is a lack of knowledge; Aren’t open houses all about getting people to see your home?  I would say yes.  Now a Realtor would argue you want qualified buyers.  That Realtor also likely bought themselves a home in fantasy land.  Most Realtors realize an open house can be a heck of a two pronged marketing approach;  promote the listing and promote the agent.    So if most of them realize this why wouldn’t they do more to make these awesome?

So a few nights back the friend I mentioned above and I were talking in front of the computer.  We looked at all the listings near her and just thought out loud here is some of our “brainstorm” and some from a great cup of coffee I am drinking as I write this;

  • Would there be an open house?  Well the homeowner wants one so we said why wouldn’t the five homes for sale within a short walk of each other all have an open house and create some sort of a caravan/prize if you see all the homes?
  • Why wouldn’t she run a garage sale the day before to draw more traffic and hand out flyers?
  • Maybe she would have her driveway sealed by a company that does a good job promoting there work?
  • Why wouldn’t she bring in a Home Stager for a quick consult, maybe there is a little something she can do to help?
  • Bring in the landscaper to blow out the property, mow the lawn, etc. Clean homes sell  right?
  • Bring in a window washer for that extra pop?  Can a home be to clean?
  • Plan an awesome lunch/desert/gimicky food choice and have that person promote it **more local companies than you can imagine;Janes, Brother Bobby’s, Chocolate Mousse, Ice crea, Truck guy, Nilda’s cookies, etc
  • Get some neighborhood kids to blanket the neighborhood in flyers; stuff them in mailboxes, knock on doors, attach to mailboxes.  Maybe your neighbors would like their friends/family to live there.  Can these flyers go up on a neighborhood announcement board?
  • Throw a party for your neighbors, call it a thanks for being good neighbors party.  More traffic increases your odds of a sale right
  • PHOTOS; my gosh this is so easy yet always overlooked.  Now if you looked at the 5 listings we mentioned earlier my friends home and one other have solid photos.  The other three were awful.  Why chance it when you can have this;  video 1 or this even better one  Here is an awesome recommendation; Vivian Selling Real Estate, like photography, is better when done by a professional
  • *****1 more thing on Photography; first impressions are always important so maybe you can turn off the T.V., put away the cleaning supplies, make sure you are not in the mirror, put down the toilet seat, avoid photos of the not so good rooms, clean out your collections BEFORE you take the photos.  My gosh, take a day and watch HGTV or something.  If you apply 1/3 of what you learn you will help more people and therefore earn more money
  • BE PREPARED; my wife and I will not leave our home unless we feel; really good about a listing.  She found one she liked.  I said I will go after you call the Realtor and confirm the ceiling height in the unfinished attic and basement.  Realtor did not know the height and took two days to call back PATHETIC.  Now when I show up, to be a good husband, you are not a Realtor but instead a house sitter who knows nothing about a home you have been trusted to sell.  Think ahead about things the buyer may want to know.  Maybe you get a home inspection or an appraisal
  • Oh yeah, not much on the internet in this post because this is already long enough.

The world is a really busy place, getting attention for your customer actually takes a little work.  Pardon the length, just some suggestions.