Review and repeat, It’s a cycle disguised as a tag line

Today’s idea comes from a silly, boring post in 2011  Although it was a short, almost lay, post, the message is correct and overlooked.  I’m guilty as charged.

But how do you find ” an average savings of $432….”  when reviewing auto insurance.  Well, the game is more or less rigged.  Some of it can mimic “self-sabotage” but it is really corporate laziness/indifference?  Here are some facts/scenarios to consider;

  • Insurance rates change. Period.  Sometimes a company can do it once a year…if the regulators cooperate.  Certainly every 18 months.
  • “New Programs” remember this new program is for NEW customers…but don’t worry you are a Loyal customer….You’ll continue to have the one-sided loyalty illustrated by not having access to the new coverage and rates
  • YOU change, but your company is not obligated, sometimes not allowed, to use this in a positive way.  But don’t worry, they’ll use it in a negative way.
  • Oh, and that “accident forgiveness credit” you actually PAY FOR, ask about your rating tier.  That may not be covered by the credit you are wasting money on

So, if you are merely “shopping” for insurance because ” I feel like my rates are too high, blah, blah, blah”  consider;

  • Are you really saving that much money if you do not know what the BEST current rate is from your current company? Actually, no.
  • The best way to save money is actually NOT to shop.  Make it a planned review no LESS than every two years
  • You DO NOT want to save more than $200ish on your auto, home, umbrella package!!!  Why?  Because if you save more than this you likely missed a cycle.

Advertising that leads with price and phony savings is bad for humanity and to a lesser extent the entire insurance industry. But, the fault lies in companies who are not willing to review their books of business and strive to keep people who fit their current underwriting criteria.  BUT, if the current marketing criteria are too different year to year or every three years, a company will likely never be as profitable as it can be.

So maybe it is the companies who need to do the reviewing?

No advertising No discounts

It was relevant in 2010 and the update in 2015 is similar.  Still best to start with

  • What is my baseline for coverage
  • Why am I reviewing my insurance
  • I should review every 18-24 months regardless

To the point though, what if you couldn’t advertise discounts and bigger, what if you couldn’t advertise?  The truth is, a rating(price) is far more sophisticated.  Offering discounts is nice.  Promoting them at this point is just not as relevant as it was a few years ago or longer.  Your rate is mostly predetermined based on you and your vehicle.

But how else do I get people to engage?

Billions of dollars at stake with this one.  Many of those billions actually do not come in the form of new sales.  They are actually a bi-product of savings that will occur with reduced acquisition costs.  The answer is fairly simple; be a company that people want to buy from.  Really no different than anything else in your life.  You are already something that people are legally or contractually obligated to buy.  An instant market was created.  You also have a slightly larger footprint since most of these people see the value of having insurance.  So they may have been forced to buy but they would likely keep buying.  So do you really need to advertise price?  Price isn’t a differentiator.

What if you were just better?  What if your next big campaign was to get one referral from everyone you insured already.  Statistically, most companies can expect about a 15% “hit” ratio. But, if you are being referred by current customers you can expect this to be higher.  Why?  Because, in theory, they still match your underwriting guidelines and we all tend to spend time with people “like us.” The alternative, salesish lingo to this is “crap refers crap.”

But I’m an agent or work in a call center.  So what.  Sell yourself.  Ask the right questions and the truth is, the computer and algorithm do the rest.  Make sure all the boxes are checked and keep going.  Truth is, if you are losing a deal over $1-$5 a month it likely isn’t a deal you want anyhow.  Sure, you MUST want your people to get all the discounts they are entitled to but then what?  Well, the questions you ask set those up.  The Vehicle ID should pull the other ones.  Done.   Reaching deep, or worse, too deep, into the well for discounts borders on fraud.  Don’t bother.  Remember, insurance score and some major factors drive most of the rate.

But back to the no advertising, no discounts.  Is it really a discount or is it simply a rating factor?  Think about it, if an underwriting criterion is “age of roof,” are you actually getting a discount for having a five-year-old roof instead of a ten-year-old roof?  NO, you are getting a rate based on having a five-year-old roof.  But saying a discount is more marketable.

But what will I advertise?  The counter question is, do you need to advertise?  If you have a good distribution force that people want to talk to  and buy from, maybe you don’t

**Incomplete, this can go longer.

Adding value to car claims

Well, I have some relevant experience lately and this post from 2010, updated in 2015, is the same advice I followed and still give out.  But, along the way there where several missed opportunities to add value to an insurance brand.

  • So your car is on its way to the shop or in the shop and you need a rental. Now, my experience with Hertz and Enterprise was as expected; average.  Nothing bad nothing worth noting.  What would I like to see different?
    • There are ALOT of people who cannot or it would hinder them to have to give the $50-$100  hold on their credit card for the rental.  This can be an easy fix
    • I suppose a reasonable amount of empathy from both places.  But, I wonder if they actually understand the insurance claims process enough to empathize?
  • Lots of talk about BMW, Tesla, Volvo, etc. making programs where the car comes with insurance.  There are several affinity programs that exist as well.  But, when I stepped into, as the kids and I called it, The Clown Car.  Really was a Nissan Versa, not a bad ride just “what was available” I was underwhelmed.  Then, accident two happened and I was in a Subaru Impreza sedan.  Ironic but very nice.  That is when it hit if you have a car brand, why are you not working closely with insurance companies as well as rental car companies.  You have a captive audience that can be narrowed down to people who MUST BUY A NEW CAR.  What a missed opportunity.  Sure, there are some people loyal to brands but I bet there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands who would “try” something either intentionally or because it was an equal option. This could also end up being a place for companies to save money on claims?
    • Look at all the car advertising you see on the internet, in your mail, etc.  Wondering; what is the cost to get someone to buy a car?  What is the average cost of rental cars during a claim?  Well, the coverage typically available is between $900-$1500.  How does that fit with customer acquisition cost?
  • Although I like telematics, adoption will be a challenge in the largest part of the market, the middle.  Why?  Retrofitting older cars?  Well, there is an app for that.  It is more trust that does it.  So I had a new fancy Subaru with all sorts of features my old Scion didn’t have.  This was interesting.  Is this another way to get people used to having things in the car that bring value?
  • I’m not a fan of more advertising, but I am still left wondering why Hertz/Enterprise, again they have a captive audience, didn’t attempt to make me like them?  Both had a nice experience at the counter and I did need to call both and both were ok.  But, again, here is a chance to differentiate.  We travel a few times a year and may need to rent a car.  Who should we choose?  My wife has a corporate program she is a part of, maybe now is the time to really “wow” a family?
    • ” Oh, you are part of the Gold Program, we won’t be putting a hold on your card….”
    • “Oh, I see you have $30 a day, but wait you are part of our Gold program so here is an upgrade……”
  • Maybe you can even go a step further and tell your car renter that, if they need gas during the rental and go to Sunoco(just an example) please scan the card on the keychain for $.10 off a gallon….

Here is to hoping I avoid any more field research with rental cars and claims 🙂

Your car’s value

Extending on What’s My Car Worth from October 2010

Nothing wrong with the post from 2010 or the updates from 2015.  I followed the advice recently, twice.  You can check LinkedIn starting on August 11 2018 for a series of posts related to a claim.  Sadly, these posts continue since claim 2 is still pending.  But, What is a car worth?

2009 Scion Xb is hit, airbags deploy so I know it is totaled.  I spend some time on Kelly Blue Book and then a basic Google search.  I narrow in on $5000.  Total time on this was less than 30 minutes.  BUT, it made a huge difference since State Farm was a bit less.

  1. Do your homework!  No different than if trading it in
  2. DO NOT factor in tax, settle on the cars value FIRST

So, car one is “sold.”  While this is going on I get a crash course in buying a new car.  Similar tactics apply.  Once you know what you want, settle in on a price.  LOTS of tools available to help with this.  But, what if you buy a car on August 30th, with financing, and it is totaled on September 1, 44 hours later?  You’d be me 🙁

This time, it is tricky since the other driver had Progressive, part of the problem, and $10,000 in property damage(the real problem).  No easy settlement here.  Then, my company, Safeco, “low balled” me.  How can you make that worse?  I used my steps and knew what I just paid for it, and had value.  They hired a third party who got twelve comparable models.  Seems good.  Until you realize they ignored the two dealerships in my county and used Connecticut where the fees are different.

I’ve been beating myself a bit and asking ” Where did my process fail?” It really didn’t it just needs more emphasis on the part that this is your claim, no one else’s. You need to own it as such.  Sadly, the companies are not using them as marketing moments like they should. Not loyalty building times like they should.  Instead, inefficiencies rule as does the hangover of wondering what will happen next August when my policy renews.

Back to value; I knew the number and I pushed a little.  Ended up fine but why did I need to counter offer?  Just take care of your people.  Why hire a third party when in less than 10 minutes you can do it?  Want to really hire a third party?  Look at the tech USAA just released.  How about Edmunds and KBB they were more than happy to sell me as a lead to four dealerships.  How about working with Enterprise to put their rental places IN car dealerships.

Bottom line(s)

  • YOU set or at least influence the value of your car
  • PLENTY of tools to help
  • It shouldn’t be this way but it is, embrace it

Language, influence

Here it is, eight years later, a big piece of the thesis that keeps things going.  Started here  

Really could say it started a little sooner which led to my exit from a big corporation.  Lots of things there, one was the proper use of price optimization. Fast forward a few years and I stumbled onto this post…**not able to find it?? Juneish 2012 Pawel Stefanski IBM** which was one of the first times I saw/read someone else illustrating the point.

Sadly, much of the industry has disregarded math and logic and cheapened itself to quotes.  In some cases they, large companies and brokers, have so much money they’ll even pay for new “quotes.”

Can anyone provide an actual definition of “proper coverage?”  Nope.  You are not able to.  So, you better have some basic guidelines you follow for EVERYONE.  There is one judge and it is not you or me and he certainly doesn’t play baseball 🙂 Be willing to let people go in lieu of lowering your standards and just providing quotes.

How often is fear part of an agents “speech?” How about you consider being the licensed authority that you are.  “Here is your coverage…it is likely better than what you have now and looks like it costs a bit less…”  ” But Billy I don’t need that much….”  “Ok, but neither of us know that, but if you really do, please go buy me a lotto ticket.”

It’s not because your wages can be garnished or you are protecting assets, blah, blah, blah,

  • It saves time
  • Its right
  • Your wins will outnumber your losses

About that reviewing thing; If you are an agent or a broker consider not making one of the mistakes that your carrier partners are making; doing all the work for customers you do not have instead of the ones you have.  Remember, word of mouth is a real thing.  Referrals are a real thing, oh and if you do it right you do not have to pay for them.

I’m a broken record, but I’m busy and we’re growing, ending before this goes off the rails more

4 updates in 1

Circa October 2010, none of these really need/deserve a full reboot and it looks like I made slight updates in May 2015

Post 1     Post 2   Post 3   Post 4

First, let us take a moment to thank Grammarly.  Like you, I’m busy and miss things.  Old posts had lots of silly, mostly lazy, mistakes.

Your updated disclaimer; I value time more than I did in October 2010 and, as my available time seems to diminish and priorities shift, even more than in May of 2015.  What does this mean?  Well, I am not sure that I held back then and the only stuff I hold back now is proprietary stuff.  Even that is shared with certain audiences.

So you have your “here we go” and a “disclaimer” but what about the “Why I write?”  Still for clarity.  Still to empty the brain that is even more full today than it was.  The ideas are better, The actions are more.  The industry is changing, slower than I thought but still in the right direction.  And, I intend to be at the center of change.

So the scary one for me, and here comes the enlightened self-interest post and the “good selfish” one as well, is post 4.  Yes, that one is still sadly true.  How is it possible that others are not catching up to what I have been doing and advocating for 8+ years?  What gets a bit worse is watching people, now all over social, use silly absolute type statements that cannot be true.

Seriously!!!  What the F is “right coverage”  or “properly insured” 


Consider starting high and with rare exception walking a little backward.

You better have some non-negotiable coverage in there as well.

Remember, NONE OF US can predict the future let alone a customers. Might as well buy a lotto ticket….but when it comes to insurance, fill as many logical holes as you can and accept that the companies do not care.

DO NOT spend someone else’s money for them.  Seriously, do you honestly think you know what is best for everyone you work with?  Are you seriusly still using some sort of antiquated ideas based on “assets”?

Do better.  Always.  Save your filters for Instagram

Customers. Period

But really, I call them Friends and Acquaintances;

“There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet”  William Butler Yeats

A bit deep on Friends from 2015 coincides with a training session with some pieces that are a bit off

I’ve never quite fully understood the philosophy of  “A, B and C customers….”  In the sense that I completely understand what is being said; focus your time on energy to produce a better outcome.  Great.  But, on the other hand, when you see in insurance today can partially be attributed to widespread use of this kind of attitude.

Depending on where you learn about it, it essentially says you need to classify your fellow humans by how much money they invest with you or how many policies they have with you, etc.  We humans label each other enough.  Was thinking this(and may expand on it elsewhere) when looking at my car.  The car has a logo.  Shouldn’t that be enough?  Nope, instead, in my case, it also had four separate markings to further clarify the company name, model name, and two features.  A previous owner even put another label on it.  Yes, the brain has a lot to work on each day, I get it.  But do we really need to continue to label things so intensely?

Consider an alternative, stems from a piece of how we work;

  • Neutral or better; essentially, you do not need to love everyone, just like them.  It is ok to be indifferent, as long as they are nice.
  • All of their money is green.  Period.  Shouldn’t that be enough?
  • Not everyone will fit all the boxes you propose for them.  Do they really need to fit all them? NO! Especially if we are neutral or better and their money is green.
  • Look at your whole ecosystem; the fact is we would really like to have an average of 3 policies per household/customer.  Averaging this is possible but it is not reasonable to have three policies in every household.  Period.
  • The actions of some customers actually let you help others.  Is this subsidizing?  Maybe.  But if you look at your customer base as a whole entity, this is healthy.
  • Everyone in the company needs to be willing and able to help everyone that calls.  It doesn’t mean they can or will.  Of course, we have people who specialize in commercial.  We have those that can sort of help with commercial.  We have customers that just prefer one person to another.  All of this is ok. Why?  Because we have things we do that make this ok.

This can go a lot of ways.  I’ve seen this explained in some fairly despicable terms.  I get it.  You have a finite, unmeasurable amount of time on this sphere.  Me to.  But, on the other hand, if you have the ability to help people why aren’t you spending time on that instead of classifying who to help and who not to help?

Just include it

It’s sort of silly really.  The world advances, the insurance world advances, yet there is still a reason to talk about glass coverage.  This was four years ago, still true.  I recorded a podcast yesterday and said something that I have said before, looks like I wrote it four years ago as well.

“Should it just be included, not even be an option?”

Yesterday we were talking home and flood insurance and I explained how certain things were just how we did it.  That piece was about water backup but there are several “options” at other agencies that are mandatory with us.  So be it.  It’s a free market.  On the other hand, I have an obligation to myself to continue to evolve and improve.  Along with that logic, I have an obligation to the insurance industry to evolve and improve. Period.  This is also non-negotiable.

Another side of glass claims, to tie to something like #Insurtech; Did you know that Safelite is essentially the glass claim call center for the industry?  Yes, fascinating.  Sure, there will be some regional differences but high fives to them.  On the other hand, does this “service” set up a model that can be emulated or infringe on the free-market?  Not sure, but if you were into that sort of thing it would be worth studying.

*A bigger thought was interrupted and this is being published incomplete….

Not enough

I’ve adapted a fair amount since this September 2014 post

But, maybe reinforced my thoughts is a better way of thinking about it.

  • I define winning, no one else
  • I compete against myself, no one else
  • Anyone interested in purely defining me or my company by numbers only isn’t going to get very far with me
  • Context around numbers is really important
  • Many of the metrics, KPI’s, etc. used in insurance are flawed. And generally not going to work for the next decade and beyond

Opportunity; It’s simple, if you are focused on opportunities you’ll find opportunities.  Sometimes, as I’ve learned, this really means you’ll make them.  Or make something or make the situation an opportunity.   **Google Reticular Activating System**

So Hiring and Sales;

HIRING; I’m looking for good people that want to help people buy insurance.  I’m interested in helping make them the best version of themselves possible.  I/We will be as flexible as we reasonably can when it comes to your role/title and is more than open to combining ideas and adapting if we see opportunities that will benefit you.

The industry has, depending on where you read, a large to a massive shortage of humans working in it.  And, it shows.  This will not be solely fixed by technology and certainly not by narrow minds with old standards.

SALES; Consider the phrase, which for us is a way of working ” Manufacturing a Market.”  In brief, it is willing to let sales develop over time because you know how to develop sales over time.  It is how you work with people who buy versus having to sell people.  It’s not crazy, just different.  If you have enough companies that will accommodate enough situations BUT you also have a core operating idea that keeps the process within certain guidelines, you’ll never be without.

Nothing wrong with working in a niche.  I get it and admire your willingness.  The world needs more than that from me.

More money than you are given

Originally posted 5 years ago, sadly, the situation is a bit worse now; “The real cost of a claim”

So yesterday I got a new, new car.  It feels better but not good.  Handing in a rental, that felt good.  Of the last 40 days I have had a rental for 39 of them.  *HUGE opportunity in insurance is the rental car situation, similar to using Angies list on the home side*

So I have a new car but I do not have a closed, completed claim and may not for 30-120ish more days.  Why?

  • First, the title has to come back.  This is not anybody’s fault, just an inefficient government process….likely someone’s fault
  • Once we have that it goes to Big National 2 who’ll then cut some checks
  • But wait, the claim is not actually done at that point.  See, despite being NOT AT FAULT and a customer for 7 YEARS my deductible is being withheld
  • NOW that we have the title the car can be sold at an auction.  Apparently, there is a huge market outside the U.S. for cars totaled in the U.S
  • While this is happening Big National 1 is making an offer since, and I still cannot comprehend it, they still let people buy minimum liability and property damage.  Professional on the outside Amateur on the inside, sad.
  • Look up the B.S. that Comparative Negligence is in New York…and likely elsewhere.  Basically, the at-fault driver has $10,000 in coverage.  My car is at $16,000 the other is at say $5,000 it is not an even split of the funds, etc.
  • Now that we know the sales price of my salvage and Progressive offer two massive companies “agree” and then, only after this should I see my deductible back?  In the meantime, MILLIONS will be spent on ads to get new customers.

This post can continue and there will be other versions, you can also look at starting with August 11 for about a dozen related posts.