What Else?

One of my favorite questions for sure.  I’m continually stuck on the notion that you/we should strive to be worth sharing.  If you are good enough.  If the mission is strong enough.  If the offering is good enough, it will be shared. Period.

Advertising itself has been ruined by advertisers.  It’s diluted down to a nuisance, an annoyance, worth ignoring than paying attention to, valueless, etc.  Had some time on Saturday, more accurately, kids were out being kids and the project I am working on needed more time and not that much thought so it was movies in the background as well as a college football game.

The app I was using for one movie, has one or two commercials every few minutes.  I remember none of them.  The football games, however, were much worse.  Seemed like constant interruptions. But, I cannot tell you who was advertising.

So is the challenge to simply have better advertising or simply be better.  I say be better!

I’m regrouping this blog and there was a post that was unpublished dated October 2014.  It was just after attending Landon Donovan’s last U.S. Soccer match in Hartford.  Allstate is a big supporter and was giving away something that all you had to do was sign up for a quote.  I have zero memory of the giveaway or if a quote was given.  Why, based on what I know now, and/or what you know now, would anyone want to cold call on people who agreed to an auto insurance quote ONLY so they can get a giveaway?

But, this parallels to a dilemma we are currently faced with.  Two interesting opportunities that can put us in touch with shoppers.  Although I am certain we can make the financials work, I’m still on the fence.  Did these people come looking for improved insurance with their own free will?  Were they actually looking or did repeated internet ads break them down till they finally “agreed,” to move forward and request a quote?  HUGE difference.

It is similar to the advertising which isn’t tricky but can be perceived as tricky.  In that same draft, I referenced an article/newsworthy moment from October 2014.  It was of an employee of Wells Fargo requesting a raise and cc’ing all his co-workers.  I still think it is beautiful.  And, considering what we know now about what Wells Fargo was doing from 2014-2017ish, it would have been a tremendously smarter move.

I suppose the What Else of advertising needs to be re-framed.  What Else can we do to get people to want to try our products?  Instead, consider, what else can we do to get people to want to be a part of what we are doing or be a part of what they are doing?

Adjusting the how based on who

On occasion, I slip and engage in online dialogue with pundits and consultants who just do not have the same experience, and I as them, but sometimes I take the bait.  It is simple posts like this one that is actually HUGE yet ignored.

I was reminded of this when commenting on a post about Credit Karma.  Yeah for them. They got their California insurance license and will thankfully help feed some headlines for a bit. Then, sometime in the future, they won’t.  But I’ll of still wasted time with people who really are looking to be heard who haven’t actually done what they are writing about.  Shame is on me, not them.

Like me slipping online, the usual pitfalls await new entrants in every segment of Insurtech.  Why? Because the truth doesn’t make good headlines.  Because the work and angles that take time to develop, aren’t known by very many of us.  Because those that are getting headlines are purely in this for the money, which is ok.  BUT, it’ll never be as powerful as those who are here for the money AND to make a positive impact on society.

To the “How” and the “who.”  It is sort of like graffiti.  I have often felt that the person putting graffiti somewhere is simply demonstrating a human need.  They feel neglected.  They want to be remembered and are looking for a reason.  It isn’t a show of love and most of us are more annoyed that you made a mark to prove you were somewhere.  But, you left your mark.  On the other hand, I think the style of graffiti is amazing and when well placed in public spaces is a dramatic enhancement to that area.  Why?  Because there are context and purpose.

A closing note to self;

A complimentary comment is nice.  A comment that brings value to others and shares your fact and experience-based knowledge is nice.  But simply quoting PR pieces and providing opinions that are so far removed seem more like commenting for commenting sake.  The world doesn’t need more posts because your content calendar says so.  It needs them because it brings value and enhances the lives of others.  Dialogue has and likely will always be healthy, this goes for on-line as well, as long as kept civil.  But remember, it is our different experiences that make life interesting.  Share what you know and before unleashing an emotion-fueled sentence, look and see who made the comment.  It is very likely they are just putting some graffiti on the internet.


Fulfilling a contract, earning votes, re-election

My thoughts are a bit, but not much, different as it pertains to our crazy system of elections 

Most of my commute is littered with silly yard signs promoting various candidates as is my mailbox.  Although I watch shows, I do not watch cable T.V. or listen to the radio so I avoid that noise.

Metaphor and simile’s; I suppose the deeper one gets into a subject(insurance), and wants to help people understand it, the more similes and metaphors you can use.  Although insurance is a bit dirty, it is unfair to compare it to politics since that is much dirtier…sort of.  But where does it make sense?

Claims.  Claims are supposedly why you have insurance, just in case.  The truth is, likely 90%+ has it because the law or a mortgage requires it.  But, when a claim doesn’t go well, what happens?  Well, the claimant first feels the brunt of it.  Then, if there is an agent/broker they feel some of it.  Depending on when during the policy period, at some point the agent/broker now finds out the customer wants to leave.  BUT, here comes the catch.  If you were regularly reviewing your rates, there is not an artificial buffer keeping your rate high.  So, you go to switch and it becomes HIGHLY unlikely that you can since you now have a claim on your record.

Behind the scenes; nice enough couple starts with a $2400 rate and is thrilled.  You run the CLUE report and find 5 occurrences over a 5 year period.  2 of these are using towing, total payout $124.  1 is a relative’s so we exclude it.  That leaves you with a comprehensive claim since his vehicle was vandalized while parked and she hit a deer.  New rate?  $3800  WTF?  Nope, just insurance.  **Yes, there are dozens of things behind this but scenarios like this are not unusual.

Sort of like; taxes are up, standard of living is down, your town/city/state’s reputation is not good, you might even be involved in some “shady” stuff but you are getting re-elected because you or your party has the money to do it.

ADVERTISING But when your signs go out are you advertising to new votes or old votes?  In theory, we are in a connected world.  If you received 1000 votes last election, how many of those can you depend on to vote for you again?  BUT, bigger than that, how many of those can you depend on to encourage another person to vote for you?

It is very rare that we receive a phone call specifically requesting a company be used. Like Sasquatch rare, * Saw SmallFoot, usual story but still fun.  Nice Soundtrack**  BUT, most of our calls come based on the name of one of our divisions, our parent company name or one of our team.  Wondering why voting is that much different?  Kind of like a new candidate having an office two doors from office and to my knowledge, no hellos have been exchanged.  Then again, ignoring small business is just what New York does.

It goes back to some basic stuff; be worth sharing.  Give people reasons to share you. Don’t advertise to advertise.  Focus on being worth voting for(buying) and the rest seems to take care of itself

Marketing pieces are valid….just not yours

This was the basis for two postcards I had done in 2012.  I liked them, still do. I like most things that hold up over time and the things on here do.

Then the next blurb I wrote was called “What does your agent have” this is a post I can probably write weekly if not every other week.  The same format of a solicitation keeps coming.

In my opinion, and there is a bit of data to support this, mailing campaigns still work.  Period.  We have done several this year and they have all produced several results.  Why?

  • There is a reason for mailing and it is not purely an immediate ROI that only equates to sales
  • The message in the piece is accurate and has some amount of useful information in it

The first point; If your mailing or postcard is purely to generate sales for your company, you have already lost.  You should probably go plant a tree to at least lessen the negative impact you have on the universe.  You have already wasted the time of the postal people and whoever did the mailing.  Purely trying to pull someone in with numbers is not nearly as effective as if you include some value.   Trying to get me to do a quote is “normal” but what if you have a couple of sentences of information that they can use without you?  Build some good will.

The second point; Public data is amazing but not perfect.  Using the purchase date of a home is sort of clever, but not nearly as clever as knowing when to interrupt a cycle.  Sure, I do not expect everyone to have identical coverage to me but there are a few coverages that really should be standard.  How would you answer the question “What coverage do you have?”   And the follow up to this is, “Well why didn’t you offer me this coverage?”

It’s their money, help them spend it DON’T tell them how to.

Oh, and if those numbers require “*” and really tiny print, please reconsider how you treat your fellow humans.

I suppose putting together an ” 18 things to do in 2018″ is still reasonable, but 12 in 12 feels and sounds better.  Not to mention, my views on time have evolved a bit since than.  Sure, society agrees that the years end and we all “reset” to some degree.  But to much of that mentality doesn’t work, not sure that it ever did.


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?

Buying vs Shopping II

A little longer but a slightly updated version of  https://theinsurancebill.com/?p=194

Was getting “ranty” so paused.

When paying attention to #insurtech things I have a basic thought process.  Essentially looking at how I can apply it to our customers and then scale.  Second is can it hit the three silos of sales/marketing, underwriting, claims.  It is a “buying process at that point.  I’ve already made up much of my mind on what I am looking for…at least currently.

Inevitably, all of these come back to the underlying philosophy or attitude the company(ies) will/can have towards that particular service/idea/technology.  Combine that with asking ” Is a behavior change of the consumer necessary?” and that is the buying process for me.   We do not look at cost before we decide if it makes sense.

BUT, we do factor in consumer cost see any of these are up against a massive monolith that has dumbed down, duped, poorly trained, the American consumer into believing you MUST shop for auto insurance.  Then, just like any retail setting, the various rungs of the economic ladder are treated differently.  That treatment, combined with underwriting can often lead to bad short and long-term decisions.

The two young mails who vehicles totaled my Scion and my Subaru certainly didn’t need to do it.  Both absolutely expressed regret and concern at the scene.  But, I know now that the second one was sold a bad policy.  Why was he sold and didn’t buy?  It’s in how you phrase it.

Sure, technically he agreed, signed and gave money.  But I would be happy to wager that the call center he bought it from, *sort of thankful for this so I do not need to sue another agent, could have done better.  They still could have sold him but CHOSE to offer him the absolute minimum available in New York.  This now harms me and the other person he hit.  Sadly, he will also end up getting sued by at least one if not two massive insurance companies.

My personal beliefs are absolutely in conflict with this since I believe in accountability and ownership.  But, I also know that if you have the knowledge and do not share it or you only share the knowledge you want to share you have now artificially sabotaged the buying process.


On the other hand, it is ignorant call centers and agents that certainly aid our sales process.  But, still, it is better for the consumer if it ends today.

This  is just one of many reasons why I HELP PEOPLE BUY INSURANCE

An Insurance system fail

When a system fails, consumers and the people they need to run them, we all lose.

Take this example; Mrs. C is an existing customer of an agency.  Came referred and has kept paying her auto, home and umbrella for three years now.  The insurance has gone up in price(failure for a different article) despite the risk not changing.  Now you have one household who has referred other business to the agency and is worth about $800 in gross commission.  Factor in the people who have been referred and this one household easily generates $1000+ in commission.
Now Mrs. C is in need of another policy.  This  is for a small venture she is involved in.  Now keep in mind this small commercial type policy is not one that most agents have an interest in.  The total premium is going to be $455.  Maybe the gross commission is $50.  Keep in mind, she is already a customer, there was no selling.  This was a person who simply wanted to give the agency more money.
So what happened.  The options available to me are via www.theeventhelper.com who although they are very easy to use is written on a claims made form.  Now we can debate claims made versus occurrence but in reality it is the same mistake auto quoting websites are making.
  • They are giving the customer too much to think about.
  • They are allowing poor choices to take place instead of eliminating the possibility of them happening.
  • They are leaving themselves vulnerable for the when/if the customer shops a bit or worse a claim happens.

What is worse about this is they don’t have to do it this way.

So instead of having an easy online option that has a quality product behind it, instead we provide the customer with an application to fill out and return.  She does it.  Then we submit it to the wholesaler and wait, and wait, and wait then we get an offer.  But despite filling out an application, the underwriter has more questions.  So now we go back to the insured and get the answers.  She provides the answers so we give them to the underwriter.  Then they send us an offer but wait, this offer has three more questions that need answers prior to binding.  So back to the insured we go.  She then provides the answer and after a few more hours we get authority to bind.
It gets better, the event is on a Saturday and this is Friday at, you guessed it 4:00 ish.  I have a 5:00 tee time, not looking good.  Now fortunately the insured can make a payment on-line and after another human stepping in, the insured has her certificate. AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL  Remember, this was for $50.  But it gets worse, did the existing client lose some faith in your agency?  How much time in total was spent on this by the insured, you, your assistant, the other company as well.  Enough already.  Are we working for free?
Think of it this way, what if instead the customer could simply log into the agents website and have the option of an on-line quote ready and waiting for them.  You already have the customer, you already have their personal information this can upload into a new site  and you can easily build in a feature like this one.  BUT the product needs to be up to standards.  You need to be able to cover 95ish% of the customers you already have.  **Yes, I think you need to impose different standards for people you have not already vetted***   Want an example?  Go look at Amazon, have they ever upsold you anything?  Any chance you’ve ever been on a website that already had your data and made your next purchase easier.  You probably do this once  a week.
Maybe it will all change when more agencies act like businesses and less like insurance agencies.
Maybe it will get better when more agents stop using social media as a crutch?
Maybe it will get better when there are less agents?
The bottom line is still the same; The core piece of any business is having a set of customers who want to pay you.  The next piece of it is keeping this group of customers so they continue to pay you.  I suppose one more piece is continuing to evolve your business in such a way that those customers bring you new customers and instead of spending money on what they call traditional advertising you instead spend a smaller fraction of money on making the user experience better then you ever would need to on advertising.
Just some thoughts, on going work in progress.

Find your customers and support them back

DISCLOSURE: I do not advertise.  Not in the traditional sense at least.  I also never say know to a request from a policyholder/friend/customer for a sponsorship/support of something they are involved in.

So I was at a zoo this weekend.  Washington National Zoo to be exact.  Great time, great place.  While at one exhibit I noticed this sign;

2014-04-26 11.47.55

Really neat exhibit and I am fine with seeing State Farm’s name there.  I respect them as a company and think this is a great move.  Why would you not want your logo in a happy place where lots of families are.  Especially since families are a huge piece of your customer base.  But then again you see State Farm almost everywhere.  They probably have customers in every physical space that they put their name.

So why “cold” advertise all over T.V., radio and print?  What if all their focus on advertising was directed by existing customers?  Now this is not say that they pick a particular sports team and sponsor them.  It is to say that if basketball is a common theme among their customers and in theory their future customers they should put the emphasis there.

I suppose it is quite possible that their marketing staff is, for some odd reason, afraid that if they back off on their advertising the business will somehow suffer.  I doubt it.  Especially  if you simply reapply that money.  Imagine if all the agents in one county worked together to sponsor a large activity in that area.  Now you can capture those customers as well as engage them.  Heck, your response rate would blow away anything you can do with your useless mailings.

Just a thought, go where your customers are and hang out.  Sure it may be fun to go  to a new space and make new friends but spending money to do that and diluting your brand in the process is likely all you are doing.

Now lets go to the other side;

My wife, her friend and my sister in law ran in this race this past weekend; http://www.nike.com/events/register/werundc/

Now it was well run and well supported, had a nice course and from what my runners said it was a lot of fun.  They were also well taken care of and there was a great spirit.  Here is what caught my attention;

2014-04-27 12.59.30

Yes, that is the Nike Swoosh on a silver Tiffany pendant.  The back is engraved with some details about being a finisher of the event. Holy crap, this is way better than the beer mug, pin or finishers medals that I have received.  That Tiffany Blue Box in the finishers bag was awesome than I saw this pendant.  Talk about relating to your audience.  Sure there are 15,000 of these made for this event but in reality that is a tiny segment of the population.  They all knew Tiffany and Nike but now it is personal. Honestly it is nice enough that I would bet many will be part of a regular rotation.  Just a tremendous example of embracing your audience.

You can give out all the chatzkees you want and hope they stick around or you can give out something really awesome to less people and know it is going to stick.

Yes, in my brain it is time to advertise less and advertise better.  There is so much data available that why would you not want to focus on your audience and let them build your business with you.

Just a thought.

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.


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.




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.


Just some suggestions.