Young Agents Assets: The Trust Factor

In insurance, trust is a powerful business currency. The ability to develop meaningful customer relationships depends heavily on trust. It is impossible to develop impactful customer engagement without it.

Unfortunately, for many insurance agents and brokers, the trust factor is lacking. A study conducted by IBM shows that only 43 percent of customers trust the insurance industry. In fact, lack of consumer trust in insurance providers has remained above 50 percent since 2007 (when IBM first started taking surveys).

Litmus test: Do your customers trust that your product or service will deliver the kind of value that’s worth its price? Do they trust your company to help solve their problems and respond to their needs? Do they trust you enough to continue to give you their business and/or refer you to others?

Whether you’re a new agent trying to grow your business and build a client base, or you’ve been in the industry a long time and are looking to maintain and grow your client base – if your answer to any of the above is a “no” or “only some,” — you have options, that over time, can help you turn this tide and get a grip on the “business of trust”:

  • Be intentional. Incorporate “trust” into your annual business plan. Now that you’ve identified “building trust” as a strategy to achieve customer growth and retention, go the next step to develop tactics to support that strategy and then commit to executing your plan.
  • Build a culture of ethics. Ethics is the foundation upon which trust is built. Just like any behavior, ethical business practices, including decision-making, must be practiced daily. You can start by thoughtfully developing a framework to handle the most common conflict-of-interest in the insurance industry – the rub between income and your client’s best-interest.
  • Let your actions speak for you. Being a great talker, or giving a great sales pitch isn’t going to cut it in today’s competitive marketplace. The key to growth, retention and earning trust is successfully demonstrating to your clients that their needs are your priority.
  • Whether it’s by in person meeting, phone, text or social media, staying in touch with your clients is important. Become a trusted resource on all topics relevant to your industry as a means to build trust and loyalty with your client. Share changes to your business and in the industry, discounts and advantages you can provide and how your business can help them. Keep all communication relevant, professional and friendly.
  • Be AuthenticMarketing studies show that clients expect authenticity when it comes the people with whom they do business. By maintaining an open and honest relationship with your clients, you are showing them that you value them.
  • Win awards. There’s a plethora of awards for providers to earn, especially those connected with good business outcomes. Achieving recognition for user-friendly products and services is a clear signal to customers of good value and fairness. It emphasizes the real benefits of insurance rather than just the cheapest price.
  • Get Chartered. The insurance industry has a professional body, the Chartered Insurance Institute, that recognizes professional excellence with the designation, “Chartered”. Being chartered means adhering to a higher standard of professional ethics and behaviors rather than the minimum standards laid down by the regulator.
  • Call UIG. We’re here to help. We strive to be your partner and finest solution to help you address your clients’ needs, and that includes providing them with a product they can trust. 385.9978

 

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Get to Know UIG

If you’ve visited our website or met with a team member at a conference, you’ve no doubt heard or seen the phrase, “UIG, the Agent Agency.” But have you every wondered what it really means?

UIG, the Agent Agency, is more than just a tag line. It’s our value statement that regardless if your agency is big or small, UIG is committed to being your finest resource and most valuable partner.

And, there are several ways we go about delivering on our commitment. Two in particular:

No Volume Commitment

As stated earlier, we want to be your most valuable partner. That means we’re here when you need us. That’s why UIG does not require a volume commitment in order for an agency to work with us. It doesn’t matter if you write a single policy with a $500 premium once a year or if you write tens of thousands of dollars in premiums — every agent is given the same priority and consideration.

Direct Access to our Underwriting Team

With UIG, there is no wondering who will be assigned to your submission or having to work though a marketing representative to get things done. When you call or send an email, you are communicating directly with a member of your UIG Underwriting team. And, because you’re directly connected with an underwriting team member from the beginning, we’re able to get you an answer with fewer delays.

From the simplest to the most complex, will help you navigate comprehensive and personal insurance solutions in the specialty insurance market. And, we’ll continue to share more on how we do that throughout this “Get to Know UIG” blog series.

If you’re currently struggling with a hard-to-place client, don’t wait. Call today: 800-385-9978.

About the time you’re thinking no one can help you, is the right time to call on UIG.

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St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. And for many, it wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without a good drink, especially at an Irish pub. However, without the proper precautions, what starts out as innocent fun and entertainment can quickly spiral out of control given the right circumstances.

For example, Milwaukee, Wisc., St. Patrick’s Day, 2012: Fights between drunken people who punched and kicked each other and threw bottles at police led taverns to close down about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, ending the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations prematurely.

If your clients are getting ready to don their Irish green along with serving alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day, don’t leave them to be victims of the “luck of the Irish” when it comes to their insurance coverage. Having the proper insurance can make the difference between a minor bump in the road and a complete detour.

Be proactive, expect the unexpected

Like the pubs in Milwaukee, you never know when the worst-case scenario could become reality. Any time a major holiday is drawing near is the right time to reach out to your clients and offer to review their insurance policies to help identify any weak areas and options for filling those gaps.

Buzzed = Drunk walking, driving

Liquor liability and defense cost coverage are two areas to pay close attention to.

Driving buzzed on the holiday could cost patrons a pot of leprechaun’s gold — like up to $10,000 in legal fees, court costs and increased insurance rates. Not to mention the liability your clients could face if a guest hurts themselves on business property or, worse, drinks and drives and injures themselves or another person.

If a guest or third party is injured in an accident that is related to alcohol consumption and the drinking can be linked to a business, the business, and potentially its owner, could be held responsible. Legal costs could include payment of medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost time from work and — in the worst case — claims for wrongful death resulting in huge monetary settlements.

In the unfortunate event a lawsuit should arise, a policy that includes coverage for liquor liability can help cover litigation costs.

Be your brother’s keeper — Serve Smart!

With green beer and a bevy of Irish whiskey, we know holiday-themed spirits will be flowing. Here are some additional tips for your clients to share to improve loss control:

  • Check ID’s carefully. If your client could have known or should have known an ID was fraudulent, it will open your client to loss.
  • Binge selling for binge drinking is a leading precursor to tragic claims. Be sure to monitor the number of drinks and time served. Make sure your clients understand that if they serve a person to a point of intoxication they are now liable for any actions of that person. Your clients can help keep their customers safe by limiting the number of drinks per hour, per customer.
  • The only cure for intoxication is time! Before drinking, plan ahead and designate a sober driver.
  • If your your client has a customer/guest who is impaired, call a taxi, sober friend or family member. Once your client has served a person to the point of legal intoxication they are subject to an insurance claim. However, they can mitigate the loss by taking this step.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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Young Agents Assets: Your “Everything You Sell” Sheet

One of the reasons clients may not buy more lines of insurance or refer your agency more business is because they have no idea what exactly you sell!

Your full product line is obvious to you, but if you don’t make it crystal clear to clients, they’ll only think of you for the products they already own. By creating an easy-to-read, one-page flier that shows everything you sell, you can increase your odds of exposing your clients and prospects to your full arsenal of products. Check out this example.

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Flood Tips to Discuss with your Clients

Ninety percent of natural disasters are flood related. From 2010 to 2014, the average commercial flood claim amounted to nearly $89,000. That kind of money can be an overwhelming loss to any business. But with the right coverage and forethought, your clients can increase their odds at reclaiming their business if the worst does happen.

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BELOW ARE SOME HELPFUL TIPS TO SHARE WHEN DISCUSSING FLOOD COVERAGE:

  • Business Property Risk: high-risk or moderate- to low-risk. As a business owner, they should take the time to determine the risk associated with their property’s elevation and location in relation to a floodplain and local water sources. If a business is located in a high-risk flood zone, they should not put off reviewing their flood insurance options. There could be a waiting period as long as 30 days for this type of policy to go into affect.
  • Know What’s Covered. It is in their best interest to become educated on what a comprehensive flood insurance policy does and doesn’t cover, such as vehicles and equipment, property damage, cause of damage, loss of revenue, etc.
  • Mandatory Requirements. Businesses with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders in high-risk flood areas are required to have flood insurance. While flood insurance is not federally required, if a business is located in a moderate-to-low risk flood area, it is still strongly recommended.
  • Flood Preparedness. As part of their flood planning, business owners should consider taking measures to make the property watertight or installing pumps, if their building is in an area susceptible to floods. They should also regularly check and clean the drainage systems in and around the property.
  • Contingency Planning. Develop a plan to limit losses and continue operating during and after a flood, including the possibility of moving critical employees to another location.

Don’t assume your clients understand that flood insurance can only be purchased through an insurance agent.

Your proactive outreach may the difference between them weathering the storm or having their business sunk by floodwaters.

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Earthquakes Can Have You Shaking in Your Shoes

Those who have gone through an earthquake know these natural catastrophes can leave severe devastation — destroying buildings, homes, vehicles and possessions.

From the business insurance standpoint, earthquakes represent the worst kind of risk — the one that could happen “someday.” Even high-risk areas along fault zones can go decades with no activity. Out of sight, out of mind.

Commercial earthquake insurance can be very important in helping your clients impacted by earthquakes pick up the pieces.

earthquakeAnd yet, despite the growing frequency of earthquakes and tremors, because of the nature of the risk, most commercial property policies exclude coverage for earthquake damage (including earthquake sprinkler damage, etc.). Coverage is usually only available for earthquake damage in the form of a supplemental policy.

And, while the USGS is cautious about making predictions, if you have any doubt that earthquake activity is on the rise, just run a Google search. There has been news coverage of quakes in California, Oklahoma, Oregon and Nevada (to name a few) in the past couple of months alone, not to mention the study that was recently released, confirming that the New Madrid fault zone, one thought to be dying, is active and could “spawn” future large earthquakes. The New Madrid spans 150 miles, crossing parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

Earthquakes can strike suddenly, without warning and can occur at any time, and in any season of the year. That’s why UIG recommends that regardless of location, at some point, you should highlight earthquake insurance awareness for your clients, including the options available, the amounts needed and timeframes that claims can be made in.

The Earthquake Endorsement

Earthquake coverage can be purchased as an endorsement to the standard commercial policy. The endorsement covers damage caused by shaking during an earthquake including structural building damages and the damage to property, contents, business income or other scheduled limits.

As a Separate Policy

Earthquake insurance can be purchased as a standalone policy. Many standard markets either do not offer earthquake as a peril or only offer low limits. A standalone or mono-line earthquake policy provides coverage for this gap.

Costs and Deductible

Earthquake insurance is purchased as a premium per $1,000 of valuation. Premiums vary per location with the western United States having premiums ten times as high as those in the eastern United States. The premiums also take into account age of the buildings and types of structure with wood frame buildings being the cheapest to insure.

Earthquake insurance carries a percentage deductible ranging from 10 percent to 15 percent. This means if the business suffers an earthquake loss of $1 million, the business would be responsible for the first $100,000 to $150,000. A separate deductible buy back product is available for insureds that wish to reduce the deductible exposure on larger properties.

Other Business Policies That Cover Earthquake Losses

Other common business insurance policies may cover earthquake losses without additional endorsement:

  • Commercial Auto — Most standard commercial auto policies cover loss or damage from earthquakes. This can include damage from falling debris, fire, or other events.
  • Workers’ Compensation — Injury to employees at work by earthquake effects is a covered loss under workers’ compensation insurance.

Business Interruption — Some business interruption policies do not exclude earthquakes as covered events, but check with your insurance professional.

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Deductible Buy Back For Wind, Earthquake, Flood and Other Perils

At a time when policyholders are facing higher premiums and a greater probability of hurricane and wind damage, agents need as many tools as possible to help ensure they provide adequate coverage for their clients.

Wind

Higher property values and higher wind deductibles are increasing the overall exposure for insureds, especially in coastal, hurricane prone states. In today’s litigious environment, it is important to regularly advise clients of all the optional coverage available to reduce the potential for financial loss in the event of a storm. The same can be said in earthquake or flood prone areas.

Deductible buy back (DBB) insurance is one product that you can offer to your clients, which provides an option for them to reduce their financial burden following a loss by lowering their deductible under a separate policy.

For example, on a $1,000,000 property, a five percent wind deductible equals $50,000. Let’s say your client would like to reduce that to a one percent wind deductible. Under a wind buy-back policy, the insured, under a separate policy, could cover four percent of the five percent deductible. Instead of the insured having a $50,000 out of pocket exposure it would now be $10,000.

The price of a deductible buy-back policy varies greatly based on the specific COPE information and perils covered. That being said, pricing can range from four percent — 12.5 percent of the DBB policy limit.

In the above example ($40,000 DBB limit), the four percent rate would equate to a premium of $1,600 whereas the 12.5 percent rate would equate to a premium of $5,000.

This product is an excellent solution to reduce out of pocket costs for property owners that may need to comply with mortgage or loan terms.

To find out what UIG can do you for you, please download our Deductible Buy Back app. You can return the completed form to info@uigusa.com.

We’ve also started a Young Agent’s Resource Group on LinkedIn. Whether you’re new to insurance or are just looking for a few new ideas, be sure to connect with us!

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Fido May be Part of the Family, but is He Covered?

While your clients may consider dogs to be a part of the family (at UIG, we certainly consider Luigi part of ours) as an insurance agent, it’s your job to be wary of them —especially if the dog’s breed happens to appear on the “aggressive,” “dangerous” or “bad dog” lists that are generally prohibited under homeowners insurance policies.

In 2016 alone, dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners liability claim dollars, costing more than $600 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farmthe largest writer of homeowners insurance in the United States.

I.I.I.’s analysis of homeowners insurance data found that the number of dog bite claims nationwide increased to 18,123 in 2016, compared to 15,352 in 2015 — an 18 percent increase. The average cost per claim, however, decreased by more than 10 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims was $33,230 in 2016, I.I.I. found, compared with $37,214 in 2015 and $32,072 in 2014.

Being in the business of mitigating risk, it becomes easy to understand why certain dog breeds are widely considered to be a financial risk to insurers, making them hard to cover and usually at a higher premium if coverage is provided at all.

The specific dog breeds prohibited by insurers vary from company to company, but at least five appear on every list, including both purebreds and mixed breeds:

  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Doberman
  • Presa Canario
  • Chow Chow

Statistics show these are among the most aggressive breeds associated reported attacks, some of which are fatal. According to the Centre for Disease Control, dog attacks resulted in 279 human deaths in the U.S. over a 20-year period. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers accounted for more than half of those deaths.

While owners of these types of dogs may feel discriminated against, it’s good to note that the use of such lists is not acceptable everywhere. In the U.S., Michigan and Pennsylvania have restricted the use of dog breed profiling by insurance companies. Ten other states have pending legislation that would similarly prohibit companies to deny insurance to someone based only on the breed of dog owned by their household. These laws propose that insurance companies should only be allowed to deny or revoke a policy or to increase the premium, based on the risk associated with a specifically named dog. That means that the individual dog must have a known history of being aggressive or must have been officially designated as dangerous.

To find out more about dog breed coverages in your area, drop us a line at info@uigusa.com or call 800.385.9978.

 

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Young Agents Assets: How to Leverage LinkedIn for Prospecting

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? If yes, great! Sixty percent of brokers named it as their social network of choice to prospect for new clients in a 2015 survey, a clear winner over Facebook — which came in second at 14 percent. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one.

The bigger question is, “How hard is your LinkedIn profile working for you?” LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool for insurance brokers, especially when it comes to prospecting for new clients. However, simply having a presence on LinkedIn is not enough. You have to actively engage with potential clients.

So whether you are new to the network or are looking for a way to improve your LinkedIn presence, here are 4 strategies to help you out:

Optimize Your Profile

If you’re new to LinkedIn or have a passive presence, your profile may not seem like a difference maker, but the opposite is true. The first thing potential clients do when they’re interested in your services is click on your profile to learn more. When that happens, you want to be sure to convey a professional and credible presence that entices them to get in touch with you.

A successful LinkedIn profile is more than just a resume. In addition to your work experience and expertise — which builds credibility — you also need an enticing summary about yourself and insurance services. Adding skills, certifications and volunteer experience helps make you more relatable in the eyes of potential clients.

Check out these insights on broker profiles, compiled by LinkedIn, to see how other insurance brokers represent themselves on the network.

Join and Engage in Groups

One of LinkedIn’s major distinguishing features is the ability to join groups and engage with like-minded professionals. For insurance brokers, this also presents an invaluable opportunity to engage with potential clients about their insurance.

You can find groups relevant to the industries of your clients by simply typing potential group names into the search box, or searching groups by industry from the Interests > Groups > Discover page. You can even create your own group, like the UIG Agent’s Assets Resource Group, and invite your current connections to join.

Once you’ve joined a few groups it’s time to start participating. It’s important to note that you should rarely, if ever, post straight sales pitches. Instead, offer your expertise related to currently discussed topics. This will allow you to build credibility, and eventually lead to potential clients clicking on your name to visit your profile.

Use Advanced Search

You can also seek out potential clients directly. Using the network’s advanced search feature, you can find members of your target industry to connect with. And then you can filter the results based on the location and industry relevant to you.

Once you’ve found potential clients, it’s time to connect. As stated earlier, many users don’t appreciate ‘cold’ connecting. Instead, seek out those users with whom you share a connection, past work history, or at least a common group. Then, see what groups they’re in.

If you belong to that group too, engage them in a conversation by commenting on a discussion they’ve started or commented on. Build a relationship from there. Don’t forget about InMail too.

Write Long Form Posts

Building credibility is not limited to participating in industry groups. On LinkedIn, you can also write long-form posts that act much like native blog posts, but with the benefit of added exposure. Not sure what kind of content to create, take a look at the UIG blog section for ideas or feel free to share.

Write several paragraphs about new developments within the insurance industry, your professional journey to this point, or even a current sales offer. Then, tag it with relevant tags, and watch it gain exposure. Publish a White Paper that’s on your website. This is a great way to develop trust and credibility and drive traffic to your website.

You can share completed posts with your followers and clients, both on and off the network. Thanks to the tags you add, they will also appear on LinkedIn’s Pulse section, where they gain exposure to professionals within your target industries. And, to bring it full circle, any post you publish will be added to your LinkedIn profile for future visitors.

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Coinsurance Part II: Business Income & Other Tools

Earlier this year, we unpacked an article written by William Austin, principal, Austin & Stanovich Risk Managers, LLC, about the importance of arriving at a fairly accurate property valuation in order to avoid a coinsurance penalty. We’re resuming our conversation to examine coinsurance as it relates to business income commercial insurance and a couple of other specialty areas including coinsurance tools.

The process to establish the coinsurance minimum limit for business income is more complicated than that used for building and contents direct damage. The reason is that the insured must determine net income and operating expense expected for the policy year and then deduct operating expenses that would not be expected to continue during the period of interruption (prepaid freight for outgoing shipments, cost of materials that would otherwise be consumed during the manufacturing process, power that is not consumed, ordinary payroll if it is not to be continued, etc.).

Extra expense coverage is not subject to a coinsurance clause. The insured can ask the insurer to quote any limit that is deemed appropriate. Extra expense coverage, when offered as coverage separate from business income, may contain certain percentages such as 40/80/100. These percentages are not coinsurance, but a means to limit the payout of the coverage: up to 40 percent for the first month of recovery; up to 80 percent for the next month of recovery; and no more than 100 percent for the final month of recovery. It is important for the risk management professional to review any percentage used in extra expense coverage to ensure that the coverage provided meets the extra expense needs of the insured.

Example: Business Income

A manufacturer completed a business income worksheet for the recent policy period based on operating 240 days per year (after plant summer shutdown and usual employee paid holidays). The annual business income value is $8 million with an 80 percent coinsurance clause. The insured limit is $6.4 million, excludes ordinary payroll, and is subject to a one daily average value (ADV) deductible.

Scenario 1

A fire occurs and damages key equipment, and the plant must shut down for three months. A business income claim of $2.7 million is filed with the property insurer. What is the net insurance recovery after the deductible?

Scenario 2

Three months after renewal, the company lands three large contracts, and net income surges to an additional $3 million in five months. A fire occurs and damages key equipment, and the plant must shut down for 3 months. A business income claim of $2.7 million is filed with the property insurer. What is the net insurance recovery after the deductible?

Coinsurance issues can occur quickly if an organization experiences net profit growth that had not been expected at the time the business income worksheet was completed. This is what happened in Scenario 2. The risk management professional should compare actual net income to that forecast for the policy year on a regular basis.

Commercial Insurance Coinsurance Tools

A property insurer may waive the coinsurance requirements of the policy if requested by the insured and if the insurer believes the limit to be purchased is sufficient. This is often done by use of an agreed amount endorsement where the insurer will waive coinsurance for the policy coverage period. Sometimes insurers will provide an inflation guard endorsement to the policy in which the building and/or contents limit is increased a certain percentage at each renewal. Educating an insured on how coinsurance works may result in better selection of insured limits and lessen the potential for errors and omissions claim against the agent or broker.

Homeowners Insurance (HO 2 and HO 3)

Some insureds may be surprised to learn that a homeowners policy, especially if based on ISO policy forms, has a coinsurance clause that can impact coverage. In ISO forms, if the damaged home is 80 percent or more of the full replacement cost, then replacement cost valuation will be used subject to the lesser of policy limit or repair or replacement cost. If the insured home fails the 80 percent coinsurance requirement, then loss is settled on actual cash value.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

The NFIP Dwelling Form (ed. 5/08) provides replacement cost valuation if the dwelling is the insured’s principal residence and either the amount of insurance is at least 80 percent of the actual replacement cost value prior to loss, or the coverage limit is the maximum amount available from the NFIP.

The risk management professional needs to understand and point out to insureds that even an HO form and NFIP dwelling form have coinsurance requirements that can affect coverage.

 

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