Commercial Insurance: Special Events 101

When it comes to special events, you never know when the worst-case scenario could become reality. Even with the most careful planning, unexpected situations do occur. Will you clients be prepared?

Whether your they’re planning a corporate event, holding a large rock concert, community festival, car show or convention, odds are insurance is the last thing on your clients’ minds. Help them protect themselves and their investment by doing the thinking for them.

Any time a major holiday or seasonal change is drawing near, like St. Patrick’s Day (March, 17, 2015. Gosh & begorrah!), is the right time to reach out to your clients and ask if they have any special events on their calendars. Offer to review their insurance policies to help identify any weak areas and options for filling those gaps.

To help educate your clients/prospects on special events insurance, here is a list of possible questions that you could use to develop a Q&A, make sell sheets, post to your website or use in social media posts:

What is Special Event General Liability Insurance?

Special Event Liability Insurance (also referred to as CGL, Commercial General Liability or Spectator Liability) is an insurance policy designed to provide broad protection for situations in which an event holder or concessionaire must defend itself against lawsuits or pay damages for bodily injury or property damage to third parties. Host liquor liability is included if there is no transfer of money for alcohol. This policy also gives protection to the venue and or sponsors of the event by adding them to the policy as an additional insured. Examples, such as a slip and fall or damaged floors are covered by this type of policy. Exclusions do apply.

What is an event holder?

The person, organization or company responsible for the organization and promotion of the special event and typically the signer of the rental facility use agreement.

What is a vendor/exhibitor/concessionaire?

A vendor/exhibitor/concessionaire is a person or firm that operates a business within the premises belonging to another under a concession, usually as the only seller of certain goods or services during a short duration special event such as a carnival, convention, concert or flea market. An example of a concessionaire would be a jewelry salesman at a swap meet or an artist selling their art at an arts and crafts show.

My venue has asked for a certificate of insurance with them added as an Additional Insured. What does this mean and how do I add them?

You, the special event holder, will most likely be required to provide proof of liability insurance to the facility/venue where you have decided to hold your special event. In addition to providing proof (in the form of a piece of paper known as a Certificate of Insurance) to the facility/venue that you have secured a liability insurance policy, you may also be required to add the facility/venue to this required liability insurance policy as an insured. This is known as adding the facility/venue as an Additional Insured to this liability insurance policy, which the facility/venue requires you to purchase before you will be allowed to hold your special event.

The practice of a facility/venue requiring that all persons or entities renting or using the site name them as an Additional Insured on a General Liability insurance policy is quite common. It is so common, in fact, that the required Additional Insured wording or language is generally contained within the Insurance Requirement section of the Facility Rental Agreement or Facility Use Agreement.

Other questions you may want to address could include:

  • My venue has specific wording to be added to the certificate of liability. Can Event Liability Insurance accommodate this?
  • During the online application process, you can enter your venue’s required wording. You will receive your policy documents and certificate of liability instantly online.
  • What is liquor liability? Do I need it?
  • How far in advance must I purchase a Special Event General Liability Policy for my event to be covered?
  • Additional questions:
  • What types of events are covered?
  • What limits of insurance do you offer?
  • What are the insurance coverages available for Event Liability Insurance?
  • Who is protected under a Special Event General Liability Insurance policy?
  • Does the policy cover alcohol-related accidents?
  • What is Host Liquor Liability?
  • How do I make changes to my policy?
  • What is your cancellation/refund policy?
  • Do you offer an Annual Event Liability Policy?
  • Does the policy have a deductible?
  • How do I report a claim?

Having the proper insurance for a special event can make the difference between experiencing a minor bump in the road when challenges arise and a complete detour. Help your clients stay on course by helping them make the most educated decisions possible.

 

Permalink

Young Agent Assets: Your Opening Line

What you say during the first interaction with your prospects will have more influence on your success than anything else. It sets the stage for all future interactions.

For this reason, it is imperative that you start off on the right foot.

Your goal should be to pique their curiosity and build enough momentum to spur continued conversation.

For example, if you’re cold-calling a prospect, do you immediately introduce yourself and your company? According to an article in Entrepreneur, that’s a big don’t because you’re preemptively telling your prospect to hang up immediately.

Instead, be pleasant and thank the prospect on the other end of the line for their time, like so:

“It’s an honor to finally speak with you!”
“Thanks for picking up the phone!”
“Thanks for taking my call.”
“Your time is important. Let me cut to the chase.”

You could use real-life comparisons:

“How much money can you save weekly? Can you save the cost of that daily cup of coffee, which could come to about $10 per week, or roughly $40 per month?”

Or, you could just be honest:

“[Prospect’s name], we haven’t met, and to be honest I don’t know if what I have to say will be of benefit to you. But if you have 3–5 minutes right now, can I suggest that we discuss why you might be interested in speaking with me?”

Regardless of your approach, work to exude confidence, using intuition, wit and a solid sense of timing to your advantage, Remember that you only have about eight seconds of someone’s attention span to work with, according to a recent article in Time. In those eight seconds, the language you use matters.

Permalink

Forest, Wood and Lumber Program

UIG has recently launched a Forest, Wood and Lumber program, supporting the lumber and building materials industry across the U.S. While a niche market, there is great potential to help you excel in servicing these clients in the way that UIG works best – quality products, competitive pricing.

Chainsaw

Let’s “cut” to the chase. How can UIG help?

Our new Forest, Wood & Lumber program is available for agents and brokers across North America. UIG companies can insure:  sawmills, veneer mills, pallet mills, plywood plants, wood preserving operations, all types of woodworking plants, as well as the manufacturers of timbers, cants, railroad ties, building materials, and other panel products.

UIG provides competitive coverages on a mono-line or package basis including: Property from $1 M to $250 M TIV risks and higher, Inland Marine, General Liability, Commercial Auto, Workers Compensation and Employers Liability, Commercial Umbrella, Employment Practices Liability, Equipment Breakdown Coverage and Crime Coverage for:

In addition, as many of you may be new to this market, we also wanted to provide some industry insights:

How big is the opportunity

Lumber yards play a critical role in the building industry. They supply contractors, homebuilders and individuals with the raw materials needed to construct a number of different types of structures. This business can be quite lucrative when administered properly, and an important part of managing this business is protecting it with a sound commercial insurance package.

  • There are approximately 10,161 lumber wholesalers operating in the United States.
  • These businesses employ nearly 114,000 people.
  • The lumber wholesale industry is responsible for about $84 billion in revenue each year.
  • In 2016, the top four companies generated less than 10 percent of industry revenue, signaling that the industry is composed of mostly small- and medium-sized operators.

Common Insurance Needs

Property and Equipment Coverage
• Building
• Contents
• Equipment breakdown
• Flood

Liability
• Premise liability
• Product liability
• Commercial auto liability
• Hired or non-hired auto liability
• Umbrella

General
• Business income
• Worker’s comp

* A completed submission is required 20 working days prior to the requested quote date.  We must have a complete and thorough submission to start underwriting. Once we have received all information, we will make every effort to meet your requested quotation date.

Permalink

Get Ready For National Insurance Awareness Day

June 28, 2017 is National Insurance Awareness Day. A day set aside every year to encourage folks to review their insurance policies. The crazy thing about it is, nobody is quite sure why. Aside from various blog entries referencing this notable industry date, there doesn’t seem to be any one person or group that we can thank for the creation of this landmark celebration.

A Google search will confirm June 28th as National Insurance Day, but the closest documentation of its origin, that we could find, comes from HolidayInsights.com, which shares, “…you can be certain that insurance companies had a little something to do with the origination of this day.” Hmmm. They might be a little confused with Valentine’s Day and greeting card, candy companies…

Regardless of its origin, if you’re willing to take credit for the birth of National Insurance Day, or just an agency that’s celebrated it in the past, we’d love to know what activities make this day special?

If you’re never celebrated National Insurance Day, now is the time to jump on board. Here are a couple of ideas to get your creative juices flowing!

  • Host an Insurance Awareness Day line dance or flash mob
  • Sponsor a safe driving course
  • Coordinate an insurance awareness scavenger hunt
  • Set up a wrecked car with some kind of commercial business reference, e.g., pizza delivery, outside the agency with a sign, “Are you insured?”
  • Get a pizza place to tape your business card or a flyer on every pizza boxy they deliver and offer to promote them to your clients or list them as a partner on your website
  • Shoot a humorous video highlighting overlooked insurance tips clients should know
  • Host an agency contest — whoever adds the most policies in a week, gets a paid day off
  • Support a local non-profit that you are passionate about and encourage locals to match
  • Dress like an insurance agent day — play up the stereotype, the less stylish the better
  • Deliver baked goods or branded swag to VIP commercial insurance partners around town
  • Blog about some of the oddest insurance claims your agency has ever received
  • Do a publicity stunt with a partner or town (fire drill) to draw awareness to insurance
  • Send out an email blast, notifying people of the date with a seasonal call to action
  • Host a “junk the junker” car demolition fundraiser while promoting auto insurance

With a little creativity and a keen grasp of your community, the ideas are really endless.

Permalink

Property Valuations & Coinsurance

Property valuation. An important necessity for many reasons, including: real estate financing, listing real estate for sale, investment analysis, property insurance and the taxation of real estate. You may not think a lot about it, but it is important for agents to attain proper valuations in order to make certain their clients have adequate coverage in place at the time of loss. If not, they could be faced with what is called a coinsurance penalty – when the insured receives less money from a claim than what the property is worth.

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to spend the bulk of our time on the coinsurance aspect of property insurance.

The following is an adapted version of an article written by William Austin, principal, Austin & Stanovich Risk Managers, LLC, with some good examples of different property coinsurance scenarios to help shed some light on the subject and how it could impact your clients.

Property Insurance: Coinsurance

Pop quiz. Answer true or false to the following statements:

  • Coinsurance is a condition that may be found in more than one type of insurance policy.
  • The need for a coinsurance provision in all insurance policies is the same.
  • The use of a coinsurance provision in an insurance policy is universally understood.

The answers are true, false, and false. How did you do?

Coinsurance clauses are found in many insurance policies, such as commercial property, dwelling forms, homeowners, federal flood, health insurance, and at times even directors and officers liability policies. But, while the clause or requirement is called “coinsurance” in each type of policy, the use and effect on the insured may be very different. The coinsurance requirement in a property insurance policy may become a significant reason for insurance recovery that is less than the insured expected.

COINSURANCE CONCEPT

Coinsurance in property insurance is a means for insurers to obtain rate and premium equality. Property insurers must have a standard in which to apply expected losses based on past loss experience over an entire underwriting book. This is accomplished by getting the exposure base (total insured value for building, contents, and business income) on a common basis for all property insurance insureds: replacement cost, actual cash value, and actual loss sustained. Rates are applied against a specified percentage (100, 90, or 80 percent, for example) of the value to the insured: building, contents, or business income. Rate deviations are applied against the base (manual) rate to reflect size of deductible, construction, occupancy, and loss control standards.

A “coinsurance” condition in a property insurance policy is analogous to the need for a standard definition of “payroll” to compute workers compensation premium. All workers compensation insurers use the same “payroll” definition established by workers compensation rating bureaus such as the National Council on Compensation Insurance. This way, all workers compensation insureds report their insurable exposure (payroll) on the same basis. This allows an insurer to start its premium rating basis on an equal basis for all of its insureds—expected losses can be applied to develop a payroll rate. Rate deviations are then applied to reflect deductible (if any), premium discount, and other factors, including adequacy of loss control (rate credit or debit).

HOW IT WORKS

Property coinsurance clauses may differ by insurer, especially if using an independently filed policy form, although coverage intent may be the same. The examples used in this article are based on current Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO), policy forms. The reader is cautioned to read the property insurance policy to ensure that the coinsurance clause is the same as that expected and understood by the insured and the broker/agent.

DIRECT DAMAGE: COMMERCIAL INSURANCE

First, the insured must set the direct damage coverage limit, which is based on how loss is to be settled: replacement cost or actual cash value (replacement cost less depreciation equals actual cash value). Next, the coinsurance percentage for building and contents must be determined since coinsurance requirements start at 100 percent and provide the greatest rate credit at this percentage of limit to value, but the insurer may allow the insured to go as low as 80 percent. The best ways to establish insurable value is by use of a recent appraisal or by use of a construction cost estimator such as Marshall & Swift/Boeckh. It is important to get a firm value on the building and contents. A “guestimate” process may not provide the accuracy needed to establish credible value and the insured limit, which may result in a coinsurance penalty, as will be explained later.

To settle a loss, the insurer will compare the policy limit (depending on the actual policy, it may be a location-specific limit for building or contents) to the minimum limit required by the coinsurance clause.

The formula is fairly simple.

Figure 1: Loss Recovery Formula

Chances are most tree trimming services will have a special vehicle along with tree trimming equipment and tools. Any business that owns or operates a vehicle for commercial purposes should invest in commercial auto insurance. This type of insurance can protect clients from a lawsuit or medical liability if their company vehicle is involved in an accident. Along with commercial automotive insurance, the right equipment insurance can help ensure that the business will be able to continue operations even if it needs to repair or replace equipment.

Example: Direct Damage

An insured owns a 25,000 square foot building that is 10 years old. He asks the builder to give him an estimate of what it would cost in 2012 to build the same structure from the ground up. He is told $80/square foot for total estimated replacement cost of $2 million. He decides to insure the building to 90 percent of its estimated replacement cost value.

Scenario 1. A few months into the policy year, the building suffers a substantial fire loss, and the insured files a claim for $800,000. What is the insurance recovery after a $5,000 deductible?

Scenario 2. The insured decided at each renewal since 2012 that his building can remain insured for $2 million. The loss settlement clause remains replacement cost. The insured does not seek any independent counsel on the building’s estimated replacement cost in 2016. The building is damaged by fire in mid-2016, and repairs total $500,000. The replacement cost of the building is determined to be $2.4 million. What is the insurance recovery after a $5,000 deductible?

Scenario 3. The insured decided at each renewal since 2012 that his building can remain insured for $2 million. The loss settlement clause remains replacement cost. The insured does not seek any independent counsel on the building’s estimated replacement cost in 2016. The building has a fire in mid-2016, and the building is a total loss. The replacement cost of the building is determined to be $2.4 million. What is the insurance recovery after a $5,000 deductible?

In our next blog, we’ll pick-up Austin’s article as he dives into business income commercial insurance and a couple of other specialty areas including coinsurance tools.

In the meantime, if you have questions or would like to submit a submission, send a message to info@uigusa.com or call 800.385.9978.

Permalink

Tree Trimming

Spring storms can mean pruning tree branches and removing limbs from rooftops and power lines as well as dead trees and shrubbery — a very busy time for tree trimming services.

ChainsawRegardless of the nature of the job, or if a tree service business has employees or not, there is a certain amount of liability inherent in the work. The right insurance can make the difference in protecting a tree service owner from a bevy of liability issues as well as their bottom line.

The bottom line is important for several reasons, but one in particular is when it comes to cost-cutting. Unfortunately, one thing that UIG has witnessed is that — when things get tough financially — business insurance policies tend to be one of the first areas that get cut in order to save money. This cost-cutting measure could cost the business owner more than what they saved if an accident were to happen.

This is why it’s especially important that agents take the time to educate tree service clients and prospects about the value of their insurance coverage and all of the different options they should be considering.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is one of the most important and all-encompassing insurance options for any business owner. It is critical where activities could result in a lawsuit for potential damages: such as property damage and injury, which someone may suffer as a result of the service provider’s actions. If your client provides tree trimming or tree removal services, there is a high possibility they could cause damage to a building, car or other property, and/or bodily injury to an unsuspecting person in the area, due to a falling branch, tree trunk or equipment. In addition, many states will not allow a tree trimming service to operate without the proper liability insurance.

Equipment Insurance

Chances are most tree trimming services will have a special vehicle along with tree trimming equipment and tools. Any business that owns or operates a vehicle for commercial purposes should invest in commercial auto insurance. This type of insurance can protect clients from a lawsuit or medical liability if their company vehicle is involved in an accident. Along with commercial automotive insurance, the right equipment insurance can help ensure that the business will be able to continue operations even if it needs to repair or replace equipment.

Worker’s Compensation

If a worker becomes injured on the job, worker’s compensation insurance provides funds to pay for the worker’s medical expenses and salary while he/she is unable to work. If a tree trimming service has at least one employee, they should check the laws in their state to verify whether or not they are required to maintain worker’s compensation insurance.

Personal Accident Policy

If working as a sole proprietor or independent contractor, personal accident coverage may be a better solution than worker’s compensation. In a personal accident policy the insured is protected for injuries and loss of revenue.

Employment Practices Liability

UIG also recommends a tree trimming business invest in employment practices liability insurance (EPLI). This coverage can help protect a business and the business owner from litigation resulting from improper workplace behavior, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment, discrimination or wrongful termination.

While all of this may seem like “business as usual,” odds are that many tree service owners have not sorted through all of their options, if any of them. It is better to reiterate and remind than to assume that your clients and prospects are aware of all the rules, regs and amounts of coverage they need.

And, of course, once you’ve presented the options, be sure to have them sign off that they have declined any of these coverage lines, if they choose to do so, and keep it on file.

Permalink

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.

shutterstock_217533493

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.

Permalink

Garage Liability or Garagekeepers? Part 2

In Part 1 of this two-part series about Garage liability vs. Garagekeepers coverages, we took at look at the difference between the two as well as a deeper dive into Garage Liability.

In Part 2 of this series, we’re going flip the switch and take a closer look at Garagekeepers.

While Garage liability insurance is an absolute necessity for the owner of a car dealership, a local mechanic, a tire dealer or a company doing oil changes or installing stereos or satellite radios, these policies are primarily for business operations, and operations ONLY. Garagekeepers covers damage that occurs to the customer’s vehicles while in your client’s care.

For example, if your client owns a repair center with a fleet of tow trucks, those assets are covered under Garage Liability Insurance. However, the customer cars sitting on the tow truck, outside the garage waiting for service, or inside on a lift, are not covered. This is where Garagekeepers comes into play.

This coverage would be a separate policy or addendum that accompanies an existing Garage Liability coverage, and is equally as important.

Garagekeepers coverage offers three options:

  1. Legal Liability.This is the most common. The protection applies to a customer’s vehicle damaged due to the insured’s negligence – such as the mechanic wrecked the customer’s car while test driving it or the customer’s vehicle was left unlocked and unattended after hours. In other words, the insured has to be legally liable.
  1. Direct Primary.This form covers the customer’s vehicles regardless of liability. In a loss caused by no action of the insured such as weather or theft, although the vehicle was adequately protected, the garage insured would share the loss with the auto owner’s insurer. 
  1. Direct Excess.This form affords protection to an insured for the loss to a customer’s vehicle regardless of liability, just as direct primary does. The difference is, in the event of the insured having no liability, coverage applies in excess of the vehicle owner’s coverage

Some caveats that are important to help your clients understand:

  • Every employee and officer of a company should be on the policy. Coverage is usually only afforded to the locations and drivers listed on the coverage.
  • The insured must select a limit for each location. Because exact limit needed can be difficult to determine, it can be helpful to consider the average value of the vehicles in the insured’s care times the average number of vehicles in the insured’s care at a given time.
  • Garagekeepers coverage is subject to several exclusions, including, but not limited to: contractual obligations; theft by an insured; defective parts; faulty work; loss to sound reproducing equipment (unless permanently installed); loss to tapes, records, etc.; loss to other sound receiving equipment (CB’s, mobile radios, telephones or scanning monitors unless installed in the dash or console) and radar detection equipment.

Hopefully, this series has shed more light on Garage Liability and Garagekeepers. In a nutshell, the difference between the two is: Garage Liability covers the insured’s liability for operations and autos while Garagekeepers covers damage to the customer’s vehicles. All garage risks need both coverages to properly insure their loss exposures.

For clarifications on anything else or to receive a quote, give us a call at 800.385.9978

or send a message to info@uigusa.com. We’re here to help!

 

Permalink

New Appetite Guide to bind and quote small business online

UIG partner Hiscox NOW® has expanded its appetite to include both professional and contractor classes. And, to make things even easier to bind and quote online, we’re passing along the Appetite Guide to reference when visiting the UIG/Hiscox NOW Small Business Portal.

Appetite Guide: Hiscox NOW Appetite Guide_PL_GL_BOP_2017

Professional liability, general liability and business owners’ insurance are some of the admitted products written through Hiscox Insurance Company Inc., rated ‘A’ (Excellent) by A.M. Best.

When you’re reading to quote, no login or registration is needed, just have your UIG Agent ID ready.

If you don’t have an UIG Agent ID, no problem. Send us a message at info@uigusa.com or call 800.385.9978, and we’ll provide one to you. Once you have your ID in-hand, you’ll be ready to visit the UIG Small Business Portal and take advantage of:

  • Online application
  • Quote and bind in minutes, policy docs emailed immediately
  • Tailored policies starting from $22.50/mo.
  • Same-day coverage for more than 100 professions
  • Hiscox NOW handles all servicing and billing
  • Earn commissions for the lifetime of coverage

More than 100 professions and contractor classes covered, including, but not limited to:

  • Architecture & Engineering: Architects, Engineers, Draftsmen, Control Systems Integration
  • Artisan Contractors: Air Conditioning, Appliance, Carpentry, Flooring, Doors & Windows
  • Consulting: Business, Management, IT and Education Consultants
  • Creative & Design: Graphic Design, Photo Booths, Interior Design
  • Financial Services: Bookkeepers, Medical Billing, Tax Preparers, Auditing, Investment Advice
  • Health, Beauty & Fitness: Personal Trainers, Massage Therapists, Counselors, Social Workers, Barbers/Hair Stylists, Beauticians, Nail Technicians
  • Janitorial Services: Dry Vent Cleaning, Janitorial/Cleaning
  • Landscaping Services: Gutter/Chimney Cleaning, Landscaping/Gardening
  • Legal: Claims Adjusting, Court Reporting, Document Preparation, Legal Services
  • Marketing & Public Relations: Marketing/Media/PR Consultants, Event Planners/Promoters, SEO
  • Real Estate: Real Estate Agents and Property Managers (some exclusions)
  • Retail: Appliance, Clothing, Electronic, Florist, Home Furnishings, Jewelry and Other Stores
  • Small Contractors: Bodily Injury/Property Damage, Personal/Advertising Injury, Products/Completed Operations, Medical Payments, Damage to Rented Premises, Legal Costs
  • Technology: Application Development, Computer Programming/Consulting, IT Consulting/Management, Internet Hosting, Software Development

Underwritten by Hiscox Insurance Company Inc. (HICI) a Chicago based insurance company. Not available in all states. The A.M. Best rating is for HICI, a Chicago, IL domiciled insurer, as of December 31, 2014.

Copyright © 2016 Hiscox Inc.
520 Madison Avenue | 32nd Floor | New York, NY 10022

Permalink

“Pin-ups” have taken a whole new form! Pinterest and you.

Pinterest. We’ve all heard of it — a platform to visually catalogue and share fun and interesting things from all over the web. As insurance professionals, though, why would we want to use it? Or, better yet, how can an insurance agency build a presence on a website that appreciates DIY crafts and innovative recipes?

Before we answer that question, we have a confession to make: UIG does not have a Pinterest page.

Not because we do not see the value, but, at this time, we have opted to focus on other social media outlets including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. We believe if you don’t have the resources to maintain your social media outlet with fresh relevant content, it’s best not to start. It’s better to do a few things well than to do a lot of things halfway.

pinitWith this being said, we feel Pinterest could be a powerful tool for agents. That’s why we’ve tapped our PR consultant and other agents who are using this social media tool to provide food-for-thought.

Now, back to business … If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, here’s a primer.

Pinterest:

an online bulletin board where users choose images to “pin” to their boards, along with a brief description. Just as with Facebook and Twitter, people can follow others’ boards.

Pin or Pinning:

the act of adding a picture to a Pinterest board. The visuals can come from a variety of sources — such as websites or personal photos.

Board or Pinboard:

A posting page or area for pinners to post and re-pin images to allow other Pinterest users to view their images. It is fully editable, and you can create multiple boards.

Pinners:

the collective term for Pinterest users.

Why be interested in Pinterest? How about…

  • As of February, Pinterest has 110 million regular users.
  • 70 percent of brand engagement on Pinterest is generated by users, not brands.
  • Pinterest shoppers are spending significantly more per checkout averaging between $140-$180 per order compared with consistent $80 and $60 orders for Facebook and Twitter shoppers, respectively.
  • U.S. consumers who use Pinterest follow an average of 9.3 retailers on the site.
  • 81 percent of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from Pinterest.
  • Pinterest accounts for 25 percent of retail referral traffic.
  • Average activity of popular pinners is 2,757 pins; 35 boards; following 355.
  • Businesses have more success on Pinterest when they post five times a day.

So it’s clearly worthwhile to have a presence on Pinterest. But how?

Let’s be honest — insurance information and tips aren’t exactly the most viral content on the Internet. But like all sales professionals, insurance agents need to build relationships. When used strategically and with sensitivity to what users of the site find appealing, Pinterest can be one more way for you to connect with potential clients.

In speaking with some of our UIG clients, a couple of very simple tips that worked for them in getting started were to 1) take a look at boards created by other insurance/brokers, taking note of what you like and don’t like as a basis to start your board and 2) create your own personal board or company introductory board. Whether you’re an owner operator or work as part of a larger agency, you still need to create rapport and trust before launching into your business spiel.

Beyond these steps:

Show that you’re more than a business.

Do use a business logo for your board’s user icon, and then assign someone in your office to be responsible for monitoring and posting to your account. By adding a name and a face to your board, you’re making it clear that there’s a real person behind your account.

Know the target audience.

You won’t find older baby boomer males here. More than 70 percent of Pinterest users are in the 25 – 34 age range and female. The same women looking for recipes and decorating tips are business decision makers that use Pinterest to research company service needs as well. So you want to be sure your pins cater to the commercial segments you service, but also the demographic that’s viewing your content.

Create original content.

If you have an artistic streak or access to someone who does, think about what images might appeal to your target audience and create them. You can also develop images that creatively display the title of an article on your company’s blog that would be of interest to potential customers. Find a way to subtly add your company’s name and website to the image, so that you can be sure people can still find you as your image gets shared. Once you put the time and effort in to creating your own image, you can also share it on your blog and Facebook accounts. It’s always good to create content that can work across multiple channels.

Know the rules of the game

A potential problem that anyone pinning images on Pinterest must be made aware of is that legally, you need to obtain permission from the owner of an image before you use it. Of course, many casual, personal users ignore this formality, but businesses are more likely to come under scrutiny and should abide by the law so as to not leave the company vulnerable. Either make sure an image is in the public domain or reach out to obtain permission.

Now lets get to work. Here are a few ideas for creating boards and populating them.

Pin your blogs.

When doing so, make sure your blog posts have at least one graphic in them as we discussed in “create original content.”

Pin your personality.

In addition to product and service information, be sure to include information about interests outside of the business, employee activities, special achievements, community events, etc.

Toot your horn.

Invite clients to handwrite a testimonial and then snap a picture. Pin away.  Or, snap a picture of happy customers (with their permission of course) and type their testimonial in the picture’s description.

Industry related resources and articles.

Create a board of your favorite insurance resources, such as a trade association like PIA, Big I or your state department of insurance. You can also create a resource board of all of your Insurance-related articles from other sources in one place.

Referrals.

Pin information about trusted partners, including clients that you work with. Your referral could result in business referrals generated for you.

Hopefully we’ve given you some food for thought and unraveled some of the mystery of Pinterest.

Permalink Tags: