Get Personal for Personal Lines Success

Get Personal for Personal Lines Success

By Emily Huling, CIC, CMC

Attention Independent Agents! When is the last time you thanked the direct-response companies (DRCs) for how they are helping your business? Before you call me crazy, here are my top five reasons to be grateful to the competition.

DRCs offer no long-term personal relationships. Instead, they offer only toll-free numbers and website access.
At claim time, DRCs are the claim company and provide no client advocacy.
DRCs offer customers “name-your-price” policies that reduce coverage and decrease limits.
DRCs are not physically located in the policyholder’s community.
DRCs do not provide one-stop shopping for personal lines.

There is no better time to differentiate yourself and strut your stuff! Here are five ways to do just that:

Conduct complimentary Personal Lines lunch-and-learn seminars at the worksites of your commercial lines and benefits clients. Suggest that employees bring their personal lines policies in for a no-cost account review.

Begin with a brief fifteen-minute talk such as, “Will Your Next Claim Be Covered?” citing examples of how bad advice, reduced coverage, decreased limits, increased deductibles, etc., play out at claim time. As soon as someone shouts out, “I didn’t know that!” you have their attention!

Have a question and answer period for fifteen minutes.

Ask people to sign up for fifteen-minute one-on-one meetings that immediately follow. If a review will take longer, schedule it in your office or at their worksite for another time.

What a win-win-win this is for your current business client who is looking for ways to help his employees, the employee who gets honest personal insurance information and you!

Conduct newly licensed driver educational meetings. Invite the parent(s) and youthful operator to your office to learn about the responsibilities of holding a driver’s license, operating a vehicle, and the consequences of having an accident or getting a ticket. On my website,, under the Free Stuff tab, I have a sample newly-licensed driver agreement which serves as a meeting outline and formal document to reinforce the conditions the youthful operator must follow.

Solicit business your agency has lost in the past eighteen months. This time period complies with the Federal Do Not Call provisions which state that calls can be made during this period of time to established business relationships even if the customer is on the do not call list. However, if the customer requests not to be called, compliance is required.

The procedure to solicit lost business is to send a letter to the customer which asks, “How are you getting along without us?” A sample of this letter is also on my website under Free Stuff. The best time to send this letter is thirty to sixty days after an account is lost. That gives the policyholder enough time to evaluate if the premium and coverage matches what was promised, the billing is correct, the agent is providing service, and so on.

Follow up all new sales with a thank-you phone call to say how much you appreciate their business. Reconfirm your personal handling, local presence, advisory services, and claim advocacy.

Reconnect with existing policyholders mid-year to say, “I’m thinking about you.” If each agent calls just six policyholders a week for forty weeks a year, that’s over two hundred outgoing calls each to stay personally connected with your customer! Note to agency owners: call clients you don’t personally know to introduce yourself and stress your appreciation of their business and decision to do business locally.

Independent agents who capitalize on their uniqueness and personal contact advantage will not be fretting about the competition from direct response companies, they’ll be thanking them!

About the author

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales and customer service organizations. She is the author of Selling from the Inside, Great Service Sells, and Kick Your “But.” For information on her programs and products call 888-309-8802 or visit

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