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Insurance agents — you know, the folks who sell insurance to consumers — are in the front lines as to getting notice that a loss has occurred.
The agent is the person who sits face-to-face with prospective policyholders and assures them the policy they''re buying will result in peace of mind and, in the event of loss, a remedy to their damages.
That agent is the person Mrs. Brown will call when a water line bursts and floods her home with four inches of water at 2 a.m. on a Sunday.
That agent is the person who can help you fluff your bottom line with hefty revenues garnered from insurance claims. So, here''s how you get business from insurance agents. First, know that there are basically three types of insurance agent.
A "direct writer" is an agent that works for one company and answers an 800 toll-free line. You may never speak to the same agent twice. Insurance companies like GEICO or USAA would fall into this category.
To procure a policy with companies like them, you simply call a toll-free number and you''ll get someone who is licensed in your state but this is not a person with whom you''d ever build a relationship. When processing claims, they would route Mrs. Brown''s call to another toll-free number and put her in touch with mitigators with whom they already have a national contract.
So, unless you are part of a national or regional network or franchisee, you have a slim chance of getting referrals from this type of agent.
This is an agent that (almost always) represents only one insurance company. This would be the State Farm or Allstate agents of the world.
You can get face-to-face with this type of agent and you might even establish a relationship, but beware that they are usually bound to use mitigators who are part of their national preferred vendor program.
There may be occasions when this agent has so much autonomy that he is not bound to use the preferred vendor program. I do know many mitigators, usually in small towns, who have established a working relationship with such agents and actually get business.
Usually what happens is the agent will tell his superiors, "Yes, I know we''re supposed to use the preferred vendors, but I can never reach those guys on the phone. I get an answering service and nobody ever calls me back."
His superiors won''t buck him if he''s a large producer. It''s the 400-pound gorilla analogy. He does whatever he wants to do.
This is an agent that is a self-employed member of the local business community. They represent several different insurance companies. Some of the larger, more expert insurance professionals will be part of this category.
Because the direct and exclusive writing agents primarily deal in personal lines such as homeowners and auto coverage, the independent''s stronghold is the mid-size to large commercial risk. So, if you''re ever looking for that 10-story hotel flood loss, it''s most likely going to come through the independent insurance agent.
Of course, they also write plenty of personal lines, if you want to stay in the realm of homeowner claims mitigation.
You can definitely establish a relationship with the independent agent and his staff and this should be the main thrust of your marketing campaign for insurance related business.
How to do this is the question. The following will be a start of the answer.
First, you need to find out who processes the claims at this agency. If it''s a one person agency, he himself might process that call from Mrs. Brown. He might be the one to tell her to contact a specific mitigator (which she will dutifully do as he says).
Most agencies have a designated person who will handle the claim call. They might give that person the title of claims manager or just "claims." Usually this person has some experience with the claims protocol.
He or she will be on a first-name basis with all the adjusters who work for the various insurance companies they represent. That''s why it is important for you to find out who this person is and start building a relationship. By relationship, I mean that at least you''ll have introduced yourself, told them what you do and when you''re available (preferably 24/7) and that you''ll leave plenty of business cards and other material to help them remember you when it counts.
Sometimes, if the agency is large enough, there will be more than one claims person and you''ll need to work with all of them with particular deference to the lead claims supervisor.
Sometimes they will be former adjusters who still have continuing education needs. Providing continuing education opportunities can sometimes be a great marketing advantage. Mitigators around the country endeavor to provide continuing education for agents and adjusters.
If you''re not one to stand up in front of a group, you can hire a professional (I do this for several mitigators) to create the class and secure approval from your state insurance department.
You need to find out whom the independent agent represents. Frequently, they''ll provide a list of the companies they represent in their advertising. There are other ways, including insurance periodicals, which will identify whom the agent represents.
There''s a possibility you''ve worked for these insurance companies in the past and this new connection with an agent might help you regain or re-ignite your relationship with an insurer.
You can also ask the agency claims person for the names of adjusters they deal with at the insurer and you might make contact with them just to let them know you have a working relationship with their agent in your community.
The insurance agent is a gateway to getting insurance-related mitigation work in your community. Learn to apply yourself to these principles and you will see an increase in mitigation work.
Peter Crosa has been a licensed independent adjuster for more than 35 years, handling insurance claims throughout the United States and Latin America. Since 2000, he has traveled across the country conducting seminars and speeches on the topic of marketing restoration services to the insurance claims industry. He is author of the 2011 Restoration Contractors Guide to Insurance Repair. Visit his website at www.sshca.net or e-mail him your question at email@example.com.