When it’s okay to “cheat” on your insurance agent….
One of the first people I approached when we opened the doors to our agency was my best friend. I asked her if I could try to save her husband and her some money by quoting out their home and auto insurance.
Now, I go pretty far back with her… back to the fall of 1997 when we met at the start of college. We were RA’s together, got our first apartments together, she was the maid of honor for my first wedding and I was hers. She was one of the first people to meet my babies. She sat and held my hand when I cried about my ex-husband and my divorce. She was my witness for my second marriage. So, when I say that she is my best friend I mean it; almost 20-years of “I’m there when you need me”, best friendship.
So imagine my surprise when her reply was “I appreciate the offer and you can if you want to, however (husband) and his family have been with the same guy for at least 20 years if not more so we probably wouldn’t change agencies unless that guy retires.”
Now, I have to admit, I was pretty taken aback, possibly even shocked. I mean, I hardly think some other guy held her hand on her wedding day? Was HE even invited? Was this insurance agent my best friend’s husbands college roommate and I just didn’t know it?? Did they have a vested interest in feeding this other insurance agent’s children?
But, on the other hand, I know that loyalties to insurance agents are very strong. In fact, last week, I just sold homeowners insurance to my cousin who told me that she has been with the same independent agent for over ten years. She says that because he is an independent agent she didn’t think she had to shop prices herself- because the agent would do it for her. Yet, I was able to save her $200 / year! She told me that the only reason she gave me a shot was because we were family!
Yesterday, I was talking insurance with my own mother and I’ve given her a quote for her homeowners and her auto policy. I can cut her auto policy in half (and cut her homeowners a bit too!). She told me that she has been with the same Farmers agent for over 30 years- easily- and that 1) they have never considered moving agents or price shopping; and 2) since they moved into the house they live in now- which was 25 years ago, they haven’t touched their policy other than to switch out the car my mom purchased 15 years ago. Luckily, it’s my mom and dad, so they will move over without any problems!
But… with all of this thinking about people who have unwavering loyalty to insurance agents, I have to know… WHY?
Is it because if you passed them at Summerfest or the State Fair, they would stop you and say hi? They know you? By name? Because this I might understand…. Especially if they have a lot of customers…
Is it because they call you for your birthday? Send you a card they actually take the time to sign themselves? Note: there are tons of services you can sign up for that auto stamp your signature onto birthday cards and mail them to your book of business. I personally do not think this is very personal.
Is it because they are active in the community? Because they work with groups you are also passionate about?
Is it because they check on you every year to make sure that you have the correct coverage? By the way, a policy review is recommended annually. Especially if you have moved, purchased a car, gotten married, had a child, or made any large purchased of jewelry, expensive hobby/sporting equipment, etc.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do they give great customer service? Do they call you or email you back quickly? Do they have a chat feature on their website so they are easy to get ahold of?
- Do they have a personal touch? Have you or do you have the ability to meet all of the agency staff members- just in case you need something and the agent isn’t available.
- Are they active in the community? (Which means they care)
- Do they provide annual reviews to customers- and then actually do the annual reviews, instead of just saying they offer them. (Making sure customer’s coverage is correct is very important!)
- Do you feel like they will be able to respond quickly? (Or do you feel like you will just get re-routed to a 1-800 number?)
- Is your agent/broker working for you?
There are insurance agents (especially agents who have been in the business for a long time) who are not necessarily working hard at keeping or earning new clients. Be wary of professing loyalty to these agents at the cost of your own pocketbook. Would you rather your renewal commission go to someone who is working for it – or someone who is doing nothing? Kind of like, would you rather be married to someone who shows you that they love you – or someone who does nothing?
So, in summary… I do not believe cheating is a good thing. Cheating on a spouse… zero tolerance. Cheating on a test- (especially since I was a high school teacher in a former life- that is a no go!) Cheating on your insurance agent? There are circumstances where it can save you money and improve your service.
Cheating on Richards Group if we become your insurance agency? Well… you won’t ever want to….
And… my best friend gets a bunch of passes, because she’s my best friend… and that is what we do after 19 years when you love you someone.
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