As Insurance Agents, we all know rate increases are going to happen. It’s never a matter of “if” it’s a matter of “when”. Our companies do give us enough notice to handle them, but we treat it like that long 20 page paper in school, or the ONE family member we know we should call and check on, but don’t want to. We procrastinate…until it’s too late.
Phones start ringing with angry clients, staff starts getting frustrated and all of the sudden BOOM! We are in pure reactionary mode. Not the best way to go about it.
Sure I could tell you all the stuff you already know. Call customers before they call you, set up policy reviews or even run audits and rewrite customers into new products giving yourself a pay decrease (because that’s why we’re in business..right-note the sarcasm)
NO…Want I want to share are 3 tips that can help you when you are already in the reactive state (Because let’s face it, that’s when you need to handle it). Once the first shots have been fired and your standing on the front lines!
1. Have your staff KNOW how to handle the call
– To many times I will be in an agency and if a staff member gets a call about the rate increase from an angry customer, and they will give the answer of “Our company did adjust rates across the state effecting several policies“. That may be the correct answer, but that’s not going to make the customer feel better. The correct verbiage needs to be “I do see that the policy went up due to a rate increase, however let’s start finding ways to reduce the price“. With that simple sentence, you’ve taken a reactive call to an active solution…at that point you either set up a policy review with a licensed staff (This is ideal) or if your front line associate is confident, they can review the policy right there on the spot (not recommended). Setting up a review appointment either over the phone or in office makes the customer at least feel important and worth the time, at this point they are not thinking about “why didn’t they call me sooner” but moving forward to “Ok, hopefully they can do something for me”. The main goal is to get the customer to think ahead, as opposed to getting stuck on the increase. Once an appointment of some sort is set you not only are able to look at rate decrease options but also remind them WHY they have an agent and maybe even why it needs to be you!
2. Make their case seem unusual
– Even if everyone in the state had a rate increase, make it seem like theirs is special. I know it doesn’t sound logical, but treat it as a sales opportunity of sorts. Usually the ones most effected by the highest rate increases are the customers that are the “least desirable” to retain. This is true because most sensible companies are taking varying rate increases by the policy tier. That could be because of their driving record, credit or lack of bundling. So look for those opportunities (Change the Tier!). If there credit is bad, rerun it (you can do this once a year in most states and if it’s worse it won’t hurt them). Or if their driving record is bad, talk about a defensive driving course with your affiliation (don’t have an affiliation!? Get one, it’s extra money http://www.myimprov.com/affiliate/). Or if they aren’t bundled, BUNDLE THEM! Make it sounds like they are missing an opportunity and once you find it,you’re the hero!
3. Get em BACK!
– We all know that some customers never call, never complain and simply switch. When we get the cancellation form, we chalk it up to “another one lost” or better agents will at least give a call and try to retain. Here’s a trick I used and it got about 20-30% of our cancellations back. Give the cancellations to a salesperson in your office, that’s right…a sales person. Listen, you’ve already lost the business, nothing to lose right, so have your salesperson call to retain and if they get them to stick…pay your sales guy or girl commission like it’s a new policy! If for some reason they can’t get them to stay…they now have a follow up for six months because the company the switched to, will have their increase at some point. Now this of course means you will have to coach up your sales team on retention conversations, but that’s OK! It’s worth it in the end right?
I hope some of these tips have helped you out…notice these are reactionary methods to handling these rate increases…because let’s face it…that’s when we run into them.
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