Five Questions Every Client Should Ask Their Insurance Agent

Five Questions Every Client Should Ask Their Insurance Agent

Questions to be asked to make sure you are saving the most money on your insurance and getting the service you need
  1. This question might well be the most important question of all five
  2. This questions gets to the heart of how you will be treated as a client and how decisions that you are not aware of will be made
  3. Almost all insurance agencies have mission and vision statements that talk about what they do and how they do things; this in my mind misses the mark because for most of these agencies, the things they state are expected and required of every client
  4. Ideally, your agent should exist for reasons that make you believe that you and your interests will always be first. Protection is what insurance is but I recommend choosing only insurance professionals that can demonstrate the “why” behind their sale of this important product.
  5. Please consider our existence statement: “We exist to help people and businesses be the very best they can be.” This singular focus means our clients will always get our best and we will always do what is right for the client.
  6. You should resonate and connect with your agents personal mission/existence statement
  1. It is of primary importance to learn of an individual agent’s loss ratio on his or her personal book of business. If your agent works within an agency with several account executives/producers, you should ask this question of the agency as well.
  2. Most agents have never been asked this question and sadly, most are unprepared to answer it
  3. This question is vitally important though for several reasons:
    • In order to retain an insurance contract with an insurance company, the agency must consistently write “profitable” insurance business. What this means is that any agency who cannot write profitable business is in danger of losing their contract – making it impossible for you to do business with what otherwise might be the best fit for you. So you know, most insurance companies are profitable when agencies have a loss ratio of about 48%.
    • Agencies and more specifically agents who consistently write profitable business are able to negotiate better terms for their clients. Please see the “feeding frenzy” section of this website for more information on this and why it is so important. Basically, those agents who can continually generate a larger profit for the insurance company get the best service and the best pricing because all insurance companies are primarily concerned with making a profit. FYI, over the last 5 years, when grouped together, Gion Insurance Unit clients have generated never more than a 28% loss ratio for the insurance companies we represent. How do you think gaining an extra 20% profit for the insurance company impacts their desire to work with our clients? How do you think it impacts the service and pricing my clients receive?
    • If your agent doesn’t track his or her own loss ratio or doesn’t know the answer to this question, it is an indicator that you are probably not working with a professional and certainly that the agent is not leveraging his success to gain you the best pricing. Furthermore, agents with a sub-par track record will NOT get the best pricing and service for their clients; guaranteed.
  1. While bigger is not always better, it usually is
  2. Keep in mind that a big agency that writes a lot of “unprofitable” business will not get the best pricing and service from the insurance company – see question 2
  3. One thing most insurance customers don’t know is that most insurance companies are selective about who they will work with. It costs money for an agency to be appointed and the insurance company is looking for value in the partnership/relationship. As such, certain demands are common of agencies including: minimum premium volume, minimum yearly growth, and minimum number of new business opportunities. If these minimums are not hit, an agency ultimately will either lose commission income or lose their ability to do business with that insurance company. Here’s the result that is often sadly very common (especially of smaller agencies):
    • Agents may choose one insurer over another simply to reach internal agency goals – rather than what is really in the best interest of their client
    • Agents may market insurance accounts to insurers just to hit goals rather than actually provide an opportunity – this hurts the agents ability to get insurance companies excited about working on his or her business (see “feeding frenzy”)
    • Agents may select one insurer over another because of commission consideration over what is really in the best interest of their client
  1. Please looking for specific examples and not generalities – consider asking about the last time the agent personally was involved in helping a client, maybe when a claim was initially denied or the adjuster didn’t agree with their clients point of view.
  2. Many agents are really nice and really good people. Most are also good salespeople.
  3. However, what you are really buying is knowledge and experience on the front end and ultimately, help in the event of a claim
  4. Most agents have little or no training into what they can do to assist a client a claims time and very, very few have resources they can bring to the table to assist a client
    • At The Gion Insurance Unit, we have access to Crane’s Risk Management and Loss Control department to assist our clients at claims time.
    • Don Hennen (Crane Director of Risk Management & Claims) is available to any client to help navigate claims. This means at times he works as a “go between” or “advocate” for our clients – speaking directly to insurance adjusters on behalf of our clients. Every year, we see claims that were originally denied, paid and loss settlements against our insureds reduced because of Don and his team’s work.
    • An agency should be able to do more to assist you at claims time than hold your hand and pass along information – although those are both minimums to be expected of any agent
  5. One of the advantages of dealing with an independent agent that represents multiple insurance companies is the leverage that can be applied at claims time – this leverage does not exist for agents who work for only one insurer
    • For example, most Direct Writer agents (eg. State Farm, American Family, GEICO, Federated, etc.) cannot tell their insurance company that if they don’t handle claims correctly, they will simply move the business to another insurance company – not true for independent agents
    • This leverage becomes even greater when an agent consistently writes profitable business because that insurance company doesn’t want to lose that business by not handling a claim correctly – see question 2
  1. All agents are required to do continuing education to keep their license, many do little to nothing more
  2. There are valuable insurance designations that good agents can attain. These designations require extensive class work and the passing of exams. In addition, the maintenance of the designations requires ongoing classwork. There are multiple benefits of obtaining and keeping specialized designations including:
    • Knowledge of the insurance business that can be applied to tailoring products that meet the needs of clients
    • Education and training related to changes in insurance coverages and terms (yes policy language changes all the time)
    • Connection with other like-minded insurance professionals where an agent can learn from his or her peers
    • Credibility with insurance underwriters who determine pricing for an agent’s clients (see “feeding frenzy”)
  3. Here are a few of the designations we highly value of insurance agents or brokers:
    • Certified Insurance Counselor – CIC (only 2% of agents in the US hold this)
    • Certified Risk Manager – CRM (very few agents have this designation as it deals with many area of risk outside of insurance)
    • Certified Insurance Service Representative – CISR (this is a great designation for those who are in the day to day business of servicing accounts)

Understanding the Feeding Frenzy

It starts with who’s delivering the food!

  • The Gion Insurance Group has a reputation among the insurers we work with that they like.
  • Every team member works in accordance with our vision.
  • We compete fairly and never manipulate our client or the insurance company to gain something to our own advantage.
Learn more

An agent’s loss ratio is one of the most important factors

  • By selecting the best customers for our insurers, we are one of the most profitable insurance units in the country.
  • At 48% pure loss ratio, most insurance companies in America are profitable – as such, most insurance agencies operate around 48%.
  • In the last 5 years, we have never had a loss ratio above 28%! This means that on average, our insurance partners have made an extra 20% profit on the business that The Gion Insurance Group generates.
  • Knowledgeable consumers should be asking their current agents/brokers what their personal loss ratio is with the insurance partners they work with.
Meet Our Agents

All food is not created equal

  • We ask a lot of questions to determine what makes our clients better risks than their competition and present this to our insurance partners.
  • We create first class insurance submissions that help our insurance partners understand what they are looking at.
  • We tailor not only the submission on every account, but also the coverage our client needs. Our insurance partners have learned that they will not be doing work in vain.
Know What You Should Ask

Most food can be improved and made to be much more pleasing to the fish

  • We learn about things that from a risk management perspective need to be improved – we recommend these changes so our clients can be the best they can be for themselves .
  • We provide business owners the information to make good business decisions about things they might implement to improve their desirability to the insurance company.
  • We often as a team assist our clients with new services (often at no extra expense) that we can bring to the table to make them better.
What Sets Us Apart

Different fish have different appetites

  • We match the client to the insurer.
  • Every one of our insurance partners know that if we submit a submission to them, they have a real possibility of landing the account because it meets their appetite - we wouldn’t waste their time or ours if it didn’t.
  • Because our insurance partners know our submission meets their appetite and their chance of earning an account is high, we get their best effort on the risks we submit.
  • Our recommendation to our client is NEVER based solely on price. We are looking for the best value for our client which includes price, coverage, service, claims handling, and likelihood of a long term business relationship.
What Sets Us Apart

We manage where and how we drop the food

  • It’s sad to say but many insurance agents and agencies are not much different than most used car salesmen (no disrespect intended to upstanding used car salesmen.) These agents play a game with their insurance partners where they take one insurers price (after that company has done all the work) and give it to another to try to “beat the price.” The results: they almost never get the very best price from any insurer, they become known as really not caring about the work and effort put in by an insurance company partner, and they have made the product they sell nothing more than a commodity. Our vision alone means we could not do business this way.
What Sets Us Apart

Our process is entirely different.

  • We provide a thorough submission to every insurer and provide them enough information to provide a good quote; including the premiums the customer is currently paying.
  • We negotiate with the underwriter to get their very best terms and pricing, the first time.
  • We review independently the proposal that each insurance partner gives us and present the best option or options to our client.
  • In the end, we notify our quoting insurance partners of who got the business and where the competitor pricing was (so we can drive down future costs for our clients).
  • This is fair, our insurance partners love it, and it means we get the best possible pricing for our clients.
What Sets Us Apart

Find an Agent

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