“Fresh checked every day.” “Save money, live better.” “Where shopping is a pleasure.”

Recognize those slogans?

Contrary to creative advertising, shopping for insurance is not like a trip to the grocery store. There’s no white box you can take off the shelf and pay for. In fact, if insurance were accurately represented, it would resemble the cereal aisle: hundreds of different colored boxes, flavors, brands, and options. Three different kinds of fruit loops and pebbles, five kinds of shredded wheat, Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios with Peanut Butter… argh! The choices!

Finding insurance coverage in Florida is no different. A survey by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America indicated that 38% of respondents said they never conducted their own research prior to buying an insurance policy. Without someone there to guide them through the process, customers are doing the equivalent of taking a box off the shelf at random or choosing the most popular brand and hoping it will work for them.

So, to help your clients pick the right “box,” what should they be asking you?

  1. How much insurance do I need?
    This is not the same as “How much can I sell my house for (market value)?” or “How much is my mortgage?” Our 360Value program in RPM can help you accurately estimate the cost to rebuild a home based on current material and labor costs in the area. Every policy is not a one-size fits all. Sculpting a skeletonized policy to get the cheapest rate is only going to leave the customer frustrated if they have a claim. Personalize the policy by tailoring the coverages and endorsements based on each risk.
  2. How long has this company been in business?
    With the number of companies that have become insolvent – even during non-hurricane years – customers should ask about the financial strength of the company you are quoting. Show them our blog on Risk Based Capital (RBC). All five Tower Hill companies score among the highest in the state (often double or triple our competitors’ scores). What does this mean to them? They can have confidence their claim will be paid, and they won’t have to switch carriers in a year. Added to that, Tower Hill has been in Florida for more than 40 years and paid more than $2.2 billion during the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons.
  3. What is covered and excluded in my policy?
    An insurance contract is a complicated document. Most people understand that fire, theft, and windstorm are covered losses. Being able to explain the other coverages and exclusions in layman’s terms sets expectations for the customer so there are no surprises when the unexpected happens. Named peril, all-risk, catastrophic ground cover collapse… none of it will make sense to the average consumer unless you use examples to illustrate the differences in coverage. Tower Hill has helpful consumer information in its online Learning Center.
  4. How much experience do you have?
    There’s no spin here. If your agency has roots in your community and years of combined experience, let them know. Or if you are a new start-up, don’t shy away from that either. Your recent training has you up to speed with current industry trends and technology. Let them know what certifications you have and requirements for your continuing education. Customers need to trust that you are the expert to guide them through the process. On top of this, let the customer know Tower Hill has over 3,000 combined years of employee experience standing behind our product.
  5. What’s the difference if I buy a Tower Hill policy from you or from the agent down the street?
    Saved the toughest for last. How you answer this question tells the customer a lot about your agency. In business jargon, it’s your value proposition. Your experience, your team, the products and services you offer, your office location and hours of availability – all of it plays into the customer’s decision. As Investopedia says, “The ideal value proposition is concise and appeals to the customer’s strongest decision-making drivers.”

Commercials and advertising grab a customer’s attention, but you as the agent have to deliver on that. And Tower Hill has an experienced team ready to support you. Answer these questions for your customers and you’re on your way to a satisfied client.

Now if you don’t mind, I’ve worked up a craving for Lucky Charms (they are magically delicious, after all).

Happy New Year!

Brian Hunt, AIC, CPCU

About Brian Hunt, AIC, CPCU

Commercial Underwriter II
Tower Hill Insurance Group

Brian started his insurance career with State Farm in St. Paul, MN, in 1998. In addition to handling property and liability claims, he served as part of the National Catastrophe Team, following tornadoes, hurricanes, and hailstorms across the country. He made several friends named Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Ivan, Wilma, and Katrina. He moved to Florida in 2009 to manage a catastrophe office in Jacksonville, and because of a girl (now wife) his path led him to Gainesville and Tower Hill Insurance. In his free time, Brian is an Ironman triathlete and also enjoys writing about local and national history.