By Angelo J Gioia, AgentsofAmerica.ORG
Document Your Files & Put It In Writing
It is important all discussions, phone conversations and meetings with your clients and prospective clients be documented. You should review your notes from meetings or telephone conversations with your clients. Summarize main points and responsibilities. Noting who said what and is responsible for what and noting the timelines, deadlines if any and noting expiration dates to complete the request at hand. Also making sure a copy of any discussion is placed in the client file and a copy is sent to the client or prospective client and that the document is signed and dated.
Listen To Your Client
When meeting with your client to discussed their insurance needs or changes to their existing insurance, don’t ask leading questions as a simple way to getting a response to what you want to hear in an effort to write a policy? Promptly handle problems or complaints. Summarize the client’s needs. Confirm your discussion with client in writing.
Don’t Generalize & Pay Attention To The Details
Avoid saying common statements like, “This policy is just as good as the old one,” Make sure you completely understand the coverage that they have and if you are replacing existing coverage you provide your client with policy comparison. Avoid using phrases like, “For all your insurance needs.” Be specific and pay attention to the details.
Don’t Assume Anything
When co-brokering business with one of your colleagues or thru another firm confirm each
Agent’s responsibilities and confirm in writing. Ask other broker for evidence of their E & O
Insurance. Don’t skip any questions, or answer any questions yourself, when filling out an
application. Make sure you can deliver when you promise and don’t assume anything.
Stay in Your Area of Expertise
Know your products thoroughly. Have all proper licenses. Consult with experts if needed,
If you choose to broker business, do it with companies whose products you know and make certain they have E&O.?
Do Your Own Due Diligence
Investigate the financial strength and Best Rating of any company whose products you are selling, if you are not selling through your primary company or using an Wholesaler or MGA, check on the company’s rating including their reputation for both paying and denying claims.
It’s extremely important that agents keep current on the financial conditions of their carriers and, as appropriate, communicate those conditions to those customers. Also to make certain you check reputation of GAs, brokerage agencies, or Wholesalers you thinking about doing business with including that they have E&O
Standardize Policies & Procedures
Have a standard process in the agency for every procedure, whether it’s issuing a quote, or a binder, or handling a mid-term change. And document that process each step of the way, Put procedures in writing and audit staff periodically to make sure those procedures are being followed. It’s also important to update those procedures on a regular basis. Make certain that your agency has an office procedure manual, set up to handle all of routinely followed procedures. Keep a manual on every employee’s desk. Document, in writing, each employee’s scope of authority.
Develop checklists to insure the timely completion of tasks. Set up and maintain a diary system or an agency management system. Set up a forms manual within instructions outlining when to use standard letters, memos, meeting reports, etc. Set up a procedure for handling of premium payments including checks and credit cards. Develop a system to handle client’s complaints and or comments, so that you are aware of problems immediately. Make certain all complaints, comments or inquiries are handle in a timely manner and that had a paper trail that documents any and all discussions.
Train & Educate Your Staff
Devise a training checklist for new employees. Document employee’s file regarding completed training. Include dates of training, subject matter, etc. Hold staff meetings every one to two weeks. Have a written meeting agenda, keep minutes and record attendees’ names. Keep this information, and handouts, in your meeting file. Train employees on policies and procedures listed in manual, and on company products and underwriting guidelines. Emphasize loss prevention and loss control.
Depending upon the size of your agency, designate one person to maintain files on changes in Federal and State laws that affect your business. Keep track of all staff license renewal dates and continuing education requirements. Subscribe to trade journals and or publications that allows you to stay current including maintaining a close contact with the companies you do business with. Attend professional meetings regularly and make certain that you and your employees participate at professional conventions and continuing education seminars.
For some agencies, it is not a question of if but when a claim will be made against them. It is important that you maintain a defensive, professional attitude. Learn from other professionals.