These are probably 5 of the most common words spoken by both personal and commercial lines customers. What they seem to be saying, in my mind, is that "I am paying too much…just give the same coverage that I have now but at a lower premium." In other words, their focus is primarily on the price, not the coverage.
So what is the danger in all of this?
Essentially, when a producer duplicates what the customer currently has, this heavily assumes that the prior agent did a professional job….a job that involved a current and in-depth evaluation of the various exposures and limit issues. It probably also assumes that the customer understands his/her insurance program in sufficient and necessary detail.
If you duplicated the coverage and a problem developed, you may be asking "Whose mistake is this? Mine or the prior agent?" I believe that most courts and plaintiff’s attorney (representing the customer suing you) will look to prove that this is now your account and thus it is now "your mistake". Essentially, duplicating the mistakes of the prior agent does not relieve you and your agency from any liability.
What should an agent do? It is highly recommended that an agent should utilize an exposure analysis checklist to identify the potential exposures to prompt discussion with the customer on those exposures. In addition, any limits (property, business interruption, liability, etc.) should be examined for their appropriateness. When it comes to liability limits, it is always best to offer options forcing the customer to decide which limit they want and thus which limits they do not want.
Don’t duplicate what they currently have. This approach heavily removes the value that independent agents bring to the table. That value involving taking a fresh look at the customer’s insurance program and finding effective ways to help the customer better understand the coverage they have and how it works. In fact, look to include definitions and claims examples in the insurance proposal. This is a very effective "customer education" tool – it also is a great E&O loss prevention measure.