A Simple But Effective Marketing Suggestion

Carrie Reynolds is an independent insurance agent in Ohio who has a blog that she calls “Confessions of an Insurance Goddess“, with her tongue planted firmly in her cheek.  In a recent post, she recounted how a simple act, writing a handwritten note to a new business that had been featured in her local newspaper, resulted nine months later in her agency writing the insurance coverages for the business and a personal automobile policy for its owner.  The note congratulated the business owner on the opening of the new business, welcomed it to the community, and ended with ““If you are ever in need of my services or an introduction to someone in the community, please let me know.”  Enclosed with the note was the article from the newspaper and her business card.

The 15 minutes or so it had taken Ms. Reynolds to write the note and mail it, along with the enclosures, led to a substantial commission on the insurance coverages she later wrote for the business and its owner.  She had done no follow-up marketing to this business. In this increasingly fast paced world that we live in, one way to stand out is to do something that is not done much any more, but that shows you care about more than selling your product or service.  Handwritten notes are a thing of the past (my law partner was doing this type of thing for his clients 20 years ago), but they still make an impact.  Even more so because they are now unusual.

If your agency does not subscribe to the local paper anymore, maybe it should think about doing so, because that is where news about new businesses or important life events of those in the community will be found.  Such news can be the basis for sending a congratulatory or even in appropriate cases a sympathy note that does no more than say you noticed what had happened and took the time to reach out and offer to help.  The handwritten part is the most important because it lets the recipient know you actually took the time to create it, instead of using a computer program.

Ms. Reynolds’ blog post contains other suggestions for sources to use to find potential customers on which this marketing approach can be used.  I am sure with a little thought there are other sources in their communities that my readers can find.  Please share with me any other simple, but effective, marketing suggestions you may have.


Georgia Legislature Creates Need for New Personal Lines Coverage

The 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly tackled several insurance related issues.  For a complete rundown on what the General Assembly did and did not do this year, click here for the Capitol Report from Gould Hagler, the lobbyist for IIAG.  The General Assembly’s handling of perhaps the most high-profile insurance issue resulted in creating a need for a specific type of new personal lines coverage.  Beginning January 1, 2016, anyone who carries passengers for what the General Assembly has chosen to call a “Transportation Network Company” (think Uber or Lyft) must either have specified insurance coverage through such a company or as part of their personal motor vehicle policy.

House Bill 190 requires that either the Transportation Network Company or each of its drivers must have minimum coverages of $100,000 for bodily injuries or death in one accident with a maximum of $50,000 per person and $50,000 for property loss or damage in one accident for the time period during which the driver is logged onto the company’s network and available to accept passengers until the driver is logged off, except for the period of time beginning when the driver accepts a ride request on the network and ending when the ride is complete, or “the driver completes the transaction”, whichever is later.  During this latter time period, there must be minimum insurance coverage of $1 million for death, personal injury, and property damage per accident and $1 million for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage per accident.

The new law allows for the above minimum coverage requirements to be provided by both the driver and the Transportation Network Company, if the driver obtains a motor vehicle insurance policy or an endorsement to their existing motor vehicle policy that specifically covers the above services and periods of time and the Company obtains an excess coverage policy, which together satisfy those requirements.  The new law specifically states that an insurance company authorized to transact business in Georgia will not be required to provide either a policy or an endorsement to existing policies that satisfies those requirements and such a company can exclude coverage for the activities described above from any motor vehicle insurance policies it may issue.  Not surprisingly, if a company chooses to provide the statutorily required coverage in either a new insurance policy or an endorsement to an existing policy, the new law authorizes the company to charge an additional premium for such coverage.

It remains to be seen whether the Transportation Network Companies will choose to obtain the required insurance coverage themselves or require their drivers to obtain some or all of those coverages. Most likely, some will obtain such coverage and some won’t.  However, given the rapid growth of the type of services offered by companies like Uber and Lyft and the controversy that has been created by them, there will most probably be personal lines insurance companies that begin to offer the type of coverage required by HB 190.  In fact, the Insurance Services Office is set to file a new motor vehicle policy form that covers these type of services.  For more on this new filing, be on the look out for the May 1, 2015 issue of the newsletter from IIABA’s Virtual University, which will contain an article on it. (Click here to sign up for the newsletter if you aren’t already on the list. You don’t have to be a IIABA member to subscribe to this newsletter.)

Agents should not wait to begin contacting their personal lines customers about HB 190.  Most commentators agree that existing personal motor vehicle policies do not provide coverage for ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft, so the liability exposure already exists.  Informing your customers of this exposure is another way to provide value added services to them and in the process offer a way to mitigate that exposure, now that you know how much coverage they will need.