Insurance Myth Busters… All I Need Is Replacement Cost Coverage

Most people think, “If my policy has replacement cost coverage I am ok, right?”  Well, maybe not.  The term “replacement cost” means “the cost to replace the property on the same premises with other property of comparable material and quality used for the same purpose.”

A Common Myth

“My policy has replacement cost coverage, so I am covered in the event of a loss.”

Myth Busted

Replacement cost coverage has limitations. The most important limitation is that it will only repair or replace up to the policy limit.  So, if your building has a replacement value of $500,000, but your policy has a limit of $450,000, you are underinsured by $50,000.

There may also be a need for functional or extended replacement cost coverage in certain situations.  A guaranteed replacement cost policy pays whatever it costs to rebuild your building as it was before the fire or other disaster–even if it exceeds the policy limit.

The example above is an excellent example of why it is important to have an agent who knows and understands insurance, and one who can communicate complex issues in “English”. This allows our customers to make intelligent choices regarding their insurance.

Why Insurance Is Not A Product

No matter how hard television advertisements try to convince you that insurance is a product, it is a service. Some advertisers use animals, actors pretending to know insurance, or wild claim examples to convince you that all you need is a simple internet policy and your problems are solved. They claim that the lower the premium is, the better it is for you.

Low premiums do not equate to the right coverage for you. Do not be fooled by actors trying to convince you that insurance purchased online in ten minutes will respond to a serious accident or injury. These advertisements focus on cost rather than the value of the service purchased. What we should be focusing on is the value of a policy in relationship to a purpose.

The value of a policy in relationship to a purpose

  • Get away from the idea that consumers should primarily focus on the price they are willing to pay for coverage, rather than making sure they have the coverage they need.
  • You cannot cover your risk by arbitrarily choosing an amount you are willing to pay for a policy. You need to make sure that your risk is properly covered.
  • Beware of insurance companies who have brands that claim, “We are the cheapest so we must be the best!”, or “We cover that crazy football party claim (less than .00001% of all claims) so we must cover everything else.”
  • We want our clients to understand the purpose of insurance and the value of the many solutions available.

Insurance Is a Promise of Service

  • Agents should help their clients determine why they are buying insurance.
  • Insurance is designed to protect individuals and businesses from the unexpected. It is important to help clients understand possible implications of actions.
  • Agents need to educate clients on the difference between low cost and value. Office Depot aired an advertisement a few years ago that explains this concept.

Source for some of the information in this article; Timothy P. O’Brien

Client Education Trends

We have been on a journey for over a year to educate both agents and buyers of insurance about the most effective way to secure insurance and risk management services. It appears our work may be paying off. We are seeing more and more articles related to the buying and selling insurance that include titles like:

  • “Educate Your Clients”
  • “Discover Solutions”
  • “Quality Relationships Matter”
  • “Buyers Value Partnerships”
  • “Sales People Can’t Wing It”

These are all good articles that directly relate to what we have been saying over the past twelve months. We have reviewed a number of these articles and picked out some of the best points for agents and insurance buyers to consider. These include:

  • See your buyer’s needs through their perspective. This involves active listening on the agent’s part. Agents should talk less, and listen 80% of the time.
  • Deliver your buyer a solution — not a product. Solutions are meant to address the client’s real needs, not sell an insurance product.
  • Focus on what’s important to the client. Determine what their true needs are.
  • Focusing only on your insurance product will cause you to miss what buyer’s value from you.

If insurance buyers demand these procedures of their agents, and agents practiced these guidelines, insurance coverage would be better designed, and overall cost of risk would be lower for businesses. Insurers would be happy because losses would be reduced, and businesses would be matched with the right insurer.

Sources: Jay Mitchell, Dive Inside the Mind of Your Buyer — and Discover a Solution to Serve Them. 2.28.17, Clayton Christensen, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, Deb Calvert, Research Reveals What Buyers Value…It’s Not What You Think, 3.2.17.

Do You Know Your Cost of Risk?

As you consider your business insurance, we invite you to think about this subject in the much larger spectrum of “Total Cost of Risk”. Your insurance program is more the premiums you pay

Total Cost of Risk is the sum of the costs arising from all of the risks faced by an organization. Risks can generally be categorized into one of the following three classes:

Operational– Operational Risk includes the cost of products, protection of property, insurance, damage to or destruction of supply sources for key raw materials, components, or services, injuries to employees or outside parties, damage to the property of outside parties including resulting consequential loss, damage to the environment, and employment decisions.

Financial– Financial Risk includes risks associated with commodity price variability or commodity availability, costs of capital and borrowing, customer credits, business development, profit and banking costs.

Strategic– Strategic Risk includes issues of risk that can have a major impact on the overall viability of an organization. These include issues centering on reputation of the organization or its employees, loyalty to the organization of customers or clients, development of new products or services, meeting the demand for existing products or services, and pricing of the organization’s products or services.

When you consider all your risks, it is important to understand how a well-designed insurance program can impact all these areas.

Change your Thinking About Insurance

Most businesses only look at their premiums when they evaluate insurance costs. We would like to provide an alternative view. For example, by only considering insurance premiums you are eliminating many other factors in your total insurance costs. Here are factors that make up your total cost of risk.

Internal Risk Administration

Legal and Claims Expenses

Deductible Costs

Uninsured Loss Costs

Safety Program Costs

Insurance Premiums

Contracted costs

Think Differently In 2017

The definition of incorrect thinking is to repeatedly take the same action and expect a different outcome.  As you think about your insurance program for 2017, it is time to expect a different outcome.  This will cause you to consider different actions. To accomplish this, two things need to happen.  First, redefine how you define success in your risk and insurance program, and second, create a new set of actions that correspond to your new thinking.

Redefine Success

Under the old definition, most insurance buyers define success as a lower premium. Therefore, the action corresponding is to get as many agents involved to create competition to lower the price.  Consequently, insurance buyers are happy if they get a 10% lower premium.  The problem with this thinking is that buyers generally do not know what they are getting for the lower premium. They may have created a big risk management issue once an un-insured loss occurs.

A New Way of Thinking

A new definition of success is to have an insurance and risk program that address the risks you have, and choose to have, insured.  Some risk you may desire to self-insure and others you may want to transfer to an insurance company.  This way, you understand what you are insuring and what you are not.

Now that I have redefined your thinking, you need to create a new set of actions. Just bidding out your insurance to get the lowest price will not work anymore.  You need to select an experienced and qualified agent that has the experience to educate you on your risks. The second action is to select an insurer that understands your industry.  For example, some insurers are better at underwriting the hospitality industry, and others are better at manufacturing, and so on.

Call a few agents, interview them, get their qualifications, and ask them how they would design a program for your business.  Start to think differently and you may get different and more effective results.

Why Low Price and High Value Can Be a Contraction in Terms

Shoppers are always looking for that next big sale or deal. When it comes to purchasing a 46” HDTV, it is easy to identify all the features you want, and then shop for the best price.  In fact, many retailers might even negotiate with you to get your business. When selecting your insurance, you cannot think the same way.  Why?

  • Insurance can never go on sale, it is highly regulated.
  • Consumers rarely have complete information about various insurance products.
  • Consumers may believe that “popular” or advertised products are high in quality.

Let me make it clear that high priced insurance does not always equate to a better value.  However, if you purchase the low-priced insurance policy are you satisfied that all the coverage terms are consistent with a higher priced policy?  A better way to look at this is to consider the value of what you are buying.  Here are some of the value added advantages you will find in insurance if you do a little searching.

What makes up a high value insurance program?

  • An insurance policy that will respond to your risks when a loss occurs.
  • The extra services offered by the insurer at no cost to you.
  • The knowledge and expertise of the agent. The agent is your key to a high value advantage. The agent is the one who helps you identity your risks and designs a policy specifically for you.  The agent will be there to help you manage through a claim and to educate you.
  • Your agent increases your insurance value by helping you understand why the premiums are different.

Value is more than price

There are also non-price variables that every insurance purchaser should consider.

  • The agent’s experience in your industry. Do you want an agent who primarily only insures homes, to insure your restaurant?  These risks are different and should be treated as such.
  • Insurance companies have customer satisfaction ratings for claims, premium processing, and other services. Do you want to use an insurer with a below average claims handling rating?

In conclusion, only an experienced agent can help you understand and define the true value of your insurance purchase.

Customer Service Skills Your Agent Needs

Insurance agents should always be considered a trusted advisor. As such, there are many unique skill sets an agent should possess. Without these skills you run the risk of having the wrong insurance program, being uninformed regarding your risks, and be frustrated whenever you call or meet with your agent.

Here are some of the skills of a trusted advisor:

  • Has under taken additional training in the field of risk management and insurance.
  • The trusted advisor puts clients’ interests in front of their own. Selling is dead, education is thriving. A trusted advisor will always put education over sales. If we stop trying to just make a sale and truly understand the customer needs, trust is formed.
  • A trusted advisor is genuinely interested in their client’s business success. By showing this level of interest their clients were more open with them and invariably opportunities were identified through discussion.
  • A trusted advisor has a team of experts working together to meet the client’s needs. You will receive personal attention and our team will even come to you. After you describe your personal situation, you will be presented with a custom-tailored insurance solution.
  • Seek to understand. As Steven Covey so succinctly puts it in the The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – “Seek first to understand and then to be understood”.
  • Trusted advisors are genuine, real, individual people. People can sense when others are being insincere and the relationship never develops beyond the civil stage as the client mistrusts the sales person’s motives.

Insurance Myth Busters

According to recent estimates by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), roughly one in seven drivers are uninsured.  A majority of drivers only carry the state minimum limits.

The Common Myth

If an uninsured or underinsured motorist hits you, many think, no worries, they have coverage, or my insurance will pay.

Myth Busted

Your coverage is limited to the amount of coverage you have on your policy.  Therefore, if you purchase minimum limits you would have little coverage if someone hit you carrying no insurance. Adding an endorsement to your personal umbrella policy will place higher limits of coverage over and above your auto policy uninsured motorist coverage.

Why Insurance Is More Than A Policy

The example above is an excellent example of why it is important to have an agent who knows and understands insurance, and one who can communicate complex issues in “English”. This allows our customers to make intelligent choices regarding their insurance.

Your insurance policy is only as good as the agent who placed it. Your agent should be asking you questions and learning about your individual risks and provide options as to how to treat your risks. When your needs change or your situation complicates, you don’t want an automated phone tree or cold cyber-agent. You want to talk to compassionate, honest insurance experts – that’s our team

Why Selling Is Dead and Education Is Thriving

You can read articles every day on the internet about how traditional selling is dead, and that we all need to embrace the new age of selling.  Here are some of the titles of articles on selling I found during an internet search this last month.

  • “Selling is Dead, Sales Live On”
  • “Social Media is the New Producer”
  • “Is Relationship Selling Dead?”
  • “How to Sell–New Age Terms”
  • “Sell with Intensity”
  • “Always Be Closing”
  • “Tell Your Story When Selling”

Now I am sure all these articles have good information, but many are missing the point.  If I had to re-title these I would start with; “EDUCATE, DON’T SELL.”  However, that may be easier said than done.  So I thought it might be fun to identify a number of steps we use to change a mindset from selling to educating. The result, hopefully, will be a new way of thinking about insurance sales, and customers who demand more from their agents.

How the best sales people can look and act like educators

  • We explain our mission of providing insurance education, with or without a sale.
  • It is important to develop risk solutions that do not involve insurance.
  • We will utilize other professionals to help create solutions and educate our clients.
  • There is real value in looking for problems, then create solutions.
  • We volunteer our advice upfront and suggest an alternate solution that will likely serve our clients better.

Selling is educating, so the more we teach clients about the solutions, value, and benefits we offer, the more educated our customers will be.

The Problems Many Businesses Have With Their Agents

I talk to people regularly who tell me that they are not happy with their agent.  I hear statements like, “My agent does not understand my business”, “My insurance program is not matched to my business”, or “My agent always tries to sell me more insurance.”  These are common issues in the business community. I have found that the key issue with most of these concerns has less to do with the agent, and more to do with how the customer goes about selecting the agent.  What?–How can that be true?

Most agents are just trying to sell insurance and move on to the next account.  They are not bad people, but they have been trained to sell.  Our agents are different; first and foremost, we are trained to serve. 

Too often customers go about selecting their agent through bidding out their insurance and then selecting the lowest bidder.

Here is a great quote form the movie Armageddon, when the team of oil drillers are sitting in the space shuttle ready to lift off, and having second thoughts.  “You realize we’re sitting on 45,000 pounds of fuel, one nuclear warhead and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder?  Makes you feel good doesn’t it?” Rockhound played by Owen Wilson.

My contention is that the process by which clients select their agent is flawed, and there is a better way.  By only looking at the lowest price, you are missing the most important part of the process; getting the best possible combination, of coverage, risk management, customer service, and price designed for your specific business.

If buyers were to select agents on something other than price, they would be much happier.  Here is what to look for in an agent:

  • A good agent will have access to many markets, making price consistent between most agents.
  • Experience.
  • Staff experience.
  • Special training and credentials.
  • Have conversations with prospective agents.  Simply asking questions does not mean you have to work with them.  This is a chance for you to get a feel for how they work and if you feel comfortable with them.
  • A good agent needs a high emotional IQ.  This includes the ability to listen and empathize with clients on a deeper level in order to discern what they really want and need.