After the Equifax data breach which put 145.5 million people at risk for identity theft people were struggling to get their credit reports frozen at Equifax as well as TransUnion and Experian. If you were able to freeze all of your reports, you know it was a big hassle.
Now if you want to buy a house or car or apply for a credit card, you will need to contact the credit reporting agencies to have them turn your credit report back on so they can pull your credit and get a credit score. If you have to do this, I suggest you find out which credit reporting agency they use so you can temporarily unfreeze just the one. Speak with the credit reporting agency to find out how long it will take to temporarily unfreeze your report so you can give the financial loan company lead time before they pull your credit.
But what about insurance credit scoring? In states where carriers are able to use credit scoring for rating, does the rate reflect a no hit for everyone who has put a freeze on their credit reports?
I posed this question on LinkedIn:
Question for my insurance industry friends:
With the Equifax data breach and everyone freezing their credit reports, how are insurance carriers quoting potential and current customers? Are people getting dinged for a no-hit on their credit report? If yes, how is this getting addressed with the agent and insured?
Sadly, no one on LinkedIn responded to my questions. So I checked with our Business Development Project Coordinator who works closely with our carrier partners and asked her to reach out to a few carriers.
Several responded to our inquiry. One response came from a large carrier who reached out to their insurance score department to ask about frozen credit files. In the states where they are able to use credit scoring, if a credit file is frozen, the rating system treats it the same as a No Hit score which does generally result in a higher rate. They suggest customers with a frozen credit file will need to contact Equifax to have the freeze lifted, call their insurance score department to pull the file while the customer is still on the phone and re-rate the policy. Then the customer can contact Equifax to turn the credit freeze back on.
Are you noticing higher rates since the Equifax data breach and mass credit freezes? Are you asking your clients if they have put a freeze on their credit? Are your clients receiving notifications from the carrier that their credit was returned as a no hit?
Today we are pleased to have a guest blog from David Robinson, Territory Sales Representative, at Progressive Insurance.
Best Quote Practices to Increase Auto Conversion
We’ve all heard that dreaded response from new prospects after delivering (what you thought!!) was an excellent rate: “No thanks, I got lower quote somewhere else.”
Did you know that when a potential prospect calls your office requesting an auto quote, that, on average, you are the 3rd option they are calling, whether they contacted an agent down the street or quoted an online company?
That is why it’s critical to do the following on every single auto quote: Ask the right questions, apply all available discounts, offer the best bill plans and follow up by emailing the quote.
I like to use an acronym for best quote practices called BRET- Best Rate Every Time.
In my 12 years working with Progressive agents and previously in our Direct call center, it is critical to accurately apply and lead with as many discounts as possible. If you don’t, I guarantee there is an agent down the street that is quoting with all the discounts and we all know that the Progressive Direct or Geico call center sales rep is quoting that prospect with every available discount.
Here are a few tips to help increase sales when that new prospect calls in for the first time:
1) Ask for/ collect email addresses on every quote. Why? You can leverage more discounts, such as Paperless and Snapshot, on the quote. Also, did you know that agents who regularly email quotes have reported higher conversion levels vs. agents who do not email quotes to potential prospects?
2) Take time to connect with your new prospects through relating, asking the right questions, listening, and understanding their needs. Don’t assume it’s always about lowest rate.
3) As an independent agent with multiple carriers, set yourself apart by letting prospects know they do not need to shop with anyone else because you represent “x” number of carriers. Present multiple carriers/ quotes and let the customer choose. Be sure to let the prospect know the various features/ benefits of each company that you represent.
4) Accurately apply discounts in your AccuAgency rater on each first quote and discuss best bill plan options that give the largest discount. For example, if the customer has an email address, tell them you are going to give them both a Paperless and Snapshot discount. Using the word “discount” connects the client to the product you are selling and increases your odds to close the business. Some of the most commonly missed discounts Progressive offers include: Advance Quote, Length of Vehicle Ownership, Education, Occupation, and Snapshot (up to 10% at new business). Please note: All of Progressive’s discount questions are listed in your AccuAgency Rater.
Remember, to increase your agency sales and revenue, don’t forget the importance of connecting with your clients, emailing quotes and make sure you utilize B.R.E.T. on every single new quote.
Territory Sales Representative
The personal attention you provide as an insurance agent is similar to that of a real estate agent. But as an insurance agent, instead of sifting through listings for a 4 bedroom, 3 full bath, fenced in yard, in an area with great schools, you’re looking for the company that best suits the client’s coverage, limit requirements and underwriting needs.
As an independent insurance agent you work with several carriers. You know what they offer and don’t offer. You know what they will cover and won’t cover. Let your customers know that you know.
Your auto insurance clients probably know that a Maserati will cost more to insure than a Mazda but they don’t know all of the factors that play into insurance rates. That’s why it’s a good idea to inform them that you are there to help and recommend the best company that best fits their situation.
Let them know:
· You know what reports are pulled by each company (MVR, CLUE, Credit)
· You know if a claim will cause their rate to go up
· You know if a client is at risk for non-renewal
· You know what can lower a client’s premium
· You know what coverages they should carry
· You know when a violation will drop off which renewal policy
· You know what claims will be covered or rejected
When you let your clients know exactly what they should expect they will be more likely to use you to find their next house...OOPS, insurance policy.
There have been 2 recent announcements by big insurance companies who have seen huge profit losses on the auto insurance side due to wrecks. The biggest cause, distracted driving.
State Farm, one of the 2 companies reporting recent losses, surveyed drivers and found that 36% admitted to texting and driving. A whopping 64% of 18 - 29 year olds surveyed said they have texted while driving. You’ve seen the ads and the billboards with the text message icon and message that says, “It can wait.”
Sadly people have a difficult time putting their phone down in the car. The survey is a testament to that. It’s not just texting, it’s social media, email, news notifications and any number of other app notifications.
Everyone better prepare to pay the price. Rate increases are coming. These rate increases will likely be as much as an insurance company can get approved for by each state’s department of insurance.
There is a silver lining for independent insurance agents. With rates going up, consumers will be shopping around. So batten down the hatches and prepare to quote auto insurance.
Vikki Thomas has been working in the insurance industry since 1995. Vikki has worked for several carriers in customer service, quality assurance, underwriting, product management and marketing. Vikki has worked at AccuAgency since 2008.