“I have another customer for you to call because she doesn’t know her insurance agent!” My husband and I have owned The Steam Police, a cleaning and restoration business, for about 8 years. I started to count the number of times he asked me to call a customer who was upset about their water damage not being covered by insurance. I worked part-time as a Registered Nurse for years and certainly learned how to help people through a difficult time while they or their family members were in the emergency department.
The more I learned about the insurance industry, the more interested I became in doing things differently. Of course most people don’t think of insurance agents helping them through a difficult time, rather helping them get the necessary coverage and not pay more than they have to. (Actually, they all just want to save 15%!) The truth is, you always get what you pay for. (Well, sort of. Keep reading!)
In listening to customers complain that they pay too much, don’t understand their coverage, don’t receive return calls/emails from their agents, I decided to get my licenses and work for someone else for a while, just to learn the basics. Two years later, I love getting to know clients and explaining what coverage they need and why.
I chose to be an independent agent, which means I work for the client, not just one insurance company. (That’s why I say you “sort of” get what you pay for!) You won’t see many commercials for the companies I shop through and may have never heard of them at all. However, they are all top rated companies, some around since the 1920’s!
Having 8 years of business ownership, I know what business owners need. Yes, you can take classes and understand coverage, but it’s not the same as running a business and having your own “oh no,” come up. Like what, you ask? I’ll give you an example: One of the services we provide is hardwood flood cleaning. We have cleaned with the same chemicals and the same equipment hundreds of times. This one particular day, our client’s floor had a strange greasy film on it after it was cleaned. My husband called a few flooring companies and I called the manufacturer who made the chemicals. All resources agreed that some cleaning agent containing bleach must have been applied to the floor, probably even before our client moved in. He was very unhappy and although it was a temporary problem, he demanded we replace his entire floor, an expense of over $20,000. We offered to pay someone else to buff the surface of the floor and resurface it but he wasn’t happy with that solution. I mean, who hasn’t heard the tv/radio commercials reminding you Cellino and Barnes can get you millions? Well, we called our agent only to find out that whatever job you’re hired to do, insurance does not cover. Yes. Let me say that again: If you have a professional liability policy in place, whatever job you are hired for, such as cleaning a hard wood floor, is not covered. I was so angry, loudly wondering what I had been paying insurance for in the first place! Well, come to find out, there is an endorsement that can be added, called “completed operations,” and that covers your work that is always excluded. Confusing, huh? I thought so, too.
More important than business ownership, I’m a mom. We have 6 kids, ages 23 to 1; 4 pigs, 1 dog and 6 chickens. I have owned 4 homes and leased and purchased more cars than I can count. What does all of that have to do with insurance? It means I get it! I know what it’s like to have older kids that are driving, little kids that need a college tuition plan, and know the importance of having sewer & drain back-up and underground service line coverage on my homeowners policy.
I always joke that being a mom is just being worried 24/7, but I’m only half joking. I do worry! I worry that my kids won’t feel safe and confident in school, may be bullied at the lunch table or make the wrong choice when it comes to college and career. I try to focus on what I can control and I talk to them. I talk about good choices, good friends, and the importance of being part of our community. The best friends my husband and I have are the ones we made sitting on the sidelines at football, baseball, or watching 4 hours of a dance recital for our kids’ 2 minute debut!
Community support is a must for my family and my insurance business. I was the medical director for the town football and cheer teams, co-chair of the PTSA of the kids’ elementary school, and we attend every community celebration, rescue a few too many mini-pigs, and donate whenever we can. Being such an active part of our community has taught me what our common needs are and what resources we have in the area.
There’s usually a “quick quote” tab on an insurance agent’s web site. Although I have one, because I have to offer every option, I hope nobody ever clicks on it. I don’t like quotes and don’t intend to do transactions. I want to create a protection review for each customer. I want to understand what you have and what needs protection. From there, I can research the best way to find that protection – at the best price. I don’t promise to save you 15%, but I do promise to be your best advocate and help find you the best possible coverage at the best possible price!
And about that 15%: We have a close family friend who often stays with us when he’s in town. He is young and got his auto insurance on-line, directly from the company, and saved quite a bit of money. Unfortunately, he was in an accident last winter and totaled his car. He called the insurance company several times, asking the status of the car. He left several messages & was assured someone would call him back several times. Long story short, it took him 20 days to find out his car had been totaled – and that he owed several hundred dollars because he didn’t return his rental car in time. Well, the reason he didn’t return his rental in time was because nobody told him to! That’s the cost of not having an agent and it happens more often than we’d like to believe.
I always smile when people say, “There are so many insurance agents, there’s so much competition!” That’s true, there are many different agents and even companies to choose from, but the truth is, when it comes to commitment to customer service and quality, I have no competition.