Personal Lines Prospecting

As a marketer and former insurance producer, I have been asked a number of times the best way to way to start a personal lines department within a commercial lines agency.   It’s a logical transition as the agencies typically have a number of loyal commercial clients the agency wants to retain.   I have seen this work both ways, though.  I’ve seen some agencies do a fantastic job, while others do more harm to the agency than good.

With that in mind, here are a few tips from what I have seen successful agencies do:

1. Have a plan.  Too many agencies just start trying to create a personal lines department without a formal written plan.  I recommend that you should, at a minimum, write out your estimated and expenses from that department.   I would also include the employees you plan on using and ensure they have some experience in servicing personal lines accounts.

2. Who’s your client? Defining your ideal client is one of the most important things you can do.   For some agencies it is strictly existing commercial clients.   For others, they may also include the employees of those companies.  In my opinion, the best way to approach it is to evaluate your agency to see what type of client you can serve best.   Do you have a particular expertise in servicing affluent customers?   Or does your office have a better opportunity is serving clients who purchase minimum-limit policies.

What ever type of client is the best fit for your agency, make sure you stick within that realm.   I have a seen a number of agencies try to serve the entire spectrum of individuals with zero success.

3.  Right Carriers. Once you have defined your client, make sure you have access to the right carriers and markets to write that business.   For example, if you’re an independent agent that has decided to go after affluent clients, but you don’t have access to Chubb, Chartis Private Client, or ACE, then you may want to rethink you key demographic.

3. Find the right centers of influence.   Depending upon who your target demographic is, you can then decide the right centers of influence to interact with.   Attorneys, accountants, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, and car dealerships are great places to start.   Just make sure they work with your target clients and you’re able to form some sort of a reciprocal relationship. (Reciprocal doesn’t mean kickbacks. )

4. Network.  Networking is done very differently for personal lines than commercial lines.  For example, lead generation groups like BNI or LeTip tend to work much better for personal lines agents.   I also recommend serving on a board of directors for a local charity group, school, or even homeowners association.   The key is to serve others first and then referrals will generate themselves.

5. Website and SEO.  If your key demographic includes prospects outside your commercial clients, then I would definitely develop a website where you target those individuals.  SEO then becomes a huge part of that.  Moving up the list of search engines is vital to its success, but just keep in mind that personal lines insurance is the most competitive (and expense) industry to appear on the front page.

6. Social Media.  Social media is a great way to get your agency’s name out there and generate leads.  Remember that customers and prospects don’t just want to hear about how great your agency is on those sites, though.  Rather, they prefer you provide insightful, creative content that will engage them and start conversations.

Final Note.  Not matter what type of marketing plan you put in place, be sure to implement procedures to engage and retain the new clients.  There is nothing worse than writing a new policy just to watch it go right back out the back door.