3 Things Insurance Agents Need To Know About E&O Insurance

3 Things Insurance Agents Need To Know About E&O Insurance
By: Michael Miller, Smart Choice® State Director

If you’re an insurance agent, you need errors & omissions, or E&O, insurance. This valuable coverage protects you and your agency against a loss in the event of an error or omission you or your staff make (or are accused of making). This could include something as simple as lacking a required document, such as a waiver of coverage, or miscommunication between you and a client.

Here are three things you need to know about E&O insurance for your agency.

1. You need to do your research.

Many carriers offer E&O coverage, but not all E&O policies are created equal, especially in what they cover if a claim makes it to court. Some may pay for the settlement amount but not your defense expenses, such as attorney’s fees. Others pay defense expenses but not for actual losses. Comprehensive E&O coverage will pay for all of it.

Some carriers specialize in covering a particular industry, so make sure the carrier you pick caters to the specific needs of your agency.

2. You need to buy early.

You advise your clients to buy insurance before they need it, and the same is true of your E&O coverage. The longer you go without E&O, the longer you expose yourself, your staff, and your agency to more risk. Most E&O policies use a retroactive date to determine whether or not they’ll cover a claim. Any claim made over an error or omission that occurs before that date will not be covered by your E&O policy. That’s why you need to be covered early—even before you open your doors.

When it is time to leave the insurance industry (when you retire, sell or quit) you may want to consider that your policy holders, clients, and carriers may not leave the same time that you do. You may still hold responsibility to them for a period of one year after you issued the last policy or until the anniversary or renewal date of the last policy you issued, at which time the insured is expected to contact you with corrections as to how the policy was applied for when it was first written.

Most agents maintain an active E&O policy for one year after their retirement or termination date. It protects them from potential risk from policies written during their last year in business. Almost all carrier policies state the insured is responsible for reviewing their declarations page at every renewal so they are aware of their exact coverage, effective dates, and limits. You may want to consider carrying a full and active E&O policy for one year after you write your last policy to protect yourself from any issues that could arise for a period of one year after the renewal date of the last policy you issue.

3. You need to have a plan.

Even with E&O coverage, you need a plan for how your agency will prevent errors and omissions and mitigate claims if and when they occur. Always use written contracts with your clients and get signed waivers when clients opt out of coverages you’ve recommended for them. Communicate frequently with your clients about changes to their policies and possible enhancements.

Sources:
Insurance Journal
CalSurance

Another Chance for Us To Get It Right: Planning for 2016

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Another Chance for Us To Get It Right: Planning for 2016

“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” –Oprah Winfrey

It’s that time again! We all do it – reflecting on the past year and making resolutions for the next with the best of intentions. The holidays go by in a blur, yet there always seems to be time to reminisce about what we did (or didn’t do) in the past 365 days, and how to do it better in the following 365 days.  Many of us graciously welcome the opportunity for a do-over, a clean slate, and a fresh start. But that fresh start doesn’t just happen on its own.

When the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, have we thoroughly thought through what we want our agencies to look like in 2016? There is a saying that “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” We all know that success comes from much preparation and hard work. The hands on the clock don’t magically make the next year better, but planning, evolving, asking questions, and reaching out for assistance…that’s what makes the next year better, especially for our agencies!

So, what goals do you have? What does your 2016 look like? Make this New Year the one you get right – the one in which you’ll see positive change and growth. Smart Choice® is always by your side to help!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Holidays, and a wonderful New Year!

Can Smart Choice® be of assistance to you or someone you know to help your agency start out on a high note for 2016?

Click here: http://www.smartchoiceagents.com/contact-us/

Three Marketing Tips for Independent Insurance Agents

Are you looking for new marketing ideas for your insurance agency in 2016? Here are three ideas you can implement TODAY to gain new business as you plan for 2016!

Be an information resource: Use a blog on your website, email newsletters, social media sites, etc. to be a resource for your customers. This is called “content marketing” and you’re essentially gaining website traffic from search engines by using keywords that consumers are already searching for. Consider that scores of customers are searching for specific insurance information every day – if they are searching for something you have posted yourself or re-posted from another site, you will gain more traffic and visibility in the community as a resource.

Run a referral contest: Run a referral contest through your social media sites! Many agents already rely heavily on referral business, but a contest that provides compensation to the customer is a great motivator to consumers. The prize you offer should be substantial enough to entice customers to make an effort. Cash gift cards are more versatile and work better than rewards like televisions or iPads because they’re more likely to entice. Post several times a week about the details of your contest, and make sure you include contingencies that will ensure the contest brings your agency more commission money than the money you’ll be spending on the prize!

Pick a niche market: What if you chose a niche market to be an expert in each quarter? This idea has the potential to earn you additional business from existing customers in ADDITION to new business throughout the year. One quarter you can advertise being an expert in writing policies for teen drivers and their parents. The next, you can advertise being an expert in small business or whichever niche with which you’re comfortable. And you don’t have to break the bank to advertise these capabilities. If you have a good online presence established, you can advertise in multiple ways for free:

  • Promote the market with a new fact about it each day on your agency’s Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn profile. Write an “announcement” – an informal press release – to post on your agency’s LinkedIn page.
  • Include a blog post on your website where you write about various options and policy types available to customers. Talk about the pros and cons of different coverages. Include stories and testimonials from customers who were saved from disaster by their insurance policies – this is especially good for coverages people don’t consider necessities, like umbrellas or life policies.

Like what you learned here? The October issue of Smart Choice Magazine will have even more tips! We’ve devoted an entire issue to marketing!