Have you ever noticed that most of the billion-dollar insurance companies start every advertisement by telling you how much money they can save you?
Bet you've never heard a company advertise that their rates may be just a little higher because they've got the best claims-adjusting procedures in the industry. How about this: ever see an insurance agency that brags about their thorough follow-up with both carriers and clients when there's a major loss? Probably not, because people usually only view insurance as a necessary cost-that is, until they actually have to use it. This often means focusing on sales and marketing instead of building a reliable claims and communications team. It's only when you need your agent most that cost is not an important factor.
My experiences over the last few weeks while helping people in both Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Gulf Shores, Alabama, after hurricanes Laura and Sally reminded me just how important having quality insurance from a reputable carrier and the service of a responsive agent is. I went to Gulf Shores to help my good friend Reggie Pulliam, owner of Coastal Alabama Insurance, process nearly 500 claims that were all sustained during Sally, I got an insider’s view of the difference a good agency who partners with good carriers makes in their clients' lives.
Communication. Many of Reggie's competitors -- other insurance agencies in the South Alabama region -- had their phones turned off and their offices closed 5 days after the storm and days after power had been restored. I know this because several people in town complained, and I called them to verify this for myself because I couldn't believe it! Reggie's whole staff (including his wife, a school teacher on a normal day) was on call, actively communicating with their clients through email, text message, and by phone. Reggie even set up a mobile office in a nearby town for a few days while his office did not have internet or power!
Prompt Claims Processing. Many clients stopped by the office for advice, guidance, or just to make sure their losses where covered by their policies. Coastal Alabama's team was helping clients determine the fastest and easiest way to get their claims input, processed, and paid. They took time to go over deductibles, how claims where processed, and even gave information to clients on how to quickly get in touch with contractors who could help with roofing repairs or flood damage clean up. They often even called the carrier directly while the client was on the phone or in the office with them to make sure everyone was on the same page.
Quality Carriers. As an independent agency, CAI (and Coastal LA Insurance) represent several different insurance companies in an effort to best serve their clients’ needs. While some carriers indiscriminately give contracts to whoever is willing to sell their policies, others take care to only do business with agents who prioritize client needs in their practice. Independent agents have the ability partner with companies who share their values, and that can be very beneficial when a loss occurs.
Back-end Support. In a crisis, like the aftermath of a hurricane, the carriers and brokers that support their agents make themselves available to help. As an example, while working briefly in Alabama at Reggie’s office, I bumped into Billy Breaux, the Regional Vice President of Orchid Underwriters. Billy stopped by CAI personally to check on the agency just 5 days after the storm. Ironically, Billy is from Lake Charles, and was still repairing damage to his own home caused by Hurricane Laura a few weeks earlier, but Billy made the needs of Reggie’s team (and, in turn, Reggie’s clients) a priority. Other carrier reps called Reggie’s office to see what they could do to help, and sent care packages with essentials to make sure the agency could stay up and running. This allowed Reggie and his team to work 18-hour days serving their clients, while the carriers supported the claims process on the back end. It truly was a team effort.
Advocate in a Time of Need. Not a single client of CAI who called in during those few days asked what they could do to save on their premium. Not a single client asked, could Reggie bring their rates down by raising their deductibles or changing carriers at renewal. No, they asked Reggie to reassure them, to help them, and to be their advocate in their time of need.
And he answered the call…do you know if your agent will answer your call in your hour of need? Remember, with Coastal Insurance, help is just a phone call (or email, or text, or IM away...come for the AFFORDABLE QUOTE, stay for the great service.