The Value of an Agent Delivery System

by John Beavin

In 2012, Kentucky Farm Bureau faced some of the most daunting challenges that our company has ever faced. In a year where the company had not one, but two 100 million dollar claim events, the company’s surplus actually increased by the end of the year to top $900 million.

For some, 2012 was the year of the adjuster and the claims department. Others may say it was the year of underwriting, and most would agree that it was certainly the year of actuaries and rates. There is no doubt that all facets of the company performed very well, faced monumental challenges, and excelled. However, I want to give a shout out to the agents for what I think may be one ever their best performances ever.

The agent delivery system that KFB has is the envy of the marketplace. Without the agent at the center of the relationship between Member, Insurance Company, and Federation, the story of 2012 and its results would likely look much different than they do today.

The following are some of the things you did that help to hold everything together.

  • You explained, “Yes, rates have increased again, but only to put us in a better position to deliver our promise to protect you now and in the future.”
  • Drove to one property after another to take pictures of the property, and when needed, took appropriate action through PIMS.
  • Bought staff lunch (again) as a thank you for standing strong and supporting the company’s actions to the customer who didn’t quite understand.
  • Continued to write GOOD business and cross sell life and health insurance as a way to create stable accounts.
  • Handled a small claim occasionally to help lessen the load on your adjuster.
  • Rode with an adjuster to serve as mediator and communicator so the adjuster could do his or her job a little more efficiently.
  • Explained to an irate and frustrated customer that their claim is important and that we will process it as quickly as possible.

If you did any of these as well as much, much more, you are to be commended. It is easy to be an agent when we are cheaper than everyone and the skies are blue and sunny. 2012 was not one of those years. 2012-13 is going to go down as either a period where our company shrunk and membership numbers tanked in an effort to become profitable, or a period where the company retained its good business and replaced the bad with new promisingly, profitable business. I don’t predict, I chose the latter, and we all can and should.

We are in a market in which having “boots on the ground” give us the edge over our competition. For most of our agencies, business is not a numbers game, but the building and fostering of relationships that last through thick and thin. I want to know what you are doing in your agencies, or what you have seen other agencies do to improve persistency and retention of the best most profitable customers in the agency. What’s in your “Tough Times” business plan?

Comments

  1. Bill Cornett says:

    John, this is a great article. I would like to here from the more seasoned agents for their “Tough Times” business plan, especially in the Louisville market.

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