Out of County Business: Problems or Partnership?

by Danny J Luttrell

Since I started with Farm Bureau in 1988, it seems that “out of county” business has always been a hot topic of discussion among the agency force. I have seen some agents get so angry in various meetings when discussing problems with out of county business, that I was afraid they would going to have a heart attack!

While it has always been “touchy subject” among the agency force, the company has taken several different approaches over the years, including:

1) At one time if you wanted to write a customer that lived in a another county you had to have a permission form signed by the agency manager in that county.
2) “No holds barred” you could write anyone-anywhere in the state of Kentucky.
3) Ability to write in other counties based on profitability issues in your agency.

I understand every agency is unique. However, I fully believe as agents we have an opportunity to help each other when it comes to writing out of county business. First of all, I need to provide the following disclaimer—two of my border counties are Lee County (Virginia) and Claiborne County (Tennessee). That being said, out of county business doesn’t just apply to adjoining counties. Many times we have customers that move from our area to other locations because of changes in employment or need to be near family members. In those situations I always recommend that the customer allow us to transfer their business to an agency in that area. Usually, they will accept my recommendation to do this, however at other times they insist on keeping their insurance with our agency. We try to do what is best for the customer and what will be more convenient for them.

There are times when we receive inquiries about buying insurance from our agency even though they live in another county. These situations immediately raise a “red flag”…”Why don’t they want to deal with their local agent?” Sometimes, after digging a little deeper, there have been issues of disagreement between them and another KFB agent or CSR. Before writing this business, it would be wise to proceed with caution. Ask yourself two very important questions: 1) Will this business help my loss ratio? 2) Can I provide them the best customer service?

Our strength in the Kentucky Farm Bureau family is our team approach. We should try to build good relationships with other agents and agency managers in our area. I pride myself in the fact that I have a great relationship with other Agency Managers in our part of the state. I don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call one of them if I have a question about someone or a piece of property. In fact, many times I will go take pictures for other agents if they have someone move into our county.

Communication between agents can benefit everyone involved in any out of county issues. It also helps build trust between agents…and trust is always a good thing!

Danny J Luttrell
Bell County Agency Mgr.

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