In this episode of The Digital Broker, Ryan Deeds and Melissa Wilder discuss the perfect renewal process of an insurance agency. By listening to this episode, you will learn:
- What every stage of the renewal process looks like, when it ought to begin, and who ought to take the lead on it
- At what stage(s) the renewal process typically falls apart, and what to do about it
- What to keep in mind when deciding whether to remarket
Renewals are treated with less fanfare than new business at insurance agencies. It shouldn’t be this way. For one thing, renewals are just as important to an agency’s bottom line. Furthermore, when an agency is stressing out over a deadline and time is short, it is usually because of an impending renewal.
The renewal process must, therefore, be taken seriously as a component of operational excellence. Melissa Wilder, who touched upon the toughness of the renewal process in a previous episode, returns to this one to advise us on the perfect renewal process and what it looks like.
If lack of time is the most frequent undoing of a renewal process, it follows that the perfect renewal process is timely. You want to start looking at renewals on time, between 120 to 160 days before the insured’s renewal date or policy expiration date. You can achieve this by making it a point to look at upcoming renewals on a fixed, routine basis. Melissa’s team, for example, gets together on the first Tuesday of every month, looks at the next three to four months’ worth of renewals, and starts to have a conversation about each one, giving everybody a chance to weigh in.
When we say everybody, we mean it. At the heart of every renewal process is a single question: do we remarket, or do we stay with the current carrier? The decision will be guided by so many factors. Has the insured grown significantly since the previous year? Have they made any acquisitions? Have they sold anything instead? Do they care primarily about saving money on premiums, or are they willing to pay more for special benefits? And those are just the customer-facing concerns; you also need to make sure the carriers are pulling their weight. Are they invested in the account? Are they in the market for that kind of coverage? Are they delivering what the insured needs?
It is obvious that no single person can keep track of every one of those nuances. That is why teamwork is the next important characteristic of a successful renewal process. Conversations about renewals are at their best when they triangulate the voices of producers, account managers (including account executives, if any are bound to the account), and the marketing team. Each of those groups can be counted on to provide a unique perspective: producers go to bat for their customers’ wallets; account managers make sure the coverages are in line with what the insured needs; and the marketing teams know the carriers and how to deal with them. All of those perspectives combine to give the richest view of the situation.
It is okay for this conversation to be taking place before the insured is formally invited to weigh in. Ideally, however, you’re in touch with your insured year-round, so that their point of view is never far from your employees’ minds, making communication the third and final characteristic of a successful renewal process. Change requests (CQ’s) should be sent out and received no later than 90 days out from the insured’s renewal or policy expiration date—this is to give the insured enough time to tell you everything you need to know. Remember, your insureds usually have other things on their minds besides insurance. They might forget to tell you things you need to know for the renewal process to go forward. By beginning the renewal process on time, and by keeping in touch with your insured year-round, you can protect yourself against latent surprises.
Once you have your CQ back, it’s time to go to market. There is some dissent over who should take the lead here. Some say it ought to be the marketing team since they’re already familiar with the carriers; others think it should be the account managers because they’re better at articulating the particulars of the insured’s situation. Either way, make sure you’re wise and strategic in dealing with the carriers. You do not want to burn out the underwriters. If they see you submit the same account every year, and every year you refuse to move it, they might give up on the account entirely. In Melissa’s view, an account should only go to market once every three years.
Once you get your quote or quotes, you can relay them back to the producer, who can relay them back to the insured, and voilà. In summary, the perfect renewal process is defined by timing, teamwork, and communication. Different agencies will put their own spin on it, but we can’t imagine a successful renewal process that departs significantly from the one above.
Can you? Is there something you think we missed? Do you know of any other ways to expedite or streamline the renewal process (hint: Indio)? Tell us about it at the Digital Broker LinkedIn group—a forum we created specifically to encourage insurance agents and brokers to learn from one another and get better together. Request to join.
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