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Recent article for The Insurance Record, The Voice of Texas Insurance June, 2008

When I was a kid I could score a five pack of Topps baseball cards for one wadded up dollar bill.  That was in 1982 when my hopes hung on scoring a Ricky Henderson or a Billy Hatcher card.  Riding shotgun with my cards was the infamous “cardboard” pink gum.  That stuff was really meant for either your little brother or the trash bin.  However, every time I knew I was rolling the dice with my dollar hoping that my ‘mystery pack’ would reveal a hit over a strikeout.

In terms of knowing what you’re getting, premium finance is no different.  Knowing exactly what level of service you’re receiving from your premium finance company is the million dollar question.  If your agency puts a premium on “knock-your-socks-off-service” or ranks service as the number one priority, then you expect your premium finance to be no different. And furthermore, as with your insureds, you probably believe that the relationship is everything.  Here’s an easy two-step process to find out if your premium finance company is reflecting a positive image of your agency to your insureds.

First ask yourself what the premium finance company is doing to cast a positive image of you through their service.  At the end of the day whether you realize it or not your premium finance company touches your insureds more than you do.  I know it’s a bold statement but true.  Think about it like this.  Your premium finance company touches your clients in all of the following ways: mail-outs, emails, payments, notifications, and even phone call requests.  That’s quite a few ‘touches’.  All of those interactions have to be a rewarding experience for your insured because it reflects on you.  Where does their toll free number lead?  Is it 1.800.OnHold or 1.800.Teleprompt.  You don’t want that for you insured so make sure they are accessible and friendly.  Again, your premium finance company’s service directly reflects on you!

Secondly, can you name who your premium finance company representative or owner is?  Have your employees developed a relationship with someone from your premium finance company?  This is important just like your relationship with your insureds.  No matter what your request may be you should be able to pick up the phone and talk to that rep.  Today some premium finance companies are re-organizing into departments that are request-specific centered.  For example, if you call with an endorsement you’ll be forwarded to that department or if you have a cancellation you’re forwarded to someone else.  Neither does that system promote relationship building nor does it make your agency more efficient.  The bottom-line is this.  Your premium finance company should know you and your employees because you are their client.  They should be making inbound calls to you to see if there’s anything they can do to improve your image to your insured.  Through that relationship they will be able to learn about your agency so that they can foresee future hurdles and contact you first.  Hey, that’s a novel idea!

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