Consumers need personal umbrella insurance, but most of them have never heard of this coverage nor have they been offered a quote.
That’s an opportunity for agents and brokers to stand out.
Here are five tips for increasing umbrella sales:
5. Selling umbrella is about personalizing risk.
The best way to sell umbrella policies is to help your customers understand their full exposure, so you can recommend adequate protection. Many customers are offered a price quote on their existing policy limits without an in-depth interview and risk analysis.
4. Who needs umbrella coverage? everyone!
Your customers need a personal umbrella policy, especially if they:
- Own a home, assets, or retirement savings.
- Drive a car, borrow a car, or let others borrow their car.
- Host parties.
- Own rentals.
- Have children at home or students away at college.
- Assume responsibility for other peoples’ children via carpooling, babysitting, or sleepovers.
- Own animals or care for others’ animals.
- Use social media or allow their children to use social media.
- Travel abroad.
- Volunteer with a charity, serve on a board of directors, or participate in a HOA.
- Own an ATV, boat, motorcycle, golf cart, RV, watercraft or other specialty vehicle, especially if they allow others to ride in or on them or operate them.
- Share access to common areas like docks, lakes, vacant land, or rent access to these types of areas.
- Own firearms or other recreational weapons.
In short, nearly all your customers need an umbrella policy — whether they know it or not.
3. Educate your customers about risk.
Auto liability. It’s no secret that distracted driving accidents, fatalities, and the resulting medical care costs are on the rise, making higher limits more important than ever. Even relatively minor accidents can incur substantial medical bills. If an accident involves disability or death, the costs can be hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars. Those with teenage drivers incur further risk as teens are more likely to have a serious crash.
Children and teen liability. If your customer has children, or has children to their home, an umbrella policy is a must. Your customers could be liable for injuries to others’ children during carpooling, a playdate or babysitting. Even if your customer’s child attends a party where there is an injury or death, your customer can be sued, even if their child did nothing wrong.
Residence liability. Do your customers entertain at home? If so, they could be liable for everything from trip/fall hazards to food poisoning to someone drinking alcohol at their house and getting in a car accident on the way home. What about pets? While dog bites comprise one third of all homeowners liability, according to the Insurance Information Institute, friendly dogs can frighten or knock down elderly or youthful guests and cause injury.
Personal injury and personal offense liability. Gossip can be hurtful. It can also result in painful lawsuits. People can be sued for embellishing an embarrassing story about someone, writing a bad review of a business, re-posting material subject to copyright laws, or even a rant on social media. In short, anyone can sue another person for any reason, frivolous or not. Regardless of the validity of the suit, your customer must respond. And, no, that’s not ‘fake news.’
Drop down protection. If your customers travel overseas, they may be at risk without realizing it. For instance, if they rent a car and have an accident, their home or auto policy probably won’t cover it. Likewise, if they rent a boat while on vacation, they are likely without protection. But an umbrella policy may provide primary liability in both situations. Further, if they are sued personally, the umbrella may cover legal defense. A good attorney starts at $250 an hour, but with personal umbrella insurance, you could receive extended protection for less than a dollar a day.
You don’t have to be rich to be sued like it. Some people assume that since they aren’t rich, they can’t get sued since they don’t have the money to pay. However, the courts disagree. If a person is held responsible, or even partially responsible, for an accident, their wages can be garnished, their savings taken, and in some states their home and other assets seized. While financial responsibility rules vary from state to state, not having umbrella insurance exposes your customers to a lot of risk.
2. Sell umbrella policies that better protect your customers.
Selling umbrella policies centers on educating your customers by personalizing their risk. There are two basic things your customers must understand:
Their underlying home or auto policy limits won’t fully protect them against every risk. In case of a major injury, they likely won’t have enough coverage and may face wage garnishment, loss of assets, or bankruptcy. Just one major claim could seriously impair their ability to put their kids through college or retire.
A personal umbrella policy is an inexpensive hedge against such risks.
In short, bad things happen to good people.
The key is to do a thorough interview and ask in-depth questions about their family, their lifestyle and hobbies. You can use that information to explain their risk in a tangible, personalized way. Thus, your customers can make more informed decisions about liability and umbrella insurance.
1. Quote umbrella every single time.
Many consumers remain misinformed and underinsured. Seize this opportunity to set yourself apart and better protect your customers. Only by fully exploring your customers’ risk exposure and personalizing your policy recommendations can they get the coverage they need. At the very least, if your client chooses not to purchase an umbrella policy, it was not because you didn’t offer it. After all, it’s part of the value you provide.
Brook McGuire is the Strategy Lead for Specialty Products at Safeco Insurance. She can be reached by sending email to Brook.McGuire@Safeco.com.