Breaking up with your agent

Few insurance agents specialize in ocean marine insurance. There are even fewer insurance companies that have commercial ocean marine insurance departments. The rarest species are insurers with trained ocean marine insurance adjusters to handle claims. Most ocean marine claims people are very good at what they do and are well trained in this specialized area.

People that have agents that don’t specialize in ocean marine insurance will often seek out specialists. This is especially true after they suffer a loss or find out that they didn’t have the coverage they thought they had. Or perhaps the customer’s insurance agent handled all of their land-based coverage and tacked on the ocean marine without really knowing much about the ocean business. I run into this scenario all the time.

What usually happens next is that the customer realizes that there is better, broader and less expensive coverage available. And when this happens, they don’t know how to tell their long-time agent goodbye. Part of being an insurance agent is being a friend to your clients. This makes for better service. But when a customer wants to move on they sometimes feel guilty about leaving. But it’s not a guilt thing. It’s a protection thing! Ultimately we’re all in business to make money. There are times when that fact requires some tough decisions.

When someone leaves their long-time agent to do business with me, I tell them I’d like to write a nice letter explaining that the ocean marine portion of the insurance account is moving to my agency (with little other explanation), always adding that the former client appreciates the work that they’ve done over the years. Respecting loyalty is good.

Keep in mind that the long-time agent may be relieved to be out from under coverage that they don’t understand and don’t normally deal with. Several of my land-based insurance colleagues refer clients to me because of their lack of commercial ocean marine insurance expertise.

Changing agents is a business decision. You don’t need to be ruthless, but if you find better coverage at a better premium with a knowledgeable ocean marine agent, your decision is easy.

About the author

Gene McKeever

Gene McKeever is a marine insurance agent with Allen Insurance and Financial. He can be reached at gmckeever@allenif.com.

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