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Posted on September 12, 2022 by Kelly Donahue Piro

Insurance Renewal Process

Most of us love the insurance industry for the renewable income that it provides. What business owner wouldn’t want 90% of their revenue to stick around year after year? As an agency grows, most of the money is in keeping their current clients. New business helps refuel losses and adds growth—but the bulk of the agency is in renewals. This means your agency needs a strong, proactive customer experience-driven renewal process. 

Let’s face it, it’s easier to attract a new customer than it is to keep a current one happy. Every 3-5 years relationships and people change, and unfortunately, most agencies have been practicing a reactive renewal approach. A reactive approach causes more stress, client dissatisfaction, and a lower retention rate.

You don’t want that! What your agency needs is an insurance renewal process that keeps your team and clients happy. 

In this blog, we will cover two major renewal processes:

  • Personal Lines Renewal Process
  • Commercial Lines Renewal Process

You will see several similarities between them, but they warrant separate renewal processes. 

Click to Watch Podcast

APP Update

Where was APP last week?

Kelly Donahue-Piro:  Johnson City, TN – Launching Renewal Reviews!

Stephen: Speaking at the Hawksoft Regional Conference in Orange County, CA

Heath:

  • Carters Insurance – Agency Assessment – Texas 
  • Rock Creek Insurance – Agency 2.0 – Chattanooga TN

Agency Win: Kevin Panter Insurance Team 100% Happy per Survey comments from Heath’s time management training

Lesson of the Month: Shoot higher than you think you can! We have had several experiences recently where we thought bigger and won the opportunity!

 

Top Insurance Renewal Failures

When we talk to our APP clients, they get most excited about the agency retention process. The thought of everyone operating cohesively together (like a beautiful renewal ballet) makes agency leadership giddy with delight. For many insurance agencies, renewals present a friction point and insurance agency leadership is desperate to organize the process in an efficient and effective manner. 

In working with over 1,000 insurance agencies, we have seen the following common renewal process fails:

  • No One is Managing the Renewal Timeline: Every renewal process starts on some date or triggers around renewal. Generally, this is by number of days before renewal or upon download. From that trigger date, there are a variety of activities and steps. For many agency team members, they feel as though they can de-priortize the renewal so they can focus on the issues of the day. The challenge is that the renewals become backlogged and you aren’t honoring the renewal process. When there is inconsistency in the process, it causes major setbacks in the renewal experience.
  • Confusion in Roles: Typically, in agencies, there are a few renewal roles: client, account manager, underwriter/company, and sometimes a sales agent. When roles are blurry, fingers get pointed. For example, a carrier has not released a renewal and it’s two weeks before the renewal date. It should be clear what the account manager should do in that situation. Who should follow up? Another example is the line between producer and account manager. That should be crisp and clear to everyone and there needs to be respect for each role with minimal stepping on each others’ toes. The team has to trust each other to get their job done.
  • Every Renewal is a Snowflake: Simply put, we cannot recreate the wheel for every renewal. It can’t be based on the account, producer, or company. The agency needs a renewal process that is honored regardless of the scenarios at hand. If your agency’s renewal process starts with “This producer, with this company on Taco Tuesday, if the rate goes up $4.86, we do this…” you know you need this blog.
  • We Manage the Renewal Process With a Printed Report and Highlighter: If you know me, you know I work to minimize paper in insurance agencies. When I see the renewal list all highlighted, I know, “Houston, we have a problem.” Agencies spend a lot of money on their management systems to keep using side hustle reports or spreadsheets. I love a good highlighter, but let’s focus on using your management system so everyone can see and track the renewal process.
  • The Renewal Scramble: A side effect of not managing the renewal timeline is that the renewal scramble comes upon us. This is when we are tackling the renewal weeks before and push all of our other work off so we can get the client renewed. Inevitably, there are mistakes and too much stress. Imagine what the client thinks about spending six figures on insurance to get the pricing hours before? Not a great look. We are so “busy” scrambling that we simply can’t get ahead.
  • We Focus on the Renewal, not the Client Experience: I was recently at a client’s office and we were working on their renewal process. We received a comment that the team member only needs these items if they have to call them. A light bulb went off in my head. Many agency team members are focused on getting the paperwork for the renewal, not the experience. In an experience, we think about how the client wants to be treated. We focus on them and their plans so we can adjust their insurance to their business or life. Too many insurance agencies focus on the underwriting part and not the experience.
Click to watch 3 minute video

Curious how to stop someone from canceling their insurance?
Insurance Cancellations

Commercial Lines Renewal Process

At Agency Performance Partners, we believe in creating process documents that drive clarity of roles and responsibilities. In our Agency Retention Program, this is the commercial insurance renewal process we generally start with to tailor the agency’s customized renewal process. 

Mission of the Commercial Insurance Renewal Experience

Our agency wants to provide clients more than a renewal process—a renewal experience. We know that insurance is a large line item for many businesses. Based on the current market, carrier delays, and increasing rates, it is critical that we focus on what is most important to each client and use the renewal experience as a time to set our agency apart from the competition. We will do this by having a proactive, education-based approach to ensure the client can make the best decision for their business

Desired Outcome of the Commercial Insurance Renewal Experience

Our team will begin looking at clients coming up for renewal 120 days before renewal. This will allow the agent the time to review the account and get ready for renewal. Between 90 and 60 days before renewal, the agent will proactively arrange a meeting with the client (in-person, zoom, or phone). The purpose of this meeting is to educate the client on marketing conditions, set the renewal strategy based on the client’s preferences and agent coverage recommendations, understand the client’s business plan, and build the relationship before price is available.

At 60 days before renewal, we will work to get any submissions out to market based on the renewal strategy. The client will be updated every two weeks on the status of their renewal to ensure we are keeping them in the loop with the renewal process.

When pricing is available or based on the set renewal strategy (whichever is first), the agent will book a time to connect with the client on their renewal options. The goal for this is 30 days in advance. When possible, we want to work to get clients on one renewal date. 

Our goal is to get a renewal decision 15 days before renewal so we have plenty of time to process the renewal and provide the client with the best experience. 

Unacceptable Actions for the Commercial Renewal Process

This is where you want to list any common wrinkles that you see in the process to remind your team of how shortcuts or certain behaviors impact the process.

  • Not working to the best of your ability (using phone, email, text) to honor the agency timeline
  • Skipping questions on the renewal review because you assume the client won’t need coverage or may not be interested
  • Not updating the management system with updates

Steps to Make Commercial Renewal Experience Ridiculously Amazing for Our Client

Time Frame Who Action
120 Days Before Renewal TBD Run renewal report for renewals coming up 120 days from now. The account manager and producer should receive the report. 

We recommend this be automated when possible. In the APP Agency Retention Program, we have guides for AMS360, Epic, and Hawksoft. 

Identify which clients the agent or account manager will contact and identify where we can store this information in the management system.

Take the next 30 days to conduct the pre-renewal review. 

120-90 Days Assigned Agent Complete the pre-renewal review checklist (APP provides a renewal review checklist to clients).

Upload it to the management system. 

Book a time to connect with the client and prepare any information you need from the client with the goal to get that during the meeting. Prepare the top certificate list for review.

A Clients: Confirm that you made the connection and book the meeting.

B Clients: Reach out X times (phone and email, with email template), after these attempts, close the activity and send a letter with the renewal review questionnaire provided by APP).

90 Days-60 Days Assigned Agent Hold Renewal Review Meeting

  • Confirm and update contact information
  • Discuss business updates and future plans
  • Review the current market conditions
  • Discuss the current coverages and recommendations
  • Identify a renewal strategy
    • Market Conditions
    • Timeline (when would they like pricing)
    • What’s most important (coverage, claims, price)
    • Discuss what they need to provide
    • Review certificate list 
    • EFT/Pay-in-Full/Pay-as-You-Go (payment strategy)
  • Confirm next steps
    • Electronic Policy

Update the renewal checklist with notes (provided by APP)

Set tasks for the next steps

  • Submission (if required)
  • Coverage adjustments and dates to adjust
  • Other policies
  • Opportunity to move to one renewal date
  • Target date for pricing review

If marketing gets to market in 60 days.

30 Days Assigned Account Manager Check in on received renewal offers.

Follow up with underwriters if there is no received offer. 

Identify the next steps based on the renewal plan.

When pricing is received, create the proposal for review with the client. 

When possible, provide them with 2-3 options.

15 Days Assigned Account Manager/Agent Confirm renewal

  • Bind coverage
  • Get payment if necessary
  • Prepare certificates 
  • Update the management system
Renewal Day Agent Send a thank you note from the agency for another renewal. 
When Policy is received Account Manager Prepare renewal

  • Email with email template
  • Mail with a cover letter, or deliver 

If you are reviewing this and have some questions, that’s okay! Our process is based on a commercial insurance renewal experience, not just a renewal.

Here are a few key highlights in our renewal process:

  • Typically, we will break this into 2-3 different groups based on the size of the renewal.
  • We begin the renewal process 120 days out for larger accounts—this is intended to put it on everyone’s radar in the event they need service.
  • APP recommends a pre-review where you Google the company, confirm the management system is up to date and clean.
  • It is important that the renewal meeting happens before you have a rate. This is your opportunity to understand the client, what they have going on, and what is important to them. You can discuss marketing conditions, future plans, coverage, and cross-sells before price is on the table. 
  • We suggest, when possible, moving clients to one renewal date for simplicity and ease of doing business for the client and team.
  • The certificate list is a sales strategy—if we know their top certificate requesters, we can coach the client on what coverages their partners need to have as well as use it as an opportunity to meet some new leads.
  • We prefer agencies lean on e-policies or emailing policies and streamline payment to use EFT or pay-in-full when possible. 
  • It is important when you build a renewal experience that you consider what the client cares most about. Not everyone wants to wait until three days before to review their renewal; they may want the entire thing wrapped up 15 days in advance. You want to set the timeline and expectations up front so you honor the experience the client prefers. 

How to Get More Commercial Leads

Read more in our blog or watch the video below.

Click to Watch 3 Minute Video

Personal Lines Insurance Renewal Process

While personal lines tend to be very different from commercial lines, you will actually see that 80% of our process is driven by the same philosophy. It’s a proactive approach where we prefer to review coverage close to, but before, renewal. Our goal is accuracy, education, and to make clients feel good about who they buy insurance from. We want to take the renewal as an opportunity to deepen the client relationship while ensuring the client is aware of all the ways we can help them. 

Take a look at our remarketing checklist:

Insurance Agency Retention

Mission of the Personal Insurance Renewal Experience

With the personal insurance market changing and new competitors entering the marketplace, we need to establish a renewal process that drives value and education to our valued clients. While many agencies may take a reactive renewal review approach, we want to be proactive in our client experience. We believe this is the right thing to do for our clients and our team.

Desired Outcome of the Personal Insurance Renewal Experience

Since most of personal lines in insurance downloads, we will run our renewal review strategy based on when the policy downloads into our management system (Note: Agencies can opt to pick a date before renewal or run on download. We prefer to run on download so you get the benefit of having the rate a few days before the client obtains the rate or same day for an e-policy). When we get the download, we want to hop on the renewal and conduct a quick pre-call renewal review and then contact the client. The team will make one call and send one email to the client annually to try to connect for their review. 

The purpose of this renewal review is to educate the client on marketing conditions, obtain updates, make recommendations, suggest other policies, review discounts, and build the relationship with the client. We want to improve the client’s day, teach them something new, and confirm their insurance coverages. 

Unacceptable Actions for the Personal Insurance Renewal Process

This is where you want to list any common wrinkles that you see in the process to remind your team of how shortcuts or certain behaviors impact the process.

  • Not working to the best of your ability (using phone, email, text) to honor the agency’s process.
  • Skipping questions on the renewal review because you assume the client won’t need coverage or may not be interested.
  • Not updating the management system with updates.

Steps to Make Commercial Renewal Experience Ridiculously Amazing for Our Client

Time Frame Who Action
Upon renewal or designated number of days before renewal TBD Run download or renewal report. The account manager and producer should get the report.

We recommend this be automated when possible. In the APP Agency Retention Program, we have guides for AMS360, Epic, and Hawksoft. 

Identify which clients the agent or account manager will contact and identify where we can store this information in the management system. Start the pre-renewal review checklist (APP Agency Retention Program includes this).

Prepare for the call Assigned Agent Complete the pre-renewal review checklist (APP provides a renewal review checklist to clients).

Upload it to the management system.

Get ready for a great call!

Make the call Assigned Agent Now you get to make the call.

If you get the answering service, leave a voicemail, and send an email to the client.

If you get the client live on the phone, begin the review based on the call sheet!

Document the call Assigned Agent After the call, document the call and process any changes and/or quotes. 

The personal lines renewal process is a bit more streamlined because there is usually a higher volume of the calls.

Here are a few key highlights in our personal renewal process:

  • Generally, we would like to have account managers make all the calls so producers can focus on selling. We want producers focused on selling.
  • We prefer agencies to make calls upon download so you have the renewal rate on or slightly before the time that the client obtains it. The upside is contacting them about the rate so you can have the premium conversation. The downside is it is difficult to predict how many calls will come in every day.
  • APP recommends a pre-review so you can get ready for the call. We know having a plan is key. In addition, for personal lines renewal review calls, you will leave many voicemail messages. Having the plan to call back ensures you have an efficient and effective call with the client when they call back.
  • It is critical that the team stay on track with the renewal review calls. Some weeks will be easier than others, but getting backlogged can cause extra stress. When clients call, agents end up scrambling and provide a less-than-ideal experience.
  • We prefer agencies lean on e-policies or emailing policies and streamline payment to use EFT or pay-in-full when possible.
  • It is important when you build a renewal experience that you consider what the client cares most about. You want them to feel educated and cared for by your agency. 

Included with this process are scripts, email templates, and our call sheet. If you like what you see, you should check out our Agency Retention Process!

“Making renewal reviews for our clients has been a game changer. My team is finding more cross-selling opportunities and coverage increases, and we have reduced remarketing across the board. What we found is the team actually likes being proactive and reaching out to clients.”

Ben Yingling, Crawford Yingling Insurance

Conclusion

You can have a renewal review process that empowers your team to be proactive and will provide a great experience for the client. The key is aligning your technology to track everything and leading your team to see that by being proactive, the team can save time and stress for everyone.

If we still have not convinced you that renewal reviews are the way to go, watch our throwback 3-Minute Videos. 

Click to Watch Video

Insurance Consulting