Agency Operations Focus
By Dr. Billy R. Williams
THE DECLINED COVERAGE FORM
An agency’s most important sales and retention tool
As an investor in numerous agencies and as a mentor to hundreds more, I am often asked: “If there was only one marketing tool you could use in your agency, what would it be?”
Without hesitation—and without fail—my answer is always the same: an e-signature-based declined coverage form.
In 15 years of working in the insurance industry as a captive agent, an independent agent, a mentor to many agencies, and an investor in over 150 agencies, I have never seen one document that served as many purposes or drove as many results as a finely crafted declined coverage form.
To tell the truth, even a poorly crafted declined coverage form will yield some pretty good results for an agency.
The declined coverage form I recommend to our mentoring clients is not the one we started with. It has evolved over time.
Back in 2004, when I opened my Allstate agency, I started using what was called a permission to contact/optional coverage form. Here is a link that will lead you to the permission to contact form that is still being used by many of our member agencies: bit.ly/IANoptionalcoverageform.
While 10% or 15% of customers would complete the form, that still left between 85% and 90% who did not. Of course, this was before everything went mobile, so I was sending a DocuSign link by email that people would open on their computers.
In 2008, I sold my Allstate agency and partnered with a small independent agency. That agency was using a variety of declined coverage forms for products such as flood, jewelry, inland marine, loss of income and so on. At that point, we were mainly using the declined coverage forms to cover our butts from an errors and omissions complaint. (That probably comes as no surprise, since E&O is still the main reason most agencies use a declined coverage form.)
What I noticed right away was how many customers would call the agency and want to discuss the coverages after they received a DocuSign copy of the declined coverage form from us. Of course, those conversations led to sales. And it didn’t take long for me to see that the form’s value went beyond just covering our butts to generating additional revenue for the agency.
In 2010, I created the declined coverage form that the partner agencies of the Williams Family Investment Group use today. By reducing the form to one page and allowing the sales team, account managers, and retention team to list multiple items on one form, we found that it was more efficient for the agency to use and easier for the customer to understand. Here is a link that will take you to a sample of our current declined coverage form: bit.ly/IANdeclinedcoverageform.
There are a number of times in the life of a customer when a declined coverage form can come into play. Among the agencies I work with, we see the best response when we send the form:
- As soon as we sign up a new customer
- When we spot a policy weakness on an endorsement request
- When conducting a customer policy review
- When we place a follow-up call after a claim is reported
- When we conduct a birthday insurance review
In summary, the declined coverage form is a multi-faceted document that should be part of every agency’s operation. It should be used not only to protect the agency from an E&O claim but also to generate new premium, drive cross-sells and up-sells, boost retention, and, perhaps most important, demonstrate the agency’s expertise as an insurance advisor.
Dr. Billy R. Williams is president of Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring. Visit www.inspireanation.org to learn more or connect with Billy on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/billyrwilliams.