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Innovative Ideas for Generating Personal Lines Referrals

Suppose you could send a personalized mailing to prospective clients, using the name of a neighbor as a reference! Johnson Kendall Johnson is doing exactly that, and this was among many innovative approaches to referral marketing discussed at this month’s Personal Lines teleconference.

JKJ asks clients’ permission to use their names as references. The agency then uses reverse directories to obtain lists of neighbors.

Asking clients for referrals is most effective when you can identify the types of prospects you want, Johnson Kendall Johnson’s George Pester told the group. Collectors are particularly good prospects for example.

If a client has a valuable collection of anything from jewelry to automobiles, it’s effective to ask if they know other collectors who may be interested in comparable insurance products.

“When we get referrals, we have prospects who have the same mindset as we do,” one person said. “Our value proposition is to focus on providing protection rather than price. We spend far more time on risk assessment than in writing proposals and quotes.” 

Referrals from Commercial Lines Department

One RPNI member agency requires that a personal lines representative go to 60 percent of the commercial lines meetings with clients. “Even if you’re not part of the meeting, you get to know the person. Usually they have a question for you before the meeting is over.”

One agency gives 25 percent of the first-year commission to commercial lines account representatives who generate personal lines referrals. “Everyone know someone with a home or a car.”

Be sure commercial lines producers are aware of the quality service offered by the personal lines teams. “Some producers are reluctant to refer clients to us in case something goes wrong. When they do, we get the account nine times out of ten, and our prices are usually more competitive.”

Aftermath of natural disasters

When clients thank you for exceptional service, this is a great time to ask for a referral. In areas recently devastated by hurricanes and fires, consider asking for referrals from clients who have had good claims experiences. One teleconference member said she just received the “nicest email I have ever had” after helping a client get the most favorable claim settlement.

These were among the other suggestions at the teleconference:

More Ideas

  • Outings and seminars, especially on topics other than insurance, are a chance to network with people and “develop the kind of synergy and friendship where referrals flow.” Partnering with a referral source, such as an investment manager, can be an ideal way to develop networks.
  • Be sure social media has a link where people can refer a friend.
  • Send handwritten notes rather than emails as thank-yous.
  • Consider seminars for associations. For example, a seminar in an area with historic homes can focus on the special needs of owners of historic buildings.
  • Beware of gift cards and rebates. Is this the right image for your agency?
  • Have special training sessions for customer service staff on how to ask for referrals.
  • Develop relationships with wealth management firms. Some RPNI members have found this to be effective, while others find that investment managers are overrun with requests from brokers.
  • Presentations can be turned into online webinars. Even if In-person attendance is low, the recorded webinar that follows have been successful in attracting attention on the web.
  • The “sharing trend,” focusing on insurance issues for sharing homes, cars and ownership of recreation vehicles, is a good topic for today’s economy.

“We have the highest closing rate from referrals, no matter where they come from,” Pester said. “The referral is trusted and comes with the good wishes of the person who referred you. We all need to be sure we follow a systematic approach to getting referrals.”


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