Short Sighted

When an agent fills out the application, I often get the sense that they feel certain questions are optional.  As though the company presents those questions to give them a hard time.  Maybe the company is just collecting data like you see in those sci-fi movies with Keanu Reeves.  Not likely.

This week I got an application, a copy of the driver’s license and photographs of the car.  BankruptcyThe two things missing – the occupation and drivers in the household.  As an underwriter, missing data like this bugs the crap out of me.  Why?

I want to see the whole risk.  Is he married?  Are there children in the household?  Does he live with mom and dad?  Who else is going to go to drive the car?  What does he do for a living?  Does he work at home or does he go to a job?

The car is going to see more risk if our insured is a real estate agent than if he is the local township police officer.  If he is married then his wife should be listed – every time.  What’s yours is mine – that’s how marriage works.  Besides, the wife usually is the one calling and making the changes to the policy – shouldn’t we know her name?

As an example, two weeks ago customer service gets a call from an insured.  We have had the policy thirteen years.  The insured was twenty years old when it started.  In the file, there is never a mention of a wife, family, or anything.

In the middle the conversation with customer service he reveals he is married with two small children.  So, being diligent, the customer service representative asks, “may I have your wife’s name to add to the policy?”

“Hold on,” he says.  “Honey, do you want to be on this insurance policy?”

“No,” she says.

And that settles that.  Any further questions and he became anxious and irate as if we, the insurance company, are encroaching on his privacy by asking his wife’s name and date of birth.  A call to the agency reveals they had no idea he was married or had children.

When I look at the occupation it lists – none.  How did he buy a car on ‘none’?  How does he support a wife and two kids on ‘none’?  But, hey, he pays on time why worry, right?  Insurance is about making money, not compassion, indemnification and the like, right?  Wrong.

Maybe, the agent just wants the guy insured and, later, we can worry about the miscellaneous stuff like house hold residents and occupations.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t give underwriting the whole picture.

This goes back to building a relationship and offering your service to the insured.  I am certain he would be thankful for a homeowner’s quote or an umbrella policy discussion at this point in his life.  Not sure he would be up for discussing insurance at this point.  Hopefully that agent trends lightly.

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