Commitment to service and relationships led to success in 2014

As our company evolves, one thing stays the same: our focus on people.

We pride ourselves on serving our policyholders when they need us most, partnering with the best independent agents, and creating a positive work environment for our employees.

That commitment to people helped us achieve outstanding growth last year and maintain our long-term strength. Read more in SECURA’s 2014 Annual Report.

Relationship marketing: Take the next step with social media

Click to enlarge infographic image.
This article is directed to the independent insurance agents who partner with us, but the principles and tips offered are universal and can apply to any business owner or entrepreneur.

As a leading insurance agent, you’ve been building relationships for years. It’s the key to your success and something you can offer that the big name direct writers can’t. That’s why it’s important to reach out and take advantage of every opportunity available, including social media.

Whether a pro or just starting out, we all have moments when we’re scratching our heads about what to do next. So, consider these questions when creating content and connecting with your customers.

Who is my audience?

Identify who you’re trying to connect with and reach out to them. This could include:
  • Prospective clients, colleagues, consumers, and business owners
  • Business partners and vendors
  • Established customers
  • Friends and family – a great source for referrals

What are my options?

There are dozens of social media channels to choose from. Some popular options include:

What do I say?

It might be tempting to focus heavily on your products, services, or promotions, but it’s important to engage with your audience on many levels. Don’t make your sales pitch your identity.

Stay true to the 70-20-10 rule:
  • 70 percent of your content should be information that’s valuable and relevant to your fans.
  • 20 percent should engage on a personal level.
  • 10 percent should be promotional.

Here are some suggestions:

1.    Be a resource
  • Position your company as an expert. Focus on what you offer that your customers appreciate and want. On occasion, let others know about special promotions or services you provide.
  • Share industry-related stories and links from other experts. Some insurance resources include:
  • propertycasualty360.com
  • claimsjournal.com
  • iii.org

2.    Be a neighbor
  • Show your heart for your community by posting images and articles from your local media.
  • Post about events happening in your area – county fair, festivals, school play, fundraisers, etc.
  • Post images of your office workers – their new cube decoration, Halloween costume, or special occasion (birthday party, service anniversary, industry award, etc.).

3.    Be an inspiration.

How do I get started?

If you’re new to social media and want to set up an account, begin by searching online for tutorials and YouTube videos to help. You’d be surprised what’s out there. Already online but finding it hard to come up with ideas? We’re posting interesting content on our social media channels daily. Go ahead, share it!

Our blog: findyouradvantage.net
  • Links to hundreds of safety-related articles are available, with new posts weekly.
  • Email links to clients and prospects who might find the information helpful, or copy and paste the content into your own newsletter. Please credit the article to SECURA with the following wording: Used by permission of SECURA Insurance. For more articles, visit findyouradvantage.net.

Follow our social channels and share our content:

How do I promote my social outlets?

Promote your social channel through tools you already have access to:
  • Website
  • Sales literature
  • Advertising
  • Email signature
  • Send an email to your clients with links and a sample tidbit of interesting content you share
  • Connect with prospective business clients through their social channels

How to protect a vacant building

Did you know that vacant commercial buildings have a greater risk than occupied properties?

Vacant properties can attract vandals and may become a magnet for trash and crime. Maintenance issues also are a challenge when no one’s around to notice if a sprinkler starts leaking or a pipe bursts.

That’s why most commercial property policies limit coverage if a building is vacant for more than 60 days. After that, your building typically loses coverage for vandalism, broken glass, water damage, and theft. Even coverage for other losses, like fire or wind damage, may be reduced.

Take steps to protect your vacant property
Vacancy is defined as 31 percent occupancy or less for most commercial policies. If your building falls below that threshold, talk to your agent. If your policy has a vacancy clause, ask about a vacancy permit to fill in some of those coverage gaps.

Next, take action to reduce your chance of loss:
  • Notify local authorities (police, fire) that your building is vacant.
  • Talk with nearby owners and ask them to notify you if they see anything unexpected.
  • Keep all sprinkler, fire detection, and security alarms active.
  • Maintain an indoor temperature of 55 degrees to keep the pipes from freezing.
  • Turn off any utilities (gas or water) that aren’t needed for heat or safety.
  • Maintain the exterior (cut grass, remove snow) so the building appears occupied.
  • Consider hiring a patrol service or security guard.
  • Conduct frequent walk-throughs, at least two or three times a week.

Protect vacant homes
Just like commercial properties, vacant homes are an “attractive nuisance” and are susceptible to unique risk. Talk to your agent to find out if your carrier offers a vacant home endorsement. If not, you may need to purchase a separate vacant home policy.

Take Time Out for Burn Awareness

It’s Burn Awareness Week, which makes this a good time to revisit fire safety habits. 

Start by checking your smoke alarms. Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and in each bedroom, and replace any smoke detectors that are more than 10 years old. 

Next, review your fire escape plan and practice it with others in your household. Fires spread quickly, so get out of the house immediately if a fire starts.

Finally, review the tips below to make sure you’re making the right choices to prevent burns and fires. 

Bathrooms
  • Set water heaters at 120 degrees.  Anything higher puts your household (particularly children and seniors) at risk for scalding burns.
  • When bathing small children, keep the water temperature at 100 degrees or less, as their skin is more sensitive to heat.

Fireplaces & heaters
  • Have your chimney inspected once a year and cleaned if necessary.
  • Use a fireplace screen or gate to keep children from touching the glass door.

Basements
  • Don’t store items near the furnace or hot water heater.
  • Clean the lint trap on your dryer after each use, and clean the dryer vent at least once a year.

Campfires and grilling
  • Never use gasoline to start a fire.
  • Don’t add charcoal lighter fluid once a flame has ignited.

Gasoline
  • Store gasoline in a detached shed or garage, in small quantities, in approved containers.
  • Never use gasoline as a cleaning agent.
  • Fill gasoline motors outside, NOT in an enclosed garage.
  • Let small motors cool before you refuel them.

If a burn does occur, use COOL (not cold) water to stop the burning process. Remove all clothing around the injured area, and cover the area with clean, loose bandages. Seek medical attention.

Fire safety measures may seem like common sense to many adults, but children often are unsure and unaware of many of the hazards. Be sure to educate them with these safety tips.

When hiring subcontractors, make sure they’re insured

If you work with subcontractors, check to see that they carry the appropriate insurance. Otherwise, you may be in for some bad news — whether or not an accident occurs.

Let’s say you’re a home builder and you hire out plumbing to a subcontractor. If that plumber doesn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance and gets injured on the job, your insurance provider could be liable to cover that cost.

So technically, your insurance carrier is providing coverage for subcontractors who don’t carry their own. If this happens, the cost of a claim may end up impacting your overall workers’ compensation premium for three years through a higher experience modifier.

That’s why many insurance companies — SECURA included — do an end-of-year audit for workers’ compensation customers. If they don’t find a certificate of insurance on file for each of your subcontractors, your insurance provider may charge you for the added coverage.

What’s more, those charges may be higher than your normal insurance rates, because they’ll be based on your subcontractor’s specific line of work and any risks they may carry with them.

General liability
In addition to workers’ compensation insurance, it’s a good idea to require that subcontractors carry their own general liability coverage. 

If your subcontractor accidentally drops a large metal pipe on your customer’s newly refinished hardwood floors, the customer could go after you for damages. And, if your independent contractor isn’t carrying sufficient insurance, you could be financially responsible.

Proof of coverage
Stipulate insurance requirements in your subcontractor agreements and ask to see proof of coverage.  Before work begins, get a Certificate of Insurance from each subcontractor, showing coverage in force at the time of work.

And, if you do business with the same subcontractors year after year, get in the habit of asking for current certificates of insurance on an annual basis.