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From worldwide pandemics to extreme weather events, to workplace accidents, all sorts of disasters can strike business owners at any time. While sometimes there’s nothing that can be done to prevent disasters, insurance agents can still help business owners get back on their feet after they occur.
In some cases, the disasters directly relate to policies that insurance agents have sold. As such, insurance agents may need to help business owners navigate the claims process. Yet even in other times, when a disaster has nothing to do with an insurance policy — e.g., a business owner just lost their biggest client — insurance agents can still help business owners recover. As part of building strong relationships with clients, insurance agents should not only focus on selling policies but also being there to provide guidance and support for the many issues that affect business owners.
Oftentimes, insurance agents can provide a broader perspective, such as if they’ve seen other clients bounce back from similar disasters. Or, an insurance agent may have faced a challenge in their own work, and they can share that wisdom with business owners who need their help.
In this guide to helping business owners after disaster strikes, we’ll examine more specifically how insurance agents can help, both from an insurance-related perspective and from a more general guidance point of view.
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When a disaster strikes, the last thing a client wants is to face more headaches. If they think they can make an insurance claim related to the disaster, then they want that process to be smooth. Even if the disaster is not covered, the reasoning should be clear to clients so they can quickly look for another solution, rather than fighting with insurance companies.
So, even if insurance agents do not typically get involved with claims, if you’re the main point-of-contact for business owner clients, then you may have to walk them through the process. Be transparent about:
You may be able to review a client’s policy to determine whether they can make a claim related to the disaster they’re facing. Even if that information is searchable within a client’s policy documents, business owners may not be able to as easily comprehend that information as you are. So, as a service to your clients, you can be transparent about whether you think their claim falls within their coverage, saving clients time during a difficult situation.
If you identify that a client can likely make a claim, explain to them what the claims process would be like. Don’t try to sugarcoat it if something will take a while, or if you think only part of the damage will be covered. The clearer clients are about what lies ahead, the easier it will be to make adjustments and get back on their feet quickly.
You don’t want to overpromise about what can be done to recover from a disaster, but if you have some ideas for what to do next, share them openly and honestly. For example, if a client is recovering from a storm that physically damaged their office or store, you may have seen how another client was able to navigate insurance claims alongside public grants, community fundraising, etc.
You may even have a solution like offering an extended payment period for insurance, which might slightly affect you in the short-term. In the long-run, however, you can increase your odds of retaining a loyal client, which creates benefits like more referrals.
When a disaster strikes, business owners also benefit from their insurance agents demonstrating empathy. But they don’t just need your condolences or for you to send flowers to try to lift their spirits. Sometimes less obvious but still thoughtful measures can go a long way toward keeping your clients’ trust. For example, insurance agents can:
If a hurricane has halted a client’s business, they’re probably not going to want to see an email from you the next day that tries to promote your offerings. So, if you know a client is going through or just experienced a disaster, temporarily keep them off your marketing lists until you feel like they’ve recovered and would be more receptive to your messages.
Listen to Their Concerns:
When a disaster strikes, clients may not necessarily be in the calmest, most rational state of mind. However, if you can be patient and truly listen to their concerns, you may be able to help them feel validated. Ideally, you can propose some solutions to the challenges they’re facing. But if you’ve formed strong bonds with clients and they feel like they can simply vent their concerns openly, that can still go a long way toward retaining and growing your client base.
Communicate With Other Insurance Professionals:
Part of being empathetic to business owners after a disaster strikes is recognizing that they may face difficulties around insurance issues. They may not have the time or headspace, for example, to deal with certain paperwork issues or call someone for more information. As such, if you can step in to help by communicating with other insurance professionals, going beyond interpreting policies, clients will appreciate that.
Doing so could mean getting on the phone with someone at your own agency who can provide more direct support. But it could also mean contacting an agent at another firm that your client has a policy with, such as if they sell a different type of policy than you do, and the disaster affects both types of coverage. If you can explain the situation to that other agent, they may be able to help more effectively than if the client tries to communicate the issue. Lending a hand and using your knowledge/resources within insurance can help build stronger long-term relationships with clients.
Offer Recovery Guidance
In helping business owners after disaster strikes, it also could be useful to offer guidance around the recovery process where possible, beyond how it pertains to policies. Insurance agents that focus on building client relationships often utilize resources ranging from blogs to networking events so they can add value to clients and form connections. Similarly, when clients are trying to recover from a disaster, insurance agents may be able to lend a hand from a business perspective, such as by:
- Sharing relevant content: Sending a thoughtful email with an article you found that describes how another entrepreneur recovered from a similar situation could help that business owner gain some knowledge on what to do next.
- Connecting your clients with one another: If your client is dealing with a cybersecurity breach, for example, you might introduce them to a client in IT who can help remedy the situation.
- Leveraging your own experience: As a business owner or entrepreneurial-minded insurance agent, you may have faced your own disasters that you’ve recovered from. Or, perhaps you’ve seen firsthand how another client has bounced back from financial issues, physical office damage, etc. Sharing this information with clients, even if it’s simply along the lines of “there’s a path to recovery” can help ease their burden.
Insurance agents can offer many different types of support to clients after disaster strikes. It’s not always easy to bounce back, and it may not be the most comfortable topic of conversation. But insurance agents who can be there for clients during difficult times and share their knowledge and resources can ultimately build more loyal, durable relationships with clients.