The Independent Agent Plus

I’m sitting here reading through another guide to social media. I’m a big believer of always learning and honing my craft.

 I consider myself a sponge for useful/relevant info.

The guide today sparked a thought… typical. So, I feel the need to share.

Several times this week I have been in a meeting or read a newsletter or thought to myself… the independent agent is losing market share. This is very true. The independent agent is losing market share, and it is to the geckos and the Flos and The Generals. It’s not because the independent agent is not helpful or knowledgeable or affordable. That would be incorrect. We are all these things and more.

 We can do the same thing as Flo but better.

Every insurance advertisement you see talks about price, price, price. I recognize that price is important but cheap does not always mean the policy is adequate. A cheap policy can be detrimental to the policyholder. I could advertise that I sell cheap insurance but that is not what I am in the business of.

I am in the business of providing quality insurance products at an affordable price.

When you call me for a quote I want to know what your current situation is, what you want from your insurance, and what you need from your insurance. Once I know all this I run quotes through all of my companies. I evaluate the price and product and I pick the best fit based on what I know. That is one of the beauties of dealing with an independent agent like me. I am looking at several companies, I am calculating the bottom line to match it to the client.

If you call the gecko you get one company. What I find even more disturbing when I see one of these policies is the lack of guidance provided to the client on what was purchased.

 Insurance is not a commodity.

Not all policies are the same. There is a big difference between an auto policy from Chubb and a policy from State Farm. Not every one needs nor wants the best auto policy in the world but some people need more than a standard auto policy from the gecko.

 Another great benefit when working with me is you get me.

 Not 1-800-who-ever-answers-the-phone-first.

You get me and what’s even better is that I am local, not coastal or international. So, if you need a one-on-one time out to comb through your policy I am here for you. I travel to my clients and my clients travel to me. Another benefit is I am licensed through the state. Many of the reps. you get with these large companies are not licensed individuals and have no credentials to support the recommendations they make. I’ve been licensed in the state of Maryland going on 11+ years and I have met my mandatory continuing education requirement on each renewal. I also make an effort to seek out additional info. regarding my industry and specialization via additional class time, newsletters, blogs, etc.

The last kick ass reason to work with me is that I have access to more companies, which means a variety of different types of insurance products.

 Not every client is Plain Jane two cars, two drivers, and one home.

I have clients with vacation homes, rental properties, vacant lots, boats, jet skis, motorcycles, etc. I have clients that need a special policy to cover the renovation project or addition to their home. There are clients that need coverage for the mobile home that sits on a permanent foundation in another state that they consider a second home. These are not run of the mile products, and not all insurance companies have a market they can access for coverage.

The feather in my cap is that once you place a policy with me that does not mean you will never hear from me again or that I never know what is going on with your account.

I am always there lurking in the background making sure things are running smoothly for all my clients.

I am proactive when things are changing and I will do everything in my power to address issues or problems that crop up. My job doesn’t end once you sign on the dotted line. Oh no, my job has only just begun!

Sincerely,

Pamela

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New Year’s Resolution

Happy New Year!

At this time of year I usually make New Year’s resolutions. I try to set at least three resolutions for the year a head. I usual get close to what ever goal I had set but I don’t always exceed all of my resolutions. I see my goals as a guide to where I want to be a year from now. If I meet or exceed my goal great but as long as I am on path then I am doing well.

I haven’t really set a goal for this year and I am not sure I want to. I have an idea of what I want to work on this year but I don’t want to put anything to paper for some reason. Maybe I have too many goals for this year, which is not unlike me. I usually have a lot of ambitions and I am really harsh with myself.

Maybe I don’t want to disappoint myself when I don’t meet or exceed my goals for this year. Believe me I work very hard at my goals but I think I have too many to really focus on any one thing.

What ever the reason I know I will be successful at what ever goals I have in mind and no matter what happens this year. Just to make sure I am heading in the right direction I will put down a few things on my agenda for this year so I can refer to them next year…

1.)    Finish my Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation

2.)    Add $50,000 to $100,000 of new business to my departments bottom line

3.)    Get my husband organized and keep him organized

4.)    Improve and/or increase marketing for my department and our agency

5.)    Become a skill level 4 in 8 ball/3 in 9 ball

6.)    Establish long term financial security via a retirement plan and life insurance

That is only a few at the top of my to-do list. I told you I have a long list. Now it’s time to get down to business…

Pamela

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Because of my history I’m a strong supporter of cancer awareness and early detection. This year we passed out pink shoe laces to sports teams. Michael’s soccer team got the laces last night and a few of the boys had some concerns about wearing pink. My 10 year old was very quick to explain to his friends that it represents support for breast cancer and pointed out John Cena of the WWE is a “proud supporter” and wears pink.

 

Check out the following sites:

American Cancer Society

Susan G. Komen for the Cure 

Consider donation or support for awareness and please, please, encourage your loved ones to have annual check-ups.

Go pink!

Michelle

 

 

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Happy Boating!

My birthday was not as traumatic as expected. I took my 10 year old sailing. I’ve sent him to sailing camp the last 2 summers and paid for lessons in Jamaica on a catamaran, but there is nothing like sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.  Since I’m married to a land lover we don’t get out very often.  Art considers boating like trips to the doctor a necessary evil to be avoided at all cost, but he joined us for this trip in dress shirt and tie.  All in all a great day!

As you’ve read I grew up on the water. One of my earliest water memories involved the Coast Guard……never a good sign. As a child my teenaged uncle and I were always out fishing or crabbing. On one occasion we were caught in a storm which caused our boat to list due to excess water. Luckily the Coast Guard found us very quickly. I don’t have any memory of being afraid or even concerned because my uncle seemed to have everything under control. 

My mother’s version was a little different she reported a frantic search in the driving wind and rain involving the entire community and finally a call from the Coast Guard to report our safe recovery.  She and my grandparents rushing through this storm dripping wet and cold to collect us.  When she found her 5 year old little angle and 17 year old brother…warm, dry, safe, enjoying hot chocolate… all “you know what” broke lose.   My poor uncle was grounded and lost all boating privileges.

My uncle went on to give me away at my wedding and still considers me the best first mate ever.  Since Arthur was never a name option for our son, Michael Joseph. He was named after my uncle and grandfather. 

At 62 my Uncle Joe never hesitates to go fishing off the eastern shore by himself and as I think of him out there 10 miles off the coast now it’s my turn to worry …..what if… I’m a worrier with OCD which is obviously a family condition.

The media is filled with accounts of accidents, drowning, and misadventure.  If you own or are thinking of owning a boat consider boating safety- invest in courses. But, also keep in mind the novice; they don’t know who has right of way or how to read channel markers.  There are also those who have fear and anxiety on boats, prepare with life preservers and disposable waste bags.  Protect your boat and talk to an agent about property and liability coverage.   

Safe boating and best wishes,

 Michelle

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Windshield Wiper Technique

This weekend we were working on a school project and my son Michael is a perfectionist, which I’m not so you can image the drama. In an effort to help Michael manage his stress we use the windshield wiper technique. You know close your eyes and have the wipers clear your mind then when you open your eyes you can see clearly again.

Later that same day I was in the car, as a passenger with my husband Art driving, which means we should get a speed camera ticket in the mail any day now. We had three boys in tow, volume level ear shattering, topic of discussion the latest WWE Smack down – those of you with 10 year old boys or who were 10 year old boys know exactly what I’m talking about.

So I closed my eyes and used the windshield wiper technique hoping to clear my mind. The problem is when I opened my eyes I did see clearly and I realized we had a stone chip on the passenger side of the windshield… so much for clearing my view. 

The good news is we made it Michael’s game on time, and he scored and the team won. The bad news is the future speed ticket and my windshield needs attention. My OCD kicked in and now all I can think about is the windshield.  Is the damage the size of a quarter,  can I get a glass company out today, how long has it been like this….OMG  When I start down this path Art suggests pulling over so I can run circles around the car screaming like my hair is on fire. 

If you are like me… the me version without OCD and insurance experience… the me with comprehensive coverage and a $500 deductible you get the windshield repaired..

Many qualified glass companies offer mobile service; they come to your home or office and complete the repair on the spot. If the windshield can be repaired most of the carriers will pay the full invoice without charging a deductible. You’ll notice I used many and most in the same sentence which means you have to call your agent or carrier and check first.   

So if your vision is clouded by windshield damage you really should consider the repair minus the OCD and deductible.

 Michelle

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1st Wedding Anniversary

Today my husband and I are celebrating our one year wedding anniversary. We are both in shock that we have made it a year already. As the old saying goes, “The first year is the hardest”. I don’t know if that is true or just an old saying. But here is what I learned in my first year of marriage…

Men are gross… Dirt does not bother them one little bit. The three second rule does not apply when food falls on the floor. There are is no need to wash your hands, ever. When you are wearing your last pair of clean underwear, no worries, just turn them inside out.

Men do contribute to household chores… When it comes to dirty laundry, the floor is the best place to find it. When it comes to dishes you can guarantee every glass in the household has been used. And there is little chance that when he starts a project any thing will go back where he found it.

Men are an expert at sleep deprivation… At least when it comes to fishing. He will go without sleep for days to indulge in his favorite hobby. But under no circumstances are you to interrupt his slumber for any other reason what so ever.

Men can only survive on junk food and the like… The old saying, “It’s the thought that counts”, does not apply to cooking healthy ever. Forget low fat, reduced fat, non-fat anything. If you attempt to cook with any ingredients with these types of labels he will assume you are trying to kill him.

Lastly, do not assume that because he knows it is your birthday, anniversary, etc, that he will remember he has to do anything about it. If you want the best birthday ever… go buy that gorgeous piece of jewelry you have been eyeballing, pick up your yummy dinner for two, and rent a movie from Comcast. Otherwise you are guaranteed that he will have a blank look on his face when you ask him what day it is.

 Mike, you have one very happy wife.

 Pamela

 

 

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Life’s Lessons

I grew up in the same home with my grandparents; my mother’s parents.  I idealized them. My grandfather had thick white hair and no teeth……to this day I am loyal to my dentist from fear of losing my teeth.  They owned property, planned for retirement, had wills, burial plots, saved money, and were supporters of life insurance.

 They taught me many life lessons – always tell the truth, how to get the best deal, prepare for all of life’s contingencies.  But, my grandfather was of the school where insurance was important and every family should invest. Not when they had the money but when they became a family.

 When I was a mere 22 having just been married my grandfather invited an insurance agent to my home to go over life insurance.  He insisted both Art and I have coverage. I remember the visit like it was yesterday. How boring it was; the actuarial details, questionnaires, etc., and my grandfather hovering. No matter what we said he was not letting the agent leave until we each had a policy.   He would have made a great life insurance agent….

 This month I’m joining the exclusive club of 50 and above- as I cry in my soup over this monumental occasion- I’m reminded of how lucky I really am.  I have a great husband, son I adore, a loving family, a good job.  I’m truly blessed. But, as I reflect on life and my health, I realize how important the decision to buy insurance was. What did my grandfather know that I didn’t know??? Simple, he knew that you had to prepare for the unexpected!

 Sure we have life insurance, the insurance we bought 30 years ago, the policies we bought later, and policies we got from our jobs.   If I didn’t have these policies I’d have nothing to leave my family.  I think about the probability of Art having to sell the house- the only home our son has known.  Liquidating investments to pay for medical expense and/or a funeral.  Where would they be without my income?  Who would care for Michael after school or transport him to sports?  How would Art pay for college or a wedding?  What would those extra expense look like?  Even with the coverage I have it probably is still not enough. 

 My lesson is that you should prepare for the unexpected.   Consider what would happen to your family if you became sick or passed away.   Buy a product where your future insurability is protected. Buy life insurance.

 Michelle

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