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Phone sales present a number of problems when it comes to creating a dynamic relationship with your client. The initial contact is where the biggest barriers are built. If you don’t do it correctly, and if not handled carefully, the customer’s uncertainty builds fast. To prevent this, here are five ways to make a better first impression to create healthy business relationships.

1. Research the client
First, know your clients’ needs and wants. Knowing this isn’t as easy as it sounds; you need to know as much as possible about their business before contact is made. Before you can sell a product you must know how it will benefit your client because that’s exactly what they want to know.
- How will they profit from their investment in your company?
- What’s the risk for them?
- How will it save them time?
- How is your product innovative?
Don’t waste your time or their time trying to sell a product that won’t produce profit for them.

2. Build a relationship
You need to sell yourself while you sell the product. A client won’t buy a product if they feel the salesperson is a sleazy untrustworthy scoundrel, but you shouldn’t be their new best friend either. Just because they steer the conversation to Nascar doesn’t mean that you have to pretend to like it for another five minutes. Don’t get off track! You called them for a reason, now get back to it! If you can break the barriers of uncertainty, then reducing their hesitancy about your product becomes easier.

3. Build trust
The client needs to feel comfortable with you and your business. Establishing trust is crucial to selling a product. If a client feels they can’t trust you, they probably can’t trust the product either.  To build trust you must know the product, know the business, know the competitors, and know the client. If you’re confident and understand the ins-and-outs of the business, you can answer any question a client throws at you.

4. Approach, attitude, and tone
You need to be likeable, not just pleasant. Ask yourself these questions before making a call:
- How is my day going?
- Does my voice reflect my mood?
Your voice and attitude absolutely reflect your current mood, so it’s best to boost your disposition before making a call because tonality is everything over the phone.  It’s how you instill confidence and eagerness in the client on an emotional level to make a sale. Your syntax and your diction are incredibly important as well; how you phrase things and the words you choose can steer the conversation toward closing. 

5. Ask the right questions
Get their reservations about your company and the product out of the way. Think of the initial phone call like an interview—it’s always good to ask your future employer what their hesitations are about your resume and experience, and it’s good to ask this of your future client as well.

Using the right approach for a client is essential in making a sale. If you’re not utilizing appropriate communication tools over the phone, you will lose the client’s trust and enthusiasm about the product. And finally, don’t forget to follow-up after making the sale to ensure customer retention. Customer service is a major factor in referral rates to generate more business.

In today’s car market, shopping for a new vehicle can be a headache when trying to decide which eco-friendly version suits your lifestyle best. The long list of energy and fuel efficient vehicles is growing, and the choices can feel heavy when justifying your decision of which environmentally-friendly parts you add on according to a budget. You have to consider which costs, either to your wallet or to the environment, will have a lesser impact and if the option is right for you.

Think of it like a spectrum:
On one end there are the gas guzzling vehicles that are terrible for the environment, then progressing along the line there are the vehicles that have evolved into more eco-friendly versions, until reaching the other end of the spectrum that has an infinite arrow pointing to the future of environmentally and economically sound forms of transportation. So what’s the difference between hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles, and what happens when it comes to insurance premiums and tax incentives for each?

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)
A hybrid electric vehicle is one that runs on a combination of both gasoline and electric power. Its primary propulsion is powered from the internal combustion engine (ICE) using gasoline, while complemented by the electric motor that is powered by regenerative braking. When traveling at low speeds, the vehicle switches to solely electric power to save on gas, but shifts back to gasoline power at high speeds and will also pull from both power sources simultaneously when an additional boost is needed. Because hybrids use gasoline and electricity to power the vehicle, the miles per gallon ratio is much greater than an ICE vehicle.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
A step up from the hybrid with greater fuel efficiency and less emissions is the hybrid plug-in. The difference between the two is that the primary and secondary sources of power are switched: the plug-in uses the electric motor for all primary propulsion and only utilizes gasoline when its battery power runs low. In addition to the charge the vehicle stores from a power grid, it is supplemented by regenerative braking.

Electric Vehicle (EV)
The ultimate no-emissions machine. A fully electric vehicle uses absolutely no gasoline to power the engine. You no longer have to pay for gasoline, but the cost to fuel your travel will now come from your home energy bills because the car charges in your garage or driveway. Generally only taking three hours to charge, anytime you’re home is a convenient time, but charging at night rather than in the daytime significantly lowers your energy costs.

Tax incentives
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the tax incentive for EVs is a fuel credit of $7,500 across the board, and for PHEVs it ranges from $2,500 to $7,500 depending on the vehicle. For HEVs however, there is no tax incentive. The less gasoline and more battery the vehicle uses, the greater the tax credit.

Auto insurance myth: eco-friendly vehicles will save you money on insurance premiums
As for insurance rates, you may receive small percentage discounts on parts of your insurance, but it’s unlikely that your premium will be lower overall for an HEV or PHEV in comparison to an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle. The reason is because these cars are built differently than ICE vehicles; they are not as safe to drive and they cost more to repair.

Eco-friendly and fuel efficient vehicles are not new to the market by any means, but since their emergence into the popular sales market is recent, the aftermarket for repair parts is small. In the case of a collision, replacing an HEV, PHEV, or EV is more costly than for an ICE vehicle because they are more expensive to manufacture. The higher the costs for manufacturing a vehicle, the greater the insurance premiums will be.

The bottom line
If you’re a city driver and return home every day, a PHEV or an EV is ideal. But if you’re a frequent traveler going long distances, you need to make sure that your route has enough charging stations along the way, and an HEV or a PHEV may be preferred over an EV because gasoline will help go the extra miles when the charge runs out.

For people on a budget, it looks like the most eco-friendly vehicles may still be out of reach. But as new vehicles advance along the ever-evolving environmentally-sound spectrum, affordability seems to follow.

Ever wonder how much your credit score affects your insurance premiums?
Well, it’s actually a considerable amount, but thankfully it’s not the only factor. Credit scores can also be very misleading to the young adult generation because their credit scores are often hyperinflated since they don’t yet have enough credit to balance out their spending habits. 

Many young adults who begin with a high credit score straight out of college will find that within six months of living on their own, their score will drop drastically. For example, the average score falls from 750 to around 625 for the recent graduate demographic, according to This is most often due to paying various up-front costs and unexpected expenditures that come along with buying or renting your first home, first new car, and individual phone plan. 

In Credit Karma’s database, the average credit score remains relatively similar from age 18 to the mid-forties, sitting just under 630. Then once the age bracket hits 45+, it increases to a 645 score, and then shoots up to an average of 696 for the 55+ age bracket. 

So how much do credit scores affect insurance rates?
For auto insurance, your credit score is one piece of the puzzle that tells financers how well you keep up with payments. Are you likely to pay off the loan in the agreed amount of time? Is the responsibility of paying off a car loan too much for you to handle?

Unfortunately not all credit scores reflect the truth about payment and spending habits. Often there are unexpected circumstances like medical bills, or car and home repairs, which take precedence over other bills forcing late payments and lowering your score. This is a large factor for the young adult generation when they do not have enough credit experience to balance a couple of hits to their credit; instead, one heavy hit to a recent graduate’s credit can drop their score drastically rather than only by a few points.
But thankfully you can prevent your responsible habits from being overlooked by talking to an insurance agent. By dealing directly with an agent, they can sift through the reasons your credit score has lowered and determine a better rate for your individual needs.
Don’t worry, your credit score is not the only factor at play in determining your insurance premiums. The following items are all taken into consideration:
1. Credit score
2. Your age and Gender
3. Marital status
4. Profession
5. Where you live (large or small populations determine the likelihood of collisions)
6. Safety rating of your vehicle
7. Age and size of your vehicle
8. Likelihood of theft in your area
9. Driving record

If you’re in the market for auto insurance, we recommend doing your price research and speaking with an insurance agent. Insurance costs are constantly fluctuating, so having an agent find all the discounts for you is incredibly helpful and eases your search.

Male or female, young drivers are the most dangerous on the road. When it comes to insurance rates, gender discrimination plays a factor nearly as heavy as age discrimination. The major question on the market is: can gender justify higher insurance premiums for males?

According to statistics, male drivers between the ages of 15-20 are more likely to drive under the influence, speed, and are also the most distracting as passengers.
• In 2009, 27% of the young male drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking at the time of the crash, compared with 15% of the young female drivers involved in fatal crashes. 
• In 2011, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 16 to 19 was almost two times that of their female counterparts.
• Of all ages and genders of drivers, young males 15 to 20 are most likely to be speeding at the time of a fatal crash. 
• Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in 2012, 37% were speeding at the time of the crash and 25% had been drinking. 
• The presence of male teenage passengers increases the likelihood of this risky driving behavior.

These numbers show that young males are more likely to be dangerous drivers than young females. But does this validate insurers to charge them more? According to insurance companies and the law, yes it does. As long as there is statistical evidence to support it, the young male demographic will be charged higher rates. However, there are five states that bar insurers from gender discrimination: Massachusetts, Montana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

But if you’re a young male living outside of these five states, that doesn’t mean that your individual driving habits won’t be taken into account when applying for insurance. There are discounts that you can ask about regarding your safe driving record.


1 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Dept. of Transportation (US). Traffic safety facts 2012: Young Drivers.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System
3 Simons-Morton B, Lerner N, Singer J. The observed effects of teenage passengers on the risky driving behavior of teenage drivers. Accident Analysis and Prevention 2005;37(6):973-82.

If you’re an adventure seeker planning for camping trips in the fall and winter months, sleeping in your car is sometimes more ideal than pitching a tent if you don’t have the supplies to keep you warm. At night when the temperature falls below freezing, sleeping outside in the frigid chilling-to-your-bones weather sounds like a nightmare—and it is. It’s these times when having a versatile car with plentiful room for sleeping and packing equipment, great gas mileage, and the ability to traverse through rough terrain, is a great investment.

But having the perfect vehicle shouldn’t be your only concern. What kind of insurance should you have if you’re a frequent wilderness traveler?

Ideally the best insurance for such ventures is a comprehensive coverage plan that will cover accidental damages and losses from animal contact.  Often your vehicle is the only viable storage option for food and supplies if your campground is in an open area lacking tree coverage or a bear box.  In this case, you need to make sure that your comprehensive insurance will not only cover a vehicle damaged by animals inside and out, but also that it will cover any injuries for you and your family. If a bear breaks into your car because it smells food, everything within the vehicle is vulnerable to an attack.

The major animals to be cautious of when camping are bears, deer, moose, wolves, foxes, and birds. All of these animals can cause damage to your vehicle whether it’s in motion or stationary. When driving at night, the likelihood of an animal running out into the road, especially deer, is very high. You must also be careful when leaving your car unattended in a campsite for extended periods, not only because of animals, but also because of other humans. Keep your belongings locked up and out of sight to prevent theft, and keep your food in tightly sealed containers.

Before leaving for your trip, confirm that your insurance covers any potential accidents from your home to your destination, and everything in-between. Be prepared, travel safely, and have fun!

Marketing to Millennials isn’t easy, especially since they make up the largest population group in U.S. history, comprising of 85+ million people, surpassing baby-boomers by 7%. The Millenial generation has a heavy influence on how businesses frame their marketing plans, especially because it’s their income that will usher in the new economic era. What marketers need to know is that Millenials are progressive in social issues; they like to be involved in communities, and they generally believe in large government with more services.

Despite what many may think about the millennial generation and how they’re constantly distracted by phones and social media, they are actually very connected to the world and what’s happening within it. Having constant access to the Internet allows them to stay updated more than ever, and this is a generation that has learned how to cope with an immense information overload.

Think for a second how colossal the advertising market is today. All five senses are constantly touched by advertisements—one literally must hide in a dark corner, eyes shut, and ears covered to get away from it. The flashy ads with popping colors, scandalous images, and catchy music have numbed the senses.  What marketers need today to truly draw a Millenial in is something that will touch their heart, not just their senses.

When it comes to marketing to Millenials, insurance agents must remember that it’s not just the product that you are trying to sell to them—it’s your company’s dedication to social responsibility. Though you may have little control over how your insurance carriers carry out their brand on a corporate level, you have the ability to make a difference in your agency.

If you get your insurance agency involved in the community and demonstrate social assistance or change, then Millenials will feel more comfortable and eager to trust their insurance needs in your agency.  Sponsor volunteer opportunities and bring your staff to local events. Insurance agents can make an effort to be an active part and voice of the community. If possible, try to get in touch with a local newspaper to be a contributor. You can give insurance-related advice while taking advantage of a great public relations opportunity.
Millenials want to feel that by using your company they are contributing to something greater. Generations X, Y, and Z were all brought up on media that tells them to stand out, make change, and be better people. So in a world where everything seems to be crumbling with world relations and economics, what Millenials want is to trust in companies that make them feel both useful and safe.

The team representatives were exhibitors at the 2014 Alliance Convention and Expo in September and fulfilled their goals. They were able to establish numerous networking opportunities, obtain carrier appointments, participate in continuing education courses and enjoy the entertainment as a part of this important event.

The American Agents Alliance is a member-driven organization established in 1962. It is an organization that stands behind independent insurance agents and brokers. The Alliance convention is the largest Property and Casualty event on the west coast that provides advocacy, education and networking for agents and brokers. It houses over 100 exhibitors and is an educational and entertaining experience.

The team plans on attending this year’s 4-day convention with the same success. It will take place September 24-27, 2015 at the 4-star JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, California.

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