It is probably fair to say that from time to time, conversations between the agency and their customers (whether on the phone or face to face) do not exactly go as planned. There are a whole host of issues that could prompt a customer to become very agitated at an agency staff member such as advising them of a probable uncovered claim, etc. The opposite (agency staff member getting agitated with a customer) could also occur both hopefully those circumstances are few and far between.
As agency staff is aware, it is very important that these conversations be documented in the system. Based on the situation, it may also be appropriate and beneficial to document these conversations in some form of written communication back to the client.
Let’s focus on discussion on the recording of the conversation in the agency management system. Many agency staff are of the opinion that these agency notes are for “their eyes only” or at least only for select fellow agency personnel. In most cases, this is probably true. So the agency staff member records something to the effect of “Just spoke with the insured regarding their uncovered loss. What a real jerk they are. I can’t believe that we insure someone so stupid in our agency”.
Now fast forward the timeline and now that same customer is pursuing legal action against your agency because they thought they should have coverage for their loss. Both the defense attorney (defending your agency) and the plaintiff’s attorney (defending the client) will have a right to see the entire agency file (notes, proposals, e-mails, etc.). As the agency staff member involved, how do you now feel about the agency notes that you entered that you thought were for “your eyes only”? There is certainly the possibility that these notes (containing the negative comments) will be used against your agency. I would trust that the jury is going to look very negatively on the comments.
There are a number of “rules of thumb” that are used regarding notes entered into the agency management system. One that every agency staff member should honor very carefully is:
Don’t put anything in the agency file that you wouldn’t want a jury to read!