Face it – it is very likely that every year, many of your clients are dealing with new or different exposures. Possibly they put an addition on their home, started a home business or quite possibly, a kid is now off to college. Your commercial accounts deal with this issue as well. Maybe it is a new product, or a new corporation or exposures that they have not been focused on such as employment practices or cyber or product recall.
Agencies typically look to discover these “new” exposures through an annual mailing (or emailing) of a renewal questionnaire, typically around 90 days before the renewal of one of their primary coverages.
I have dealt with many agencies over the years with many indicating that they used to send this renewal questionnaire but stopped because no one was returning it. To those agencies, it appeared they felt this was a “waste of time”.
But was it?
Let’s take the following scenario. A homeowner’s client puts an addition on their home. Your agency sends them a renewal questionnaire asking, among things, whether an addition to the home was done. The client never responds. The client now suffers a loss only to find that they don’t have enough insurance. Who do they look to blame for this shortage? You, of course. After all, you are their insurance agent.
The client brings a lawsuit against your agency. During the discovery or the trial, the plaintiff’s attorney is provided with a copy of the questionnaire your agency sent during the year asking a series of questions including one dealing with home renovations. Do you think that this questionnaire could be a “game changer” in the direction that lawsuit is going to take? You better believe it! There is a good chance the matter gets dropped.
Since there is a good chance that the questionnaire process is automated, your agency should look to include in the system an activity indicating that a renewal questionnaire was sent. This level of documentation could be important to verify that you did what you say you did.
So, if not a single client returns the questionnaire, has it been a “waste of time”? Not at all, it could be a key element in the agency’s defense should a problem develop.