So you’ve heard of the infamous wedding season that goes from May to October. But what about “engagement season?” That’s right, folks. The holidays are quickly approaching and over the holidays, spent with family and focused on loving one another, many couples find it the perfect time to pop the question.

 

According to the research done at WeddingWire.com, 9 out of the 10 most popular days to get engaged will be happening in the next 3 months! If you are planning on getting engaged soon, there’s way more to think about than just the  style or color of ring your partner will want. Have you thought about purchasing insurance for the ring?

 

What? Insurance for an engagement ring?

 

Yes! If you didn’t already know, it is a definite possibility to obtain insurance for you or your loved one’s engagement ring. And, it is something every couple should at least think about before your big day.

 

Funnily enough, it may be a whole lot easier than you think to make sure your engagement ring is covered from theft or damage. Depending on the value of the ring and your insurance policy, you might be able to extend your renters or home insurance policy towards your ring, sometimes even if it is lost or stolen outside the home. If you have questions about if your engagement ring is already covered under these policies, or could be under additional personal property coverage, check with your insurance agent.

 

Additional Tips

 

It’s always best to keep in mind too that engagement ring insurance isn’t the right fit or isn’t necessary for every couple. While you might not want to tell your partner the exact value of their ring to keep up some of the surprise and ambiance, it is helpful for the wearer of the ring to know the value in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

 

If the ring is only valued at $400, maybe you will think a little less about insuring it as this will be easier to replace. However, if your ring is valued at $4,000 or $40,000, having insurance coverage for your ring could save you thousands of dollars, if you hope to replace it. Having insurance isn’t all about the money though; engagement rings are special and through insurance, you’re also investing in replacing the exact ring that was specially picked out for you as a couple.

 

As always, read the policy clearly to know exactly what will and will not be covered. Some policies might not cover throwing your ring in the trash accidentally and will only cover theft.  Look over your policy with an agent, as they can verify if it’s the right one for you and will cover what you need it to.

 

Congratulations to all the recently engaged couples out there and contact your local insurance agent for more information on engagement ring insurance.

You’ve picked the perfect venue. You have the date and the hashtag all set. All the food at the reception is planned to a tee. You’ve finally said yes to the dress. Everything for your big day is coming together and you can breathe a nice sigh of relief.

But what if an unforeseen emergency, illness or disaster hits on your wedding day? With average wedding costs hovering around $35,000, that’s a large investment you risk losing. Just like you wouldn’t purchase a new car or home without thinking about insurance, you shouldn’t plan your wedding without thinking about insurance; it’s too big of a risk. With wedding insurance, you’ll have that added peace of mind and confidence that no matter what happens on your big day, you and your significant other will be covered.

 

What is wedding insurance?

Similar to other types of insurance, wedding insurance protects your investment from those pesky, but often expensive, unforeseen circumstances that could ruin your wedding day. For example, what if at your wistful, winter wedding, a blizzard rolls through and you’ll need to postpone the wedding? Or what if your reception venue has a tragic fire just before your wedding day and you lose your deposit and have to book another location? What happens if you or your fiance gets severely ill the day of your wedding? These wedding disasters are all too common and are exactly where wedding insurance becomes handy!

Depending on the coverage you’re needing, insuring your big day can cost under $200, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of the entire wedding.

If you’re considering purchasing wedding insurance, you will want to purchase it as soon into the planning process as possible. Your caterer or florist could go out of business tomorrow and you don’t want to lose any deposits you’ve already put down if that happens. Purchasing insurance sooner rather than later will make sure your day is covered from the beginning!

 

What Wedding Insurance Covers (And What It Doesn’t)

Each wedding is different and similarly, each wedding insurance policy will look a little different, depending on the state you reside, the insurance provider and what you need covered.

Many insurance providers offer “special event coverage,” which would insure any of your deposits, catering, rental cars, etc. in the event you need to cancel or postpone your wedding. Here are a few circumstances to consider:

  • Inclement weather: No matter where or when your wedding is held, there is a chance of a severe storm ruining the day, whether it be a tornado, hurricane or blizzard. With wedding insurance, your policy will usually cover postponing the wedding for these reasons.

  • Sickness or injury: Many wedding insurance policies will cover an unforeseen illness or injury of not only the wedding couple but also other key people involved in the wedding, such as parents of the couple.

  • Military or sudden job relocation: If you suddenly need to move across country for your job or were sent into active duty in the military, this is often covered under insurance policies.

  • Cancellations: While you hope everything you’ve planned with go off without a hitch, vendors will occasionally have to cancel last minute. And while incredibly frustrating, if you have wedding insurance, it may cover the extra costs of finding a last minute replacement.

While your wedding insurance policy could cover many different circumstances, it will most likely not cover cancelling a wedding due to cold feet or a sudden breakup. Also, if you’re looking to cover your engagement ring, that might need a separate policy and will not be included in most wedding insurance coverage.

 

 

Most couples put a ton of time, energy and money into making their wedding day spectacular and memorable. Anything you put that much investment into should be guarded and protected as best you can. Before purchasing a wedding insurance policy, check with your vendors to see if any protections are already included in your payment. For example, some reception venues might have insurance for inclement weather or property disasters included. Then, check with your insurance provider to see what policy you may need to cover you and your loved one’s special day!

At the Midwest Insurance Agency Alliance (MIAA), we work with many different types of agents and agencies to help them start, continue and even grow their independent ownership. While many join MIAA to get a leg up as they hope to start their own agency and are in the beginning stages of agency ownership, we also work with agencies that have been in the insurance business for years.

If you’re an already existing agency, you might be curious how joining MIAA will better your business. What will you get out of being a part of MIAA? While there are numerous ways MIAA can help an established insurance agency, here are a few you’ll want to consider:

Staying Up to Date Within the Industry

Sometimes, it’s hard to keep with all the changes happening within the insurance industry. Has this been a struggle for you? Between new products, new clients and new marketing strategies coming all the time, it’s nice to have someone there to back you up and teach you ongoing strategies for your business. MIAA can be that support, with our experienced staff ready to help you grow and insurance agency grow, even through all the changes. For example, every year, we host a convention for our members to continue learning new strategies and to network with others in the insurance industry so you won’t fall behind.

 

Greater Access to Companies

One benefit many of our members speak of when they join MIAA is the increased access to larger and different companies. When you’re independent and small, it can be hard to get into contracts that meets every need of your consumers. When you join MIAA, you become instantly big and have the ability to diversify the carriers you can offer to your clients.

Does MIAA sound like it could be a good fit for your agency? Visit our website to get started and to learn more about joining the MIAA family.

When you are in insurance, leads are the name of the game. What better way to get leads then through group sales? With a group sale you can present your sales pitch to the largest number of people possible. While this does sound great, how do you go about setting up and leveraging group sales?

 

In-House Presentations

 

What better way to get a group sale than at a company in front of a group of people? Network with some companies that would be interested in you providing an in-house presentation for their employees. Even during group sales people feel the comfort of a face to face meeting, and are more likely to do business with you compared to just seeing one of your ads. A group presentation is also a great way to showcase your expertise to a large group of people.

 

Take people out to lunch

 

Take a group of potential clients out to lunch. Sitting down in a more informal environment will relax people and make them feel more comfortable than an office setting.

 

Charity Events

 

Whether you organize or just participate in them, being involved with charity events is great way to get your name out to a large group of people while attaching your name to a good cause. Charity events also give you a great opportunity to hand out flyers and brochures while giving back to the community.

It’s no secret anymore that social media is huge in the marketing world. If you own a business, or are in any sort of sales driven field and you aren’t on social media, open a new tab and start a face book, or twitter, or Instagram, anything, then come back here and we will continue. Older generations may be a little more hesitant to dive into social media, but as millennials grow up, you need to be on social media. Social media can seem intimidating or silly, but if you set measurable goals, social media may be what your marketing is missing.

 

Like any kind of promotion or marketing, you need to figure out the ROI or return on investment. Social media is no different. As an insurance agent, leads are what you are after, so how can you determine if you have leads coming via social media? Online we are looking for conversions, essentially they are measurable actions to gauge how effective your marketing is. For an insurance agent, you can gauge effectiveness by measuring

 

-       Contact forms

-       Information downloads

-       On-line quotes

 

Nowadays you can track your customers or leads activity on your site or on your social media, so you can determine how many people saw the ad vs. how many people completed the desired action ie. filled out a form or visited your site from your social media.

 

Once you figure out what you want to accomplish with social media, you have to decide what platform you want to be on. If you are unfamiliar with social media, each platform lends itself better to certain business areas. Instagram, for example, is primarily based around the sharing of photos or short videos, so naturally businesses that have visually appealing merchandise or products, like a restaurant, could use Instagram to great effect. A business like insurance sales wouldn’t necessarily lend itself to Instagram, but it doesn’t hurt. That’s the beauty of social media, it doesn’t cost you a thing, and you can (and should) be on multiple platforms. The only thing that will cost you money on social media is boosting posts or paying for ads, and these are easily tracked so you can tell how effectively your money is being spent.

It’s been said many times, great sales people aren’t born, they’re made, and becoming a great insurance agent takes practice. Here are some of our tips to practice your sales technique and increase your sales.

 

1.     Use a mirror

Using a mirror can help you see what your prospects see when you are pitching to them, and practicing in front of a mirror is the foundation of sales practice.

 

2.     Practice with Colleagues

Colleagues are great to practice on because they know what you are selling, they know all of the questions or objections a prospect will have, and they have their own experience selling.

 

3.     Practice with a non-insurance person

Sometimes you can get better insight into your customers by practicing your sales pitch on someone who is outside of the insurance world. This is a good way to make sure you are not using too much jargon or industry language.

 

4.     Record yourself on video

This is like practicing in the mirror but on steroids. Every thinks they sound weird when they hear recording of themselves, but this can be helpful. Look for things that your customers will be looking at, do you make enough eye contact? Do you look confident? Do you fidget or look nervous? Uncovering these can help immensely when you get in front of actual customers

 

5.     Keep track of lost sales

It’s never good to dwell on the past, but by keeping track of lost sales, you can see where you may have gone wrong. Write down what you might do differently next time and you just might see that you are keeping track of less and less lost sales.

 

Practice makes perfect, and by honing your craft you can be one of the top agents in your office.

It’s no secret that selling insurance can be difficult. You are selling your clients trust, and insurance is an intangible idea that they cannot hold or take home with them after your meeting, but you are selling them a promise. Because of this it can be difficult for younger or more inexperienced insurance agents to make sales. When your clients buy, they buy into you, you are their insurance agent. Here are some tips from us on how to be taken more seriously and close more sales.

 

-       Dress more professionally. This one is pretty obvious, the more professional you look, the more serious your clients or prospective clients will take you. This also works for your boss and coworkers. If you are always one of the best dressed in the office, you will get noticed.

-       Avoid slang. Avoid alienating your client by using slang. This can destroy a client’s trust in you and make them see you as some young kid that doesn’t know what they are talking about.

-       Find some common ground. Get a feel for your clients, figure out what they like, what they dislike, and then find what you agree with them on. This is the first step towards building a relationship with your client.

-       Ask them about their kids. If you are selling to someone much older than yourself, ask about kids and or grandkids. This can form a link in their brain between you and their loved ones, and will make them more sympathetic to what you are saying.

-       Reference your combined experience. This is one time where it is ok to name drop. If you are the youngest salesperson in your agency, don’t be afraid to mention how long the agency has been around, or how much experience the agency has as a whole. If an agency that has been around for 50 years trusts you, then so can your clients.

-       Don’t be afraid to sell to young people. You will have a distinct advantage in this category, people your own age. Younger people are more likely to trust someone around their same age, and you will probably have more in common with them, so it should be easier to sell to them!

-       Don’t be afraid to be young. Inject some enthusiasm into your job. Buying insurance is boring for most people, so make it a fun experience for them

 

The best piece of advice we can give to any young person starting off in any field is just to work hard. If you work hard and keep at it, success will find you sooner or later.

software code cyber security

The rapid rise of technology in the past several decades has completely changed the way businesses operate. Everything is done electronically: data storage, bookkeeping, communication, even the signing of documents is all done with keyboard strokes and taps of screens. 

This shift to digital business has, in many ways, allowed us to do our jobs more effectively, efficiently, and comprehensively. But the advancement in digital technology has not come without setbacks. Cyber security has become a concern for businesses of all sizes, not just large corporations. In fact, small corporations often do not have the proper protections and policies in place, which makes them even more susceptible to hackers and data breaches.

No matter how small your insurance agency may be, you likely have information stored online or within your network that cyber criminals want. Security breaches can lead to fraud, distribution of private information, and the loss of trust from your clients, employees, and the surrounding community. These are our tips for ensuring your agency’s private information is secure and protected:

 

Take cyber security seriously.

The first way to protect yourself from cyber attacks is to become aware of the risks. Even as a small insurance agency, you have tons of valuable information that is attractive to hackers. Not only is your business’s information at risk, your computers store the personal information of your clients; their contact information, financial status, home, health, and much more. Nearly half of all cyber attacks target small businesses, and 60% of those companies go out of business within six months of the attack. The risk is there, and it must be addressed.

 

Keep your security software up to date.

It may seem obvious, but you can prevent security breaches by simply updating your anti-virus and spyware protection regularly. It may seem like an inconvenience at the time, but keeping your software up to date will protect your computer system against major threats and save you from disaster later on.

 

Use formal security policies.

Educating your employees and implementing formal policies when it comes to cyber security is crucial. Require that every password created uses both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, etc. and that they are changed every two to three months. Not allowing personal information to be shared by email and implementing 2-step authentication processes for financial transactions are also good ways to ensure everyone’s information is protected.

 

Invest in the right security tools.

If you’re unsure what kind of cyber security tools your business needs or if you’re using the right ones, enlist the help of a professional. Many of us aren’t overly tech-savvy, especially when it comes to firewalls or Trojan horses, so consult with IT specialists to figure out what exactly you need. These people will help you decide what kind of security to purchase, get your network set up, and be available for tech support in the future, should you need it.

 

Be prepared and have a plan. 

Cyber attacks cannot be predicted, so it’s important to always be prepared to deal with one. Have a data backup system in place so you have an extra copy of all information in the event that it gets stolen. Make a step-by-step post-breach plan for yourself and your employees that includes contacting the correct authorities, communicating with clients, storing new data, etc. Make sure employees are aware and trained on this plan before it needs to be used.

 

Regardless of the size or status of any business, it’s at risk for a cyber attack. Use these tips to protect you and your clients’ information from online criminals and keep your insurance agency running smoothly and successfully!

job applicants waiting for interview

They say good employees are any business’s greatest asset, and it’s especially true when it comes to insurance agencies. Unfortunately, insurance policies don’t usually sell themselves like the latest iPhone model or a candy bar in the checkout aisle. The success of an insurance agency depends on the skill of its employees; without knowledgeable, talented salespeople, the product will not sell. 

That said, it’s imperative to hire the right people when assembling and adding to your agency’s team. You probably have a basic set of criteria in mind when hiring: hard-working, dedicated, personable, professional appearance, etc. But these basic standards are not enough to ensure that 1) the right kind of people are applying for the job to begin with, and 2) you’re hiring the best applicants.

The hiring process can be difficult, but selecting the right talent is fundamental to an insurance agency or any other small business alike. These are our tips for seeking out and hiring the best employees:

 

Get the word out in the right places

80% of people searching for jobs use online resources to locate opportunities and apply for positions. To begin your hunt for employees, make a hiring announcement on your website, post about it on social media, and add a listing to job search websites like Monster and Indeed. LinkedIn has become a great way to get the word out about open positions and network with potential candidates. Be wary of Craigslist; it used to be a go-to for those seeking and offering employment, but anymore has become associated with illegitimate people and business scams.

 

Be open

One of the biggest mistakes any employer can make is going into the hiring process with their mind already set on exactly who and what they want. Keep in mind that uber-extroverted people with long lists of experience don’t always make the best salespeople. (Check out this list of attributes found in successful salespeople). People with the right personality traits that have no sales experience or experience in another industry can often be trained and molded to become top insurance salespeople. When hiring, keep an open mind and give every applicant a chance to impress you.

 

Consider part-time and remote employees

It makes sense that some of the best employees are not available because they already have jobs. However, those people may be interested in picking up something else on the side for additional income. Hiring someone part-time allows them to get the ball rolling and prove themselves as an agent with the opportunity to become full-time in the future. The same principle applies to remote employees. Maybe the best salesperson you’ve ever had lives two hours away, or has other obligations that prevent him or her from coming to the office every day. Just as it’s important to be open about a person’s background and experience, be open to the type of employment they could provide.

 

Research applicants on social media

Everyone is warned to be mindful of what they post on social media because you never know who’s looking, and it’s true! There’s no shame in doing a quick Facebook search for someone applying to work for your agency. Interviews are very formal and nerve-wracking for most people, so it can be hard to get a good read on a candidate that way. By looking at the person’s social media profiles, you can get a clearer idea of who they are, how they work, and even what their online network is like by looking at their friends list.

 

The biggest thing to remember about the hiring process is that it doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t rush into anything or make decisions based on a hunch- it’ll end up costing you more time and resources in the end. Take your time, be thorough, and make sure you’ve found the person you’re confident can face the challenges of the industry each and every day before sealing the deal. Good luck and happy hiring!  

business woman working on computer at deskWe all have days at the office that are spent mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or staring out the window while our mind wanders off. It happens; getting off task from time to time is inevitable. However, if you or your employees are spending more time doodling on sticky notes than getting real work done, there’s likely a problem, and it’s definitely affecting your business’s productivity.

If an inability to focus or lack of motivation has become an issue at your office, know that there are several easy things you can to do to improve morale and efficiency among your employees. Sometimes subtle changes in the work environment are all that is necessary, and other times participation of the entire staff is needed. If your agency could use a shot of productivity, have your employees try these strategies to get back on track and ultimately see more success:

 

Plan and prioritize

Organization is key in keeping stress under control and making the most out of your time. Before you begin each work day, set aside 15 to 30 minutes to go over your daily tasks. Decide which are most important and create a schedule accordingly. As you begin to work, focus on only one task at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

 

Set goals.

Part of your daily planning should include setting goals for the day. Tell yourself, “I want to get this, this, and this done by the end of the day.” Make a physical list and hang it somewhere at your desk so you can refer back to it throughout the day. As you cross tasks off your lists, you’ll feel more accomplished and motivated to complete the rest.

 

Take breaks.

Sometimes the answer is as simple as it seems; if you’re feeling antsy or like you can’t focus, take a short break. Go outside and circle the block or just take a lap around the office. Research shows that taking a time-out and doing something unrelated to work for a while can do wonders for productivity. Grabbing a coffee or chatting about weekend plans with a colleague can give your mind time to regroup and leave you feeling refreshed for the next several hours.

 

Disable notifications.

Texts, social media, and emails are sure-fire ways to distract you while you’re at work. If you feel like the constant buzzes and chimes aren’t allowing you to get anything done, put your phone on silent and exit out of your email for awhile. Obviously it’s important to check your messages several times throughout the day, but we’ve all been in that situation where we glanced at a tweet that took us down a YouTube rabbit hole for hours at a time.

 

Jazz up your workspace. 

A messy work area may be plaguing your productivity more than you think. Even if you’re not explicitly thinking about it, an unorganized desk is constantly reminding you of yet another task you need to complete, which leads to stress, anxiety, and lack of focus. Take the time to clean out old files and organize office supplies. In addition to cleaning up, adding colorful artwork, personal knickknacks, or small plants to your workspace will make you feel more comfortable and lead to increased productivity.

 

Dragging yourself out of bed and heading to the office on Monday mornings might never become an easy task, but there are things you can do to ensure your employees aren’t spending their days desperately waiting for 5 o’clock to roll around. Try these tips for increased productivity in the workplace and reap the benefits of happier, more successful employees!

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