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Commercial Lines Is an Accommodation

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On Point with Peter van Aartrijk and Rick Morgan is an audio conversation with insurance industry leaders who champion change and challenge all of us to think.

Peter and Rick spoke with Steve Brooks, an independent agency owner in Westlake Village, Calif. who is a proponent of personal lines and social media as a marketing tool.

While many agencies sell a mix of commercial and personal lines, Steve is very focused on upscale personal lines accounts. He started his firm from scratch 20 years ago, and is 98% personal lines.

Personal lines is stable, with higher persistency than commercial, especially in an economy where businesses are moving their insurance, or going out of business altogether. And the personal lines book is worth more to an agency, Steve says.

Traditional media--such as TV ads and direct marketing--don't work as well as they once did for personal lines, he maintains. He likes social media--like Facebook and Twitter--for reaching a higher-end clientele. "It's hard to measure ROI on social media sites," he says, "but the intangible references are priceless."

And he likes to work relationships. Commercial lines agents refer preferred personal lines to Brooks because they take the line seriously and want it handled well. "You can't wait until business slows to start doing this," he says. "You need to be doing it all the time."

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