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Resources for the modern insurance agent

How to Deal with Clients in a Crisis

by Precise Leads

June 30, 2016

InsuranceCrisis.jpgA client in crisis needs careful guidance — here are our tips for handling those difficult moments with aplomb.

When it comes to crises that involve making an insurance claim, personal finance and emotional well-being are nearly always at stake. If someone suffers an injury on the job, their home burns down, or they lose a loved one, this translates to potential financial compensation: worker’s compensation, a property damage claim, or cashing in a life insurance policy, for instance.

But it’s not just their fiscal solvency that’s at stake — these events are often emotionally traumatic for those affected.

Because insurance claims and calamitous events so often go hand in hand, it’s likely that almost every agent will, at some point, speak to a client in distress. Here’s some advice on how to effectively offer guidance to someone in the aftermath of a personal disaster.

A Client In Need

Let’s take home insurance as an example: imagine someone spent years and years building a home and filling it with memories, only to have it all swept away in a fast flood.

Put yourself in your client’s shoes and imagine how you would react to this devastating situation, and you’ve exercised one of your greatest assets as an agent: the ability to empathize. Bringing compassion to every interaction may ease your client’s anxiety about an uncertain future.

Of course, the emotional and fiscal damages are severe, but there’s a more pressing concern: your clients need somewhere to stay while they piece their lives back together. When dealing with a crisis situation, speed is everything, and agents must swing into action as quickly as possible.

That said, once a claim is actually filed, many agents can seem out of reach. Continuous, proactive contact can have a huge impact on your client’s state of mind — and it’s likely they won’t forget this level of care and service when it comes time to renew their policy.

The Human Element

When dealing with clients in crisis, particular attention to their needs is crucial to ensure that their claims are handled as carefully and expediently as possible — and for agents, this measured approach is essential for sustainable success.

In a 2015 JD Power study, it was found that only 3% of “delighted” clients changed carriers after a claim was closed, compared with 11% of those who reported being “displeased” about how their claim was handled. With that in mind, PropertyCasualty360 offers several important tips from trauma experts for agents facing this scenario:

When dealing with clients in crisis, empathy is essential to building strong personal connections, as previously stated. Ditching the hard-sell and weaving an element of storytelling into your client interactions can go a long way towards this goal.

Your conversation should be back-and-forth, rather than a one-sided sales pitch — so endeavor to engage in supportive, non-judgmental listening when your client is voicing his concerns.

However, if the conversation becomes more emotional than you can rightfully handle in a professional manner, encourage your client to seek further support from friends, family, or specialists.

Finally, a sense of financial security can do wonders to provide comfort and stability — according to PropertyCasualty360, “financial relief is among the top solutions that may help ease people in crisis.” As an agent, you should encourage your client to establish personal financial priorities, and discuss realistic options for achieving them.

In crisis scenarios, insurance agents are often first responders, meaning they play a critical role in helping people effectively cope with their situation. Remember, while nothing is preventable, everything is manageable. Just make sure you’re always prepared and keep a level head — you’ll find that a little honesty, empathy, and proactivity will go a long way.

(Image credit: Mike Wilson/Unsplash)

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