by Cindy Hartman - March 6th, 2012

Why would an insurance company want their policyholders to have an inventory of their belongings?

This is a question we’re often asked when talking to people who are interested in starting an inventory business with the guidance and advice through the Hartman Inventory Systems and becoming an member of the Hartman Inventory Group.

We’ve asked that same question to agents, regional managers, area directors and corporate executives. Every single person answered that an inventory will help the policyholder maximize their claim. Visit any insurance company’s website, and you’ll find this information for all to read. They encourage personal property inventories for their commercial and homeowner policyholders. To many, it sounds counter-intuitive. Most suspect that the insurance companies don’t want to pay out, so why suggest an inventory?

You’d think that insurance agents would rather their clients not recover well after a disaster. After all, having an inventory to refer to results in a much higher dollar settlement. Nevertheless, here are the top 5 reasons why they encourage their customers to do so:

1. Honesty When your agent tells you it is important to have an inventory, suggests that you create one, or refers an inventory service professional, they are being honest. They know the company will require a list of the items you want replaced, so you’ll recover better if you have this information. And they also know how difficult it will be if you don’t.

2. Customer Service If you don’t have an inventory, then need to file a claim, there is little they can do to help you remember what you owned. This will be between you and the adjuster, not your agent. Your agent knows that part of good customer service is educating you and making sure you realize the importance of having this information documented before you need it.

3. Saves the agent time and frustration Consider how much smoother a claim will be if you have an inventory. Then think of the stress, strain, and turmoil you’ll experience if you don’t have the photos and written report to help you complete the claim process. Agents spend a great deal of time with disaster victims because of repeated phone calls in which they receive requests for assistance and advice. They also find themselves fielding many complaints when their customers discovered they needed an inventory and state they were never told to create one.

4. Renewals You’ve heard that it costs more to find a new customer than it does to keep a current one. If the agent doesn’t tell their insured that they should have an inventory, they risk losing that customer as soon as the insurance claim is settled. I spoke with a person who had a house and barn destroyed by a tornado. Stating that his agent never told him to compile an inventory of his belongings, he was quite emphatic that he would be finding a new agent as soon as his claim was settled. Unhappy customers don’t remain as customers.

5. Referrals Insurance agents depend on referrals (as many professionals do) to build their businesses. The person I mentioned above believed that his agent, “didn’t care about what would happen to me, he just worried about his own loss when people file a claim.” Though I don’t believe this to be true, perception is reality, and it is heightened when someone is stressed and making quick judgments. He will also be inclined to tell all of his friends and neighbors. He actually even told me, a total stranger. Keeping customers happy brings new customers.

Insurance agents know how busy their customers are, and know the inventory service provider will be of great assistance before and after a loss. Their customers are happy because the agent referred a service that was of great benefit.

Cindy Hartman
Hartman Inventory, LLC

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