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Author: Andy Thompson

  • Four Cornerstones of Our Agency

    Posted by: Andy Thompson on September 18, 2012

    This week we had a small issue with the quality of the information in our automation system. We met with a client and for many reasons, the information that was reflected in our system was not correct. This is not the first time this has happened and I’m sure it won’t be the last. We humans seem to make mistakes. When an event like this happens I always interested in how the system got so “tainted”. This morning I had an agency wide meeting and reviewed the file. As we discussed the differences, one of my staff made a great point. She said, “I hate that the information is not correct. You have to understand that we want to do great work and the fact that the information is not correct is upsetting to us all”. It was a great quote. Nobody likes to do a bad job. So what caused our system to be incorrect? The training program that we have had in place since I started buying the company back in 1996 will never win any awards. In fact, the biggest issue I have had as an owner is getting my folks properly trained. My attitude has always been “I know how to do it and thus I’m sure they know how to do it”. Since we have always done a procedure one way, most of the time that procedure is replicated by a new staff member. If the procedure is poor, we keep on doing the poor procedure. I’m excited to say that we have recently made the decision to switch both of our offices to Applied Systems cloud based EPIC system. This jump will force us to rethink every policy and procedure and allow us to get everyone following the “new improved” procedures.

    I decided today that I’m recommitting our company to the four cornerstones we used to discuss frequently. They are communication, documentation, education, and follow up. The communication in our organization is like most, poor. Although we think we do a good job of keeping everyone in the loop, we fail miserably. Just this week a new benefits producer joined our company. We’re excited to have this new producer and thus sent out an email announcing his joining of our company. One of our staff was overhead stating, “Who is this new guy, it would be nice to be in the loop of what is going on”. My partner and I have thought we were doing a good job of keeping everyone in the loop, but again, we failed to send an effective message to all employees. Lesson learned, we must communicate better. Documentation is another area we have to begin doing a better job with. We are paper light (not paper less), but we need to utilize our system more effectively. I recently started spot-checking my employees on tasks that I ask them to do. I do this by blind carbon coping two out or myself on an email and then drag the email to my calendar for the following week. When I look at my calendar in the morning I simply look into our management system to make sure the task was completed and correct. I’m happy to report that 95% of the time, my staff does a perfect job and when they don’t it’s usually my poor communication that caused the issue.

    Education has always been important to our company, but we have failed in this area as well. Education has always been important, but I always limited it to Insurance Education. Starting today, I’m going to begin sending my staff to non-insurance type classes. The more well rounded our staff can become, but the better our company will be. I’m asking all my staff to find outside classes that interest them, I’ll pay for it (within reason), and they get the life experience. It’s an employee benefit. Follow up, follow up, and follow up. Everything is moot if there is no follow up. Calling a client a week or so after a claim is settled is not necessary, but it is important. You can hear it in their voice that they really appreciate your checking up on them and making sure they were satisfied.

    Our company is getting back to the basics that helped us achieve our goals when I first started my insurance career. My partner and I are confident that with a few minor tweaks we have an opportunity to create a very special company.

    Life is a journey, not a destination. Steven Tyler – 1998

    Next Steps:

    Let’s talk about how we can review your current insurance needs and see where there are gaps.   Click HERE to schedule a free consultation call with us!

  • Multi Tasking is Poop Soup

    Posted by: Andy Thompson on September 14, 2012

    What seemed like a good idea a few years ago now seems like poop soup. For the last ten years of my life, I have been very proud of my ability to multi task. Doing multiple things at the same time. At 43, I am starting to really analyze my life and ask, is this the best possible way I can live my life. The answer, starting with multi tasking is, HELL NO. Doing multiple things at the same time means that you are working sub par on everything that you do. Single tasking, the focusing of all your thought and energies into one agenda item or issue provides complete focus and clear thinking. I will no longer multi task; I will no only single task.

    How do I make this change? First, I eliminated the ability of my “smart phone” to receive email. I no longer have the need or want to constantly look at my phone to make sure that I respond to each request of me in less than 3 minutes. I have forced myself to only check my email twice a day. I set up my auto responder to help educate my friends, colleagues, and clients with the following message:

    “I recently read a book that changed my life. No longer am I tied to my email, in fact, I only check it once a day. If you need me, call me and let’s chat or better yet, let’s meet face to face and have an old fashion conversation. I’ll respond within 24 hours of the receipt of this email, but probably not before. Thank you and remember less is more.”

    If someone really needs me they will call me, but if they get voicemail, they can leave a voice mail, but my voice mail greeting now states:

    “You’ve reached Anson Thompson of The Thompson Group. If this is an emergency or you need me immediately, please txt me. If you have a question or something that can wait 24 hours, leave a message.”

    I do not check my voice mail but once a day, but I still will check my texts. That is the ONLY line of communication that I allow to “bother me”. However, if I am writing, reading, or working on a client file, I will not look at my phone. I simply wait until I am done with my task.

    How many times do you sit in a restaurant and watch every couple fixate on their phones. The conversation must be lacking and thus it’s easier to answer email. I’m one of those weird individuals who are hopelessly in love with my partner and thus I love not getting my phone out during our focused time together.

    If you are happy with your life and the chaos that most of the world is experiencing, keep multi tasking. But if you want to slow down, take a breath and remember how to smell the roses and the amazing glass of red wine that sits in front of you…SINGLE TASK!

    Next Steps:

    Let’s talk about how we can review your current insurance needs and see where there are gaps.   Click HERE to schedule a free consultation call with us!

  • I’m embarrassed to be an Insurance Agent

    Posted by: Andy Thompson on September 13, 2012

    On May 8th a long time client and friend calls me to provide coverage for his new 51000 square foot shell building he is buying to move his growing call center company and he is excited about his purchase. We insured the building for $5,100,000 to get through binding expecting that once renovation was complete, the replacement cost would be closer to $7,000,000. We provided the bank the needed information and the building was purchased without a hitch. Immediately after the closing, my client who has a good friend that is a general contractor charges his “GC” with managing the project. The “GC” begins by getting bids to fix the roof, air conditioning, interior, and exterior. Within a couple of days of closing, the building was starting to be power washed to allow for some additional tuck pointing that needed to be done to “tighten up the building”.

    About 10 days after we bound coverage, the building was vandalized and much of the copper wiring and plumbing was removed from the building in an overnight “rip out”. My client and his “GC” called me in the morning to advise and we turned in a claim. Due to the scope of the damage and the complexity of the claim, it took the carrier and the client about 3 months to pull together all proper bids and information to complete the claim. The total claim looks to be about $450,000.00.

    Last Thursday I was contacted by my client and asked if his attending a deposition was normal. I stated that it sounded strange with the facts that I had, but I would contact the adjuster. The adjuster informed me that there was a lot of information flowing back between the parties (client and carrier) and wanted to get everyone in the same room to answer any and all questions. That sounded reasonable and thus I advised my client that this should wrap up the claim. My client asked, “Can you join me?” I answered, of course. In 16 years in the insurance business, I had never had the opportunity to sit in on a deposition of one of my clients. Also, I wondered, how do we treat OUR clients in deposition?

    Yesterday morning on my way to the deposition, I got a call from the lawyer that is representing my carrier. He asked that I call him immediately and that he was preparing for deposition. I called him back and as he began to ask me questions, I stated “are you at the law office?” He replied, yes, I stated, “I’m almost there, we can chat in person”. At this point, he informed me he would “not allow me to be present during the deposition”. I thought it was strange that my carrier’s counsel did not want me, the agent in the room.

    I met my client and his attorney at “the law” office and as we started up the elevator I was informed we were in for a fight, that my carrier’s counsel would not let me attend. Not being afraid of a challenge, I said, I’m going with you. As we entered the room, the counsel for my carrier was pleasant, but edgy. He reminded all that he did not think I should be there for the deposition and asked that I leave. I stated I would rather stay and since he did not want to physically remove me, I had the pleasure of watching my first ever deposition of one of MY clients, by one of MY carriers.

    The deposition started pretty benign. My carrier’s counsel asked, name, date of birth, where my client went to school, etc. It was soon they’re after that the grilling started. As I watched my client try to answer questions that were clearly not questions he would know, I became more and more frustrated. As the 3 and a half hour meeting progressed it was clear that MY carrier was hanging their hat on the fact that this was a vacancy issue. But alas, I’m one of those weird agents that actually read the forms. I know that a building under construction is not considered vacant. Clearly from all the information provided, the building was “under construction” after the closing date, but prior to the loss.

    I have never been more embarrassed to be an insurance agent than I was yesterday. My client in good faith paid his premium, suffered a loss, and now was subjected to this asshole (my words, not his) berating him for not understanding the nuisances of the construction business. For example, Lawyer: “Mr. Client, how many bids did you receive on this project?” Client “None, my contractors been with me for 10 years, had done 4 other projects, and thus I let him manage the project.” Lawyer: “So you are going to do a million dollars of renovation and don’t get any bids?” Client “that is correct”. Having known this client for many years now, this is not surprising, he’s a relationship buyer and one’s he has a level of trust, he allows his “friends / vendors” to manage his business life.

    My client is very successful. This is his forth company since graduating college and it’s growing at 1400%. The reason for the purchase of the building was to house “the growth”. Obviously, deposing the client at this late stage of the claim is not sitting well with my client, his counsel, or myself.

    Knowing what I know, the carrier at sometime in the near future will be cutting a check for the amount of the loss minus the deductible. The lawyer for my carrier will be terminated due to his being an asshole and this claim will serve as a case study for how not to handle a claim for my carrier. People hate the insurance industry and after sitting through yesterday’s deposition, knowing the facts as I know them, I don’t blame them one bit!

    Next Steps:

    Let’s talk about how we can review your current insurance needs and see where there are gaps.   Click HERE to schedule a free consultation call with us!

  • And so it begins….

    Posted by: Andy Thompson on September 12, 2012

    Jenny Dils Durr is spending about 9 hours a day answering email, completing forms, and getting The Thompson Group on track to become the Premier Independent Insurance Agency in the Midwest. A tall order indeed, but an order that she thinks is realistic. “I think with the team we have, the systems that we are beginning to implement, and with the partnerships we have made over the years, amazing things are starting to happen”. The new CEO of The Thompson Group looks giddy as she talks about the opportunities exists in today’s business environment.

    One area that is very exciting for Jenny is the fact that The Thompson Group is now a minority owned business and can help our clients with this status. According to Jenny “the certification process is lengthy, but once approved, this will be a major incentive for our clients and prospects to engage our firm. Jenny’s favorite saying is “the best is yet to come”, but if you are around Jenny much…. the best seems to be right now!

    Next Steps:

    Let’s talk about how we can review your current insurance needs and see where there are gaps.   Click HERE to schedule a free consultation call with us!

  • The Lost Art of Talking

    Posted by: Andy Thompson on September 11, 2012

    The lost art of Talking – Insurance Ninja

    Remember the good ol days when you would actually sit down face to face and talk to someone? Remember how it felt to look in their eyes, sense their body language, and take the conversation on the road less traveled. Skype, Texting, and Email are great. They have their place, but as a society, we have become too over eager to let these technologies replace a good old conversation. I’m getting ready to shut off my email to my phone. Why? Well it’s a damn nuisance. I’m constantly trying to reply to messages that really have no consequence. Step one of my new life, shut off the email to my phone. Use my phone as a phone and not as an email device.

    Next, I’m setting up an auto assistant to let the senders of email to me know that I’m only going to check email once a day. What that means is that I have 24 hours to respond. If you send me an email you will get a message that states, “I recently read a book that changed my life. No longer am I tied to my email, in fact, I only check it once a day. If you need me, call me and let’s chat or better yet, let’s meet face to face and have an old fashion conversation. I’ll respond within 24 hours of the receipts of this email, but probably not before. Thank you and remember less is more.”

    Less is more. Think about it, we cram so much content and information into our systems on a daily manner it’s no wonder that 34 % of us are on anti depressants. Remember that 76% of all statistics are made up on the spot. If we could simply unplug from the gluttony of information and only focus on the meat and NOT the fat, our lives would be so much better.

    I’m not reading the newspaper, removed Drudge report from my daily viewing, and have not had standard TV for over a year. Think about it, no news, is good news. If something major happens people talk about it, I’ll hear about it. But to spend hours focused on content that will help me decide who to vote for in the next election…., no thanks; I’m going to listen to some music. I’ll dance while you try and make up your mind. 2 weeks before the election, I’ll call a few friends and ask them, who are you voting for and why and then I’ll make my decision.

    I don’t tweet very often, but I do update my Facebook status daily. I usually go with a positive message, trying to others to realize that life is what you make it. Life is fantastic, if you make it fantastic.

    Less is more. Think about your life, eliminate the fat, focus on the meat and begin living a fuller, more amazing life!

    Next Steps:

    Let’s talk about how we can review your current insurance needs and see where there are gaps.   Click HERE to schedule a free consultation call with us!

  • Introducing our new CEO – Jenny Dils Durr

    Posted by: Andy Thompson on September 9, 2012

    8:18 pm August 31st, 2012 will be remembered in the history books as the birth of an amazing company.

    On that date at that moment, the documents were signed to form the new company Someday is Today, LLC DBA The Thompson Group. Someday is Today is a term used by new CEO, Jenny Dils Durr and old CEO, Anson Ross Thompson to describe the fact that most people never take action…. they are always going to do it someday. Someday, I’ll lose weight or someday I’ll start a company or someday I’ll be happy.

    According to Jenny “Someday is Today!”. We are building a company that people want to become a part of. A place where people will beg to work and others beg to become clients. Our mission is simple, find the pain, heal the pain, and show the love. Our company will become the standard from which all other insurance providers will be measured. We have studied great companies like Apple, Google, and Jerry’s Ice Cream Stand and will use the principles used by these companies to help guide our development as the Premier Insurance Provider of the Midwest.

    Anson Thompson has never been more excited. We built the best company we could with the people and knowledge we had. From 1996 to 2012, we made a statement as to how insurance could be different, but meet your needs. According to Anson “It’s now time for a new direction, a new leader, a new life changing adventure”.

    Jenny’s movement into the CEO role signals a major turn in direction. The Thompson Group will NOW be a minority owned company. This will give our clients who benefit when partnering with minority owned vendor an advantage. Anson Thompson is still an owner, but Jenny is now the driving force behind the direction of the company.

    Not since peanut butter and jelly were combined into one delicious sandwich has there been so much buzz. Look out world…”Someday is today”.

    Next Steps:

    Let’s talk about how we can review your current insurance needs and see where there are gaps.   Click HERE to schedule a free consultation call with us!

  • Why the Internet is Winning

    Posted by: Andy Thompson on September 8, 2012

    So my daughter turns 16 next Friday and I, being the awesome Dad I am, take her shopping. As a 16-year-old girl, one of the gifts she wanted was a pair of Tom’s shoes. Maybe you are familiar with Tom’s? For every pair sold, a small child gets a free sink in a developing nation. Anyway, the only place locally that you can find the miracle shoes is at the Mall. So we enter the marble paradise on our search for the magical shoes. Passing by the local shoppers, I was reminded of a recent area obesity study. We finally find our Toms at a store called Journair, which I think, is French for “We have really bad customer service”. As we entered the “manager” a 19 to 20 year old female was sitting on top of the counter barking orders to a young man who looked like he just stepped off the desert island from LOST. As we began our search the young man ran away or maybe he just disappeared and the manager yelled “So how you doin…”. She didn’t say doing, she said “doin…”. I replied, we’re fine and then returned to the shoes that we obviously have some interest in purchasing. After a few moments Miss Manager yells, “how you doin”, again missing that ever important “g”. I looked up and there is now another customer embarking upon the search for a pair of shoes. The customer looked a little scared, but said, “I’m fine”. Finally my daughter found her found the pair she was looking for and I held them up and asked 8 ½. Miss Manager looked at the other customer and said, “can you get you something so I don’t have to make an extra trip?” We finally were able to give a few “sheckles” for the “merch” and we were on our way now understanding why the Internet is winning.

    There is an old story about a young man that entered a store to be greeted by a friendly employee asking why they were visiting the store that particular day. The young man replied he was looking for a part for a light switch, but he didn’t know exactly what it was called. The employee said, let me take you to the lighting area and let’s see if we can find your part. The employee walked with the customer exchanging pleasantries until they landed in the lightening isle. As the customer looked, the employee began asking what the part did and the customer began describing the design and feel of the part. The employee smiled, looked up, grabbed a part and said, “Is this it?” The man smiled, said “yes” and purchased the item. This story has been brought to you by the fine folks at Wonder Bread. Remember those days, the “olden days”. The good old days or maybe the golden days. Those days are gone and have been replaced with “What you doin…”

    As we continued on our journey at the mall I decided that I would like a hard copy of a book I had been listening to on Audible on my Iphone. The book, “The 4 hour work week” is an amazing listen, but I would like to study it, Highlight it, and implement it in my life. I’m so enamored with the concepts I had purchased 10 copies online at Amazon.com earlier in the day. I’ll receive the books, which I will give to employees, friends, and clients about Monday, but I wanted a couple for my kids. As my daughter and I approached the counter, there were 3 people standing looking really “unbusy”. One was on her pink phone texting, the next looked at us as if to say “we’re talking here?” and the 3rd a young man said “Can I help you?” Ok! I’ve got some customer service; Do you have “The 4 hour work week”. “Ummmmmmmmmm, let me see, we actually don’t, but I can order it for you?” I said, no worries and began leaving the store. As we left I said, that’s why I bought the 10 copies online this morning.

    The Internet is winning. I’m starting to buy about 75% of all my nonfood items online. I’m 43 and tired of the poor customer service, continued lack of in store products, and paying much more that if I buy it online. From the above stories, the sole reason people used to choose a store vs. the Internet was the “talking factor”. You could actually talk to someone, touch the product, and make sure it is what you wanted. Today, you don’t talk, but do what can sometimes be referred to as a communication square dance where one party must dance around the other to figure out what the other party is trying to communicate. This results from a lack of training and most companies putting money into their electronic infrastructure instead of their human employees.

    As an independent insurance agency we have an amazing opportunity to create a point of difference with our clients. Most over the phone, but in our every day face-to-face interactions, we can show why you want to do business with our firm. The way we answer the phone, the question sets used, the listening skills of our trained employees allow us to utilize the “talking factor” to our benefit. As far retail items, I’m pretty sure that very soon 95% of my purchases will be online. As an independent insurance agency owner, my partner and I strive to separate our company from not just all other insurance agencies, but all other companies. Think of your experience when entering an Apple store, that is the experience that one day our clients will have either walking into our office or when our staff meets with our clients at their location. Not just an interaction, but an experience. The bar is set so low for the delivery of most products and service. Take advantage of YOUR opportunity to create a point of difference, a positive-amazing-change-your-life experience for your clients.

    Next Steps:

    Let’s talk about how we can review your current insurance needs and see where there are gaps.   Click HERE to schedule a free consultation call with us!

  • Starting Over…..

    Posted by: Andy Thompson on September 5, 2012

    Starting over

    Insurance Ninja

    As a small child I would watch TV and there was a commercial by, I think Dunkin Doughnuts, where a portly man would get out of bed, shuffle out of his house, repeating “Time to make the doughnuts”. This memory is timely in that for our “new company”, it’s time to make the doughnuts.

    In 1996, I began buying my father’s family owned insurance agency. I was 25, he was 55 and he simply walked in and retired. Since I had no idea what I was doing, I was successful in spite of myself and built a small but profitable agency over the next 15 years. In late 2010, I began working with another agency helping them with some sales training and it seemed like my skill set might fit their management team’s needs. We structured a deal and on September 16th of 2011, I traded in my shares of my company for shares in the new company”.

    My role in the new company was that of producer, sales manager, and marketing manager. After 3 months of our new partnership, all decided it that this might have been the worst mistake in the business world since the release of NEW COKE. It did appear that one of the other owners and I operated in a very similar manner and thus it was decided that 2 of the owners of the “new company” would start another agency using the assets and books of business developed over the years by these two agency locations.

    On August 18, 2012, our dream of our new agency was born when Someday is Today, LLC dba The Thompson Group started operations. In once sense, we’re going back to the future, with my agency’s name having been The Thompson Group. Our new Indianapolis office will be rebranded from their old name to The Thompson Group and our existing Parker City office clients will experience no change.

    As we began thinking about starting our “new agency”, we became rather excited. No more are we tied to our old systems, procedures, or habits, everything is on the table, everything can be changed.

    Our first steps have been to sign new contracts with our partners thus allowing our twelve million dollars of premium volume to flow into these new agency codes. We are working very hard to transition our data from an old AMS system and an old Applied Systems program into Applied’s new EPIC system. The functionality of this new system and the ability of our agency to use IPADS in the filed seem to be a great fit for our “technology platform agency”.

    Moving to a Voice over IP phone system is another major item on our checklist. As of yesterday, the blue tooth phone sets were ordered and we should be live in 30 days thus giving us one phone system for both offices, the ability to record every phone call in and out of the office, and believe it or not, our telephony costs are being reduced about $5000.00 a year.

    I’ll be taking this blog in a new direction give you not just insurance changes, updates, advice, but I’ll also be sharing with you weekly the successes and failures of our new company.

    The last thing I’d like to share is about our name. Jenny Dils Durr, our CEO has stated for many years that people always are going to do something “someday”. In creating this company her main focus was that OUR Someday is Today. I’ve led my company for 15 years and am now looking forward to following what I think might just be one of the greatest CEO’s this industry has ever seen.

    Next Steps:

    Let’s talk about how we can review your current insurance needs and see where there are gaps.   Click HERE to schedule a free consultation call with us!

  • New Look…same people….GREATER EXPERIENCE

    Posted by: Andy Thompson on September 2, 2012

    The Thompson Group is pleased to announce the addition of our Indianapolis office thus giving us a total of 16.765 employees and two locations. Joining us in the CEO role is Jenny Dils Durr, a former owner of RMD Patti, Inc. Anson Ross will be assuming the COO role directing marketing and sales management. We look forward to introducing all clients to the new faces in the coming weeks. We’ll update you more as we expand our footprint and services. The best is yet to come!

    The Thompson Group Icon

    Next Steps:

    Let’s talk about how we can review your current insurance needs and see where there are gaps.   Click HERE to schedule a free consultation call with us!

  • Working on Sunday

    Posted by: Andy Thompson on August 26, 2012

    Sunday morning ritual. Get up, coffee, clean up email, run to the office for about 2 hours of clean up from the past week, setting up next week….then off to church. What’s amazing to me is the number of underwriters, marketing folks, and vendors that are also, working, answering my weekend emails to keep the “balls moving forward”. It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that there is about 15% of society that works 24 / 7 and 85% that works from 8 to 5, Monday – Friday. If you are a client of The Thompson Group rest assured that your team is working around the clock to manage your risk.

    Next Steps:

    Let’s talk about how we can review your current insurance needs and see where there are gaps.   Click HERE to schedule a free consultation call with us!

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