Everyone, from Grandma to Grade-Schoolers, uses social media to communicate. It’s a part of society that’s here to stay. It has upsides and downsides, just like everything else.
So, let’s look at The Good, The Bad and The Ugly when using social media to talk with your agent.
It’s 1 o’clock in the morning, and Social Media Sally just realized that she didn’t tell her insurance agent about the new car she just bought. She’s afraid she’ll forget to call him in the morning, so she sends him a Facebook Message.
It’s quick and easy to do, especially since she’s on Facebook anyway. And who wants to call an insurance agent at 1 am?
Whew. Message sent. Now time for one more funny cat video.
But social media has its limits. In the example above, Sally’s Facebook Message consists of numerous emojis: happy, shocked, and embarrassed faces, hands praying, and a heart. And lots of acronyms.
Here’s her message:
“OMG ROFLOL jsyk new car idk what to do hml am ty.”
Here’s the translation and intended communication:
“Oh my gosh, I’m rolling on the floor laughing out loud. Just so you know, I bought a new car today, and I’m embarrassed that I didn’t call you to see what I needed to do about my insurance. I don’t know what to do, so please ‘hit my line’ (call me) in the morning. Thank you.”
Sally meant well. But they both got busy and forget to talk on the phone. There were details that had to be known, like: What kind of car? What type of coverage? What date to begin coverage? Is there a lien?
A long time passes.
Bam. There’s a car accident. Sally’s car was never formally added to her policy. Sally shows the Facebook Message to the insurance company to prove that she added the car to her policy.
The insurance company says that’s not good enough, and deny the claim. Claims departments don’t speak Facebook, and they don’t hire social media translators.
Moral of the story- social media is no substitute for “old-school” communication.
The examples sometimes get worse. Much worse.
Meet Hashtag Harry. He discovered hashtags about a year ago. Now he uses this social media tool as a bullhorn in public whenever he needs customer service.
Instead of privately communicating (like Sally did when she sent a message), Harry just yells online in public. It’s so hard to avoid telling the entire world his business.
Harry talks to his insurance agent (and everyone else) in public. Online. All the time. He “tags” his agent, and adds hashtags to complaints like this:
Harry needs a hashtag intervention.
He should communicate directly, and privately, with his agent when he has a problem. Why? Because insurance agents are prohibited from discussing private business affairs in a public forum.
When there’s a problem, there’s no substitute for a good old fashioned phone call.
First, please feel free to use social media to connect with me. I guess most agents feel the same way. We are learning to enjoy the advantages of social media. We get it.
But help us help you, especially when coverage may be at risk.
Make sure that you always follow up a social media mention or message with a phone call. And if something is really important, a letter or an email is still a great idea.
And remember: coverage cannot be bound by leaving a message or sending a tweet. Your coverage is a partnership between agent and insured, and talking “live” on the phone is still the safest way to guarantee that you are covered properly.
Some things still need to be irl (in real life).
Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates helping clients with insurance needs for personal, commercial and business insurance. Bruce can be reached at 707-931-0186, firstname.lastname@example.org