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Jul 9, 2018

Today’s episode of the Business of Insurance Podcast is for those of you who are responsible for bringing in new business.

What I’m talking about today will work for anyone selling insurance, but my examples today will be focused on the personal lines producer and account manager, specifically those of you selling homeowners

I’m part of an insurance group on FB and I see people ask for the best way to find new clients all of the time. As someone that has been teaching about referrals for over twenty years and who has co-authored a book on referrals, I have a lot of wisdom to share in this area.

So lets say that you are selling homeowners insurance and you want to write more policies.

Ideally, you want to connect with the professionals that are talking to people buying and selling houses. In most states, this would be the realtor, lender and settlement attorney. I call these strategic partners or referral partners.

My recommendation is to get to know mortgage lenders first. Now remember, for this episode, I’m focusing on the agent that is looking for more homeowners insurance, but know that this strategy will work for any producer or account executive.

You are probably thinking you should start with the realtor, but in my opinion, that's one of the biggest misconceptions among insurance agents. They would be the logical first choice, but in my experience, most realtors don’t bring up insurance. Insurance is at the end of the transaction and is usually handled by the lender. The realtor is focused on making sure the buyer has financing, the settlement attorney, home inspection and contractors that are used for the repairs that result from the home inspection. In my experience, Insurance is at the bottom of the initial conversations.

I’m in the metro DC area, and settlement  / title attorneys handle the closings (and I know that is different is some parts of the country). So the realtor will often list the settlement/title attorney in the contract but the realtor doesn’t usually bring up insurance. I’m not saying the realtor never brings it up, but it’s the lender that’s going to make sure the policy is in place before they buyer goes to closing, which is why I recommend you focus on lenders first. One exception to this is if you have a great vacant home policy that you are marketing. In many instances, the seller will move out while the house is on the market, not realizing the vacancy clause in their homeowners policy. Depending on how long the home is empty, there could be a problem and many realtors are not aware of this. For realtors who focus on selling homes, connecting with them to promote your vacant home policy could be a good opportunity.

For this conversation, I’m focusing on the mortgage lender. But remember, the strategy I’m talking about will work for any strategic or referral partner.  

The first thing you should do is make a list of all of the mortgage lenders in your area.I would recommend you make a list of 100. (if that seems overwhelming, start with 50). To build your list, look on LinkedIn, in magazines  where they might be advertising and do an online search. You can also ask the realtors you know who they like to work with.

Look at those that work for credit unions, banks and private lending companies.

You’ll want to weed out those that have insurance agencies attached to their companies at first. It’s not that you don’t want to know them, but sometimes they are encouraged to give business to the in house firm so if you are looking to ramp up referrals, focus on those that are more independent and save those lenders for later.

It’s important to keep in mind that not every lender is going to be ideal for you.

You’ll want to prioritize them by those you can best serve. You might want lenders who focus on first time home buyers or lenders who have special programs for jumbo loans.

Part of the lenders you want to focus on ties back to the markets you have to provide insurance. If you are targeting a lender that mostly does million dollar plus loans and you don’t have a good carrier for that home value, you’d be spending a lot of time building the relationship but not being able to help their referrals. So identify the types of homeowners policies you are able to write and sort your list of lenders accordingly.  In some scenarios, this will be difficult to determine without talking to them, but as you meet with a few, you’ll have more of a feel of what they can offer and know which lenders to focus on first.

Ideally, you want to focus on lenders that are active - those that are out hustling for business, not those that are sitting back waiting to retire. You’ll also find some don’t have the same personality mindset that you have and you might choose to focus your attention on those that are like minded first.

This is why we start with a large list because some of them will get weeded to the bottom or off of the list completely.

Once you’ve weeded your list, you are going to want to meet them and build a relationship with them so that when they have clients going to closing, you are the one being recommended.

Next you’ll want to create a strategy of how to meet them. There are a number of different ways you can do this.

  • Connect with them on linkedin, see if they are on other social platforms as well and connect with them there. If you are on twitter, you might want to make a special list just for your lenders so you can easily see their posts and retweet and comment.
  • Invite them to coffee / lunch
  • Attend real estate functions - generally there is a real estate board or association in your area and the lenders will be there because they want to meet the realtors. Check out a meeting or two just to make sure there are enough lenders showing up, but I think you’ll be surprised at how many are there.
  • Create your own event just for lenders
    • Types of events - happy  hour, themed office parties;
  • You can also ask the realtors for an introduction or go to open houses that are sponsored by lenders to meet them. Both of these strategies will provide you with a warm introduction or at least make the first contact feel warm because there is a connection.
  • You can also do the reverse, invite a realtor you know and introduce them to a lender you want to meet.

One of the ways people conduct their first meetings is to learn about how each person conducts business and what type of business each person is looking for. Yes, you might wonder how you will find business for a lender, but you will if you learn to ask the right questions. The lenders job is to help you there. You might also discover that the lender wants introductions to financial advisors or other realtors that you know. The more you are able to help the lenders, the more they will keep you top of mind and refer their clients to you.

I’ve created a guide that you can use to prepare you for this type of conversation. It provides questions that you can ask but more importantly, it provides you with questions that you should know the answer to so that you can talk intelligently to your strategic partners. DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY HERE

There are so many steps that go into creating a strong referral program but getting started with meeting your strategic partners is the first step.

Start by building your list.

In future episodes, we’ll talk more about how to stay in touch once you meet for the first time, tracking your relationships, how to give back to your strategic partners and the little touches that make you stand out when you receive referrals.

If you would like to talk about creating your own referral strategy, connect with me on LinkedIn or send me an email to and let’s see if our working together is a good fit.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Business of Insurance. If you like what you are hearing, please go to iTunes and leave a review!


This episode of the Business of Insurance is hosted by Debbie DeChambeau, CIC, AAI, CPIA. Debbie is an insurance agent with an extensive business and marketing background. Her focus is helping insurance professionals be more successful. In addition to hosting this podcast, she is the host of the Select Business Team podcast and Divorce Exposed podcast. Connect with Debbie on LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram