One of the great things about the Internet is the sheer amount of free information available — much of it from federal agencies. This maxim certainly applies to personal lines insurance and risk management.
For example, you can quickly determine if your clients or prospective clients live in a high-risk flood zone. Go to www.floodsmart.gov and look on the right side of the home page under the heading “One-Step Flood Risk Profile.” Enter the client’s address to see if he or she is in a moderate-to-low-risk flood zone or in a high-risk flood zone. The website also provides an estimated premium for contents only, building only, or both. In addition, flood maps for most communities are readily available on this website.
The U.S. Geological Survey offers valuable information for determining if any of your clients live in an area prone to earthquakes. Go to www.usgs.gov and follow these steps:
1. Select the orange rectangular box titled “Hazards” at the top of the page.
2. Choose the earthquake hazards link near the top left side of the page.
3. Select “Earthquakes — Info by State” at the bottom left side of the page.
4. You are then presented with state options.
5. Select a state, such as Tennessee.
6. Under the “Maps” heading, select “Seismic Hazard Map of Tennessee.”
A quick look at this map indicates that the area to the north of Memphis is the
higher-risk part of the state for earthquakes. This type of information can be very
helpful in making the proper earthquake insurance recommendations to your clients.
Sinkholes are another peril to consider for certain states. Sinkholes cause the most
damage in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and
Texas. The USGS has a map that shows the areas of the country where certain rock
types may be susceptible to sinkholes.
Other perils for which the USGS website provides excellent information are volcanoes and mudslides. The site offers detailed information and maps for the state’s most exposed to volcanoes — Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. For example, the USGS provides a map of the western U.S. volcanoes monitored by the Cascades Volcano Observatory.
Taking advantage of these free resources is an effective way of standing out from other insurance agents who are simply “personal lines insurance order takers.”Serving as your client’s risk manager in this way will assuredly improve your retention, customer satisfaction, and customer service.