Ten Tips to Boosting “Toy” Sales: Progressive

As Peak Season For Specialty Vehicles Begins, Progressive Offers Agents Tips on Adding Incremental Business

MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio � February 9, 2004 � As the popularity of motorcycles, boats, personal watercraft and recreational vehicles (RVs) continues to grow, the opportunity for independent agents to expand their business and increase customer satisfaction also improves. As owners of these vehicles prepare for the good weather season, independent agents should brush up on their sales skills in order to capture more of this business and grow their agencies.

The Progressive group of companies (third largest auto insurance group in the country; largest writer of motorcycle insurance in the U.S. and largest writer of RV insurance through independent agents) has found that many agents are growing their business by targeting customers who own boats, motorcycles and RVs and cross-selling other lines to meet these customers’ needs. For example, three-quarters of all motorcycle owners are also homeowners, which offers agents terrific cross-selling opportunities with these customers.

“Agents can enhance profits and improve retention by better understanding the needs and buying habits of their customers,” said Ben Sheridan, manager for boats, motorcycles and RVs at Progressive. “Owners of specialty vehicles offer agents a huge growth opportunity – providing them with the right coverage options can correlate to more business for agents. We wanted to alert agents to this, and offer some useful tips to help them grow their business.”

Tips to enhance sales of boat, motorcycle and RV policies:

  • Hone your list of homeowners. More than 75 percent of motorcycle owners and 78 percent of RV owners are homeowners – comb your list of homeowners for potential leads.
  • Towing tip offs. Asking customers who purchase insurance for trucks or SUVs with trailer hitches what they plan to tow may land you boat, motorcycle or all-terrain vehicle (ATV) policies.
  • Retiree review. Thirty-four (34) percent of RV owners are retirees – ask your retiree clients if they own or plan to own an RV.
  • ‘Getting to know you’ time. Uncover new opportunities for sales by asking new or existing customers what they do in their spare time.
  • Let their fingers do the walking. Boat, motorcycle and RV enthusiasts often check telephone directories and Web sites for insurance providers. Make sure your listing is prominent and includes the fact that you can insure these products.
  • Event sponsorship. Consider sponsoring a local fishing tournament or sailing regatta, or advertise at local RV shows. These activities place agency names in front of captive audiences.
  • Make it fun! Develop creative direct mail and advertising campaigns that focus on the enjoyment and relaxation these vehicles offer – and the additional peace of mind they receive by choosing the best policy with the right agency.
  • Association avenues. Many motorcycle, boat and RV owners participate in related clubs and associations – investigate sponsorship or advertising opportunities.
  • Quote unusual vehicles. Scooters, ATVs, mopeds, personal watercraft, older motorcycles and other rare vehicles may be difficult for customers to insure. Progressive offers a rate for nearly every vehicle type, which increases customer satisfaction and opens doors for special line sales.
  • Deal with dealers. Network with boat, motorcycle and RV dealers in your area and seek ways to leverage your strengths.

Traditionally, insurance for these vehicle types have been marketed as add-on sales to homeowner policies, although this can sometimes lead to unhappy customers when losses are not completely covered. For example, homeowner policies place strict limitations on boat sizes and horsepower, offer few add-on options and rarely send specially trained representatives to manage claims. By selling boat-specific policies, agents have new sales options and customers receive the assurance that their investment is truly protected.

“With some owners spending thousands of dollars on customized parts, insuring specialty vehicles can be complex,” said Dave Vieregg, national sales manager for boats, motorcycles and RVs at Progressive. “Progressive simplifies the application process and helps guide agents to ensure their customers are adequately covered.”

“Progressive makes it easy for us to provide customers with accurate rates, and also simplifies the quoting process with easy-to-use software,” said Russell Jamieson, president of Florida Highway and Marine Insurance Agency. “Once we earn a customer’s trust on these vehicles, which they treasure, we can soon become their choice for home, auto and life policies as well.”

Progressive is the No. 1 writer of motorcycles in the country, and also trains claims representatives on boats, RVs and motorcycles at a dedicated training facility to enhance settlement accuracy on these often hard-to-estimate vehicles. The Company also offers specialty coverages such as total loss replacement, which protects boat owners against depreciation and inflation, as well as diminishing deductibles and add-on coverages including fishing equipment, on-water towing and fuel spill liability and wreckage removal.

The Progressive group of insurance companies, in business since 1937, ranks third in the nation for auto insurance, is the largest writer of motorcycle insurance in the US, and also provides RV, ATV, boat, personal watercraft and commercial vehicle insurance. The company offers insurance through more than 30,000 independent insurance agencies throughout the US. Authorized agents can logon to Progressive’s agency-dedicated Web site, ForAgentsOnly.com (FAO) to access customer policies, process policy transactions, get state and countrywide news, and use other interactive features.