Insurance professionals are intimately aware of their clients’ needs. They journey with them through life events and changing family circumstances over the course of a lifetime.
Because an insurance agent is often the first person called when life changes happen, these professionals are in a unique position to advise. Although no insurance professional should provide legal advice to clients, they often can provide a nudge to clue the client in on issues that may require legal representation or, at minimum, some legal advice.
To provide the full range of client service, it often makes sense to have referral relationships with trusted attorneys in your community. Not only can this resource provide an extra value to your clients, but a good lawyer can be a great source of referrals to grow your business.
There are many life events that arise when a client may actually need to engage an attorney. In some cases, this is evident and in others, it’s not.
For example, there are times when a client may be making changes in their policies due to a pending divorce. From the client’s perspective, they may be simply making a policy change that is needed as a result of the divorce. In some situations, it can be unlawful to remove a party or child from coverage during a pending divorce. In situations such as this, a client may open themselves up to legal exposure that can be avoided if properly consulted by counsel.
Additionally, there are times in estate planning when a client will need the assistance of both insurance professionals and legal counsel. For instance, as individuals do their end-of-life planning, they may purchase life insurance or other coverage. Having legal counsel who can guide them through the estate planning side of things, such as non-probate transfers and beneficiary designations, can result in practical solutions for the client’s needs.
Furthermore, there are times when individuals suffer a major loss or are involved in catastrophic loss. Although insurance providers frequently are the first to be contacted in these situations, legal counsel often can guide the client through the process of discussion with law enforcement or investigative bodies, tltimately reducing the exposure the insurance company and client may face.
In some situations, clients may be interested in setting up businesses or other professional services. Although having insurance is often a needed piece of the puzzle, the client may also consult with counsel to develop a legal structure to limit liability in the event a claim were to be made or suits were to be filed.
Finally, as any clients are looking into insurance policies, there are many fronts that may be addressed. The reality is that very few professionals may be able to serve their clients in every aspect of their lives. Often when consulting with clients, some their needs may not be identified simply due to the normal lens that insurance professionals look through. Having another set of eyes on the issue and on the client can result in a more holistic approach that can resolve many more of the issues than can be resolved by one professional alone.
As you look to establish a referral relationship with attorneys in your community that you trust, look for a firm with a strong track record of satisfied clients. A professional experience should be evident by their online presence, client reviews, and even the tone with which they answer calls. Are they responsive? Do they return emails with quick turnaround? Are they personable? Do they display a strong level of professionalism and expertise?
Studies completed by the ABA Journal, the Texas Bar Association and others have concluded that the No. 1 complaint against attorneys is in regard to communication. Make sure that any attorney you recommend is proactive in their communication with you, and by extension, with your clients.
Finally, attorneys and insurance professionals should make clear in any referral for services that the relationship between the client and every professional they retain are separate relationships, distinct from each other and not affiliated in any way. There is no liability for your agency when you refer other providers with an appropriate disclaimer. And in referring your clients, you may have saved them some stress in finding the help they need. Anytime you can be of service, it strengthens your relationship as well.
Paemon Aramjoo is a founding partner at Aramjoo Law Firm, Liberty, Mo. He may be contacted at [email protected].
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