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Are You Missing Opportunities to Cross Sell?

Author: Nancy Germond

There are plenty of reasons to cross sell, but how do agents find the time and talent to do the outreach needed to place new business for current customers? As recently as 2019, the estimated cost to an independent agency to acquire a new client was $900, according to Insurance Thought Leadership. Cross-selling a current customer costs a lot less.

What is Cross Selling?

Let's define cross selling. Cross-selling occurs when you market to and sell new products to existing customers. For example, your customer with her home and auto with you may be a strong prospect for an umbrella policy, especially if you learn she just installed a pool. Or your auto only customer may need a tenant's homeowner's policy but doesn't realize that it not only covers his belongings but can protect him for liability arising out of his frequent golf games.

Today's consumers want easy access to everything. By lacking technology for online quoting and an inability to meet the demand for almost instantaneous inquiry responses, many agencies today are outpaced by their larger competitors.

Many agents today focus heavily on social media outreach to acquire new customers. However, agents can effectively use social media to cross-sell to existing clients with the right social media campaigns and by creating a loyal customer following.

Why Cross Sell?

There are at least five solid reasons to cross sell to your current clients.

  1. You're touching base with your current clients, making your relationship with them “stickier."
  2. You're validating their current insurance needs, helping to bulletproof your agency against an errors and omissions situation.
  3. It costs a lot less to cross sell than to harvest a new client.
  4. As the current producer on the account rather than a competitor agent, you are best situated to explore your client's needs.
  5. The devil you know is better than the one you don't know. Today's consumers are simply more difficult to satisfy, so cultivating the good customers you have creates less chance you'll acquire a difficult one.

You don't want to be that agent who only calls your clients if a problem arises. Taking the opportunity to call or reach out via email at birthdays, special occasions like holidays, or other times can build your relationship with your existing customers, making you less reliant on the harder hunt for new clients.

Coverages You Can Cross Sell

Here are just some of the coverages you can review with your customers to validate their coverage needs.

Commercial Lines

  • Accounts Receivable/Valuable Papers
  • Active Assailant Coverage
  • Boiler & Machinery
  • Bond, Performance and Others
  • Business Auto
  • Business Income
  • Business Owners Policy
  • Commercial Flood
  • Commercial Property
  • Commercial Umbrella
  • Crime
  • Cyber
  • Electronic Data Processing
  • Employment Practices
  • Equipment Breakdown
  • Equipment Floaters
  • Garage & Dealers
  • General Liability
  • Glass & Sign
  • Installation / Builders Risk
  • Kidnap & Ransom
  • Motor Truck Cargo
  • Pollution Liability
  • Professional Liability
  • Transportation
  • Truckers / Motor Carriers
  • Workers Compensation/Employers Liability


Personal Lines

  • Auto
  • Boat
  • Earthquake
  • Flood
  • Homeowners/Renters
  • Jewelry/Fine Arts
  • Personal Umbrella
  • Recreational Vehicles/ATVs/E-bikes
  • Standalone Canine Coverage


Life & Health

  • Annuities
  • Critical Illness
  • Disability – Short/Long Term
  • Health
  • Life


With a little brainstorming with your other producers, you can no doubt expand that list.

As early as 2006, Allstate began urging its agents to cross sell life and health. My father started his insurance career, which spanned over 50 years, in life insurance. However, as he focused more on writing commercial and personal lines coverage, he brought in an agent who specialized in life and health.

We're not suggesting if you lack experience in life and health that you jump in with both feet. Consider partnering with another agent who specializes in life and health coverage to help keep another life agent, perhaps that captive agent right down the street from your insured, from cherry picking your clients. Direct writer/captive agents offer many other coverages in addition to life insurance. You know the old saying about letting a camel's nose in the tent. Once the nose in in, pretty soon the whole darn camel is in your tent.

Tips About Cross Selling

As a producer, you may feel you don't have time to cross sell. Consider having your customer service rep do the heavy lifting. Just ensure only licensed agents reach out to your customers to discuss coverage. It may be acceptable for an unlicensed insurance staff member call to set an appointment, but only licensed agents should talk coverage specifics.

Next, document your conversation to protect youself, and follow up by email or in writing. You never want an insured saying, “You never told me higher limits were available" when they're hit with an underinsurance or coinsurance issue, or “You never offered me that coverage. I don't have coverage for my claim. I would have bought that coverage if you'd offered it [no matter what the price!]."

Consider your target market. If you sell to a retirement community population, chances are they may need life insurance for their children, because if something happens to one of their kids, they may face raising grandchildren. Or if you have a solid book of bar and tavern business, it might be worthwhile to review your book and ensure you've offered and documented assault and battery coverage. And of course, all your insureds now face escalating costs associated with rebuilding a damaged property, so part of your cross-sell techniques should include discussing property and business income values.

Finally, don't push. Simply ask questions, such as these.

  • How has your family changed in the last few years?
  • What kind of work are you doing currently?
  • Do you feel you have enough life insurance/disability coverage through your job?
  • Has the value of your home increased in the last few years?
  • Have you bought any new items that might need insurance, such as a piece of jewelry, a boat, or an ebike?
  • Do you feel that your current insurance is adequate for your current situation?

Follow up with an email or letter thanking your insured for his or her time and offering to talk further if they have questions or concerns. Remind them that if anything changes in their household, or they're considering making a major purchase such as a new vehicle or a vacation home, they should contact you for assistance and a coverage quote.

This documents your conversation and helps protect you against allegations of professional negligence. You can develop an agency template you can use repeatedly that will reduce the number of keystrokes you'll need to document your conversation.

Cross selling is a great way to add value to your existing book of business without incurring the costs associated with new client acquisition. 

Last Updated: April 14, 2023


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