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Cobb-Hall Insurance receives NU Agency of the Year Award

Michael Hall believes true success in the property & casualty industry is achieved by cultivating relationships that extend far beyond premiums.
“It’s a relationship business that we’re in,” says the president and CEO of the Howell, Mich.-based Cobb-Hall Insurance, sitting on the deck of his yacht during an early morning call, watching the sun rise over Lake Michigan. “We work really hard to maintain that relationship. We understand that price is important, but the most important thing is to care about our insured.We are there when they need us, not when we can get back to them.” Cobb-Hall Insurance’s offices in Howell, Mich.
The lion’s share of the agency’s book is split between personal and commercial lines, but Cobb-Hall Insurance also offers Life & Health products. Hall says his agency’s more-than-94% retention rate, more than 4,000 clients and 17 employees can be chalked up to good relationships — not only with clients, but with underwriters, adjusters, marketing representatives and officers.
Maintaining those relationships involves regular, clear communication. “Each client has a specific customer service agent assigned to them, and our folks will regularly reach out and contact them.”
Hall also believes in motivating the staff by giving them a stake in the agency’s success. “We have net-gain bonuses, our Customer Service Agents get commission, they get referral commissions, and we have retention and profit-sharing bonuses,” he notes. “We have created an environment where hardworking people can be successful.”

Educating the client
One of the company’s main goals is to make insurance easy to understand for clients, reducing any confusion about their insurance needs. Hall says the agency gives customers the best opportunity for discounts, and helps minimize any chance of coverage slipping through the cracks by taking a “more personal approach” to writing new polices.
For example, when writing new business, Cobb-Hall provides written instructions to all its commercial clients: an easy, step-by-step guide to filing claims. The company also distributes informational cards clients can keep in their vehicles with instructions about how to proceed if an accident occurs.
Hall also cites the company’s 24/7 claim notification service. “Someone is always available to immediately assist with serious claims and provide emergency help,” he says. Cobb-Hall President and CEO Michael Hall
The technology piece
With technical innovations changing every aspect of the insurance industry, Cobb-Hall agents’ tech-savvy way of doing business has given the company the extra edge it needs to stay competitive. Some of the ways in which the company engages clients and prospective customers is via electronic newsletters with links to helpful articles on Cobb-Hall’s website blog postings.
For example, one piece of content on the agency’s website is “The Best Home Video You Can Make,” which is an article that teaches consumers how to document their insurables in case they ever suffer a loss. “It goes through how to make a video in case you ever have a claim,” says Hall.
“This is a cost-effective way to provide information and stay in contact with clients. Blogs on our website make complicated insurance topics easy to understand and convenient to access,” he adds.
In addition, sales-video presentations used in meetings with potential clients concisely explain Cobb-Hall Insurance. “We never just give out proposals,” says Hall. “We take the time to put together a proposal for a new client. We want to compare and contrast what we do different and how it’s better. And in some cases, we’re not always better, but we want to compare and contrast with what [policies] they have currently.”
To help best identify potential clients, the company recently launched a digital geographic- and economic-targeted mobile phone advertising campaign that employs geo-mapping technology. “Geo-mapping allows us to select parameters that we know we’re good at and attract [potential clients] to our website through our mobile application,” says Hall.
Community engagement
Cobb-Hall’s marketing efforts target clients on multiple platforms, from Facebook and billboards to radio and various print publications. “Agency marketing is one of the biggest challenges in our industry,” says Hall. “Clients don’t always respond to you when you want them to; they respond when they need you.”
Hall says an important part of doing business in the state of Michigan is making your brand a household name, and one key way through which Cobb-Hall Insurance has achieved this is through its active community involvement.
The event Hall and his staff are most proud of is the company’s nearly 20-year-long sponsorship of the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade. The yearly light spectacle, held the day after Thanksgiving in the small town of Howell, attracts some 30,000 people each year. “This is the kickoff to the Christmas season,” says Hall. “People come from all over the state to see it.”
However, community activism isn’t limited to the holiday season; Cobb-Hall’s staff members volunteer their time to causes throughout the year. The agency supports the United Way program by making contributions, “and we’re members and very supportive of all three Chambers of Commerce in our county,” Hall notes.
The company also funds a booth at the summer Howell “MelonFest,” and Cobb-Hall Courtyard provides a stage for “Rock the Block” concerts.
“Part of the reason Cobb-Hall has been so successful over the years is that we don’t just take from the community,” he adds. “We’ve made an effort to give back.”

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