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Summer 2016 Voice Two Cents Responses: 

Question 1:  Which standard of Smart Office do you like the least & why?

I am a current full time Agent and UFAA member from Southern California (high desert area). What I hate most about smart office is the hours they expect us to work.  I thought I was self-employed until they started telling me I must be open 45 hours or more a week. I am now “Smart Office” compliant but I am only open 40 hrs a week and available like always by appointment.

California Member

I can’t stand that Farmers says your office must be open 45 hours per week.  I am an independent contractor, not FIG’s employee.

Utah Member

There are way too many issues I have with Smart Office.  There is no mention in my contract from 1984 that allows the company this kind of control over my agency or says that I am required to comply with this. 

The issue that is my least favorite and which I have refused to comply with is their statement that my customer service reps and I have to sign an appointment agreement and contract with the company in which I give the company first rights against my contract value for anything that happens. (My staff represent “me” and “my agency” and they are all licensed in accordance with the state of CA requirements).  As a result of my not signing on with this BS, I am not smart office compliant and not eligible for any bonuses.  I make this company a lot of money, have retention numbers that are approx. 10 pts higher than the state, but I’m not good enough for the bonus because of this.

30+ year Agent

The thing I like least about the Smart Office situation is the pricing on the signage. The vendors provided by FIG charge 2 to 3 times the rates of all other vendors. Pretty typical of a FIG business deal. FIGs rates are also 2 to 3 times the rates of all other competitors. That should be the new FIG Logo: “We charge 2 to 3 times more on EVERYTHING.” Bom bom bom, bom bom, bom bom…..

20+ year Arkansas Agent

I don’t want farmers telling me how to run my business. I am a 1099er, not a w2 employee.

Texas Member

Speaking for myself, a professional office should be a priority for all of us. However, the callous, threatening way Farmers management presented the Smart Office program was demeaning and disrespected the fact Agents are all Independent Contractors, not employees.  Throw in the obvious inflated cost for signage which caused many agents to distrust management even more. FGI should have offered help as if they were really our partners. The whole FGI organization needs people skills training.

Over 20 year member

Paint Color Selections – The limited paint choices don’t often mesh with existing office décor i.e. carpet colors, furniture or artwork.

Wachington agent

I am an agent in Texas -over 30 years. I do not like being told what hours I have to be open-I am not an employee and nowhere in my contract does it say that I have to be open 45 hours a week.

Texas Agent

Question 2:  When has a company representative (claims, service center, etc.) gone above & beyond to help you or your client?

I had a claims adjuster go out of his way to get a claim resolved for me yesterday.  The insured and I felt that a body shop had inflated a claim beyond what was needed and it resulted in a total loss.  The insured disagreed and was going to cancel the claim fix it himself and cancel with us.  I got the claims adjuster to come look at the vehicle at my office and then had the insured follow him to another COD shop that ultimate will fix the car much cheaper which will allow the insured to keep his car and he’s happy.

20+ year California Agent

Background: On 02/20/2004, we added a 9500.00 Jewelry Floater to a Special Form Homeowners Policy and provided the appraisal at that time. On 06/24/2009, due to a competitive rate issue, we rewrote the policy to a Next Gen. Since the Appraisal was over 5 years old, we required an updated one in order to include the Jewelry Floater on the new policy. The Insured was aware of this, but upon receiving the new policy, they misinterpreted some language in the coverage section thinking that her ring was covered under the new policy. On 06/30/2016, the Insured filed a claim upon the realization that her diamond had come loose of the setting at some point in time that day. She was informed by claims that there was no coverage under her policy for such an event. She called my office quite upset, thinking all the while that her jewelry was covered under the policy. Long story short, and after numerous conversations with the claims representative, Farmers retro reinstated the Jewelry Floater back onto the policy effective the previous renewal in order to provide coverage. In this particular case, Farmers Claims went the extra mile to take care of a long time, loyal customer.

Washington Agent

Claims has always been awesome.   It’s rare that I have a complaint.   I do have people calling to complain because they don’t understand the policy, but once they do, all is good.    Claims has always been very awesome to deal with

25+ year Agent

I always credit our local claim center when a re-inspection of a roof has to take place due to a hail storm.  Majority of the time, the local BCO has over ruled the storm adjuster and the client winds up with a new roof, etc.  Further, questions are always asked by clientele to the agent whereby I do not have the answer (after 35 years) and the  only recourse is the local claim center.  It may take awhile to answer, but the claims people go above and beyond in their research to help the agent and the client.  Questions are encouraged.  –  We Nebraska agents are very fortunate to have this working relationship.  It’s really the claims center that keeps the business on the books.

Nebraska Member

In Colorado there’s a property claims email where you can submit general questions, Phil Murray is the claims representative who usually replies and he is always so helpful and knowledgeable!  He always gets back to me quickly with an answer and his in-depth knowledge allows him to anticipate the follow up questions his answer would inevitably trigger and he provides those answers too so that you have all the information you need to address customer questions all in one shot.  It’s a great set up that I wish we had for auto & liability questions too.  Thank you Phil!!

Cindy Scheuerman, 7 year Agent, Colorado