The Loyalty Trap: trusting a seller that can’t be trusted


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We all develop relationships with sellers that we do business with by force of habit–and sometimes out of laziness. Unfortunately, these relationships can cost unquestioning consumers thousands and thousands of dollars, as happened to me over time.

Let me start with a question. “Would you renew your auto and property insurance year after year with a large insurance underwriter, without bothering to get competitive quotes every other year or so?” I believe most people would answer, “Yes.” Who the hell wants to waste time going through the underwriting process over and over again? It can take days worth of time.

If you’re in this rut, get out of it. Quickly.

I finally wised up when our son turned 16 and got his driver’s license. Only upped our insurance policy by $3,000. We yelped. So I called our very service-minded agent at a large brokerage. She told me that it wasn’t worth shopping the coverage, because all carriers charge like that for new drivers, and we’d lose our comprehensive coverage discount of 15% or so on all our insurance if we split out this one piece of coverage. And I actually accepted that –for a while–or so I thought.

But I really hadn’t. So a couple of months later, I sighed a deep sigh and went out on the web to get quotes. What a pain in the tush. Calls, e-mails, faxes, everything but paper airplanes buzzing the house.
And after virtually vomiting information at these bidders, quotes started coming in.

Guess what? To cut right to the quick, shifting our coverage to a reputable A.M. Best A+ rated company would save us more than chump change. It would save us over $3,000 annually, including 50% off what we’d been paying on the property casualty side. What an eye opener–at the cost to us of well over $10,000, perhaps even $20,000, over the years.

That’s what trusting a seller than can’t be trusted can cost you.

PS: Post a comment with how much you wind up saving.


  1. Andy – for me, part of the reluctance to check rates was not wanting to shop a rep who had given us excellent service. I actually felt bad telling her we were going elsewhere, despite all the $$ we’ lost.

  2. Dick: over the years I’ve called on many company executives who have responded “No thanks. We’re completely happy with our current provider.”

    One selling skills expert recommended countering such a sentiment by asking “Would you like to know if your loyalty is costing you anything?”

    The question sounded a little crass to me, and the few times I delivered it, I didn’t do a very good job of making it sound like a friendly invitation to meet. Your blog reminds me that there is a loyalty trap, and asking that question could provide a great service to customers.


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