by Angus MacCaull

For several years, our online quote requests moved from broker to broker. We thought online quote requests were like voicemail. We thought as long as someone got the message, we could do business as usual. But we were wrong. Without a dedicated online broker, the conversations that lead to trust weren’t happening as often. We struggled to fit these requests into our workflow.

We now know that online quote requests are not like voicemail. Clients and brokers—and people in general—use the internet to communicate in a different way than they use the telephone.

Since September 2015, Melanie Vidito has been our dedicated online broker. All quote and contact requests from go directly to her. “You never know what’ll be in your inbox!” she says.

Melanie likes her job because it allows her to work from her home office. She also likes the variety and the challenge. Home and auto make up most of the requests, but life and commercial requests come in, too. And the age range might surprise you. A lot of people who use our website are in their thirties or forties, but teenagers and people in their seventies also seem to like it.

The order of coverage questions is often different than in person. For example, if “John” comes into the office and asks for insurance for his truck, the first thing you might ask him about is the truck model. You can worry about his last name later. But if “John” sends in an online quote request, Melanie will probably ask him about his last name straight away. When someone is out there on the internet—and they haven’t provided a last name—it’s tough to tell how serious they are about getting insurance.

Some days, a lot of requests come in and Melanie asks for help from other brokers. And sometimes existing clients use our site to ask about their existing coverage or about new kinds of coverage. So Melanie gets in touch with the client’s broker and helps everybody get on the same page.

One thing that Melanie doesn’t like about her job is feeling a little disconnected from her old TeAAM in Greenwich. Though she makes a point to stop by the office to send mail and catch up on gossip, she knows she’s missing out on some things. “I think of Cheryl,” she says, “doing processing at her home office [also in the Valley]. Now I feel bad for ever having forgotten to include her in something!”

But there are pros and cons to every role, and Melanie loves being able to visit her one-year-old daughter, Neveah, during the workday. At lunch time, she rocks Neveah in her arms, taking over from the babysitter (her mother-in-law) for twenty wonderful minutes.

We don’t know yet how online clients in the Maritimes will want to take care of their insurance in the future. After they’ve made initial contact online, they may gravitate naturally to the closest office in their area. Or a substantial “online only” book of business may develop.

What we do know is that we will continue to strive to be available, however people want to communicate. And, of course, we will continue to learn.


Closeup of a knitted hat
They didn’t make the big game, but Melanie’s still keeping warm!