Expanded Insurance Sales A Boost To Bottom Line

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Credit Union: Smart Financial, Houston

Nominated By: State National

Nominated For: Deployment of various insurance coverages

Smart Financial Credit Union is having the best sales of after-market products in its 70-year history, a fact the CU's vice president of lending attributes to its relationship with State National Companies, a Fort Worth, Texas-based group of insurance companies and agencies.

Dana Rawlings describes himself as a person who doesn't give compliments freely. However, he made an exception when talking about the company that helped Smart Financial Credit Union to improve its business in collateral protection insurance, credit life and disability, and LoJack and Eagle Eye vehicle recovery systems.

"The relationship between us and State National is outstanding," he said. "Since we started working with State National in the first of the year, our penetration of credit life and disability has increased 250%. A rep from State National works once every 60 days at our branches performing training and follow-up so all of our member service representatives are prepared to offer this insurance to members."

"If people know something about sales, they know if a company doesn't constantly remind their staff what they are selling, they forget," he added.

Collateral protection insurance serves two purposes, Rawlings said. First, it protects a credit union's investment in automobiles it finances for members. Second, in the instances when members cannot afford to pay for insurance, the CU pays for the premium and adds the cost to the auto loan as part of the monthly payment.

"We have a full-time State National person who works in our main branch. She handles all CPI claims, does follow-up and answers all members' questions about CPI."

Asked about member feedback, Rawlings said Smart Financial received one or two complaints per month regarding State National products in 2003, but in 2004, "maybe one or two all year."

Rawlings said he was not comfortable discussing the specifics of the income generated by SFCU's insurance business, but he described it as a "significant increase" over prior years, especially on credit life and disability.

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