According to one study, about 67% of apartment dwellers and house renters do not have an HO-4 (renters insurance) policy. What does this mean to you? Given the number of renters in the U.S., this is a vast untapped market. Admittedly, the commissions aren’t great, but what better place to start a newly licensed producer or a CSR. In addition, if you explain it convincingly, it could be an opportunity to sell additional coverages even homeowners are reticent to buy, along with commercial lines now or in the future.

There is an insurance discussion board I frequent from time to time. A question was recently posed by a new producer who was struggling to get leads. I used to teach agent licensing schools in the ’90s and would suggest to participants that, if they were starting in personal lines and looking for prospects, to consider what I called “Doorknob Marketing.” You would think in today’s world of social media and technology that this would be an antiquated method, but it still works.

For example, one of the posters on the aforementioned discussion board commented:

“When I started in the agency, apartments became a main source for new business. I would custom make displays for the larger complexes that included flyers, business cards, tear off numbers, etc. Most had a community bulletin board to use, or provided a ‘new tenant package’, or even the laundry room – anywhere the complex would allow the information. I had a ‘route’ of 10 or so large complexes and I would check in once a month, chat with the rental managers, and restock. Great referral sources, and I never saw them empty handed. Even the complexes that sold their own coverage would eventually refer me business. Consistency paid off.”

Another efficient means of marketing is to contact the apartment manager and offer to put on a free 30-45 minute presentation on renters and auto insurance. Be sure to stress the importance of liability coverage with vivid examples such as the renter whose unattended charcoal grill burned down a $600,000 apartment building and destroyed the contents of 15 other tenants. This format will also allow you to provide more substantive handout materials.

Below is a link to a sample “doorknob” marketing piece I designed just as an example. I’m sure you can do something much more creative and effective. You can get thousands of these things printed at a very low cost.

Sample Doorknob Marketing Hanger

While you’re marketing renters (and perhaps condo) insurance, this gets your proverbial foot in the door to offer auto, umbrella, and other coverages needed by apartment dwellers. Given the liability exposure of negligently damaging rented property or injuring someone in a high-density residential environment, an umbrella policy is often of greater value to a renter than a home owner. In addition, this activity may establish relationships and a track record for marketing commercial lines products to tenants and/or landlords and HOAs.

In the past, I’ve heard from at least two former licensing school students that this approach got them started in the business. In one case, a student ‘graduated’ from this to probably being one of the largest producers of HOA commercial lines in the city.

Photo by

The following two tabs change content below.

Bill Wilson

Founder at
One of the premier insurance educators in America on form, coverage, and technical issues; Founder and director of the Big “I” Virtual University; Retired Assoc. VP of Education and Research from Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. Reprint Request Information