Running a business is tough business. You’re often required to be a jack-of-all-trades spreading your time and attention in a million different directions. Then it comes time to think about what you need to do to protect what you’ve built. The beauty of some commercial coverage is it isn’t one-size fits all. You have the opportunity to make it work for your particular needs.
Therefore, when you begin this process of purchasing coverage, you may want to consider working with an independent insurance agent. An independent agent will know specific details about alternative insurance coverage options, learn the particular details about your business, and can help you create a plan with the best solutions for your unique needs.
According to a December 2014 study conducted by J.D. Powers and the Risk Management Society, there are some key attributes agents can provide to their clients to extend their value proposition beyond just the initial purchase. Five important traits to look for when identifying and selecting an insurance agent are: a trusted advisor, responsive customer service, in-person meetings, transactional competence, and honesty.
1) You Need a Trusted Advisor: Being a business owner, you may think you know everything you need to know about protecting your business. What the right kind of agent can offer is industry knowledge, coupled with insurance product knowledge. The agent can test your assumptions and analyze your business practices and offer solutions designed to meet the exposures and needs of your business.
Ask an agent you’re considering working with if he or she schedules regular meetings to discuss what is and isn’t working. This will give you an opportunity to develop your relationship. You should also ask for advice on certain risk management topics so you can implement the best practices with your organization.
New threats continually arise to businesses. A good agent will bring you the newest products and offerings to help keep you and your employees protected and secure year over year.
2) Responsive Customer Service: You should expect your agent to bring you a competitive price for the appropriate coverage and services to meet your needs. Great agents go the extra mile to efficiently manage and coordinate the claims process when you incur a loss.
Some agents take a team approach to managing your risk and will provide coordinated communication to minimize delays or frustration. As the business owner, you should expect timely and important insurance and risk management information specific to your company.
3) Face-to-Face Meetings: Most agents’ philosophy is that in-person meeting and site visits are essential to best serving the needs of their customers. Seeing your day-to-day operations will help you and your agent develop a strong relationship and discuss details of your risk management needs. Technology can be used for many daily activities and communication, however, you want an agent that’s willing to cement their partnership with you, and really get to know you and your company’s values.
4) Learn How Transactional Competence is Maintained: An important part of working with an agent, especially with respect to claims management and loss control, is what they offer in ongoing customer service. You are well within your right to put together a service plan with an agent so you both are aware of the expectations needed for your business.
It’s fair to expect all the necessary(but not-so-glamorous) things from your agent -like issuing policies correctly, providing certificates of insurance as needed, along with helping an underwriter accurately understand your concerns and potential issues. All these administrative tasks should be accomplished by your agent in a timely and efficient manner.
5) Look for Honesty: This is important in any business relationship. Insurance agents are held to high ethical standards given the professional and advisory nature of their role, much like professional accountants. The agent’s goal of ensuring your company is secure and protected for its duration requires honesty and communication. A risk manager needs to be able to tell you when they don’t know something – and then find you the answer. Or when they think something isn’t a good idea, find the right solution. Through initial conversations you can get a sense of an agent’s strategic advice and communication style, which will help you find the best fit for you and your business. Bottom line is you need someone you can trust during the good times, and the not so good times.
Source: National Underwriter. Dynamic Duo. April 2015.
Acadia Insurance is pleased to share this material with its customers. Please note, however, that nothing in this document should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services. This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness.