Don’t look at price alone—look at the people brokering your coverage, too.
When shopping for insurance, many business owners—even ones who consider coverage an important part of their operations—use price as the deciding factor when choosing an insurance agency or broker.
Not that price isn’t important. It is—very much so, in fact. But so is the quality of your brokers. After all, they’re the ones who hold the keys to attaining (and sustaining) the most competitive pricing.
Choosing the Right Broker
Here are a few things to focus on when selecting a brokerage or agency:
Professionalism // Aim to find knowledgeable insurance and risk management professionals. This goes beyond choosing an organization with employees who are licensed and experienced. Look for individuals who have attained industry-recognized designations, such as Commercial Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) or Associate in Risk Management (ARM), which offer an added level of expertise.
Claim mitigation // When disaster strikes, you want to know your broker is ready to help you get back on your feet. It is important to understand the “how” behind your broker’s claims mitigation practices. Don’t be afraid to pose hypothetical claim scenarios or ask for examples of when they have successfully managed a claim situation.
Communication // Open communication with your broker is paramount. Your broker or agent should be responsive—24 hours or less between replies—regardless of whether the issue is fairly rudimentary, like requesting a certificate, or “game changing” such as you engaging in a completely new avenue of business with an entirely different risk profile.
Marketplace interaction // Make sure you have a good understanding of how your brokerage or agency conducts business with insurance carriers. Ask which insurance companies they work with, and inquire whether those carriers typically underwrite your type of business. It’s a good sign if a broker works with a wide variety of carriers. That means there’s going to be more competition for your business.
Organizational profile // What type of organization are you? Does your broker have a good understanding of this, and how does their organization match up with yours in terms of scope and direction?
Shopping your broker is not the same as shopping your insurance carrier. You trust your broker to shop the insurance marketplace on your behalf; a savvy broker will do this for you on a regular basis.
Finding the broker who best fits your business and sticking with them is a recipe for success, but it is also wise to reevaluate your current broker or agent from time to time, usually every three to five years. This can be practical because not all brokers have access to the same insurance carriers, and your organization might not always be a good fit for theirs or vice versa.