Educate June 2016

Professional Relationship Advice – How To Turn an Insurance Underwriter On

Written By: Brian Scarborough

In my almost 20 years of working with businesses on commercial insurance, I’ve had to spend a good bit of time reprogramming clients on how to go about marketing themselves to insurers. Some never grasp that spending a little effort wooing your insurance carrier can yield savings in the long run. Maybe it’s a question of relinquishing power to someone you’re ultimately going to spend a lot of money on, but how is that different than dating (or marriage)? When it comes to insurance, you’ve got to be attractive in the eyes of the insurance company. With apologies to Cheap Trick: You want them to want you, and you need them to need you.

So, without further ado or lyrical piracy, here are some tips on how to put your best foot forward to incite the maximum amount of lust from the commercial insurance marketplace.

1. Look Good Online

In today’s world, the first place an underwriter goes when considering quoting an account is to your website (don’t forget about your social media accounts, too). Make sure the content you control online is professional, and think twice about posting the photos from your company party that featured base-jumping and beer pong. Don’t over-represent your business scope on your website, either. While you may think it impressive to list NASA as a client, if you only produced one year’s decals for the employee parking lot, think about how this listing may scare an underwriter off in terms of perceived risk.

2. Sell Yourself

If you’re a larger account and your agent is worth his or her commission, you’ll occasionally be visited by various underwriters or loss control representatives from carriers considering your account. Plan ahead on what content to present during the meeting and which key employees to introduce. Be a good host, offer refreshments and take them on a tour of your business like you would your best customer. Give them as much time as they need, make an effort to get to know them personally during your meeting, and send them an email or note thanking them for their visit. I once worked with a nonprofit client whose COO was the best advocate for any business that I’ve ever been fortunate enough to represent. I knew that if I could get underwriters in front of him for an hour, not only would they be dying to write the account but they’d also probably make a personal donation to the cause before leaving. Remember, you want something from these people. Don’t make the mistake of believing that they’re there solely to impress you when it is certainly a two-way street.

3. Claims

Never have any. Kidding! Any prospective insurance company is going to ask about prior claims. If you’re working with a new agent who isn’t familiar with your account (or the contents of this article), don’t just send the claims data they request. Rather, explain the cause of each loss and, more importantly, what you’ve done to hopefully prevent the same loss from reoccurring. If you’re hosting
a representative from a prospective insurer, know your claims history cold and offer to discuss each and every claim. I promise this will make you stand out from the other clients they interview.

4. Pay

I know it sounds simple, but be sure to pay your premium on time. If you have a claim or other adverse event and an insurer is considering breaking up with you, your payment history is a signi cant factor they consider on whether you’re a good risk.

5. Document Your Process

Nothing makes a loss control nerd hotter than a good employee safety manual.
If you top it o with a written quality control program, a record of routine safety meetings and a comprehensive eet/driver monitoring system, you’ll have insurance companies eating out of your hands (and quite possibly a stalker problem…loss control engineers are a little obsessive).

6. Remain Faithful

If you’re annually hopping from one carrier to the next over a few dollars or sending your business insurance out to the marketplace each and every year, underwriters will eventually shy away. Carriers like to see clients who are in long relationships with their carriers. Barring an adverse experience with an insurer or a significant upgrade in coverage or pricing, I always recommend my customers stay the course with their incumbent. Should you find yourself on the wrong end of a policy exclusion one day, having a meaningful relationship with that carrier might pay dividends.

7. Hire the Right Agent

Your insurance agent is your matchmaker when it comes to pairing you with a commercial insurance carrier. Ask your prospective agent about their process in terms of representing you to the marketplace. Ask who their largest carrier relationships are and whether those carriers’ appetites align with your particular industry. Ask what experience they have writing businesses similar to yours and what makes them uniquely quali ed to represent your company. At the end of the day, if you’re not picking the right matchmaker, you may end up with a lousy insurance company partner.

Again, never forget that purchasing commercial insurance is a two-way street. Be sure you’re selling yourself just as much as that carrier is trying to win you over. You want them to want you!

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