From the March 5, 2012 issue of National Underwriter Property & Casualty • Subscribe!

Risk Managers Expect Partnerships, Expertise from Their Brokers

Corporate risk managers see their insurance broker as an extension of their own company—a member of the team whose skills are heavily depended upon in areas like claims and loss-control.

Here, three risk-management experts speak to NU about what they want and expect from their brokers.

Belinda Sharp Kitts
Vice President/Human Resources
Ruby Tuesday Inc.

“As a general rule, a broker should do for you what you do not have the staff or expertise to do for yourself. They need to maintain relationships with underwriters to know which insurer would be most appropriate for the business’ risk. 

“For example, we self-administer a lot of our claims. Not all insurers are comfortable with that, and it would take me a lot of time to figure that out on my own.

“When dealing with the public, you will have claims, and [incidents] occasionally make it into the press. So how your broker helps when the claim is presented is where the rubber meets the road. You need an advocate to the carrier and you need guidance so you don’t have missteps—especially in a public situation.

“Our brokers have also made suggestions for the restaurants to keep employee and customer injuries down. One suggestion was using a floor cleaner that could prevent slips and falls.

“And benefit programs [our brokers] offer have helped. The latest was pain management. We discovered that there are certification standards for pain-management physicians. We also found out that we weren’t sending our employees to that type of physician. When we made that change, we identified some claims we were able to close.”

Amy Templeton
Risk Manager
Komatsu America Corp.

“My brokers act as my second set of eyes, an extension of my risk-management department—and I want teammates who have expertise I can rely on.

“Further, I look for a broker by line of coverage. The ‘jack of all trades’ broker isn’t for me. And you have to like the people you work with. You work with these people so much, this isn’t just about placing policies—that’s the easy part. It’s about the rest of the year when they’re not placing policies.

“Everyone expects an immediate response. And when you have a claim—and we do—some are quick and easy, and some are complex. On each different type of claim that comes in, I have a claims advocate to go to: a specific Cargo person, a specific Property person, a specific Liability person, a specific Workers’ Comp person and a specific Executive Liability person.”

And what advice does Templeton—a former broker herself—have for other risk managers about maximizing a broker relationship?

Find a brokerage partner, she says, that will allow you to “customize your program and put the [broker] expert in place you need for a specific situation. Look at your program and the largest exposures and tailor it around those.

“You especially want someone with technical ability to negotiate on your behalf so you can obtain specialized or manuscript policies to cater coverage to you.

“While securing the best rates is important, when it comes to large risk-management accounts, it’s not about rates. [Brokers] trying to get my business by selling me that they can save me 20 percent? They don’t know my business—and I question whether they know theirs.”

Matt Friend
Director of Risk Management
Red Robin International Inc.

“Our broker is an extension of us. They understand our business, our culture and our philosophies.

“[Our broker] has a lot of expertise in safety at the restaurant level. They do a good job modeling our catastrophic exposures, because we’re so spread out. It helps us determine what our limits should be.

“They also give us resources, information and safety training—anything we ask. They know that everybody is extremely busy, and doing more with less, so they understand they have to add value to what we do each and every day.

“We have been with our broker going on eight years. A few years ago we went out to the market and looked at other brokers to make sure we were getting the best service and value, and we decided to stay. They continue to do a great job.”

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