Why a soft market is the right time to focus on programs
Dave Springer Even in today's soft market, smart brokers know it's a mistake to focus solely on finding the lowest price
By Dave Springer|June 22, 2008 at 08:00 PM
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Even in today’s soft market, smart brokers know it’s a mistake to focus solely on finding the lowest price for their clients’ coverage. If all you’re bringing to the table for your client is low-priced coverage, you’ll lose that account when another broker presents them a proposal that’s cheaper. You need to present a more thoughtful solution to their needs along with a competitive price.This market is actually an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your client by placing them in a comprehensive program tailored specifically to their business needs. This provides your client with the best coverage for their unique needs at a competitive price, while you establish yourself as a trusted advisor who understands their business and is willing to put in the extra effort to find the best combination of coverage and price.The most successful commercial agencies understand their client’s business and present them with coverage options that are perfectly tailored to the needs of that business. To do that, agencies frequently use programs specifically designed to serve that industry. With a specialized program, you don’t need to be an expert in your client’s business because the program administrator is. A good program administrator will help you to evaluate what coverages your client needs and how to perform a valuation on your client’s business, including equipment, property and inventory.Top-performing agencies who work with program administrators can retain accounts against outside pressure, even at a higher premium because they’re delivering the best combination of coverages, price and service. This strategy works through all market cycles because these agents never lose sight of the fact that their clients are paying them for their advice and guidance. They have built trust, demonstrated understanding of their clients’ business, and delivered what the clients need.Of course it’s not realistic to ignore price, especially in a well-publicized soft market where savvy business owners read about prices dropping and expect their own good news at renewal.As an independent agent, you know that one of the things you have to defend yourself against in a soft market is increased prospecting from other agents, who usually try to lure clients away with a lower price. When that happens, your best defense is your strong relationship with the client, the coverages and services you provide. Why programs?Program administrators are successful because they solve problems for businesses with unique needs and make agents look good to their clients. With a specially designed program, you don’t just get all your coverages in one place; you often get coverages that are not available anywhere else. And you get the kind of focus and deep understanding of your client’s business that allows you to deliver real value to them as their advisor. Programs provide:
Products that are tailored to specific industriesTo develop a custom insurance program the right way, program administrators often bring in people experienced in the industry they’re considering for a program. Whether it’s an underwriter, a program manager or a panel of experts, you want people who understand the businesses and the unique risks they face. First, they study the industry as a whole, including economic trends, legal environment, and whether a major insurer for the segment withdraw from the industry. Program administrators then study the businesses themselves. What have historically been the most difficult and disruptive losses? Are they frequency or severity driven? Do they face losses that other insurers don’t cover? Where are the coverage gaps? What business segments are average insurers unwilling to cover? Who is forced into the E&S marketplace? How many unique variations of this type of business are there, and how can you tailor a program to be able to provide coverage to more of them?