WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT FROM YOUR INSURANCE ADVISER?
By Sonja Wilson.
Insurance advisers serve as the bridge between an insurance company – its underwriters – and your company. Unless you are paying your insurance adviser directly under a fee schedule, your insurance adviser is receiving commissions for placing your business with a carrier and has an inherent conflict of interest. This does not mean that your insurance adviser is not representing you well. A professional insurance adviser is operating under a healthy tension between keeping the insurance companies interested in underwriting client applications and, at the same time, satisfying clients.
Some insurance advisers have become complacent with insurance company practices of lumping coverage into class codes and responding to insurance applications with boilerplate policies. Insurance advisers have reduced the scope of their services to “sales” and merely solicit bids for similar policies, using premiums, deductibles and coverage limits as the only distinguishing differences. Unfortunately, many insurance advisers do not have a thorough understanding of their clients unique risk exposures and contractual needs, they do not thoroughly read and understand the policy contracts and, therefore, do not understand how the various policy terms might affect their clients.
Knowing how insurance agency has evolved, consider placing your “easy” coverage with a sales-focused agent and taking your more strategic loss control coverage to an adviser who views their role as a professional risk management and loss control consultant and less as a sales agent. After gaining a complete understanding of your business, its processes and risk environment, your insurance adviser should provide the following services to assist you in securing your desired coverage:
1) Collaborate closely with you to prepare an insurance application that meets your specific needs;
2) Educate you about insurance industry practices and policy terms;
3) Represent your proposed policy contract terms to the underwriter;
4) Read the policy proposals submitted by the interested underwriters and present the relevant terms in a comparative table for your review;
5) Answer your questions with regard to the policy contract terms – oftentimes requiring that additional information or clarification is solicited from the underwriter;
6) Represent your term counter-proposals back to the carriers.
Once the insurance company is selected and all negotiated terms are agreed to by the parties, your insurance advisor should:
1) Ensure that the binder includes all of the terms and language agreed between the parties;
2) Ensure your premium invoices are accurate;
3) Review the subsequently issued policies to ensure they reflect the terms agreed to by the parties.
Finding the right insurance agent can help you get the protection your company needs – and make life a lot easier for you.