Five common criteria employers use
to evaluate advisors
By Brian Freeman
With more than a million insurance agents, brokers and service employees in the United States, businesses often find the task of researching, evaluating and selecting an advisor rather burdensome. With a seemingly endless array of options, they feel pressured to choose the right one, but how? And how do you, as an agent or broker, match what they ultimately look for?
Using years of industry experience, we have identified five preliminary qualifiers that employers look for when researching brokers: experience, ratings and reviews, comparative data, carrier access, and price.
Industry experience and expertise. Employers often begin their search by looking for brokers who have worked in their industry and have a proven record of advising similar organizations. After all, each industry has its own unique set of challenges and strategies associated with offering a comprehensive insurance and benefits package at competitive costs.
When evaluating insurance brokers, employers also want to see that a broker possesses the necessary expertise and knowledge surrounding the rules and regulations that come with the ever-changing policies of an uncertain industry. The specific circumstances of a business could mean that additional coverage may be required.
In general, employers value working with brokers who understand their industry, their company, and their needs. Make sure your industry experience, client lists, and references are updated and made public on your website.
Customer reviews. Employers rely heavily on ratings and reviews to verify that the advisor they are vetting has a history of working well with clients, listening to clients’ specific needs, and providing the best coverage at the lowest rates. Our society is no longer exclusively “referral-based.” A firm’s reputation is based on actual customer feedback; this certainly holds true for insurance.
Employers want to hear about how you engage with customers—how you serve them and address their concerns. They want to know you operate in their best interest. They want to hear about real coverage examples, too—how you identified gaps in existing coverage and made sure all exposures were addressed. They want to hear about how you supported a new or existing client with an underwriter or stepped in to help resolve a sticky claim situation. They even want to know how you resolve a mistake if one happens—because it will.
If you have not done so yet, ask existing and former clients to publish ratings and reviews to your online profile.
Employers value working with brokers who understand their
industry, their company, and their specific needs.
Relevant data. Reference localized benchmarking data that pertains to your market and to specific industries. Employers want your honest feedback on which insurance products are a “must buy” and which ones are a “nice to buy” for their organization. For example, does a construction industry need cybersecurity protection? Yes. But do they need it at the same level as an IT firm or a business that handles and stores vast amounts of personally identifiable information? Probably not.
Employers also appreciate your insight on appropriate limits for various types of insurance. Per the aforementioned example, what are the proper cybersecurity insurance limits for a construction firm? How much different is it for a physician’s practice than for a mortgage broker?
Insurance buyers want their agents and brokers to be well-versed and knowledgeable on trends affecting their industry. As a broker, it is important that your online profile includes micro-targeted data and examples that will resonate with the type of clientele you pursue.
Carrier access. Successful agents and brokers offer a wide range of products to attract a diverse set of clients. For independent agents and brokers, they access those products from a wide range of carrier partnerships.
Having this robust network of carriers—or wholesalers, MGAs, or program administrators—from which to choose reassures employers that they are getting the best coverage for the best price. Remember to always be honest and transparent with employers, too. For example, many employers want to know upfront the percentage of policies a brokerage writes with each carrier.
Have this data available, and do not hesitate to share it. Transparency, readily available information and options often lead to faster decisions by employers.
Compensation and commission. An insurance brokerage’s compensation can be made up of fees, commissions, and bonuses from insurance companies. Employers know this and request a cost breakdown to verify they are not being overcharged or sold on one policy based on the broker’s annual insurance carrier incentives.
If an employer feels like pertinent information is being withheld or they are being misled, trust is broken. And second chances are rare when it comes to business. When possible, all compensation should be disclosed to your client upfront.
In conclusion, efficiently running a company and keeping costs down is difficult enough for an employer without having to devote an inordinate amount of time figuring out insurance plans. In today’s digital world, an online presence that showcases your agency’s or brokerage’s expertise and history of success with current and former clients is imperative to securing new business.
In the end, remember that the two main reasons employers work with insurance brokers are to save time and to save money. At a minimum, ensure your brokerage is delivering on that expectation.
Brian Freeman is the founder and CEO of Mployer Advisor, a digital marketplace for insurance advisor ratings and reviews that is working to redefine the way employers search, evaluate and select insurance advisors. To learn more about Mployer Advisor and to claim an advisor profile, visit www.mployeradvisor.com