IDENTIFYING CARRIER PARTNERS
Choosing the right carrier partner goes a long way in driving agency success
By Jaime Moore
It’s 9:00 a.m. and you have dozens of clients and prospects to talk to, meetings to attend, emails to respond to and phone calls to return. A new client just sent in an application, and you have to get out a welcome letter, renewal reminder and policy change update to two others, all before noon. You just scheduled a 30-minute meeting with a client that will lead to at least three hours of identifying and obtaining policy forms, filling them in and submitting them for processing. The phone rings and a client has a question about a coverage, another is on hold regarding a change, and someone just walked in the door for an addition to coverage, and you’re not even done with your first cup of coffee!
Does that scenario sound familiar?
The less time agents spend on manual or redundant tasks, paperwork and phone calls, the more time they have to focus on clients and growing the agency. The best carrier partners are those that put agents first, listen to their needs, and align processes and products to make things easier. This means reducing red tape, finding ways to save time and creating efficiency across the board.
If you want to find a carrier that will help you increase agency success, look for one that does these three things:
- Saves agents time by offering efficient processes and interface
- Has developed and maintains a forward-thinking culture
- Provides agent support and education
Efficient technology and processes
In the digital age, agents rightly expect more and better automation and speed from carriers than ever before. The ability to adapt and continue to improve as technology changes can make one carrier stand apart from the next. Look for carriers that understand the challenges agents face and work to align technology to support them. Ask the following questions: Is the carrier’s system easy to understand? Is the quoting and renewal process fast? Are there a million questions to answer?
Technology and process features like the following make things easy and efficient for commercial lines agents:
- Quick quote. You can quote a policy online in minutes, which is both fast and accurate.
- Easy reinstatement. You eliminate the need for added paperwork and a no-loss letter.
- Direct billing. You do not have to complete finance contracts or involve a third party.
- Automatic renewal. You have fewer clients to track down for signatures because you do not need a renewal application.
- Pay-as-you-go premiums. Your clients avoid hefty up-front deposits.
- Bundled coverages. You and your clients save time by using programs that bundle coverages.
- Intuitive underwriting. You save time by eliminating unnecessary steps, questions, and back-and-forth communication.
According to Matt Crum, president of Frank Winston Crum Insurance, “We’re focused on a combination of third-party technology and custom interfaces designed to drive high value for the agencies we serve. We never set out to be in the software business, but we continually invest in developing resources to tailor digital experiences that support the shared interests of agents, employees, and insureds. Our approach helps us meet the ever-changing needs of the commercial insurance marketplace.”
Beyond the interface tools agents use to do business with a carrier, it’s important to find an insurance partner that is forward thinking and stays current with long-term trends that could reshape the role of the industry. For example, wearable gadgets that collect and deliver data about an insured’s workplace could influence how insurance and risk management are applied to future workplace exposures.
Beyond the interface tools agents use to do business with a carrier, it’s important to find an insurance partner that is forward thinking and stays current with long-term trends that could reshape the role of the industry.
The small business insurance marketplace is ripe for disruption because of the new technology and data now available. This disruption will come from stakeholders within the industry and newcomers who bring fresh and unique perspectives on the way carriers conduct business. Agents who partner with innovative carriers will reap the benefits of investments made by their carrier partners.
Technology can improve the agent experience while leveraging data to control pricing. Look for carriers that align products with the current needs of agents (whether broad or boutique) and those that are willing to be flexible and respond by adding new products or policies when those needs change.
“Agent success fuels carrier success,” Crum explains. “Every good carrier likely embraces the ideal that making things easy for agents is vital. That said, in practice, few carriers are able to do this well and in a sustained fashion. We are relatively young and nimble, and in many ways we have been able to learn from the classic practices and refine them for added efficiency.
“Our success is largely attributable to the decision to hire experienced leaders from the agency side of the business, as well as engaging with existing producers to help develop new products and systems,” he adds.
Training and support
Another way to boost agency success is to place business with a carrier that provides support and guidance to agents through any situation. For example, maybe an agent who has sold only personal lines is now selling commercial lines. He or she may not even know where to start. How does the quoting system work? What are the exposures? What questions should he or she be asking the client?
When an agent is familiar with a product, he or she may still want or need additional resources or quick reference guides. Even with deep product knowledge, agents sometimes need answers to questions regarding straight-through processing or additional insureds.
Jaime Moore is a brand journalist for Frank Winston Crum Insurance. To learn more, call (727) 799-1150 or visit www.FWCrumInsurance.com.