Customer Service Focus
By Paul Martin, CPCU
RISK MANAGEMENT AND UNDERSTANDING SPECIALTY MARKETS
Specialty and niche market courses can expand your risk horizons
Manufacturers, distributors, contractors, retailers, service and e-commerce operations have many common denominators. At the same time, each business sector has its own specialized business insurance and risk management demands. Think about all the specializations within these areas: hospitality, energy, farm and ranch, cyber, transportation, healthcare, large commercial. The list goes on.
The specialized needs of these different commercial sectors require identification and expert understanding. Learning about essential requirements and other niche market insights is key to expanding business horizons and boosting agency revenue.
What separates one agent from another? In my mind, it is his or her ability to proactively service policyholders. Success grows out of the ability to apply expert knowledge of the insurance industry, its products, and varying situations that may present themselves to clients. By learning about and pursuing clients within niche business areas, agents and their agencies can increase targeted leads and referrals, improve retention rates, and boost competitiveness.
In short, specializing in growing industry sectors pays off.
To be successful in these areas, agency professionals need to be knowledgeable about identifying, analyzing, controlling, financing, and administering a number of risks and exposures. These include operational risks, political risks, catastrophic loss exposures, third-party exposures, fiduciary exposures, employee injury exposures, juridical risks, legal risks, and more. Individual market sectors have different risk and insurance needs that professionals should study and explore.
What separates one agent from another? In my mind, it is his or her ability to proactively service policyholders.
Education is essential to success. That’s why The National Alliance’s PROFocus Series, which has its roots in the James K. Ruble Seminars, is being augmented in response to market trends and the far-reaching needs of insurance professionals. PROFocus is being expanded into important areas of insurance and risk management, while other emerging niche markets are featured with their own new specialty courses.
This specialty program is re-emerging this year and next with new, focused offerings. Expect to see these new and expanded offerings:
Hospitality. This offering replaces and expands the existing food and beverage course to include the wider topic of hospitality. The hospitality industry opens its doors daily to numerous risks and potential lawsuits. Hotels, motels, restaurants, bars, taverns, and nightclubs all face threats from cyber attacks, injured patrons, lack of security, theft, liquor liability, food poisoning, and many other health scares. This new course will address hospitality insurance coverage solutions and strategies for helping this important niche market reduce its losses.
Energy. This course will look at risk management and will focus specifically on crisis management and claims management related to the energy segment. The energy industry faces challenges on many fronts—ranging from environmental risks and third-party liability to workers compensation and more. Global energy demand is skyrocketing amid an ever-changing global regulatory environment. This new offering will help professionals develop comprehensive risk management and human resources strategies to meet the challenges of this important niche market.
Personal Lines. With this program, professionals can learn how to develop a strong personal lines book of business. The offering will help participants identify the risks clients face with watercraft usage, new home-rental arrangements, vacation properties and autos that typical personal lines products may not cover. It also looks at clients that have subtly moved from a normal personal lines segment to high net worth and what changes are needed to properly protect them. Focus will be on the property and casualty forms in the marketplace today.
Executive Risk. This expanded program helps build knowledge about new issues facing executives. Many recent cultural movements are capturing the attention of commercial entities. Instructors share information about the latest D&O coverages and endorsements, fiduciary and employee benefits liability, employment practices, and operational management risks. This course is devoted to the exposures, insurance coverages, and risk management techniques needed to successfully deal with the risks faced by executives and their organizations.
Healthcare. This important specialty market continues to grow. To address new areas of interest across the industry, this expanded course includes topics on artificial intelligence and telehealth, cyber security and information sharing, unique risk management areas, liability and property coverage, and special underwriting problems found in the healthcare industry. This is particularly valuable for professionals involved in handling risk management and property/casualty insurance issues of this segment. Advanced course content is designed for risk managers, producers, agency owners, and company personnel who are tasked with protecting property and casualty loss exposures that medical professionals, hospitals, clinics, and/or long-term care facilities face.
Truckers. This popular course is being expanded to include broader areas of interest to the transportation industry. The industry is undergoing its fastest growth in 20 years, according to the American Trucking Association. However, driver shortages, low truck supply, and rising costs are seriously affecting trucking firms, especially the small to mid-sized fleets. The cost of insurance to cover physical damage and liability is a major concern of the industry. The program helps participants learn market changes, such as new small-fleet ventures, challenges and opportunities.
Cyber Risk. This is a fast-growing area of opportunity for insurers and an area of risk that is evolving as the risks become known. As the world grows more interconnected, cyber risks and crimes become increasingly complex. Dozens of dynamic, evolving variables, disjointed data, and gaps in day-to-day processes make writing cyber coverage—efficiently and effectively every day—a challenge. Every commercial client should be offered a cyber policy, and this course will inform you about the various possibilities for your customers!
Large Commercial. This course has been broadened to include more information about what agency professionals need to know about OSHA. It also covers property and casualty for large commercial accounts, managing contracts and risk transfer, understanding and managing vehicles and drivers, and managing workplace injuries.
PROFocus Series courses are available in classroom and instructor-led online formats. They are open to all industry professionals and can be used as a National Alliance designation update option.
Remember, the journey of understanding a specialty market begins with a single course.
Paul Martin is commercial lines academic director at The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research headquartered in Austin, Texas. Paul works to develop, maintain, and deliver quality educational programs for the organization. Paul has over three decades in the insurance and risk management industry.