Choosing The Right Broker
A well-written insurance contract from an insurance broker can save you time, trouble and money by preventing claims problems before they arise.
But professional lines of insurance do not have standard language and so they must be reviewed by somebody who is well versed in reading contract language. Most companies need help to know whether they have the right kind of insurance for management liability, employment liability, professional liability, cyber privacy/liability and crime. This page addresses how to find that help. Since many insurance companies no longer offer in-house training, make no assumptions about your prospective agent or broker and their level of education and experience.
How Do I Find an Insurance Broker?
- Gather several names. Ask family, friends, and businesspeople you know. Check with your state insurance commissioner’s office, lawyers, CPAs and business journals. A search on the web for the specific type of insurance you are seeking may also give you names; look for blogs, newsletters or other helpful information on the website.
- Do follow-up research. Check out individual websites and LinkedIn profiles. Look for experience in the area that you are seeking insurance for. Ask for a personal resume or a current CV. Look for additional insurance-specific credentials to tell if the agent/broker is experienced and knowledgeable about insurance coverage or just a salesman.
- Insurance-specific credentials. These show that the holder of designation has at least made a commitment to professional development.
- Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) is held by just over 2% of professionals, and is widely considered the premier designation in the property and casualty insurance industry. Designees must pass extensive national exams, are bound by a Code of Ethics, and must satisfy stringent educational and experience requirements in insurance law, history, contracts, property insurance, liability insurance, operations, rate making, and risk management, as well as business topics like finance, corporate structure, and ethics.
- Registered Professional Liability Underwriter (RPLU) designation from the Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS) is the only professional designation exclusively for people in the professional liability The designation is earned through self-study course, passing the corresponding exams, and two years’ experience in the industry.
- Certified Insurance Counselors (CIC) – The CIC Program has been the insurance industry’s source for practical, real-world education since 1969, and is approved for state continuing education credit across the nation.
Interview the agent/broker that will be doing your work, in person if possible. Some of the questions to ask the agent/broker:
- What professional designations do they hold? How long ago did they earn their designation?
- What do they do to keep up with changes in the marketplace?
- What is their depth and breadth of experience in the type(s) of insurance you need? (It is impossible for anybody to be an expert in all areas of insurance)
- What insurance companies do they work with? Who have they worked with: claims, underwriting, senior management?
- Who are their typical types of clients?
- How many policies have they placed of the type of policy you need?
- Do they talk with the underwriters or are they using an intermediary to get to the underwriter?
- How long has the agent/broker been licensed? Do they hold other licenses or professional designations?
- How many clients have they assisted with claims? How did that work out?
- Ask for an example of how they have assisted clients with claims.
- What services will they provide? Annual review?
- How often will they communicate with you regarding industry trends and changes the areas of your coverage?
- Who will work on your matter? Agent, Broker, Associate Broker, Associate Agent, CSR?
- Is the agent/broker familiar with your business? Have they worked on similar businesses?
- What types of programs do they attend in the areas of insurance?
Building a successful client – agent/broker team.
- Have the same goals.
- Be sure you can get along with the agent/broker.
- Make sure you trust the agent/broker.
- Be sure you’re confident with or understand the agent/brokers working style.
- Understand the agent/broker’s compensation.
- Understand the timetable marketing process.
- Provide the agent/broker with everything needed to understand your risk.
- Choose an agent/broker who responds to e-mails quickly.
Peter Marchel is a licensed attorney, working as a risk consultant. He also helps clients choose lawyers and ensures client’s lawyers are approved by insurance companies to represent the client. He has worked with over 2000 agents and brokers in North America on errors and omissions prevention as well as assisting agents and brokers in placing coverage or working as a claims advocate. Mr. Marchel is licensed as a Surplus Lines broker in Washington and several other states as well as a licensed broker in British Columbia.
Most Companies Need An Insurance Broker's help to know whether they have the right kind of insurance
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