Accountability is Key
In business, every partner, vendor, employee, etc. is and should be viewed as someone who’s playing for the same team. You should all have the same goals and be working together to achieve the same end result. And during that process, you and your team should hold one another accountable.
However, when it comes to insurance, it often feels like businesses and their agents are on opposing teams. The business owner wants a better rate and better coverage but their agent can’t lower their price and increase their coverage at the drop of a hat. The business wants every single claim to be covered but doesn’t want to pay the price. As a result, business owners have little to no trust in insurance agents and often find it necessary to consider other options.
But here’s the real underlying issue at hand. The issue that causes this divide. It’s a lack of accountability on the end of insurance agents. And at the root of that lack of accountability is a lack of knowledge on the end of the business owner. Those two things combined have led to a very messy, ex-wife-type of relationship between agents and business owners.
There’s a book to be written about all the ways we can fix this issue. But here’s a good place to start. As a business owner, start by shifting your mentality around how you view your insurance agent. For example, when you hire an employee to work for you, you expect them to meet your standard day to day expectations. You assign them responsibilities and work together to accomplish your goals.
Your insurance agent should be looked at in the same light. There’s no difference between the commission your agent receives every year and the payroll you pay to a W-2 employee. So why would you treat them any differently?
Once you’ve shifted your mindset, the next thing you need to do is educate yourself. Specifically, educate yourself on how the game is played and what you should expect from your agent. If you combine the correct mindset with a foundational understanding of the insurance buying process, you will without a doubt create more synergy with your agent and your insurance program overall.
5 Steps to Accountability
Once you’ve decided to take a new approach to business insurance, you’ll want to start setting some ground rules with your agent. As insurance agents, we talk a lot about ground rules. This is the standard we try to get our prospects and clients to adhere to. We do this because so many business owners don’t understand the games that are played and we’re trying to save our time and energy. But if you want to hold your agent accountable, here are some ground rules you can start to put out there.
- Bring me your best offer on the first try. Do not let your agent get away with bringing in whatever price they initially received and give them a chance to come back in with a better offer. In doing so, you’re opening the door to allow them to take advantage of you and your bottom line.
- I want to see your quote/proposal no less than 15-30 days before my expiration date. This is where businesses get taken advantage of the most. By waiting until the 11th hour, your agent is forcing your hand to renew for another year by not giving you a chance to find alternative options.
- Do not just copy my current policy and try to find a better rate. This is a chance to make sure your agent is staying up to date with your current exposures. You should expect some sort of coverage comparison or analysis that is relevant to your business. Heck, you could email your current policy to different carriers to see if they could beat it. Let them earn their commission.
- Remind them that it’s not all about price. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is telling an agent that price is the only thing that matters. When you do that, you’re telling an agent that coverage doesn’t matter, just find me the cheapest thing. And if you do, I can guarantee that you’re going to get what you pay for.
- I will be making my decision by (insert date). It’s important to stick to a deadline. This will keep you from being antagonized by agents and it will give them a clear expectation of when they need to have their offers in. This will save you the headaches of trying to analyze programs on the last day or two.
Next time you revisit your insurance, remember these two things. Business insurance doesn’t have to be so frustrating. But, it does take time and effort. I can assure that if you find the right agent and treat them like a true partner and you follow these steps to hold them accountable, you will like the results.