It is important to shop commercial insurance and there are many reasons to do so, the most common being to control expenses and improve coverages. However, it is necessary to develop a strategy in advance to avoid pitfalls. Planning your approach will help ensure you are maximizing your efforts, meeting your objectives and are not sabotaged by an agent. Here are guidelines to create your plan.
When to Shop: Shopping your insurance policies is not something that should be viewed as an annual routine, but rather as part of a larger strategy. Your strategy should be focused on maximizing your coverage, the expertise of your broker and your time. Cost is always a determining factor in the decision; however, focusing only on cost is dangerous because not all commercial policies are created equal. By just comparing the declaration pages, and not the specific coverage forms, you may be sacrificing coverage to save a few bucks. Each commercial policy has limitations, exclusions and conditions in the fine print that separates one from the other.
Develop a Strategy: Insurance carriers are for-profit companies. They want long-term clients who appreciate and value the service, support and guidance provided. As is the case for most businesses, the cost to acquire new customers is two to three times greater than retaining existing customers. This is a motivating factor for an insurance carrier to adjust more for existing clients than for potential clients. Use this knowledge to your advantage by aiming to stay with the same carrier for approximately three years and avoiding shopping your insurance during this period.
This approach reduces the time wasted shopping annually. It also increases a competing carrier’s aggressiveness to win your business because they view you as a potential long-term client and it pushes your current carrier to maximize available credits to retain you as their client.
Beware of Agent Sabotage: An insurance agency is appointed with different insurance carriers throughout the state in which they are licensed. This could be several or dozens of carriers depending on the agency. When an agent submits your account to an insurance carrier, it is logged into the carrier’s system and the quote is reserved for that agent only, which blocks other agents from obtaining quotes.
Agents know this and can intentionally block other agents from obtaining a better quote for their clients by blocking carriers. The agents who do this are trying to protect their accounts by preventing another agents from presenting a better quote to their clients. This unfortunate tactic does not keep the customer’s best interest in mind. When carriers become aware of this game being played, they often move on to other opportunities because they do not want to waste their time trying to win the business knowing their quotes will often never be presented to the insured. Working with more than one insurance agent when you shop your policies can help ensure you receive the most competitive quotes, as they each must strive to earn or keep your business rather than just block their competitors.
Consider Multiple Recommendations: When it is time to shop, there is value in obtaining quotes from various carriers. To help avoid agent sabotage, consider bringing in multiple licensed agents to present quotes. Do some research when deciding on other agents, consider their level of expertise, selection of licensed carriers, and industry/coverage knowledge. Using LinkedIn and referrals from your network are great way to find qualified agents.
Once you’ve decided which agents to use, have each agent select the five to seven insurance carriers from which they wish to obtain quotes. Allow your current agent first choice, then provide those picks to any new agents you are working with so they can select from the carriers not already chosen.
This approach will keep it fair on both sides while making your current agent work to retain your business. You may notice a different level of detail, knowledge and expertise from each agent presenting quotes. Ask why their quote is best for your company. You can then make an informed decision for your upcoming insurance renewal. Following this approach will give you more control of the renewal process.
Do you need additional advice on insurance for your business or additional quotes? Contact me at 610.966.1315 to have a conversation about the best strategy for your business.
Insurance products offered through Univest Insurance, Inc., a licensed insurance agency affiliate of Univest Corporation, are obligations of and underwritten by unaffiliated insurance companies. They are not insured by the FDIC or any other agency of the United States and are not deposits of or guaranteed by any bank.