Spring Cleaning for Your Business Insurance Policies
By: Andrew Belcher, Production Underwriting Team Leader at Continental Underwriters
The beginning of the Spring season often brings about a refresh mindset for folks to clear out their clutter, see what still works, and get rid of what doesn’t. At Continental Underwriters, Inc., our team of brokers applies this same “Spring cleaning” logic towards our clients’ policies during renewal season. Today, I’m sharing several simple steps brokers can take in order to make updating clients’ applications a breeze and successful for everyone involved.
STEP 1: GET AN UPDATE ON THE MARKETPLACE
Whether we’ve been working with an organization for 1 year, or a dozen, our first step is to work with the broker to share an update on what’s happening across the marketplace, so that we can level set on expectations for all parties. This helps guide subsequent conversations with the client in an informative way, while keeping an eye out for potential concerns based on other obstacles witnessed by the clients and the broader industry during the previous year.
In 2020-2021, for example, we saw a big spike in lumber prices at the beginning of the pandemic that has remained high for the last 12 months. As such, we’ve also noticed a recent rising trend of mill owners re-investing in their businesses. Sharing insights about the client’s business mindset and plan for the coming year helps prepare our team to arrive to the next step of the renewal process, ready to share suggestions and solutions. Preparation, as always, is key to success here.
STEP 2: START THE CLIENT CONVERSATION EARLY
It is critical to start having a dialogue with the insured/client as early as possible (ideally 90-120 days prior to the renewal date) to have an open and honest conversation about their business’ experiences over the past year. This is arguably the most important part of the entire renewal process, as it is our best opportunity to gain insight into the mind of the client, share expectations, learn what is potentially on the horizon, and ultimately, gather enough info to make the case for the next year’s insurance policy while managing expectations early-on.
We’ll listen to your clients’ thoughts and ask follow-up questions about their concerns to get a clear understanding of what their expectations, concerns, and risk tolerance levels really look like for the year ahead. We’ll also use these conversations to share marketplace insight and offer up solutions and ideas to chew on to help manage the cost of insurance while maintaining the level of coverage they feel they need.
When it comes to business income, the various segments within the forest products space are continuously changing year to year, so it is crucially important to analyze business income each year at renewal. We encourage the agent/insured to complete a new business income worksheet every year with a thorough analysis line-by-line to make sure everyone understands their BI exposure and arrives at the correct limits they feel they need.
During these conversations, especially this year in particular – we endeavor to work with our brokers to understand any changes that may be happening with the insured’s business or understand potential capital investments/improvements the insured might be considering in the coming years. From these conversations, we strive to be a resource to the insured/agent by offering suggestions and engineering services as they go through the process. In some instances, we can even help them gauge ROI’s, coverage implications and provide information and data so they can make an informed decision for their business. Our goal is to be a resource to help you be successful and meet your goals.
By combining our honest knowledge of what’s happening in the marketplace with our deep understanding of forest products, the team at Continental Underwriters, Inc. can create a real educational partnership dynamic so that we’re working towards a common goal.
STEP 3: TELL THE STORY OF THE BUSINESS
If you’re a broker approaching the renewal with a series of app accords, statements of values, and a one-page supplement with yes/no checkboxes, it is unlikely that you will be maximizing your clients’ chances of having better terms, reaching the right carriers or getting the best coverages in the coming year. At Continental Underwriters, Inc., we put incredible effort into telling the story of our client’s businesses. It is essential for us (underwriters) to understand the full picture of each client, with all the nuts and bolts, so we can tell that great story to others on why the business really stands out.
We can tell the story by highlighting the proactive changes, processes, and programs (Property Conservation Programs) they have in place. Some good questions for brokers to ask their client are what differentiates or separates their business/risk management from the rest of the pack and why should someone want to insure your business. A well-documented story gives underwriters the data and information they need to provide the best terms available. Without it, you’re confined to the black and white of the standard apps/submissions like everyone else, and therefore susceptible to others interpreting your story for you.
Understanding what’s working for our clients helps us optimize their plans for not only the next year of insurance coverage but for their long-term successes, too. At the end of the day, we like to see our clients prosper. Insurance is a small part of your business, we get that. But we want to provide the resources to help you grow, get ahead, and be the best you can be. And a large part of that is taking your business data and turning it into a qualitative story with real value to maximize your chances for the best coverage possible.
At Continental Underwriters, Inc., we believe that when we work as a team, we can truly move mountains together. Preparation is key, and we recognize it takes extra time, but if we can tell a business’ story in a collaborative way together, everyone – especially the insured – will prosper.