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Finding a Good Insurance Broker in a Broken Industry

To say the insurance industry is unpopular these days is to make an understatement. The cold, hard truth is that many Americans are beginning to look at insurance the same way they look at taxes or death. While these things may be a fact of life, they're not something anyone wants to deal with. In a recent poll, a whopping 71 percent of Americans say they have negative or neutral feelings related to the insurance industry.

Today's insurance model is broken.

Why? According to a survey of commercial insurance clients, there are three reasons they've grown to loathe the insurance industry and insurance providers. First, they believe premiums are untouchable. Like a runaway disease outbreak, they can't be managed or contained in any way. The only thing we can predict about premiums is that they will increase every year. Secondly, the industry's current practice seems to be raising commercial insurance premiums every year without adding value to clients' businesses. Which means business owners end up paying more-and getting less in return. Finally, there is a perception that commercial insurance seems to be a zero-sum game. If any insurance savings are somehow discovered, carriers and brokers will find a way to balance it out by taking something else away. That means business clients always lose, and never win.

As someone who's been in the insurance industry for more than 30 years, I get it. The best independent insurance agencies are beginning to understand this, too, and are changing the way they do business. There are agencies out there who refuse to just sell insurance. Instead, they've begun to develop a true partnership with clients, putting their in-depth industry knowledge to work understanding the specific needs of different businesses and enterprises. Rather than just shrugging their shoulders when faced with outlandish costs, they work to help clients control premiums through risk management tools, proactive servicing, insurance carrier relationships, and technical coverage capabilities. These kinds of forward -looking agencies are finding success, but unfortunately, not every broker operates this way. Many of NCW's clients arrive at our door having been burned by their previous insurance broker. They missed out on the warning signs until it was too late. If your agency or broker is doing any of these things, it's time to find a new one:

* They focus only on your company's renewal date.

* They only care when they'll get paid, or if you are taking quotes this year.

* They block the carrier markets to compensate for their unequipped services.

* Their only strategy is to find the lowest price regardless of coverage, policy, or service.

* They request copies of your current policies strictly to do an "apples to apples" comparison. What they really intend to do is copy, quote, and pray.

*They don't have a proactive service approach to mitigate your risks.

The best brokers know that a profit-focused, one-size-fits-all approach does not put their clients' best interest at heart. What businesses need today is a joint relationship that matches their needs to the capabilities of an insurance agency or broker. This type of agency pays attention to coverage forms, premium amounts, timeliness, accountability, and matching risk transfer to the client's needs and philosophies.

These characteristics must be more than selling points in today's insurance world. They are requirements. The days of overselling and under-delivering are over. For those developing their company's insurance procurement process, we suggest asking several specific questions upon considering an insurance broker:

* Will my organization benefit from this broker's service platform?

* Does this broker have expertise in my type of industry?

* Does this broker have insurance carrier relationships that match our risk?

 * Does this broker offer a differentiation platform stronger than my current broker?

* Does this broker have a sustainable corporate structure? Does this agency reinvest for added and improved resources?

Simply put, in the business world, an insurance broker needs to become a trusted advisor who creates solutions to meet its clients' needs. Brokers must be accountable to every single commitment and proactive in protecting clients' interests. The insurance world is always changing-year to year, month to month, and day to day. The last thing you want is a broker who just sits back and watches it happen.

NCW has been managing clients' risk since 1926. NCW Insurance has evolved into one of the premier independent insurance agencies in Texas with a staff over 30 professionals in 4 offices. We constantly review the ever-changing insurance landscape, looking for the most cost-effective solutions for our clients. To learn more about NCW visit us online at www.neely.com. Kimberly Dryden can be reached at our Amarillo office by calling 806.376.6301 or by email at kdryden@neely.com.