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What Service Should Your Business Expect from an Independent Insurance Advisor?

Written by Lanie Raphael on

For businesses with complex insurance needs and limited in-house resources to devote to managing risk, working with an independent advisor or broker can prove very advantageous. An independent insurance advisor works on behalf of your business, approaches your insurance needs with objectivity, and accesses a broader set of solutions than an agent who is aligned solely with one carrier.

When you choose an independent insurance advisor, you need confidence that they can meet your service expectations. But how do you define service in the context of a broker relationship, and what should you look for specifically?

Based on our experience with companies across many industries, we review the key factors to consider when evaluating the service you should expect from an independent advisor.

A Focus on Understanding Your Business

To develop strategies that reduce and protect your business against risk, an insurance advisor needs a deep understanding of your business—including your goals, challenges, opportunities, and priorities.  

Look for an advisor that takes the time to meet with you and your team, asks questions about your business plans and objectives, and applies that knowledge to reduce risk through insurance and loss prevention. The more complete a picture they have, the better equipped they’ll be to provide sound advice.  

Your broker also should understand your service priorities. Is it important that your call is returned or your question answered within a certain timeframe? Are you most concerned about how the broker will help if you have a claim? Do you prefer to meet face-to-face periodically? Or are you more focused on gaining proactive strategies for managing difficult risks? Knowing your priorities helps an advisor tailor their support to align with your expectations.

A Proactive Approach

While some insurance activities are transactional, others require a proactive approach to getting ahead of risk. That’s why you should expect your advisor to go well beyond securing quotes, drawing on their experience to reduce risk and protect assets through the optimal insurance program. 

A proactive approach includes meeting with you periodically to stay current on how your business is changing and the impact on your insurance needs. It also means keeping you informed of the state of the dynamic, volatile insurance market and what it means for coverage availability and rates.

An Early Start

The more lead time your advisor has to find the best coverage for your needs, the better the options available. In fact, you should expect your advisor to start working with you well ahead of when you’ll need new a new policy or when your existing policy is set to renew.  

For example, B.F Saul Insurance starts the policy renewal process early for commercial clients to allow sufficient time to meet and discuss what’s happening in your business, what’s changed since the last renewal, and what’s on the horizon. Perhaps you’re planning to introduce new services, expand into international markets for the first time, acquire a business, or sell off part of the company. Each scenario impacts your exposure and the protection you need.   

Then we develop a strategy for your renewal based on the insights we’ve gleaned about your business and our knowledge of the insurance market, and present options for the best coverage. This approach ensures you have time to weigh alternatives, achieve the optimal outcome, and budget accordingly.

Risk Management Recommendations

An independent broker will go beyond just insuring your business against risk, helping you to reduce risk and losses using proven, effective measures.  

For example, water damage is the leading cause of property insurance claims. An experienced advisor can recommend ways to reduce water damage risk, including technologies that detect leaks and automatically shut off the water supply under certain conditions. If you have a large commercial property portfolio, devices like these could help avoid significant out-of-pocket expenses and premium increases. 

Slip-and-fall claims is another area where an experienced broker’s advice is valuable. If your businesses operate properties with high traffic volume, an advisor can recommend measures to prevent slip-and fall incidents, reducing your claim frequency and the impact on your rates.   

Reviewing your customer and vendor contracts is an additional opportunity for an independent broker to help manage risk. Many companies don’t recognize the degree of risk they could be taking on inadvertently when they enter into a contract. It’s possible that a large customer’s contractual language could expose you to significant liability, while your contract with a vendor might not protect you sufficiently. An experienced advisor will review new and existing contracts and recommend changes that reduce your exposure.

A Claims Advocacy Approach

When you think of claims, you probably envision lots of paperwork. But an independent broker should go beyond administrative tasks and serve as your claims advocate, helping you navigate the process and achieve the best result. 

For example, a data breach that triggers a cybersecurity claim demands a fast but thoughtful response to mitigate damage and optimize coverage. The same holds true for many other coverage lines. While this may be your first time with such a claim, an independent broker will leverage their experience across many clients to provide best practices for responding effectively. They’ll also advise you on notifying the insurer in a timely manner and following the right procedures to protect your rights under the policy. 

Perhaps most importantly, on complex claims your advisor should negotiate with the carrier to maximize your coverage and reduce your out-of-pocket costs. At B.F. Saul Insurance, our claims staff includes a practicing attorney with deep insurance experience who advocates for our clients on complicated matters to achieve a better outcome than they could without a legal expert.

The Capacity and Depth to Serve Your Business

Some brokers take on so much business that their teams end up stretched too thin and unable to provide the personal attention their clients deserve. No matter how knowledgeable their staff members are, unless they have the capacity to understand your business and respond to your needs in a timely manner, they won’t be very valuable. 

The depth of the broker’s staff plays an equally important role in delivering exceptional service. Look for an advisor that takes a team approach, bringing together multiple specialists who each provide unique perspectives and skills, spanning both the strategic and tactical needs of an effective insurance program. Ideally, the team should include tenured, experienced professionals you can build long-term relationships with. 

How B. F. Saul Insurance Can Help

The independent advisors at B. F. Saul Insurance have extensive experience serving businesses across a range of industries, helping them reduce risk and protect assets through the optimal solutions. We take the time to understand your business and priorities, keep current on how your business is changing, and start early to ensure we have access to the best options. We also recommend proven ways to prevent losses and serve as your advocate in the event you have a claim, doing whatever it takes to yield the best outcome.

Learn how our approach can exceed your expectations. Schedule a call with a B. F. Saul Insurance advisor today. 

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About The Author

Lanie Raphael is a seasoned insurance professional with over 30 years of experience in the industry, with experience in both commercial and high-net-worth insurance. Throughout her career, Lanie has held executive-level roles at prominent insurance companies such as Fireman's Fund, AIG, and ACE Private Risk Service in a variety of disciplines including risk management, product development, operations, and marketing. In the past decade, she transitioned to the independent agency side, assuming leadership roles that involved direct client interaction and working closely with referral sources. As president, she is responsible for leading all aspects of financial reporting and budgeting, business development, and executive recruiting at B. F. Saul Insurance.

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