When business owners are considering joining an association often the main things they are thinking about are networking and leads. These are just a couple of the many reasons it’s a good idea to join an association in your industry. The reality is that industry related associations offer a wide range of opportunities that can improve your business relationships and ultimately lead to greater overall success for the company.
Being part of an association can also have a big effect on your commercial lines insurance prices as well. It is entirely realistic for business owners to see significant savings on policies like their workers compensation, general liability and business auto after joining an association. The reason for this lies in the access to programs and information provided regularly to association members.
If you’re anything like me you prefer to get straight the good stuff, so here are four incentives related to joining an association which will likely have an impact on your commercial insurance coverage:
1. Innovations and New Developments
Association leaders and members help you stay on top of new products, services and methods within your industry. Not only does this information keep you on the cutting edge, it also provides you with the most up to date practices for safety and efficiency.
Operating accident free is the obvious goal of all businesses. Being up to speed on current best practices, implementing them in your operations, and encouraging your employees to adopt them makes a big difference in your companies ability to prevent accidents from happening. The reality is that they are called accidents, but the more you can do to prevent them the better off you will be.
What many business owners don’t know is how much a claim can, or lack thereof can effect their commercial insurance rates. Once you operate for a handful of years ancient free rates start coming down, in some cases rather dramatically. This happens because the carriers look at insuring your business as less of a risk. Conversely, when you have claims it can cause your rates to skyrocket. In this scenario it becomes difficult for agents to find carriers willing to write your coverage, and you are left with mainly distressed risk carriers whose rates are commensurate with the exposure they bring on by covering primarily businesses with claims history.
2. Education, Certifications and Licensing Programs
Many associations support member certification and licensing initiatives, both required and optional. This offers you an excellent opportunity to diversify and expand your skill set, qualifications and marketability.
These accolades translate to savings on your insurance coverage as well. When your application is submitted to underwriting, your agent is able to request credits be given due to your level of expertise in the industry.
Carriers are interested in providing coverage to experienced businesses and business owners. In fact, that is one of the primary questions we as agents are asked by underwriters. When it comes time to get the underwriter to sharpen their pencil on pricing, a little piece of paper saying you are trained to do it better than the next guy can go a long way.
3. Networking Opportunities
As mentioned in the beginning of the article, one of the most important benefit of joining an association is that they provide you with an excellent opportunity to network with other professionals in your field. Networking has many befits beyond the standard idea of “lead generation.”
For instance , if you are in an industry with generally low premiums for workers compensation and general liability coverage, there probably aren’t going to be many people talking about their coverage. Alternatively, if you are in a field like construction where rates are steep you can bet that if someone in that room has found a great deal on coverage they are going to be talking about it. There are few better ways to know what your hard costs should be than getting feedback from others in your industry.
Carriers rates change all the time, there is just no way that any agent can know for sure who has the absolute best price in the market at any given time. If you come across someone in your association who has just received a stellar price, run the carriers name by your agent and ask them to find out more about them and if you meet their underwriting guidelines. Keep in mind though that not all carriers are created equal, and sometimes the best price doesn’t always come with the best coverage or claims paying ability.
4. Access To Education and Training
In most cases associations directly provide advanced education and training programs to their members, and almost always present guest speakers willing to share their knowledge with the group. This can be an invaluable asset in helping to keep your skills sharp and current.
Performing at a high level of skill generally correlates directly to the success of the business. If you are one of the best in your field in the area you operate happy customers lead to referrals, which leads to new customers, and so on. Its hard to stand on the way of growth when you do a great job for your clients!
As you grow the door opens to insurance carriers who were previously unavailable due to minimum premium requirements. What this means is that there are quite a few carriers out there who are just not interested in writing policies with low annual premiums. These carriers generally have very aggressive rates and prefer clean operating history.
The common thread you may have noticed above is that commercial insurance carriers prefer to write coverage for businesses which are run by a competent and knowledgeable staff. Being part of an association gains you direct access to a plethora of tools, information, and relationships which will keep you at the top of your game.
In the end this translates directly to dollars and cents on your bottom line. Pair this with the networking and lead generation that inherently come with the territory and the decision should be a no-brainer!
Below is a list of industry related associations. This is certainly not a complete list of all possible options, but it is a good place to get started:
National Concrete Masonry Association
National Roofing Contractors Association
American Nursery and Landscaping Association
National Electrical Contractors Association
Associated Builders and Contractors
The Associated General Contractors of America
Mechanical Contractors Association of America
Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
National Utility Contractors Association
Black Contractors Association
Independent Electrical Contractors
Air Conditioning Contractors of America
American Subcontractors Association
Insulation Contractors Association of America
Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association
Women Contractors Association
Associated Landscape Contractors of America
American Concrete Contractors Association
Mason Contractors Association of America
National Fire Sprinkler Association
Artisan Contractor Association of America
Pipeline Contractors Association
Construction Contractors Association
Water Proofing Contractors Association
Painting and Decorating Contractors Association of America
National Demolition Association
Tile Contractors Association of America
National Tile Contractors Association of America