Does your current insurance agent sell business insurance in addition to home, auto, motorcycle, health, life, and pet turtle insurance?
Would you trust a general contractor to fix your truck? Then why would you trust a general agent with your business insurance?
I know what you are thinking…”You can’t really compare a mechanic general contractor to insurance agents selling various lines of insurance/ coverage.” That is where you’re going wrong when choosing an agent.
Insurance lines are all very, very, different from each other. In fact, there are so many variables you would lose interest in this article if I were to attempt break them all down for you. Though, I would be remiss not to mention just a few below!
Before I get to some points to take into consideration when choosing who you are going to have protecting your assets, I’d like to take a moment to tell you why Viking Insurance Services provides EXCLUSIVELY business insurance services to commercial clients.
When we decided to open the doors to our own independent agency we didn’t want to just be “good” insurance agents, we wanted to be hands down exceptional. Our mission was, and has continued to be, to provide such remarkable service to our clients that they would go out of their way to tell their friends and family about us.
We wanted the best carriers, with the best coverage options, at the best prices. We wanted to be able to perform service tasks like sending out certificates, processing endorsements, and making policy changes in minutes rather than hours like most other agencies. We wanted every person on our staff to be able to pick up the phone for a client, know exactly what is going on with their account, and be able to immediately provide assistance if the agent who manages their account is not available.
In order to perform at such a level we needed to be highly specialized experts in one area. We decided early on that area would be business insurance coverage and we never looked back. Now, years later, we have helped hundreds of clients save thousands of dollars and protect the assets they have worked so hard to build.
We are asked often by our clients if we can cover their homes and personal autos. The answer is always the same: “Unfortunately, no. We just don’t have the markets to make sure you have the best coverage.” In reality, we could just keep an appointment with a couple of big names and just slam accounts in there as they come along. I’ve just never understood how you look a client in the eye knowing that you aren’t doing the absolute best you can do by them.
Instead, we have chosen to go a path less traveled. We have chosen to be finely tuned Vikings of the insurance world. I promise, you’ll thank us for that.
That said, and without further adieu, here are some real head scratchers regarding general agents and highly trained commercial insurance specialists.
Nearly all policies fall under two main sub categories; Life and Health(L&H), and Property and Casualty (P&C). There are completely separate licenses which need to be obtained by all insurance agents for these two sub categories. If an agent is only licensed in P&C they can sell home insurance, but not life. An agent licensed in L&H can sell disability insurance, but not workers compensation. Both licenses generally require the exact same amount of training, testing, and continuing education.
I personally hold both licenses and can tell you with a high level of certainty that it is unlikely for anyone to know everything there is to know about all of the lines of coverage that fall under these two licenses. In fact, I’d wager that most general agents know little to nothing about roughly half of all the coverages that exist. So, as a client, how do you know you are getting the best advice? Would you let a proctologist perform eye surgery on you just because they have a medical license? The answer is no…unless you’re treating a crappy outlook…
Hundreds of Business Insurance Carriers
There are literally hundreds of insurance companies across this country, and each one of them has their own “Appetite.” In our insurance world there are sheets called “Appetite guides.” Carriers provides these to agents so they know what industries they want to write, and within those industries specifically what type of customer they are looking for. With dozens of variables in hundreds of industries, finding the right carrier can get complicated quickly.
Looking just at commercial lines workers compensation coverage there are some carriers who like small businesses. Others will only write a policy if the premium is over $10,000 annually. Business insurance carriers accept varying levels of subcontracted labor. They also have limits on what they are willing to accept for experience modifiers, height exposure, diving exposure, radius of operation, work in other states, work in other class codes, and the list goes on.
The same goes for all other lines of insurance.
If your agent doesn’t have a finger constantly on the pulse of carriers in your industry how could they possibly know which carriers are the absolute best for your business? If they are spending their time making sure they have a handful of carriers who will service most if not all of their clients insurance needs, none of them specifically specializing in your industry, what is the likelihood that they are getting you the best coverage at the best price?
Coverage Variables Within Lines
As I mentioned in the previous section, there are dozens of variables taken into consideration by carriers when deciding whether they are going to write coverage for your business. On the flip side, there are quite a few variables in the actual coverages as well. Your agent needs to know about them, know which is best for your situation, and be able to competently explain the option to you so you are able to make an educated decision.
For example, one thing I see all of the time that drives me crazy is coverage limits on workers compensation policies. I can’t tell you how many clients come to us carrying 100/500/100 limits on their workers comp. In very simplified terms this means that you have $100,000 of coverage per incident. With the cost of medical treatment these days through the roof, it is easier than ever to rack up huge hospital bills. Heck, I broke a bone in my hand a few years back and the bill was over $25,000.
That $100,000 per incident needs to cover the medical and indemnity for the injured employee. Indemnity is just a fancy world for paid lost time at work. So, if you have an employee break a leg, and end up out of work for six weeks, what do you think the total claim might end up being?
If you are guessing over $100,000 you are probably right. Where do you think those dollars that are over $100,000 are coming from? If you are thinking you, you are probably right again!
Now, what if I told you that you could increase the coverage limit on your workers comp policy from $100,000 to $1,000,000 per incident and it would only cost you an average of an additional 1.1% on your annual premium…wouldn’t you say that is a no brainer?
That being the case, why do we see so many business owners running around with $100,000 in comp coverage? I can only assume its because their agent is more concerned with cross selling them pet turtle insurance than making sure they have the absolute best protection.
Make The Right Choice
I could go on and on about why having a business insurance specialist working on your commercial insurance is the right choice for your business, and I’m pretty sure people would share this article as a great read to fall asleep! The bottom line is it just makes sense, and you, your business, and your assets will be better off for it.
Look, I understand if you have been dealing with the same agent for over a hundred years, and you guys grew up together, and they send you a nice Christmas card every year with your name printed on the label. If you are married to them keep your home, auto, motorhome, life, and pet turtle insurance with them. Do yourself a favor though and have a ten minute phone conversation with us about what we can do for your business. At an hourly rate, it just might end up being the most profitable ten minutes you’ve had in a long time.
If you’re still on the fence about this whole “Business Insurance Specialist” thing, you might check out our article on the different types of insurance agents!