From an agent’s perspective, this question is certainly a double-edged sword. When a client tests the water to see what other options might be available in the insurance marketplace, this could present either opportunity for gain or loss.
The question of shopping looks very different with agencies who have a large stable of carrier options, strong customer service, and risk service capabilities. These agents are generally less vulnerable.
The objective for shopping by the commercial insurance client should focus on choosing the agency that can best offer comprehensive and competitive program. This can offer the buyer the opportunity to shop very specifically a select group of agencies that meet general parameters.
A few very important parts of this agent/broker beauty pageant that you may consider would be:
- How would each prospective agent suggest that your program be designed? You may find that there is a completely more effective way to insure your property for example. Would a single loss limit be more effective or affordable? Are you insuring your building for all risks or are losses caused by water, earthquake needed and not included? Are you “over-insuring” areas of your business? Can you buy a policy that will allow you to rebuild at another location? How does your insurance respond if your key supplier is not able to deliver products for your manufacturing process? Ask each prospective agent to offer options specific to your business, not to simply renew coverage that you have currently.
- Ask for names of clients insured by not only the prospective agency, but by the agent within that agency that you are considering. An agent’s client base is a good source of reliable feedback.
- What carriers will be used by each prospective agent? What clients do these insurance carriers have on the books? These could be with or not with each prospective agent. This will illustrate if your line of business is a good fit on the carrier side too.
- Seek to meet the entire team that will be servicing your account. How deep is the bench? Your agent may spend much of their time selling, if this is the case, who is likely to be your day to day contact? Who will be handling claims? These team members can be the key to handling your account.
- What services are included with each agent you are considering? Services including claims management, safety & loss control are crucial more times than not. Does your potential agent offer employee benefits, personal lines and small commercial services? You may find it easier to make one call than several.
This shopping experience should be more about choosing an agent that will be your partner and also an agent that will be your advocate and consultant for all things insurance.
Have you considered shopping for a new agent?