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Commercial insurance: How to find the right insurance agent for your business

Updated on August 1, 2012

To find a good insurance agent or broker is to find a trusted partner for your enterprise.

With this being the case, due care and consideration must be exercised in finding an insurance pro who knows your business.

Such an expert would be able to assist with determining the extent of coverage your business needs, assessing the risks faced by your business and finding the best coverage for the business’ insurance needs.

Given that all businesses are not equal, finding a commercial insurance expert is not as simple as locating the most popular or dominant agent or broker in the industry. The main focus is on working with an insurance pro who knows the nuances of your business and the industry.

Some agents or brokers may even be specialists who are niche experts. Finding the right insurance partner for your business is not difficult, but requires a bit of effort.

Develop a short-list of prospective insurance professionals

It is usually the case that agents and brokers prospect for business. However, in the realm of commercial insurance, it is better if you choose the trusted professional instead of having just about anyone try to get your premiums.

Basic enquiries may be required to create a short-list of insurance pros who may deal with businesses of your size and type. The enquiries include, but are not limited to:

a) Competitors' insurance professionals

Your competitors often are similar to your business, so using their trusted insurance partners may not be a bad idea. Even better, you can simply check for the insurance professionals whose name crop up often among your competitors. ‘

b) Professional organisations

Recommendations can also be provided by trade organisations or the body for insurance professionals (NAIFA for example).

Many trade organisations have insurance pros who work closely with them and the relevant group for insurance professionals may be able to recommend the right insurance expert for businesses such as yours.

c) Chamber of Commerce

Your local Chamber of Commerce is also a good source for recommending trusted and solid insurance companies and agents.

Informal interviews with qualified insurance professionals from the short-list

When you have a manageable short-list, informal interviews can be utilised to determine which insurance agent or broker can create favourable insurance solutions for your business.

The insurance experts should be provided with an overview of your business and some of the risks you face or needs that you have. They should be allowed to prepare and present proposals or quotes when you meet with them. Critical aspects to determine in the meeting include:

i) The expert’s specialty or niche

ii) Other services offered

iii) The insurance companies with who they are affiliated or associated

iv) Their insurance solutions for your business – note that qualified insurance experts will also ask the right questions during such an interview

At the conclusion of this informal interview, the agents/ brokers should leave details of their credentials, experience with business like yours and references from such businesses.

Background checks on the most suitable prospects

Once you have narrowed down the short-list to one or two agents/brokers, you should validate their credentials with the relevant body and assess their experience to determine their reputation, commitment and standard of service.

Request a more detailed presentation

After the background check, you should request a presentation and/or a recommendation in written form (or otherwise if required). If the insurance professional is confirmed as suitable for providing your insurance solutions, you may proceed with the application process.

Conclusion

In the realm of commercial insurance, you can choose between agents and brokers. As a rule of thumb, brokers are more suitable than agents when insurance requirements are more complex.

Brokers typically have higher qualifications, more years of experience and bargaining power with insurers than agents do. They also tend to be more specialised and able to satisfy the needs of larger businesses quite well. Such characteristics give brokers a competitive edge over agents. However, for smaller enterprises, an agent may still be an invaluable business partner.

The primary consideration is to find the best insurance solutions for your insurance requirements. A trusted insurance agent/broker – especially one with whom you can establish a long-term relationship – is an invaluable asset towards this end.

There is inherent risk in the realm of business. Don’t increase the risk of doing business by selecting an insurance professional who would not be a trusted, long-term partner.

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