Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One Risk Not Fitting In?

At some point everyone finds themselves with a submission that seemingly doesn't fit. You're trying to finalize your clients overall insurance portfolio and you have this one puzzle piece that you just can't easily plug into place. It could be that your best customer gave you a referral with no idea how "non-standard" it is, or an existing client has pending or paid claims in the past year. Or maybe your bosses son-in-law is just now launching a new business venture.

Whatever the scenario, there are a few steps you can take that will speed up the process of getting the risk quoted, and quite possibly increase your chances of getting it quoted competitively. Here are a few issues you may have to contend with:

Losses: Don't wait to be asked for loss runs, provide them. That alone will move the process ahead faster. Most of the time either the agent or the client feel it's going to be worse if the loss runs are presented, especially if they show a loss or two. It's possible providing a loss run will be a problem, but it may also help. How? If the loss is open and "older" (more than 12 months) and the loss reserve remains the same or is reduced that's better than seeing a larger or increasing reserve amount. Also if the loss run from a year ago showed the claim as open and a current loss run has it closed, that's a better position from which to negotiate with a carrier. A closed claim, even if it seems like a high amount, is at least a "known" factor. The concern with a claim with an open reserve is the reserve can always go higher.

If losses have been the problem for your client, another way to potentially help is to get a narrative from the client as to any changes in procedures, staffing or other parts of their operation that have been implemented to prevent similar future losses. In this regard, if there's a story to tell - tell it. If the insurance carrier has free risk management service available, take advantage of it, especially if it can help your client reduce premiums and/or get out of the surplus lines market and back to the admitted market.

New In Business: Standard companies can have a difficult time writing new business operations, but there usually are very good alternative market options available. You can increase your chances of getting the account written with good terms if can provide information regarding qualifications. That would include resume's, special training, prior experience and education.

Operations/Services: You may have a tough time placing an account because the operations are considered high risk. If your client is designing and installing a "system" to prevent bridge piling erosion, it's going to be a tough placement. To optimize your chances of getting the best terms from what will be a limited number of markets, make sure the underwriter has a clear explanation of the services your client is performing. It might be necessary to be sure to list the services they do NOT offer that other similar businesses will offer to make that distinction.

The perception might be that your client is in a high risk occupation, but with proper info it may not be as much of an issue. For example I just worked on a consultant that trained others how to work through the processes to ship hazardous materials. Many carriers can't touch a risk associated with hazardous materials in any way. Other carriers were able to quote the account but only after they understood what the insured did NOT do, i.e. they did not instruct on how to ship or pack the materials, they did classroom instruction for those individuals who checked the shipments and made sure the paperwork was accurate and complete.

Bottom line; when you are thinking about details of an account, when in doubt, include the info. As you know, if you leave most company underwriters with the need to interpret a risk and rate it more conservatively vs more aggressively, most of the time you're going to get a conservative outcome. That means the carrier will rate it higher, restrict limits and/or just flat out decline it.

Take some time to get the pieces in place and you will go a long way to resolving this puzzle.