A strong risk management plan is essential for any business. It requires understanding how you can protect yourself and what could go wrong.
If you run a small business or a mid-sized one, you may not have the time or money to learn risk management. Many business owners lack the experience and background to determine what type of coverage is needed.
Independent insurance agents are here to help. These agents combine their vast knowledge with access to a wide range of insurance options to help you create a program that is tailored to your particular risks and liabilities.
“A good agent will take the time to fully assess a client’s needs and have the familiarity with his or her markets to match those needs with appropriate coverages and services,” said Susan Jackson, regional vice president for Liberty Mutual Insurance’s Southeast Region.
Liberty Mutual sells commercial insurance through independent agents only. Customers are not able to purchase commercial insurance directly from Liberty Mutual.
Independent agents are reputable in their communities and with their partners in insurance.
“It’s critical to take the time and get it right for the customer from the start,” said Sonya Dunn of Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance in Memphis, Tenn. “That’s what we pride ourselves on doing.”
Here are some ways an independent agent of insurance can help your company:
Evaluating your risk
Dunn spends many hours with clients in an initial consultation to learn about their operations, personnel and property valuations, as well as any special coverage requirements. Dunn sees things that most business owners do not. Dunn stated that business owners often fail to adequately protect business income after a loss. She said that an owner might consider insurance to be covering the building. “But will you be able to continue operating when you rebuild?” Who will pay for the loss of income?
Getting you covered
This isn’t as simple as it seems. This can mean mixing and matching policies in order to find the best cost-effective and comprehensive solution. Dunn stated that he can create a comprehensive risk-management plan for clients using multiple carriers and different programs. Independent agents analyze the client’s needs and determine the best terms.
Independent agents can handle a wide range of insurance-related tasks. These include helping with audits, negotiating renewals, and getting claims started. Dunn stated that her agency is often the first to be called in a case of a claim. We call the carrier to expedite the process, inform the client what to expect and smoothen any issues.
Advocate for you
Dunn stated that her job is to protect the client’s interests at all stages, from selecting policies to getting their claims paid. Dunn stated that if she sees a claim that is not in the client’s best interests, she will make phone calls to get attention to it. You might receive advice or training depending on which agent you choose to help you avoid making claims. This could include compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employee handbooks, and safety program programs.
Jackson stated that when choosing between independent agents, you should consider their experience, whether they work with many carriers, and whether or not they are specialized in the industry or products you require. Good agents are not difficult to find.
What is a Captive Agent and how do they work?
A captive agent is an agent who works for one insurance company, such as Farmers, Progressive, The Hartford or The Hartford. Captive agents are usually full-time employees who receive a salary and commissions.
The pros and cons of a captive insurance agent
Captive insurance agents work only for one company and can learn all about the products, policies and guidelines of that company. They should be well-versed in the various coverage options and claim submission processes. Their parent company usually supports them and provides training.
Second, captive agents don’t often have to manage their own lead generation, marketing or overhead costs. The insurance company handles that. This allows the agent to spend more of their time researching clients and building relationships.
Captive agents are often pushed to sell more policies or meet sales targets. You might find them pushing for higher-ticket policies, or trying to close the deal.
A captive agent cannot sell you policies beyond what they have access. This means that they can only sell you the policies they have access to. Captive agents are restricted to a set of policies and can only discount a specific amount.
What is an independent insurance agent?
Independent insurance agents are not restricted to working with certain insurance companies. They can sell insurance policies with multiple insurers and can shop around for their customers to get the best rates for the coverage that they need.
Independent Agents: The Pros and the Cons
Independent insurance agents either run their own business or work in an agency with other agents (to share expenses). They are responsible for their office expenses, marketing and lead generation. This can mean they are stretched thin and don’t have extensive time to dedicate to customer research and relationship-building.
If they work alone, independent agents do not have full-time salaries or benefits. They most likely depend on the commissions of any insurance carrier they write a policy for. However, they might receive higher commissions than captive agent depending on which insurance company they work for.
The difference between a captive agent and an independent agent Independent Agent
It all comes down to your business goals and whether you work with independent agents or captive agents.
- Independent agents may be more cost-effective if you want to get the best possible prices. A wide range of insurance policies are available to them.
- An independent agent can help you find the right insurance option for your business and compare it with other companies. Your insurance policies can change as your needs change.
- A captive agent can help you navigate the various insurance companies. This can make it easier and less daunting.
- Captive agents might be more willing to spend time researching and crafting the right policy for your small company.
- A captive agent can help find the right policy for you, based on your budget and needs.
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