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What Is a Business Owners Policy?

Posted By Marianne Bonner, Wednesday, October 30, 2019

from thebalancesmb.com

A business owners policy (BOP) is a package policy designed for small businesses. It includes both commercial property and general liability coverages. Many insurers that cater to small businesses offer a BOP. Some issue policies on standard Insurance Services Office (ISO) forms while others utilize their proprietary forms. Most proprietary BOPs are variations of the standard ISO policy.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The standard ISO BOP consists of a declarations page, a BOP form, the common conditions section, and one or more endorsements. The policy offers two key advantages to small businesses: coverage and price. A BOP affords broad coverage for a relatively low premium. The property section includes coverages like business income that aren't automatically included under a standard commercial property policy. The liability section affords the same types of coverages as the standard ISO commercial general liability form (CGL).

While a BOP can be altered or expanded by the addition of endorsements, it isn't as flexible as a standard package policy. The ISO BOP includes only property and general liability coverages. A standard package may include commercial property, general liability, commercial auto, inland marine, crime, and professional liability coverages. Many more endorsements are available for modifying a standard package than a BOP.

Some insurers will add professional liability or employment practices liability to a BOP. If you are shopping for a BOP and need these coverages, look for an insurer that will include them in the policy.

Eligibility

Small businesses must meet certain requirements to qualify for coverage under a BOP, and these vary somewhat from one insurer to another. Many types of businesses are eligible for a BOP. Examples are hotels and motels, barber shops, print shops, retail stores, laundries, and meat wholesalers. Fast food restaurants, cafes, sandwich shops, and other small food establishments are generally eligible if they do a minimal amount of cooking. Small contractors that engage in residential construction, carpentry, drywall, or landscape work are also eligible for a BOP.

A BOP may be used to insure apartments, residential condominiums, office buildings, and other buildings used for retail, wholesale, service, or processing purposes. However, buildings cannot exceed certain size restrictions. For instance, office buildings cannot be larger than six stories or 100,000 square feet. Likewise, buildings used for mercantile, wholesale, processing, or service operations cannot exceed 35,000 square feet.

Some businesses are not eligible for a BOP due to their size or the nature of their operations. Examples are high-rise buildings, manufacturers, auto dealers, auto repair shops, tree trimmers, banks, bars, parking garages, and theaters.

Commercial Property Coverage

The property section of the standard BOP policy is very similar to the ISO commercial property policy. It covers the following types of property:

  • Buildings located at premises described in the declarations, including machinery and equipment that is permanently installed
  • Business personal property located in covered buildings
  • Tenants improvements and betterments
  • Property that belongs to other people
  • Building glass owned by you or in your custody if you are a tenant

A BOP covers loss or damage by any peril that is not specifically listed in the exclusions section of the policy. The exclusions in a BOP are similar to those found in an "all-risk" property policy.

Additional Coverages

One advantage of a BOP is that it automatically includes a number of coverages that are typically added by an endorsement under a standard property policy. Some examples are listed below. Most of these coverages are included at a relatively low limit. Two exceptions are business income and extra expense. No specific limits apply to these coverages. The policy covers a loss of income sustained and/or extra expenses incurred within 12 consecutive months after the date of the physical loss.

  • Business Income Coverage
  • Extra Expense Coverage
  • Civil Authority Coverage
  • Valuable Papers
  • Accounts Receivable Coverage
  • Electronic Data
  • Newly Acquired Property
  • Interruption of Computer Operations
  • Fungi (Mold) Coverage

General Liability Coverage

Like the ISO CGL, a BOP includes two third-party liability coverages: Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability and Personal and Advertising Injury Liability. The BOP provides both coverages under a single insuring agreement. The liability exclusions in the BOP are essentially the same as those found in the CGL. Like the CGL, the BOP provides certain coverages via exceptions to exclusions. Examples are contractual liability, host liquor liability, and damage to rented premises.

A BOP includes Medical Payments Coverage, which pays for medical expenses incurred by individuals who have been injured as a result of your business activities. Medical Payments Coverage makes payments to injured parties in the absence of a lawsuit.

Commercial Umbrella

Some businesses may need higher liability limits than those afforded by a BOP. Fortunately, many insurers offer a commercial umbrella that can be written in conjunction with a BOP.

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13 Types of Insurance a Small Business Owner Should Have

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, October 30, 2019

from Forbes.com

1. General Liability Insurance: Every business, even if home-based, needs to have liability insurance.  The policy provides both defense and damages if you, your employees or your products or services cause or are alleged to have caused Bodily Injury or Property Damage to a third party.

2. Property Insurance:  If you own your building or have business personal property, including office equipment, computers, inventory or tools you should consider purchasing a policy that will protect you if you have a fire, vandalism, theft, smoke damage etc.  You may also want to consider business interruption/loss of earning insurance as part of the policy to protect your earnings if the business is unable to operate.

3. Business owner’s policy (BOP): A business owner policy packages all required coverage a business owner would need. Often, BOP’s will include business interruption insurance, property insurance, vehicle coverage, liability insurance, and crime insurance . Based on your company’s specific needs, you can alter what is included in a BOP. Typically, a business owner will save money by choosing a BOP because the bundle of services often costs less than the total cost of all the individual coverage’s.

4. Commercial Auto Insurance: Commercial auto insurance protects a company’s vehicles. You can protect vehicles that carry employees, products or equipment. With commercial auto insurance you can insure your work cars, SUVs, vans and trucks from damage and collisions.  If you do not have company vehicles, but employees drive their own cars on company business you should have non-owned auto liability to protect the company in case the employee does not have insurance or has inadequate coverage.  Many times the non-owned can be added to the BOP policy.

5. Worker’s Compensation: Worker’s compensation provides insurance to employees who are injured on the job. This type of insurance provides wage replacement and medical benefits to those who are injured while working. In exchange for these benefits, the employee gives up his rights to sue his employer for the incident. As a business owner, it is very important to have worker’s compensation insurance because it protects yourself and your company from legal complications. State laws will vary, but all require you to have workers compensation if you have W2 employees.  Penalties for non-compliance can be very stiff.

6. Professional Liability Insurance: this type of insurance is also known as Errors and Omissions Insurance. The policy provides defense and damages for failure to or improperly rendering professional services.  Your general liability policy does not provide this protection, so it is important to understand the difference.   Professional liability insurance is applicable for any professional firm including lawyers, accountants, consultants, notaries, real estate agents, insurance agents, hair salons and technology providers to name a few..

7. Directors and Officers Insurance: this type of insurance protects the directors and officers of a company against their actions that affect the profitability or operations of the company. If a director or officer of your company, as a direct result of their actions on the job, finds him or herself in a legal situation, this type of insurance can cover costs or damages lost as a result of a lawsuit.

8. Data Breach:  If the business stores sensitive or non-public information about employees or clients on their computers, servers or in paper files they are responsible for protecting that information.  If a breach occurs either electronically or from a paper file a Data Breach policy will provide protection against the loss.

9. Homeowner’s Insurance: Homeowner’s insurance is one of the most important kinds of insurance you need. This type of insurance can protect against damage to the home and against damage to items inside the home. Additionally, this type of insurance may protect you from accidents that happen at home or may have occurred due to actions of your own.

10. Renter’s Insurance: Renter’s insurance is a sub-set of homeowner’s insurance which applies only to those whose who rent their home. The coverage is protects against damage to the physical property, contents of the property, and personal injury within the home.

11. Life Insurance: Life insurance protects an individual against death. If you have life insurance, the insurer pays a certain amount of money to a beneficiary upon your death. You pay a premium in exchange for the payment of benefits to the beneficiary. This type of insurance is very important because it allows for peace of mind. Having life insurance allows you to know that your loved ones will not be burdened financially upon your death.

12. Personal Automobile Insurance: Another very important type of insurance is auto insurance. Automobile insurance covers all road vehicles (trucks, cars, motorcycles, etc.). Auto insurance has a dual function, protecting against both physical damage and bodily injury resulting from a crash, and also any liability that might rise from the collision.

13. Personal Umbrella Insurance: You may want some additional coverage, on top of insurance policies you already have. This is where personal umbrella insurance comes into play. This type of insurance is an extension to an already existing insurance policy and covers beyond the regular policy. This insurance can cover different kinds of claims, including homeowner’s or auto insurance. Generally, it is sold in increments of $1 million and is used only when liability on other policies has been exhausted.

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The Aging Workforce and Workers' Compensation

Posted By Matthew Zender, Wednesday, October 23, 2019

from PropertyCasualty360.com

People are living longer than ever these days. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that by the year 2050, the population of those aged 60 years and older will total two billion. For comparison, 2015 had an aging population of 900 million. Experts even estimate that many of the babies born in 2012 in wealthier countries should live to see their one-hundredth birthday.

These additional years mean people today are enjoying a variety of opportunities the generations before them may have missed. This includes spending more time on their passions and pursuing their goals, possibly even continuing their education or working past retirement age.

The Pew Research Center reports that in 2018, 29% of Baby Boomers aged 65-to 72-years-old were still employed or looking for work. This is a newer trend, outpacing the labor market engagement of both the Silent Generation and the Greatest Generation when they were the same age.

Why are people working well into their golden years? Some choose to maintain their jobs for financial reasons; studies show that more than half of the workforce in the United States have less than $25,000 in their savings accounts at retirement age, excluding any pensions or property. Staying employed for as long as possible is a necessity for these individuals, so they can continue saving for when they can no longer physically work anymore.

Working past retirement age provides health benefits, too. Working longer keeps people more active and socially connected to others. Staying on the job can also keep seniors mentally challenged, which can be key in preventing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Some individuals simply aren’t ready to give up the sense of accomplishment they feel from completing a task or project — continuing to work provides meaning to their lives and gives their emotional health a much-needed boost.

The U.S. Census Bureau states that by the year 2030, all Baby Boomers will be older than age 65, expanding the size of the older population so that one in every five residents will be of retirement age. This means that for the first time in history, the older generation will outnumber children in the country.

The years ahead will represent a transitional period for the U.S. workforce. What impact does working past retirement age have on workers’ compensation rates? As the proportion shifts towards older workers, evidenced by a near doubling of the percentage of workers aged 55-64 and a near tripling of workers 65 and older during the period between 1996 and 2026, we need to remain diligent as an industry and as employers to meet the changing needs of this demographic.

A couple of things employers should keep in mind include:

The costs of workers’ compensation claims increase with age
Physical changes that come with aging can affect one’s health — changes that are completely unrelated to activities or injuries that occur within the workplace. Older workers tend to have more pre-existing conditions than their younger counterparts experience, such as joint pain from arthritis, decreased range of motion and loss of muscle strength and flexibility. These conditions can make the bending, lifting, carrying, pushing, etc. that are part of daily duties not only more difficult but easier for an injury to occur.

These pre-existing conditions may also increase the likelihood that the injury will be more severe for the older employee. This results in higher medical costs as well as higher costs for workers’ compensation claims. It could be valuable for employers to consider moving older employees into positions that put them at less risk for suffering an injury such as mentoring younger employees or consulting on certain projects and tasks.

Until 2017, incidence rates for older workers was the lowest of all age groups
A recent research report on workplace demographics from NCCI stated that until the year 2017, older workers historically had the lowest frequency of incidences and injuries on the job. The incidence rates for workers over age 65 are still the lowest of all age groups from 2006 through 2017. Older workers tend to be more cautious and familiar with all aspects of their job duties, which can help lead to fewer workplace injuries for their age group.

The types of injuries among age groups tend to differ, too. Older workers are more likely to be injured from a slip, trip or fall, while their younger counterparts suffer more injuries from contact with objects or equipment.

Older workers are slower to return to work following an injury
An older employee who has suffered an injury may take longer to recover and therefore, take longer to return to the workforce. The pre-existing conditions mentioned above could limit the worker’s ability to take part in traditional medical treatments, such as surgery or physical therapy. The slower an employee is to heal, the more likely permanent impairment or chronic conditions could arise.

The time away from the job can be decreased if an employer has implemented a return-to-work program, which allows employees to ease back into the workplace while also helping to keep their workers’ compensation costs lower. Modifying the duties of injured employees allows them to get back on the job while they continue to recover, easing their financial stress and keeping their skill-sets sharp.

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How to Become Your Small-Business Clients' BFF

Posted By Joyce Anne Grabel, Wednesday, September 11, 2019

from PropertyCasualty360.com

To engage the trust, loyalty and continued business of a small-business client, a sincere demonstration of empathy on the part of an agent can go a long way.

That’s why Robert Klinger, LUTCF, CPIA, president, Klinger Insurance Group, which is based in Germantown, Maryland, and president, AIMS Society, suggests using the “Feel, Felt, and Found” technique.

“Most insurance agencies start out as a small business themselves, so they understand what it’s like to be a small business,” Klinger says. “You are the receptionist, human-resources person, producer, customer service representative and company psychologist when an employee has a problem. You do the employee evaluations, take care of the benefits, you are the cleaning crew, equipment maintenance person, etc.”

With that in mind, insurance agents are in an ideal position to relate to what their clients are going through, a great way to build relationships and demonstrate value. The “Feel, Felt, and Found technique” works like this, Klinger explains:

  • Feel: Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and assure them that you understand how they feel.
  • Felt: Tell the client that you felt the same way and did X and Y to get through that same issue.
  • Found: Assure the client that in you, they have found a trusted advisor they can go to again and again for the help they need.

“Over a period of time, I found that it is good to surround yourself with people that you can go to when you have particular issues. I have a CPA friend that I can ask advice on finances. I have a lawyer friend that I can go to when I have legal questions. Be that person for your small-business clients,” he suggests.

“Build a niche in certain industries. Learn and understand the issues small businesses face daily in that industry. Have solutions to those issues or people you can send small-business clients to that can help them with those issues. Become a trusted advisor to this niche as well as to all your customers,” Klinger advises.

“Sometimes small-business owners feel like they are on their own little island, barely staying afloat,” he points out. “Have resources for your clients that you can refer them to when they need help. Be the first person they think to call when they need help with their business issues.”

Klinger concludes: “You’ll become much more than just the client’s insurance agent; you’ll be an asset, partner and friend.”

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Small Business: Frustrated with Commercial Insurance Purchase

Posted By Administration, Monday, February 4, 2019

from CarrierManagement.com, based on Accenture study

Small commercial insurers aren’t giving their client base what they want – a simple and easy purchase experience. Whether online or through an agent, business owners are left confused, frustrated and having to seek extra advice before they can find suitable coverage, according to new Accenture research. 

“Small businesses are extremely frustrated with the process of commercial insurance, whether they purchase directly or through an agent,” the report concludes. “Many report that they do not trust the sales process or fear that they are inadequately covered by the policies they eventually buy.” 

Among the report’s findings:

  • “Overwhelming,” “confusing” and “not fun” were words business owners used to describe pursuing the purchase of commercial insurance for the first time. They were confused about how insurers collect data, insurance industry language and how much coverage they actually needed. Businesses said they wanted the quoting process to be faster and simpler than it is.
  • Business owners may start pursuing the direct/online purchase of insurance, but they often feel overwhelmed by the complexity of it all and can’t find what they need. They end up needing more time and consultation with others.
  • Business owners are jaded about sales pitches from commercial or personal insurers, leaving them cynical and on a quest to find unbiased advice from somewhere else before they make a purchase.
  • Business owners complain that commercial insurance policies aren’t flexible, wishing instead that they could find policies that adjust to their needs over time.

The study argues that carriers should streamline information small business owners need to receive quotes or policy information; use artificial intelligence to update policies and improve coverage; and rely on clear, non-jargon language so people who don’t know insurance insider language can pursue buying a policy easily.

There’s plenty of room for improvement. As Accenture noted, the small commercial insurance market has no single carrier with more than a 4 percent market share. Also, more than 60 percent of small businesses in the United States will be owned by millennials and Gen Xers by 2020, according to data cited by Accenture, and those demographics prefer “digital purchases and self-service to face-to-face” interactions or the telephone. That means carriers will win and stand out if they revamp their buying process for small commercial business customers in a way that addresses their concerns and preferences, Accenture said.

“Carriers that want to win need to leverage design thinking co-creation with customers, imagination and experiential research capabilities to create and rapidly refine their target segments, channels and touch points,” Accenture said in its study. 

Accenture, working with the consulting company Fjord, based its conclusions on interviews with 12 small business organizations centered around identifying past and future insurance needs. They also held a business owner workshop with seven small business organizations to gauge participants’ perspective on buying insurance digitally and what carriers needed to do to boost business owners’ willingness to buy insurance directly. The report is based on participation from 19 total business owners, and it also involved “ethnographic research,” where researchers observe or interact with study participants in their real-life environment. Interviews and workshop took place in the U.S. in July. 




     

 
 

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Beware of Hidden Risks for Small Business Clients

Posted By Liana Roberts, Wednesday, January 9, 2019

from PropertyCasualty360.com

While a small business owner’s personal holdings and business assets often are separated by the legal walls of the business’s limited-liability status, there is no doubt that owners often think of their personal and business wealth as one big pool.

Protecting wealth

This mindset, and the potential for a large personal property or casualty loss to prompt a business owner to tap company assets, creates the potential for an unexpected change of circumstances to a client’s wealth.

Consider the example of Brian Herndon, a fictional but typical 58 year-old entrepreneur who owns a successful metal fabricating business in suburban Chicago. A candle left burning on a counter in the Herndon’s recently renovated kitchen for some reason emitted an ember that caused a hanging potholder to catch fire. The fire spread quickly and destroyed the kitchen’s custom cabinetry, high-end appliances and flooring. Damages totaled $350,000.

Unfortunately, the Herndon family hadn’t updated their homeowners’ insurance after completing the kitchen renovation, leaving their coverage inadequate and saddling them with $150,000 in expenses they had to cover out of pocket.

Like many small business owners, the vast bulk of Mr. Herndon’s wealth was tied up in his business. The Herndons’ personal financial wealth was relatively small and held in qualified retirement accounts, which Mr. Herndon and wife didn’t want to tap to avoid paying the 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Instead, he decided to borrow cash from the business to cover the expense — also a complicated maneuver that should be undertaken only with the help of a tax expert to avoid IRS penalties.

Borrowing funds from the business proved costly in its own way. It depleted working capital, which the business had to borrow from its bank. That not only raised costs and reduced margins, but also lowered the value of the business, which Mr. Herndon was hoping to sell when he reached 60.

Also affecting retirement was the reduction in Mr. Herndon’s qualified plan contributions that had to be earmarked to repay the loan.

All this current and potential future damage to the Herndon family’s personal and business wealth could have been avoided by having adequate homeowners’ insurance and an umbrella policy.

But a financial advisor can help his or her clients with P&C issues — and protect assets — by developing ties to trusted and qualified independent insurance agents.

Because many affluent clients often have coverage that is inadequate or entirely absent, annual reviews by a qualified insurance agent suggested by a trusted financial advisor can eliminate major risks to a client’s business and personal wealth and their plans for the future.

Variety of threats

As too many business owner clients often discover, property & casualty risks come not only from familiar misfortunes such as fires and burglaries, but from threats that probably never cross their minds.

These include:

  • cybercrime losses owing to identity theft or to damage resulting from hacking into devices such as home security systems;
  • flood damage, for which only about 12% of Americans have insurance coverage; and
  • accidents, which often lead to litigation and settlements that are in excess of homeowners’ policy limits and can lead to large out-of-pocket costs unless an umbrella policy is in place.

A recent study by the management consulting firm of Oliver Wyman found that 77% of financial advisors’ clients would appreciate their financial advisor providing access to P&C guidance and counsel. There is little doubt that for small business owners with so much of their wealth at stake, that level of appreciation is likely far greater.

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Millennial Business Owners Want to Work with Insurance Agents

Posted By Jayleen R. Heft, Wednesday, December 12, 2018

from PropertyCasualty360.com

Cautious millennial business owners are more likely than other generations to work with insurance agents on a wide variety of insurance and financial issues, according to recent survey data.

According to Nationwide’s fourth annual Business Owner Survey, 69% of millennial business owners work with an insurance agent, followed by boomers at 66% and Gen X at 59%.

The most common reason for working with an insurance agent among all generations is the trust that business owners place on the guidance and expertise from an agent.

Further, millennials are relying on agents for guidance in more areas than other generations, especially boomers. Retirement (37% vs. 26%), banking (25% vs. 4%) and succession planning (21% vs. 9%) show a wide generational gap.

“Millennial business owners came of age during the 2008 recession — a time of economic crisis marked by uncertainty in financial markets, significant job reductions across the country and a sudden downturn in the real estate market,” said Amy Shore, president of Nationwide’s P&C Sales & Distribution. ”For that reason, it’s not hard to understand why this generation is more motivated than the generations that came before them to proactively take steps that satisfy their need for stability. Seeking professional advice intended to position a business for success over the long-term is exactly what business owners stand to gain by working with an agent.”

Other key findings from the survey show:

Use of insurance agents is widespread among business owners.

  • Over six-in-ten business owners (63%) report having an insurance agent, while almost seven-in-ten millennials have one (69%).
  • Business owners with between 100-299 employees are most likely to work with an insurance agent (80%), those with fewer than 50 employees are least likely (57%).
  • Guidance and expertise (41%) are the driving forces behind the agent relationship, more so than practical considerations like level of coverage (25%) and efficiency (23%).

Price is the top consideration when selecting an insurance agent.

  • Next in line is insurance coverage/offerings, followed by customer service.
  • While trust and guidance are reasons for having an agent, reputation ranks No. 5 on the list of reasons provided by the survey.

Although half of the owners have never filed a claim for their business, 70% of millennials have.

  • Half (51%) admit to reviewing their insurance policy on an annual basis.
  • No universal milestone is driving insurance reviews. Business owners admit to a variety of reasons occurring across various time periods.
  • Part of this reasoning may be that business insurance goes largely unused. Half of owners (53%) have never filed a claim for their business.
  • Boomers have used their coverage to an even lesser extent, as 62% have never filed a claim compared to 30% of millennials.

It’s important for us to provide advice and advocacy to millennial business owners who are increasingly looking for ways to protect their assets, especially as their businesses grow,” said Craig Concklin, president of Concklin Insurance Agency Inc. in Chicago. “Insurance agents are business owners, too, so we can relate and respond to the concerns and questions from business owners who want to protect what matters most to them.”

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57 Million Americans Own a Side Business

Posted By Denny Jacob, Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Yet Most Lack Insurance

from PropertyCasualty360.com

A new survey from The Hartford found that 25% of Americans — approximately 57 million people — own a side business (a business that is not their primary source of income), yet most don’t have insurance to protect it. Only 12% of side business owners in America have purchased insurance. Of those who have not purchased insurance: 91% do not plan to purchase.

“We were somewhat surprised to see how many Americans are operating side businesses largely to generate extra income, yet most are uninsured,” Stephanie Bush, The Hartford’s head of small commercial and personal lines, said in a statement. “These survey results highlight the need to ensure that small business owners have access to resources to understand when insurance protection makes economic sense.”

Insurance? Who needs it

While a majority (61%) of respondents overall said the primary reason for starting a side business was financial, many were willing to forego insurance. The top three reasons cited:

  • I don’t need business insurance (44%)
  • My business is too small to warrant buying insurance (18%)
  • I am protected by my current home or auto insurance (11%)

At the most basic level a small business insurance policy helps protect a company’s property and income, and safeguards against liability claims. As a small business grows, additional insurance coverage options are available to meet the unique needs of the business — including workers’ compensation, commercial auto and data breach coverage.

Side businesses are side businesses for a reason

Although the small business owners surveyed are looking to make extra income, it’s not enough for some to take their business full-time. Millennials (40%) are more likely to say that their side business could become their full-time job compared with baby boomers (38%) and Gen X (33%).

However, many owners cite numerous barriers regarding making their side business their primary source of income:

  • I don’t believe I can make a living at this business – 48%
  • I can’t afford to give up my income from my full-time job – 33%
  • I don’t want to give up the benefits from my full-time job – 27% 
  • I like my full-time job and don’t want to give it up – 23%
  • I don’t have the time to dedicate to the business – 13% 

 

Tags:  insurance  small business 

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When Small Business Needs Specialty Insurance

Posted By Bryan Salvatore, Wednesday, September 19, 2018

from MyNewMarkets.com

Small business used to be associated with small exposures — simple business risks addressed with simple insurance products. However, changing customer needs and expectations, technology advancements, new regulations and evolving legal environment issues have dramatically changed the way small business owners run their companies. Small business is no longer simple.

Small-business owners say employment-related issues, crime risks and professional liability risks are their top three exposures, according to the 2018 Small Business Risk Report by Forbes Insights and The Hanover. In the face of increasingly complex exposures, many small-business owners often require insurance coverage that goes beyond a standard policy. This creates an opportunity for insurance carriers and specialized independent agents to expand their businesses by moving downstream and offering specialty solutions that better align with the needs of small businesses.

Mutually Inclusive

Servicing small-business accounts with complex needs has been difficult for agents in the past. The industry focused on providing specialty insurance lines for businesses that are large or difficult to place. Most insurance carriers selling to small businesses have concentrated their efforts on more predictable business owner policies (BOP), leaving business owners with complex risks without an effective solution.

In turn, agents have had limited options when it comes to serving smaller clients. Those limited options were:

  • Avoiding the small business market to focus on mid to larger-sized complex accounts;
  • Sending all small accounts to wholesale partners for placement and servicing; or
  • Bringing these smaller, complex clients into the agency service structure but then struggling to serve them easily and efficiently.

Agents have repeatedly said they need more alternatives.

The good news is carriers are evolving to provide better coverage and servicing options for these small businesses’ complex needs, making it easier for specialty agents to capitalize on the opportunity.

Waves of Change

Carriers invested in the specialty space are already implementing distinctive changes. First, they’re staying on top of the various specialty risks customers face. Because risks evolve over time, the best carriers are closely monitoring the many trends that drive exposures for small businesses.

In addition, these carriers are providing standard and specialty coverage from different underwriting disciplines in a way that is seamless for the customer. For example, a carrier’s small commercial practice can provide a BOP, while its management liability operation can provide directors and officers liability coverage, enhanced employment practices liability limits and a broader crime policy in a seamless fashion, all behind the scenes.

To the customer, it appears as though they have one comprehensive insurance program from a single carrier.

Finally, these carriers are working to solve coverage needs as efficiently as possible for both customers and agents. Implementing specialty lines capabilities within their customer service centers is a highly effective way to give small businesses all the insurance coverages they need, while providing them with high-quality service. This also saves insurance agencies valuable staff time.

Our industry has made good progress in recognizing that small businesses can have complex exposures. By building a broad portfolio of efficient, small specialty solutions, carriers will ultimately help agents grow their small commercial business and continue to make great strides in developing specialty lines solutions that serve the needs of small businesses with complex risks.

In turn, agents are able to better serve their small-business clients with more comprehensive solutions and streamlined service.

 

Tags:  commercial  insurance  small business  specialty 

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Prospecting for Commercial Insurance Online

Posted By David Siekman, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

from agencyperformancepartners.com

We all know the value of prospecting for commercial insurance accounts. The advent of social media and the ability for social marketing has made it both harder and easier to reach our target market. This blog is intended to be an introduction for a commercial lines insurance producer in how to create a digital marketing effort. In years past a solid community-based presence combined with some print advertising in the yellow pages and newspapers would keep us at the top of mind for our clients as well as prospects in town. We may not have written everything but our prospects were aware of us and when they reached out to us we had a good shot at winning the business.

However, times change. In today’s world our target market may have grown outside of the reach of our community marketing efforts. Traditional groups such as Chambers of Commerce or more social or service groups such as Rotary, Elks, and Lions are struggling for membership. The benefit of social marketing is that we can now reach a larger, more diverse, and more spread out network of potential prospects. The drawback is that it can be a little overwhelming in how to approach prospecting commercial accounts today.

Like most marketing efforts, the key is a blended strategy. Anyone that says that traditional marketing is dead or that one particular social media platform can create all the prospects that you need are typically selling a niche program aimed at improving one aspect of your marketing strategy. While these niche programs have a place, they can only be one component of your marketing efforts.

Facebook

There are some components to digital marketing that standard prospecting efforts should all include. On Facebook, you can promote yourself and the agency on both your personal page and your business page. Some insurance producers will create a 2nd personal page on which they promote their business efforts. I understand the desire to separate some of our personal details with our business lives but maintaining two different profiles on the same channel can take more effort than it is worth. I recommend creating one profile and merge your personal and professional lives. This is going to produce the greatest and most qualified leads.

LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, it is important to make sure that you are promoting your personal page. All of the information on your personal page should line up well with a fully created company profile. Even if you do a great job of generating interest on your personal LinkedIn page, if people try to link over to your company profile and find a bare profile or one that doesn’t line up with the message on your profile, they will bail on a discussion before they even engage with you.

We highly recommend that you pay for LinkedIn Premium. There are a number of functions that the premium account offers. My personal favorite is that you can see the full list of people that have viewed your account. That is great to use to determine which of your prospects may be heating up a bit or to identify someone whom you haven’t even contacted. You also have some enhanced search capabilities to identify new prospects for your pipeline.

Your Personal URL

This is obviously easier for those of us with a unique name but owning your name as a url can be very helpful in prospecting. Not only does this give a fun and more personal way to brand yourself, it also can help if someone is searching your name. Even if you just point the url to the home page or a unique page on the agency website, it still helps to brand you.

Watching your Google Search

Doing a Google search of your own name can have some interesting results. Again, for those of us with unique names this is a little easier to see what a search of our name would reveal (Google Search: Dave Siekman). This will help you identify which digital marketing efforts are creating quality search results. It can also identify if there is any negative activity associated with your name. Many prospects (especially in commercial lines) will search both the agency and the producer’s name before engaging.

Your Website as Your Best Assistant Salesperson

It is vital that your agency page includes a good strong bio piece on who you are as well as information on the agency. While I don’t want to put too much focus on an About Us page, a lot of sites have done away with them under the “who cares” thought process. Well, a significant number of your prospects care. Especially at the top of the funnel when they are just hearing about you. Two great ways to learn more about you without having to contact you are by checking out your LinkedIn profile and the information on your website. Be sure to not only have a well put together and branded website but be sure that it gives the information for which people are looking. Also make sure that the entire website has strong content which includes text, video, and photos which are within the agency brand and are SEO friendly.

Other Platforms

Finally, we all know that there are countless platforms online for businesses to engage with potential prospects. To prevent resources being stretched too thin, determine which platforms your dream clients are utilizing and figure out a content strategy on that platform. For example, if you are working with retail you may find your clients are on Pinterest and Twitter; restaurants and hotels may be able to relate to someone with a strong Yelp presence.

I’ll close with one of our top commandments. You must be prospecting all of the time. There can be no excuse for letting prospecting go. It is vital (arguably the most important component) to your success as a salesperson!

Tags:  commercial  insurance  prospecting 

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