FEATURE / PRODUCERS ON CARRIERS
Such a “black hole,” as one survey respondent termed it, is not acceptable–especially as producers are often the first to receive a claims call. New technological capabilities offering online forms and real-time updates have been implemented by some carriers, but widespread adoption would do much to ease this pain point and engender greater loyalty from both producer and policyholder.
accustomed to explaining why investing a little more money in a policy is a better decision, and urge carriers not to play the numbers game— especially when pressure to compete with direct, online distribution is high. Underwriting expertise, which was rated 7.95 out of 9 by producers, may help carriers meet these expectations.
Though the insurance sector remained largely unaffected by the 2008 financial crisis, the troubles of major players like AIG shook many producers. Already considered an important criterion, financial ratings from trusted agencies like A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s took on new meaning in the wake of the recession. Several major natural disasters, which have meant large losses for many insurers in recent years, only heightened the importance of sound finances. Several survey respondents noted they refuse to do business with carriers boasting anything less than an A+ rating. “My reputation is always on the line—especially now,” noted one producer. “Working with a reputable carrier is helpful.” Producers may be right to be concerned.
Outside of claims handling, producers were most adamant about their expectations on competitive rates (8.29 out of 9). While the financial bottom-line is certainly a concern, survey respondents emphasized that it is reasonable rates they’re after—not prices so low they call the future stability of the carrier into question. Instead, value for quality sets a carrier apart from the competition. Producers say they are
“If there’s one thing a carrier should strive for, it’s opening and closing claims quickly”
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“Phone menus that communicate a gate-keeper bent are a huge turnoff. It seems appreciation for the broker distribution channel is on the rise, but policies that make it more timeconsuming or frustrating for brokers will prove fatal to carriers.”
“It’s a breath of fresh air to actually talk with an underwriter who gets it and still picks up the phone. Many don’t get a shot at my business as they’ve proven not to remember that I am their client and personal relationships are an important part of a true partnership.”
“It’s best not to give your agents mixed signals—ultimately, either your business model is direct or it is through agents/ brokers. Mixing the two is a sure-fire way to annoy agents. Do you hear me, Progressive?”
“Carriers need to contract with brokers of all sizes. We do $30 million a year and still can’t get direct contracts with The Hartford, Nationwide or AIG. I would love a shot at the business; give me the opportunity to use the platform and we’ll generate the business.”
“We have ‘fired’ companies with poor automation! Can’t afford to keep them in our efficient office. If quoting isn’t user-friendly, most mainstream carriers won’t get quoted. Even in the niche area, if one carrier has greater ease of use, they get more of the business.”
12 | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014
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