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“Where’s the Beef?”

A few nights ago, as we were preparing dinner, my six year old son became inpatient and started asking, “Where’s the meat?” After about the sixth time of hearing this question, I walked him out of the kitchen, searched up the old Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” commercials and sat him down for a little cultural education.

Ever since that night, this has become a favorite tagline in my house. Anytime one of the children doesn’t get what they think they deserve, they pop up with, “Where’s the Beef?” Which brings me to my point . . . .

How can you tell whether your insurance professional is providing the "beef” that you need to properly manage your risk and reach your goals?

3 Important Questions:

Insurance professionals come in many different flavors. Some are casual, some formal, some are outgoing, and some are reserved. Some are great at personal insurance, others are great with construction insurance, and yet another might be really good with hair stylist insurance. The variety goes on and on. But, ultimately, the quality of an insurance professional really comes down to these three questions:

1. Does he/she take the time to understand my business?

2. Does he/she take the time to understand the insurance product?

3. Does he/she have my best interests at heart?

So, let’s take a few minutes and explore these questions.

Does he/she take the time to understand my situation?

Every business faces different possibilities of financial loss. In insurance lingo, we refer to this as “exposure.” It’s vital that your insurance professional take the time to understand your business so that they can craft an insurance package that covers your biggest exposures. For example, a crane operator faces very different exposures than a restaurateur.

So, if they ask a lot of questions, request additional applications, or even stop by to visit your facility, you can take that as a good sign that your insurance professional is trying to understand your situation. Additionally, this industry is rife with white papers and other training tools to help them learn about how various insurance products may apply to your type of business.

Understanding the Insurance Product:

From time to time you may have seen advertisements that depict insurance as a boxed item that you pick up off the shelf and scan to get the lowest price. Or, maybe you’ve been promised multiple quotes in minutes from the convenience of your browser. Most of these ads focus almost solely on price and/or convenience without giving thought to what coverage the policy actually provides.

Unfortunately, insurance is not quite that simple. When you buy a policy, you are entering into a complex legal contract. The terms of that contract often vary greatly from one insurance company to another. When it comes time to settle a claim, or complete a policy audit, those variances can translate into real money for you. I’ve personally seen insurance consumers lose thousands because the insurance contract wasn’t set up in the best way.

One way to gauge how well your insurance professional knows the product is to look at their experience and education. If you work with someone who’s been in the business for a while, or who has letters behind their name, (i.e., CPCU, AIS, CIC, CLU, etc.), it’s a good bet that they’ve taken extra time to become an expert in their field.

Does he/she have my best interests at heart?

This can be a tough question. When dealing with an unfamiliar industry, so much trust has to be placed in the professional you’re working with. So, how can you tell that this person is really interested in you? Start by asking a few questions.

  • Does my insurance professional regularly check to make sure I’m getting a good value? While it’s not a good idea to shop around every year, a good insurance professional should watch for major changes to your pricing or coverage terms, and be willing to shop for other options when it makes sense. Independent Agents have a distinct advantage in this arena as they’re often able to approach multiple carriers at one time on your behalf.

  • What experiences have others had with this insurance professional? A lot can be determined by knowing other people’s experiences. Don’t be afraid to ask around to see how other people feel about the person you’re working with. Online reviews can be helpful. Additionally, some state departments of insurance collect and publish complaints against insurance companies and insurance professionals. Information on other people’s experiences can be an invaluable resource.

  • Do I like to work with this person? Ultimately, who you choose to work with is a highly personal decision. Are you comfortable with this person? Do you work well together? Do your personalities match? An insurance professional can have integrity, be an expert in the field, and have all good reviews, but if you don’t like the person, then the relationship won’t work very well.

After 15+ years in various parts of this industry, I’ve seen a lot of good, working relationships between clients and their insurance professionals. I’ve also seen my share of relationships that needed serious help. Hopefully, this little guide can help you to establish a relationship with someone who can deliver “The Beef.”

Here at The Hartwell Corporation, we are 100% employee-owned and we truly value you and your success. Our mission is to:

“Empower our employee-owners to provide superior products and services to support our clients in managing risk and reaching goals.”

Feel free to give us a call for any of your insurance needs. We provide a full line of insurance products for all industries.

- Zerin Buchanan CPCU, API, AIS

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