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Managing Carrier Risks in Your Book of Business
As an insurance agency owner, managing risks within your book of business is crucial for ensuring long-term success and profitability. With so many places facing hard markets, it's essential to adopt strategies that safeguard your top and bottom lines while providing excellent service to your clients. In this article, we will explore three key areas that can help you effectively manage risks and actualize your agency's potential.
Aligning with Multiple Partner Carriers Can Help
De-Risk Your Top and Bottom Lines
One of the most effective ways to manage risks within your book of business is by aligning with multiple partner carriers. When it comes to best practices, there are some ways to manage your placements to ensure you aren’t overly exposed during market cycles. Relying solely on one carrier exposes your agency to significant risks, such as limited market options, and vulnerability to market fluctuations. By diversifying your carrier relationships, you can reduce these risks and enhance your agency's stability.
If one carrier is more exposed to adverse market factors or decides to change its underwriting guidelines, your agency won't be as affected because you have more than one market to rely on. This strategy can help protect both your top and bottom line, ensuring a more consistent revenue stream even in challenging market conditions.
Takeaway: It’s easy to double down and maintain a high velocity of new business with one good carrier, but working with multiple partner carriers allows you to spread your risks while providing options for your clients. Best practices recommend the 80/20 rule that approximately 80% of your business should be placed within the top 20% of your markets. For smaller agencies this is often only a couple, so if one carrier underwrites a large portion of your clients you may need to review your production strategy to spread your risk. If one carrier underwrites considerably more than your agency's profitability goal, that should be an indication that if a carrier changes its underwriting appetite your profitability could be at risk.
Aligning with the right carriers also helps to optimize profit sharing. No one should ever advocate for steering clients with the purpose of better profit sharing. It is considered unethical to not offer your clients the preferred option available, and it is illegal in most states. However, concentrating your efforts and placements with a few carriers that align with your client’s needs provides you with economies of scale to optimize potential profit sharing within your normal placement process with your partner carriers.
It's Not That You Need More Carriers, You Need the Right Carriers
While having access to numerous markets can be beneficial, it's essential to focus on quality rather than quantity. It's not about having more markets; it's about having the right markets for your agency's target market and specialization. Understanding your clients' coverage needs and preferences will help you identify carriers that align with your agency's goals and provide the right coverage options.
When evaluating potential partner carriers, assess their appetite and track record for the core lines of business you want to offer to your clients. In addition, be sure to understand the carrier’s growth goals and their financial security. Partnering with carriers that have a proven track record in your niche markets will not only enhance your agency's credibility but also mitigate risks associated with mismatched client needs and carrier offerings.
Takeaway: A couple of insights from my prior experience managing carrier relationships at a national agency – smaller agencies or growth-minded producers often fall into the idea of “needing more markets.” Many larger agencies have a real problem trying to manage too many relationships, which can add indirect costs to your agency through too many meetings or unproductive quoting activity. As an owner, you should focus on finding the right markets for your clients so that they have the coverage they need at a reasonable price.
Winning one or even a few policies by AOR with a market you don’t currently have may seem like a good idea, but unless you have other clients or a pipeline that aligns with their appetite you are incurring admin costs for contracts, commission processing, and other indirect costs that may erode your profitability for that one account.
Maintaining Good AMS Data Will Set You Up to Be Proactive and Protect Your Revenue
Agency Management System (AMS) data is a goldmine of valuable information that can help you proactively manage risks and protect your revenue. By maintaining accurate and up-to-date data, you gain insights into your book of business, identify potential risks, and make informed decisions.
Especially in a hard market, it’s critical to have an accurate book of business in your AMS to identify clients and risks in the event you need to act quickly to market news. Having the proper policy type, effective and expiration dates, Billing Company, and Issuing Company coded to your policies positions you to instantly pull a report to plan your re-marketing strategy for affected clients.
Takeaway: Carrier appetite guides are great for reference, but having accurate data in your AMS can give you a more accurate appetite guide from your client base. Seeing which carriers write which types of policies for your client base can also give you guidance on which other carriers to approach if one changes their underwriting guidelines. Having the ability to pull this report also positions you to respond quickly when receiving a communication from a carrier they are no longer writing a certain line of business or even geographic area.
In the agencies I worked for, it was a regular occurrence to analyze the book of business due to a carrier changing their program, exiting a territory, or even terminating a contract. However, having the data available turned a potentially disastrous situation into a manageable process.
To summarize, managing risks within your insurance agency's book of business requires a proactive and strategic approach. By aligning with multiple partner carriers, focusing on the right markets, and maintaining good AMS data, you can minimize risks, enhance profitability, and deliver exceptional service to your clients.
Remember, effective risk management is an ongoing process that requires continuous evaluation, adaptation, and collaboration with your carrier partners. By implementing these strategies, you can navigate the dynamic insurance landscape with confidence and set your agency up for long-term success.
Want to review your book of business and talk through strategies to manage your carrier relationships? Schedule a free consultation today.
Colby Allen has over 10 years of experience working in analytics for insurance agencies and carriers. He’s worked with hundreds of producers on understanding the data within their book of business for growth and profitability. Want to review your book of business to understand these risks and enact a plan to be more resilient?
Schedule a free consult using our contact page or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.