3 Key Themes for Check-ins With Clients

A national survey finds business owners want easy claims processes, need help with risk management and value guidance from agents.

An agency partner in Ohio recently submitted a California-based residential plumbing contractor for underwriting consideration, needing expedited review to avoid project delays. Using virtual tools, a Nationwide loss control services expert in Texas quickly contacted the contractor in California for a virtual survey and jobsite assessment, helping us accurately price the account while also providing valuable risk management expertise from his extensive experience working with residential plumbing contractors.

Just two years ago, this scenario might have posed a challenge for many carriers as they tried to accurately understand and price the risks, but in today’s age of historic digital adoption, it was an opportunity to showcase Nationwide’s tech-driven, customer-focused protection, which allowed us to put the right associate on the right risk.

Today’s business owners are working hard to continue serving customers while navigating extended supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. When it comes to insurance, they need their carrier and agent to work just as hard for them to prepare and protect their business for risks that lie ahead.

Nationwide’s latest Agency Forward survey found many business owners are missing openings to use risk management planning to help defend their business from costly disruptions and accidents – presenting an opportunity for agents and carriers to advise commercial clients about the importance of understanding and mitigating their business’s risks and the considerable impacts these efforts can have on their company’s bottom line. 

The business owner survey revealed three key themes for agents to consider as they prepare for annual check-ins with clients: 

  1. Business owners want easy claims processes and industry expertise from their agents and carriers.
  2. Risk management planning can help prevent costly disruptions or claims.
  3. Agents can help clients mitigate risk and navigate claims.

Speed, ease and industry expertise top business owner needs when filing a claim

Eighty-five percent of the anonymous business owners surveyed who filed a claim in the past 12 months report being satisfied with their experience, yet some owners still struggle with navigating the claims process with their carriers. In fact, a quarter were dissatisfied with their claims experience, saying it was difficult (25%) or slow (24%), while another one in five say it was challenging to track the progress of their claim (22%) or that their insurance agent wasn’t helpful (21%). 

Carriers who lean into quick claims handling when possible, clear communication and strong industry-specific expertise in claims can deliver a smoother experience for business owners, giving them confidence they’ll be back up and running quickly. 

Nationwide has reduced average claim cycle times for business owners with easy filing online or by phone, digital payments and dedicated claims experts with deep knowledge in clients’ industries and the challenges they face. Customers also have access to solutions like the Nurse Triage Hotline to get qualified medical professional advice after an accident to help determine an effective course of action. 

See also: 5 Ways AI Helps on Client Service

Risk management planning can help prevent costly disruptions or claims

Across the board, business owners believe risk management plays a significant role in protecting their business, employees and customers. However, owners’ risk management actions greatly differ based on their business’ size.

More than a quarter (27%) of small business owners say they have no risk management practices in place at all for their company, compared with just 4% of middle market business owners who don’t have practices in place to mitigate risk. 

Further, middle market business owners are much more likely than their small business owner counterparts to be using carrier-offered risk management services. Business owners report using in-person/on-site services, safety program development and review and online resources most often. Just four in 10 middle market business owners, and about a quarter or less of small business owners, say they leverage digital risk management tools or virtual/teleconference services. 

As business owners reconsider the locations of their offices and how they will be doing business in the future, in-person or virtual safety resources such as Nationwide’s virtual risk management consultations offer industry experts to review client programs, identify potential risks and provide solutions to keep their businesses running smoothly – no matter where they’re located or how they’re doing business.

See also: What About Clients Who Don’t See Well?

Agents can help business owners mitigate risk and navigate claims

The survey found agents have opportunities to help clients better understand how adequate business planning and risk management programs can bolster their company’s performance, workforce retention and preparation for coming challenges. 

With a lot at stake, here are three key points for agents to emphasize with commercial clients leading into 2022: 

  1. Timely claims reporting is critical to getting your company back to work quickly. On average, commercial lines claims are reported 20 days after the event of loss, adding as much as 15% to the life cycle of a claim. 
  2. Many business disruptions are preventable. Taking time to ensure proper housekeeping, maintenance and business continuity planning is in place can reduce costly disturbances and decrease recovery time.  
  3. With the average cost of a fleet accident at approximately $70,000 and auto accidents being the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the U.S., for many organizations their fleet operations pose their greatest liability and workers’ compensation risk. It is important that organizations establish a formal fleet safety program to protect employees and reduce accident risk. 

Agents who are able to deliver this counsel in the moment, while understanding the carrier-supplied solutions to benefit their clients, can open doors to deeper relationships and smoother experiences for clients leading into the year ahead.

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