June 28 was National Insurance Awareness Day in the U.S. While you didn’t see any greeting cards marking the occasion at the corner store — it’s not a Hallmark holiday — Insurance Awareness Day underscores the important role that insurance plays in our lives. The focus is typically on policyholders, and the day is a good time for those who are insured to consider all the ways coverage protects us from the unexpected.
That said, Insurance Awareness Day is also an opportunity for people who work in the industry to reflect on the relationships we have with partners and colleagues. Collaboration across networks within the industry make the delivery of the coverage that protects policyholders possible. That’s what makes Insurance Awareness Day a great time for carriers to think about broker relationships.
See also: What a Safer World Means for Brokers
Why does the carrier-broker relationship deserve special scrutiny? The main reason is that the two groups are incredibly dependent on each other for success, yet the relationship is often overlooked. In some cases, carrier and broker relationships border on acrimonious.
Here are four ways carriers can improve this crucial working relationship:
1. Identify your top 10 brokers and explore more cross-sell opportunities.
Because brokers serve as intermediaries with buyers, carriers typically work with a large number of brokers. That strategy is helpful for gaining market share, but the downside is that working with so many different brokers can make it more difficult to focus on the truly critical relationships.
One measure you can take today to remedy that is to identify your top 10 most productive brokers and concentrate on that group, examining the type of business they bring in and identifying meaningful cross-selling opportunities. In this way, you can set your company and your top brokers up for win-win relationships, which will strengthen the bond.
2. Improve speed and efficiency in business processes that affect brokers.
Brokers evaluate carrier relationships on a number of points, including how fast the carrier underwrites and binds policies. As a carrier, now is a good time for you to evaluate whether your core business processes cause bottlenecks for brokers.
If you’re not sure your processes are meeting broker expectations, take a look at processes from quotes on the front end through reporting on the back end. Evaluate whether new technology can help you speed tasks. Carriers that are efficient and more responsive to brokers have a great opportunity to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace.
3. Understand the big picture from the broker’s perspective.
If you want to be the carrier of choice, you’ll need to take steps to understand your relationship with brokers in its totality. Competitive rates are a key driver, of course, but it goes beyond that. It’s important to understand all the relevant benchmarks.
With the right reporting tools, you’ll have an accurate view of how much business the broker has written. An accurate account of the meaningful business you and the broker generate is a powerful tool to have at your disposal during meetings. It provides both parties with crucial insight about the importance of the relationship.
4. Review your data access and quality.
Information is the key to moving forward and remaining competitive in a changing marketplace. Carriers generate copious amounts of data during the course of operations and during interactions with brokers, but that doesn’t mean the data is accessible and of sufficient quality to be meaningful.
With all the consolidation in the industry, data silos are a persistent problem. If data resides in several different repositories, it’s harder for the carrier to fully understand the market or accurately gauge the demand for products. Take a look at your data to make sure you have access to all relevant information — and that it is reliable and in a usable format.
Many carriers express the goal of becoming the carrier of choice for brokers. They know price is a key issue, so they look at ways to reduce costs. Price is important, but it’s not the only attribute that determines broker preferences. Opportunity, speed, efficiency and effective partner relationships are also essential considerations for brokers.
See also: The New Agent-Customer Relationship
So, if you want to be the carrier of choice for your brokers, take the opportunity on National Insurance Awareness Day to focus on broker relationships. Make sure you’re creating win-win opportunities for your most productive brokers, be responsive to their concerns about processes, understand their perceptions of your relationship and make sure you’re using accurate, complete data.
By following these four tips, you can overcome the obstacles that keep many carriers and brokers from collaborating more effectively and find new paths to foster more cooperative relationships. In this way, you can set your organization apart in the insurance marketplace, not just on National Insurance Awareness Day, but all year long.