Historically, wholesale insurance brokers have been viewed through the limited perspective of being solely a transactional facilitator of submissions or an avenue to access additional markets, especially in the excess and surplus (E&S) marketplace.
But now more than ever, the complex nature and specific needs of clients indicate this is an outdated view.
Retail insurance agents must decide if they will benefit more from a generalist that manages the submission process or a wholesaler backed by experts and industry specialists. If the situation calls for a specialist, the agent should view a wholesaler as a business partner and an extension of their business.
What should constitute the relevant scorecard criteria for a wholesale specialist?
Meticulous Throughout the Relationship. Do they learn the essential aspects of the client’s business and apply that to the information provided on the application for accuracy and fit relative to the situation? Do they regularly update carrier ratings and monitor relevant regulatory and legislative developments?
Communication With All Stakeholders. Are they proactive with agents and carriers? Can they assist with proposals and presentations? Do they translate insurance jargon to be readily understood and acted upon? When additional information is needed, is it promptly provided?
Timeliness of Delivery and Services. Deadlines are part and parcel of the insurance industry. Can the wholesaler demonstrate a track record of performance while managing obstacles that may occur and still meet deadlines?
Consultative Approach. Is their approach transactional, or do they see their role as an extension of the agent, helping to provide recommendations and responding to issues that may arise?
Industry-Specific, Analytical and Technical Expertise. Managing enterprise risk is critical to the long-term viability of businesses today. Can the wholesaler advise on the pros and cons of different funding techniques within the client’s financial capacity? Will they analyze the carrier responses to determine what criteria were used when considering the recommendation?
Loss Prevention and Claims Assistance. Given the growth of legal disputes, loss prevention assistance is a necessity. Can the wholesaler provide loss prevention services and evaluate a carrier’s ability to provide the essential loss prevention services? Does the wholesaler fully understand the carrier’s incident response capabilities and claim adjustment processes?
Credibility Within Standard and E&S Marketplace. Agents often mistake wholesalers as a resource solely for E&S markets when the reality is the standard markets can be an avenue for more complex risks in some cases. Does the wholesaler know the carrier’s submission process, specific appetites and risk criteria well?
Extension of Agency’s Capabilities. Given the industry’s talent shortage, can the wholesaler be an efficient, viable way for the agency to outsource more traditional types of accounts to free up staff by taking advantage of scale? When it makes sense for both parties, are there other types of office assistance the wholesaler can provide?
Partnering with the right wholesaler is an investment in increasing the agent’s success rate in placing and retaining accounts while helping the agency grow its footprint in new industry segments.
In behavioral psychology, “reframing” involves revisiting a situation, thought or feeling to adjust an associated mindset by positioning the analysis differently. Sometimes we just need to look through a new lens to see a different perspective. It may be worth looking through a new lens and partnering with a wholesale broker who is a specialist rather than just another submission facilitator. Hopefully, this provides a fresh look at the wholesale opportunity. Agents can use the scorecard criteria when reflecting on a client’s specific needs and their agency’s capabilities.
Specialization is essential if a wholesaler is to provide retailers and their clients with the tools and knowledge needed to analyze, benchmark, manage and finance risk associated with specific industry groups and sub-groups.
Demonstrated knowledge and expertise with specific lines of coverage for specific industry groups enables effective communication with underwriters, retailers and the clients they serve.
A specialized wholesale broker should be an extension of the retailers marketing and sales team - a dependable expert with capabilities that helps their retailers realize the advantages of specialization and the revenue growth associated with same.