3 Responsibilities to Expect From Your Insurance Broker
Published On: May 21, 2021
Insurance brokers are valuable assets. Whether you’re a small business owner or a benefits manager at a large company, brokers can help make your insurance shopping experience simpler and, in many cases, more affordable. By acting as an intermediary between consumers and insurance carriers, they provide industry knowledge and expertise to ensure their clients are getting the right coverage at the right cost.
Insurance brokers differ from insurance agents in that they represent the client, not the insurance company. Because they aren’t incentivized by a specific insurance carrier or carriers, they’re able to keep the interests of their client and their client’s business at the forefront of the insurance shopping experience. This focus often results in a more positive outcome, with the client’s coverage needs being achieved in full and on budget. Let’s examine the three most important responsibilities insurance brokers should fulfill.
Support the Client's Needs
At the very least, every company should have property, interruption, and liability insurance; because all businesses are different. However, the specific circumstances of each one -- such as what services or products they provide, whether or not they possess a fleet, and whether or not they handle sensitive information -- must be taken into account. In these cases, additional coverage, such as cyber insurance, commercial auto insurance, and data breach insurance needs to be purchased. This is true whether you’re a small business owner with six employees trying to expand, a large corporation with significant assets, or a medium-sized company trying to maximize revenue.
At the same time, brokers should be actively listening to the concerns of their clients; it’s important that clients feel their needs are being addressed and appreciated. For example, if a business owner in Kansas is particularly worried about tornadoes damaging their office building, a great broker will spend extra time finding the right coverage to soothe those concerns.
Act as a Liaison
Compared to the average individual looking for health or life insurance, businesses require more attention, care, and knowledge when it comes to finding coverage. The greater financial risks translate to more intensive and encompassing insurance packages that can be increasingly difficult to understand for a typical business owner or benefits manager, especially if they’re trying to go it on their own. The industry experience possessed by insurance brokers is especially beneficial when it comes to communicating directly with potential insurers; they should explain complex lingo, help with filling out any necessary forms, and negotiate final deals. Ultimately, this provides comfort and security for those unsure of what coverage they need and why.
Research Insurance Trends, Policies and Products
Insurance brokers are uniquely equipped to sift through the mountain of different insurance options to ensure their clients and their client’s business are protected. Their experience and in-depth knowledge of current policies and trends allow them to hand-pick the most ideal plans depending on client interests and concerns. Great brokers will always be paying attention to industry changes and policies in order to provide the most up-to-date information. This means that clients from all experience levels and backgrounds can rest assured that they’ve made the right choice for their business.
Signs To Look Out For
Unfortunately, every industry has its bad eggs. Insurance brokers aren’t immune to selfish, unprofessional individuals that are more interested in turning a profit than looking out for the needs of their clients. If your broker is displaying any of the following four behaviors, you may want to start searching for a new one.
They cannot be easily reached. Accessibility and communication are vital for any professional relationship. If a broker does not answer your calls, emails, or messages in a timely manner, forcing you to leave several messages before they finally respond, they aren’t providing you with the best service. This goes double if they aren’t effectively explaining the essentials of your plan, why it matters, and what it costs.
They do not provide you with copies of your insurance policies. Insurance policies are designed to protect businesses and assets from financial loss. Without examining your policy, you won’t be able to guarantee that it includes all the coverage you need. Your broker should be walking you through the details, not expecting you to trust them explicitly.
They are not sending you actual bills for your insurance premiums. Billing statements provide concrete proof of what your policy costs and why. If you’re not receiving either a direct bill (a bill that comes directly from the insurance company) or a brokerage bill (a bill issued by your insurance brokerage) and are instead simply told to write out a check, your broker is most likely being dishonest about the costs.
- All of your bills are round numbers. Insurance premiums are not neat, with pretty numbers like $10,000 or $5,000. Instead, they’re ugly and can appear almost random (think $10,304.78 or $5,235.13). If your insurance bills are perfect and even, there’s a solid chance your broker is lying about the true cost in order to skim a little off the top -- especially if you’re not receiving actual billing statements.
Brokers are supposed to make the insurance buying experience easier and more transparent. If yours is concealing information, ignoring your questions, or forcing you to go on the faith they aren’t doing their job; even worse, they may be stealing from you.
How To Deal With a Bad Insurance Broker
Luckily, business owners, benefits managers, and other professionals who feel they’ve been wronged, or believe they are currently being wronged, by their brokers aren’t helpless. Depending on the damage that’s been done -- which can range from mishandled claims to overt theft --, you have two main options beyond simply firing them: file a claim against the broker or file a lawsuit. The legalities surrounding suing your insurance broker vary by state; it’s wise to consult with a lawyer on whether or not a lawsuit is even possible based on your circumstances, let alone practical.
When filing a claim, you’ll need to contact your state’s department of insurance and may need to fill out a few forms. Focus on the professional details; list all events and contacts in chronological order, including any interactions you’ve had with the broker, police, insurance company, and others that are relevant to the case. Attach any necessary documents (for example, health records if the mismanaged claim was related to health coverage) and photocopy all your documents for safekeeping. Following up on the status of the claim after two weeks will ensure it gets handled.
The best insurance brokers are knowledgeable, trustworthy, experienced, accessible, and transparent. Remember, insurance brokers work for you; if they aren’t satisfying the above responsibilities or you suspect something underhanded may be going on, you’re well within your right to end the relationship and take action. Looking for more exclusive content? Check out what’s trending on the Mployer Advisor blog, and check out this article if you are considering changing your broker.
Director of Content, Mployer Advisor