Most clients don’t initially understand all the services their insurance broker can provide. An annual account review is an excellent example and a great learning experience.
What’s an Account Review?
It’s an opportunity to update your knowledge of insurance exposures and fine-tune your coverages.
- Pick a date mid-year to your policy expirations – when there’s little insurance stuff going on. This should mean the broker’s not “selling.”
- Think about what you’d like to learn or know about risk or insurance – for free! Also determine if there is someone else in your business who could learn from being present.
- Be proactive to make it worth your time … read on.
Plan your Meeting
- Invite your broker to lunch – with a tour around your business beforehand.
- Point out anything new – equipment, processes, products or services, major vendors or customers.
- Get his or her experienced, “new set of eyes” view of your operations to uncover new or unexpected risks.
In a risk assessment factory tour the client showed me a “de-burring” operation with a very fast turning drill press-type machine. When I noticed the woman working there had long hair with no net or tie-back, I asked him quietly to have her stop the machine. I then explained and showed her what could happen if her hair got caught in the spinning equipment. The “new set of eyes” was a lucky break for all involved.
- Introduce your broker to several of your specialist workers and have them express their opinions about risks and concerns.
What are your To-Dos?
- Over lunch, take time to make notes about anything you’ve both learned: any recommendations, resources the broker may have, or things to consider.
- Can a safety or loss control expert make an inspection?
- Can someone speak to your safety committee or at an employee meeting?
- Ask about insurance market or legal trends.
- What new coverages, exclusions, or price increases are around the corner and how you can prepare?
- What new lawsuits have been happening?
- Talk about the timing of the next renewal process so you know what to expect.
- Update your calendar and alert colleagues about information needs.
- Make clear to your broker that you want proposals at least two weeks in advance of the renewal date.
- Finally, work on your business relationship with your broker – family, hobbies, vacations, recent professional courses, and most importantly who should you think about referring to him or her as a possible new customer.
- Re-schedule the account review process for next year!
What could make your risk and insurance management easier and more cost-effective?
Call or email to discuss questions or concerns: (510-685-3883| email@example.com)
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Do I hear a snort? Or possibly an “Oh, sure?” Does the title sound like How To Train Your Dragon? And when you question an invoice you’ll get your eyebrows singed off?
For many reasons, lawyering has evolved. Remember when your family doctor, the local GP, knew and did everything? Today they are all medical specialists and are questioned and second-guessed by many patients. Attorneys are the same, and most realize they don’t have all the answers. Working in concert with clients is not frowned upon.
Where do you Start?
Like it or not, for health and survival you need your doctor, and your business needs an attorney. The first step is choosing the right attorney for your industry, business, and legal needs.
Find the best person for the job by:
- Interviewing several. Tell them what you’re doing, request a no-cost meeting, and pay attention to their “fit” with you and your business style.
- Asking about their areas of specialization and how they can get you other expertise when you need it. Make sure you understand what “privilege” means.
- Inquiring about the office staff – is there a back-up team for an urgent matter?
- Discussing fees and flat-fee options for certain work like contract reviews. Are they open, flexible, and even pro-active in helping you manage costs? Insist on regular billing – not a huge whack six months down the road.
Getting Down to Work
- Once you’re comfortable and think the relationship can work, explain your business in depth and your risk concerns.
- To address your legal needs, I recommend you ask them for ideas from their experience before telling them what you think you need.
- Ask how they have handled these issues for others – get “real” stories and examples.
- Ask how they handle disagreements with clients. Do they use a written service agreement? You want an advisor who works with you, doesn’t tell you just what you want to hear, or gives ultimatums.
Address Future Issues
- What could come up to derail all your plans? Raise issues now while everyone’s friendly. Be open and brutally honest about you and any potential problems.
- Will they take an active role in learning about you and your business? How do they charge for that learning curve?
- Can you create a plan to prevent a legal emergency? Will they accept a heads-up email that something’s coming up and work with your schedule?
- How will they make sure you have complete understanding of their guidance or recommendation? Can they provide a legal dictionary and a lower paid clerk to clarify or explain a complex or obscure remark?
You should also quiz them on whether they’re willing to have a general discussion meeting at no charge once or twice a year. Ask them to lunch, then learn about legal trends that could impact you, contract revisions to better protect all parties, etc.
Anything you can do to proactively manage the relationship will be good for you and your attorney. You need someone you trust, respect, and enjoy doing business with. With some focus and discipline it’s easy to train your attorney – and yourself – to get the best for your business and peace of mind
Call or email Charles (510-685-3883 | firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need more details or have a unique situation – there’s no obligation.
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