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March 1, 2007

4 Min Read
Working With Insurance Agents

Websters defines trust as, a firm belief in the honesty and reliability of another; a confident expectation. One would think it would be easy to find an insurance agent that mirrors this definition, but many of us seem to have an inherent distrust for insurance companies. After all dont they collect our premiums, invest that money, enjoy huge profits, and then never want to pay claims? Why should we trust them and anyone represent them?

Ive been buying business insurance for 15 years and have paid more than $20 million in premiums. Ive also had health insurance, facility insurance, life insurance, homeowners insurance, general liability insurance and auto insurance. Through it all, Ive never changed insurance agents. Pretty amazing, wouldnt you say?

I find its in my best interest to make sure my insurance agent knows everything about me and my businesses. The more they know, the more they can help. Consequently, my agent and I have become friends. I trust him, as I do all my friends. In fact, I dont keep friends I dont trust.

Through my friendship with my agent, Ive gained knowledge of insurance companies that I never would have learned otherwise. Ive learned theyre really not the big bad guys we and the media consider them to be. They are, like us, capitalists. They need a profit to be here next year to renew our policies.

Its necessary they have cash reserves at all times to pay claims. Natural and unnatural disasters are the nemesis of insurance companies. The pretenders in the insurance world and mismanaged companies quickly go out of business after natural disasters like Katrina or 9/11.
Two-Way Trust

Billions are spent on insurance in America; were insurance crazy because lawsuits are prevalent, making coverage a necessity. Countless companies have gone under because they lacked insurance or were underinsured. Fear keeps us shopping for more policies.

It takes a trained professional to understand all the nuances of policies and our businesses to protect us from litigation. If you are not open and forthright with insurance agents, youre not allowing them to do their jobs fully, and your coverage may end up being short-chanted. With that in mind, realize that trust is a two-way street when it comes to working with insurance agents. Trust them with accurate numbers and fill them in with your business specifics, and they can keep you covered.

Allow your relationship with your agent to grow. Youll get better performance and shorter response times from someone youve known and worked with for a decade then someone you just met. Find an agent with different programs and you can entrust them to find discounts on multiple policies. The more the merrier.
Whos the Boss?

Dont forget insurance agents work for you. Sure, theyre aligned with brokerage firms, but at the end of the day, youre the boss. Without you they have no business. Tell them what you want, decline what you dont need, and keep them shopping until youre satisfied.

One of the best aspects about insurance agents is the huge well of insurance underwriters from which they can choose. Note that insurance agents dont work for insurance underwriters. They can siphon the best underwriters and the most appropriate policies for your needs depending on the offerings. With a plethora of underwriters out there, agents can shop wisely and frugally on your behalf.

I have found through the years that its sometimes best to let my insurance agent shop my coverage through underwriters currently not writing a specific type of insurance. Its amazing how open underwriters can be to new or different coverage. In insurance, its all about spreading the risk. If underwriters can see the potential of profiting from a different coverage than they are typically writing, they may jump on the bandwagon and provide you a great deal in doing so.
A Final Word on Trust

Youll find it easier to trust a company with a solid track record so make sure to select a highly rated insurance company. Ask your agent for the rating of the underwriter and double-check ratings on www.ambest.com. The more informed you are about your coverage and the insurance companies writing it, the more apt your agent will be on top of the game.

Its up to you to find the right insurance agent. Do your homework. Know what coverage you have and write down your insurance goals: lower premium, more coverage, higher deductibles, broader language in your policy, combined coverage, etc.

Discuss these goals with your insurance agent. If your agent is not well-versed about the self-storage industry, find another agent. Find someone who is personable and willing to develop a long-lasting relationship with you. Find someone you can trust and entrust him or her to protect your building, your assets and your future. 

Kirk Nash is president and CEO of The KW Nash Group Inc., providers of truck leasing, rental and insurance. He has been in the truck rental leasing business for more than 15 years, has spoken at numerous conventions and written numerous articles. For more information, call 877.818.7825 or visit www.kwnashgroup.com.

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