It may be easy to forget about checking in with your carriers when you’re busy—only to reach out during renewals or when you have a new client to bring on board. But when agents and carriers understand each other’s goals and expectations (and communicate about both often), several things can happen:
- You gain a competitive edge over other agencies
- You may be able to negotiate better quotes from carriers
- You can develop more personalized packages for your clients
8 ways to improve your relationship with your carriers and underwriters
Building quality relationships with carriers is the key to providing great service to your clients. Here’s how.
- Be willing to let go of relationships that no longer work. Evaluate which companies still meet you and your clients’ needs. Relationships of the past may no longer meet the needs of today, especially if a carrier has pivoted its offering to classes of business that don’t mesh with what you need. Don’t waste resources on maintaining relationships with carriers that offer little benefit to your agency. Experts recommend choosing three to five carriers, then forging personal connections with all of them while investing the most time in the two most profitable carriers for your agency.
- Focus on communication. Develop a plan to communicate with each carrier. Some insurance companies communicate better than others, so you should take responsibility for ensuring an ongoing dialogue. An underwriter is more likely to work with your agency and negotiate better quotes if he or she believes that you care about their success. Take time to develop an authentic relationship with your carrier and get to know their goals. Consider following your contact on LinkedIn.
- Assign a relationship manager. Assign one or two employees from your agency to each carrier to serve as that carrier’s “relationship manager.” While carrier relationships should be a major focus for all agency owners, dividing up the duties with others in the firm will ensure that the lines of communication stay open.
- Schedule regular times to meet. Now more than ever, it’s important to touch base regularly with each carrier to build trust and rapport. Discuss your expectations, goals, and opportunities. Inform the business development team about the current status of your agency and your plans for the future, and review the agency’s sales and marketing plan. Establish reasonable goals and commitments for future business and schedule quarterly follow-up calls to track each entity’s progress.
- Take advantage of value-added services. Ask how your agency can take advantage of services offered by your carriers, such as financing and training programs.
- Ask for feedback. Ask your carriers to complete a “report card” on your agency to learn more about your reputation. Work on any deficiencies that may be revealed and discuss what your agency can do to improve the existing relationship and write more business.
- Know your carrier’s comfort level regarding risk. Some carriers dislike when agents push accounts that don’t match their level of risk. Speak to your carriers about their underwriting appetite, as a Pie partner, you can access our appetite checker directly in the partner portal, especially when you’re just starting a relationship. As your understanding of the carrier’s business increases, the underwriter’s trust and confidence in your agency will increase, too. When you send opportunities that are a good fit for the carrier, you demonstrate that you respect their time and view them as a valued partner.
- Respect the underwriter. In the lifespan of a successful agent-underwriter relationship, there may be times that you disagree. Be careful how you react in these situations. Trust can be quickly squandered if you go above an underwriter’s head. Talk to the underwriter first about your concerns and try to come to a consensus.
Symbiotic working relationships between agents and carriers not only build mutual respect and improve communication—but also provide more personalized service to clients.
Thanks for reading our educational resource! Any above reference to a specific company, method, or product is meant for educational purposes only and is not specifically endorsed by Pie.