Working with An Environmental Wholesaler: The Secret to Success
By Jamie Lewis, Senior Vice President
Insurance publications and LinkedIn posts are often inundated with the call for specialization in the insurance industry. Finding your “niche” as a producer, broker, or underwriter is arguably the most common career advice. There are plenty of articles and headlines touting the value of working with a wholesaler and why you should utilize a broker for specialty products or classes of business. Their points are valid – wholesale arrangements allow access to insurance markets that many retail agencies can either not reach at all or are lost within the web of contacts and different divisions. Larger wholesale brokerages have the premium and revenue clout to get more difficult to place business considered or prioritized. Proper utilization of the right wholesaler can make all the difference in finding the best program for your insured and solidifying your place as your client’s chosen representative.
If we all agree that working with a wholesaler increases your chances of writing and retaining an account, then does it matter which company you work with? Don’t all wholesale brokerages have access to the same wholesale-only markets and operate the same? Can’t you simply work with the same person that your colleague did on the last deal and get the same result? How would working with Beacon Hill change the experience and ultimately the success of the account versus another company?
Beacon Hill has been in business for 30+ years, with the sole focus on environmental, energy, and pollution-related coverages and exposures. Our staff has over 250 combined years in the industry, exclusive in-house underwriting programs with tenured underwriters, and access to the top environmental insurance carriers. We provide competitive commission arrangements, exceptional servicing, and much more. But what are we really bringing to the table that is unmatched and extraordinary? Our consultative approach to working with agents involves a number of factors that allow us to offer a superior experience.
Listening and Evaluating
From the moment a submission is discussed or received, our most important step is the initial review and discussion. Operations, revenue, location, premium target, etc. are key features. But identifying the current challenges, successes/failures in marketing attempts, areas that the insured is pleased with, areas where the insured is disappointed, primary objectives in a future program, and where we can play a part are pivotal prior to outlining a strategy. We are not here to tell you how your client’s program should be structured, but to listen to the current needs and ideal outcome and develop a collaborative game plan to get there.
While this may be the most heavily advertised “top 5 reasons to work with a wholesaler” article, it is absolutely true. The environmental insurance world is growing, but still a sliver of the pie. The right underwriters with the best companies can often be the difference between getting a competitive quote or getting declined (or ignored!). Beacon Hill has access to the best-in-class environmental insurance carriers and often fall within the top 5-10 brokerages for each of them. Our long-standing relationships with seasoned and talented underwriters is vital in having a submission carefully reviewed, analyzed, and ultimately quoted and bound.
Once a game plan has been mapped out, our job has transitioned from initial market selection and quoting to determining “how can we do this better?”. Aside from great rates and comprehensive coverage forms, Beacon Hill looks to see how we can solve a problem that perhaps has not been discovered yet. If the insured’s revenues have fluctuated throughout the last few years, we can look at an auditable policy with a leeway and potentially 90% minimum earned so the insured can manage audits more easily until uncertain projects and profits stabilize. Are there built-in endorsements that we can add to alleviate some midterm servicing transactions (blanket 30 Day NOC endorsements, blanket AI/PNC/WOS, composite rated policies, project excess limits, etc.)? Is Pollution coverage being properly structured to cover the insured’s exposures at their facility, in transit, and at a jobsite? Are we being creative and proactive enough in our marketing choices to ensure that multiple structure options are brought to the table? For example, offering a monoline Excess option to pair with a primary carrier for comparison or a $2mil CSL on the Auto to consider versus a first layer Excess. Perhaps a multiyear option for monoline pollution or unconventional expiration dates to align with other lines of coverage. The inevitable problems are plentiful enough, but we prefer to use our lessons learned in 30+ years to eliminate the undiscovered challenges as well.
With many brokerages, you may receive a few quotes and are left to decipher a proprietary environmental insurance coverage form and attempt to explain to your client. Fortunately, this is just another step in the process for Beacon Hill. Over the years we have developed and updated a massive database of exposure summaries, coverage form reviews, claims scenarios, and other resources. This allows us to 1) ensure that our staff is well versed in the products that we are offering and 2) assist our retail agent partners in understanding the coverage forms that we are providing, illustrate how they are meaningful to your client, and then translate that knowledge into a conversation with your insured. Our vast knowledge of the coverage forms we are presenting and unique needs of your insureds is useless if not shared. We are here to help you accurately and effectively represent what we have provided. Taking this time to thoroughly discuss what we have offered and how this aligns with our original objectives on the account is simply part of our process. Some could argue that it is the best part!
Working with any brokerage or company outside of your typical network can be daunting and potentially painful. There are new personalities and relationships to form, the terminology and products are unfamiliar, and the paperwork is plentiful. Working with a specialty wholesaler most often means E&S, which can also equate to paperwork. When in doubt, trust the process. While that extra form (or two) can seem excessive, the Service, Accounting and Compliance teams within Beacon Hill are operating on a multi-layer system of checks and balances with one common goal – quality. From E&S tax filings to binder and policy reviews, the amount of internal reviews that our files undergo is impressive. Our service team members are constantly scanning each transaction looking for anything that seems amiss. We instill a culture of inquisitiveness for the greater good of the account, regardless of the time commitment. If it doesn’t look right or feel right, ask about it. The result is a policy that has been reviewed, scrutinized, and picked through to achieve the greatest level of accuracy.
Once a piece of business is placed and has gone through the rigor of our Service team, it is not just filed away until 10 months later when it is dusted off for renewal. Our Production and Service teams will quickly join forces should a midterm issue arise. Ensuring that we are receiving the best terms and conditions on midterm transactions and pressing our carriers for priority claims handling are just a few examples of the behind-the-scenes advocacy that is occurring daily. Once your insured’s policy is up for renewal, the same regional Production team that first placed the business has already worked for weeks to set expectations with the incumbent carrier and discussed where we need to improve to earn the business for another year.
It is not always about reinventing the wheel. High service standards, response times, and competitive rates will always be some of the most valued components of working with any carrier or broker. Beacon Hill has mastered these values and offers another layer of experience, quality, and care that is unmatched in the environmental and energy insurance space. We hope you’ll consider the importance of industry expertise and leadership as you chose an environmental partner for your accounts. For more information or to discuss an upcoming opportunity, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 596-2156.