Frequently agencies have clients that require coverages that their in-house carriers cannot offer. And to compound things, oftentimes there’s a very short timeframe in which to find solutions. Who do you contact to help? Can they place this line of business? Can they get this done? Now?
Finding and working with the proper wholesale broker can be worth its weight in gold.
Let’s take a step back and ask; “What is a Wholesale Broker”? A wholesale broker is a licensed broker providing specialized insurance products and expertise to retail insurance agents and brokers. A wholesale broker will utilize insurers who specialize in hard to place insurance and who will consider accounts that typical standard insurers won’t write. Many retail agencies believe that a wholesale broker provides just excess and surplus lines markets and specialty risks. The reality is that a wholesale broker provides these traditional solutions but may also offer standard markets, innovative strategies, solutions and coverages that meet the needs of today’s insurance buyer. Don’t underestimate the clout that comes with volume either. Wholesale brokers generally have large books and strong relationships with their carriers which enables them to ‘get things done’ that an agency with a small book may not otherwise be able to do, even with the same carrier. Maximize your agency’s market competitiveness by understanding that wholesale brokers today have expanded resources and capacities.
Now that you have a clear understanding of a wholesale broker and what they can do for you…the next step is looking for a reputable wholesale broker. You may want to check with:
- Agency owners, producers, account managers, customer service representatives.
- The local chapter of your state association for independent insurance agents.
- The state or national association of the independent insurance agents.
- Company marketing representatives and underwriters.
- Visit their websites and social media presence (are people you know and respect connected with them on LinkedIn?)
- Check out their blogs. Are they subject matter experts in your areas of need?
Once you’ve got your list of potential wholesale brokers your next step should be to find out if they are a good fit with your agency’s needs and culture. Your checklist of questions should include:
- What lines of business do they write?
- Are their areas of specialization what you need?
- Which carriers do they represent? Admitted markets? Non-admitted markets?
- Which states are they able to place business in?
- Is there an agency contract?
- What are the agency contract stipulations?
- Is there an annual premium requirement?
- Do they charge a fee to do business?
- How and when are commissions paid?
- Do they provide a monthly statement?
- What is required in submissions and how do they accept submissions?
- What is the turn-around time for quotes? Policy issuance? Endorsements? Commissions?
- How will your customers be billed?
- Are they an active member in any trade, professional, state, national association?
Keep in mind that you may need to work with more than one wholesale broker to fill any gaps you currently have within your agency.
When you have contracted with a wholesale broker, professionalism and good faith are key ingredients when building a solid and long-standing relationship. It is important that each party has a clear understanding of what is expected.
Partnering with a wholesale broker can help you maximize your agency’s competitiveness by providing complementary markets to offer the best coverage options at the most competitive price for your clients. In addition, you can boost your agency’s profitability by capitalizing on your wholesale broker relationships and focusing on their strengths. A wholesale broker today – can provide you with access to standard markets, and innovative coverages in addition to traditional excess and surplus lines markets, specialty coverages and expertise. All of which can help you meet the needs of your clients.
–Ginny Majer, Illinois Territory Manager