Give Your Agency the Commercial Advantage

Michael Miller | May 8, 2020

Illustration of business men pushing boxes, with one pushing a ball having an advantage.There’s no doubt about it: the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do business. It’s likely most of your commercial customers are struggling. You yourself may be fighting to keep your agency afloat. It may even be tempting to press pause on communicating with your commercial customers and wait out the pandemic.

I strongly encourage you to fight that impulse. We are in a time of great uncertainty. But in uncertainty lies our greatest opportunity. The pandemic will permanently change how we sell insurance. Taking action now will put you miles ahead of your competition once the crisis subsides.

Use This Time to Build Relationships

Your commercial insurance customers want to hear from you. You’ve spent years getting to know their business and protecting it from risk, and they want to know that you’re still there for them. Resist the urge to sell. Instead, meet them wherever they are. Offer an ear, give your support, and if you can, offer them resources for getting through this difficult time.

As you reach out to your commercial customers, you’ll learn how their businesses have been affected by the pandemic and how their insurance needs may have changed. They may have reduced or added staff, temporarily shut down a location, or taken their fleet vehicles off the road. If you discover this is the case, offer to review their policy to ensure they’re adequately protected and not paying for coverage they no longer need.

Understand Pandemic-Specific Coverage (and Exclusions)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several carriers have offered discounts or expanded coverage for certain liabilities. In April, Liberty Mutual offered a 15 percent refund on two months of premium for all business owner’s policies (BOPs) written with the company. The company, along with Nationwide, CRC, and other carriers, have extended delivery coverage to restaurants who were previously dine-in and takeout only. These are just a few examples of how Smart Choice® carriers are helping commercial customers. Ask your State Director about other carrier offers.

Most BOPs include business interruption coverage to cover loss of income in the event of a fire or other catastrophe. While many people would consider a pandemic that shuts down the country a catastrophe, carriers do not. Nearly all carriers exclude losses due to a pandemic from business interruption coverage. This likely came as a surprise to many business owners who tried to file business interruption claims in the last two months. By understanding this and other exclusions yourself, you can be a better resource for your customers.

Educate Yourself about BOPs

To grow your commercial lines business, it pays to have a thorough understanding of a standard BOP. Carriers offer these policies to make it easier to write standard commercial risks. Most BOPs include property coverage for commercial buildings and their contents, business interruption coverage for loss of income (with exclusions), and general liability protection. Other coverages, including professional liability, commercial auto, and worker’s compensation, are not covered but can be added separately.

Even if you aren’t familiar with writing these types of commercial risks, Smart Choice® makes it easy through their Smart Start program. This way, agents can make use of our in-house underwriters to help them place risks with the appropriate carrier (no appointment needed), and still collect the commission and keep the business! If you aren’t currently using this program, but are interested in learning more about it, contact your Smart Choice® territory manager for more information on how to get started!

These times are tough for everyone. Our future success will be determined by the steps we take now to support our commercial customers. Walk toward the fire, educate yourself, and get appointed with the carriers that will help you gain a commercial advantage this year.

Cover of Smart Choice Magazine 2020 Issue 3, The Commercial Lines IssueThe Commercial Advantage: Expand Your Book of Business

There’s no doubt about it: the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do business. It’s likely most of your commercial customers are struggling. You yourself may be fighting to keep your agency afloat. It may even be tempting to press pause on communicating with your commercial customers and wait out the pandemic — but I strongly encourage you to fight that impulse. Taking action now will put you miles ahead of your competition once the crisis subsides. Check out the 2020 Issue 3 of Smart Choice Magazine for tips on how.

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