Navigating an Evolving Commercial Marketplace

Doug Witcher | May 3, 2021

Doug Witcher, CEO of Smart Choice, a network for independent insurance agents.A year ago, before Covid even started, the insurance industry had already begun to shift into a hardening market due to a number of factors — several years of large losses due to catastrophic weather events, economic issues, and years of profitability issues. Covid-19 did little to help stabilize the industry, and threw a curve at the market as it began to stabilize. Disruptions in productivity and supply chains, a dramatically altered global economic outlook, widespread business shutdowns, and a complete overhaul in the way we did business all required the insurance industry and carriers to wait, and try to adjust to whatever lay ahead.

It has been particularly difficult for the Commercial market to effectively predict consumer needs and moderate risks. For instance, while business operating costs and income were dramatically affected during the shutdowns, the shift to working from home significantly cut down on the amount of traffic and time spent in vehicles thereby having a positive impact on auto loss ratios. Many business owners were shocked to discover business interruption coverage did not extend to loss of income due pandemics.

In many ways Covid forced a reset of business operations on a near global scale. As we continue to emerge into a new normal, there is still a lot of adjusting to be done on the part of insurance carriers, business owners, and consumers. Look for clients to be increasingly more aware and educated about their insurance needs – especially business owners. Experts believe carriers and insurance providers will need to restructure their policies in the wake of the pandemic, to include more individualized plans as we continue to see hybrid work environments and different operational needs. The consumer demand for increased telematics is unlikely to go away, and it has forced a lagging industry to speed up their adoption of newer technologies.

Businesses in the future will definitively want to be prepared with emergency plans in place for future interruptions. Insurers will want to see that small businesses have better business continuity plans in place – which most will after surviving 2020.

As an independent agent, you have an unprecedented opportunity to help businesses and commercial clients hit the reset button and navigate an evolving insurance marketplace as we move forward. You have more customized options to offer clients than many other agents.

Smart Choice can help you navigate these changes and the evolving commercial marketplace through education and training as changes are made. This is especially with programs like Smart Start where you have access to a team of in-house underwriters and advisors to assist you in placing business.

Our network has been working to dramatically expand our Commercial program by offering agents multiple ways to access markets – and expanded the number of markets and carriers available. In the last five years, we have taken our dedicated Commercial staff from two, to over a dozen employees, and grown the percentage of our Total Written Commercial Premium to over 30 percent of our program. We currently have over 2,000 agency partners using the Smart Start Commercial Program and expect to see this number nearly double in 2021, as we continue to grow under the leadership of our Commercial sales team!

 

Smart Choice Magazine 2021 Issue 3, The Commercial Lines IssueAn Evolving Commercial Marketplace

Businesses in the future will definitively want to be prepared with emergency plans in place for future interruptions. Insurers will want to see that small businesses have better business continuity plans in place – which most will after surviving 2020. Check out the 2021 Issue 3 of Smart Choice Magazine to see how independent agents can help businesses and commercial clients hit the reset button and navigate an evolving insurance marketplace as we move forward.

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