Louisville, KY – Big I Kentucky (BIG I KY), the state's leading insurance trade association, installed its Board of Directors during the association's 2023 Annual Convention & Trade Show on November 16, 2023, at the Marriott Louisville East in Louisville, KY.
Laura Yount, CIC, CISR was installed as Chair, Chris Wiseman, CIC as Chair-Elect and Carolyn Reynolds, as Vice-Chair.
Laura Yount, CIC, CISR, is Principal of Mountain Valley Insurance in London, Kentucky. She is a 2003 graduate of the University of Kentucky and earner her Certified Insurance Service Representative designation in 2005 and Certified Insurance Counselor designation in 2006. She has served on the Emerging Leaders, Events, Government Affairs and Membership Services Committees. Yount serves her community as a member of Forward Community Church and an active volunteer with the Angel Tree Program and the local homeless shelter. She and her husband, David, reside in London with a lot of fur babies.
Chris Wiseman, CIC, Houchens Insurance Group, Bowling Green, Kentucky. He is a 1997 graduate of Western Kentucky University and started his insurance career soon after with Progressive. He came over to the independent side in 1999 at Blake, Hart, Taylor & Wiseman, now Houchens Insuraance Group. He is currently the Vice President at Houchens in Bowling Green. He is a member of Holy Spirit Catholic Church. Chris, his wife Kelly, daughter Pace and son John reside in Bowling Green.
Carolyn Reynolds, is the President, CEO of Reynolds Insurance Agency in Berea, KY. She is a 1999 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University and has worked in her family's agency since 1995. Reynolds was the 2010 Chair of the Kentucky Young Insurance Professionals and received the Kentucky Young Insurance Professional of the Year Award that same year. She served on the Big I Kentucky Emerging Leader Committee from 2013-2016 and has served on the Big I Kentucky Board of Directors since 2018. In addition to her leadership in Big I Kentucky, she is also active in the Madison County Home Builders Association, the Kentucky Home Builders Association and Eastern Kentuky University's Insurance Advisory Board.
Other board members installed at the event include:
- Dustin Million- Fritz Million Insurance, Mount Sterling; Emerging Leader Chair
- Susan Coblin- Chenault & Hoge, Frankfort
- Tori Conn- Tsurance Insurance, Louisville
- Neel Ford, CIC- EM Ford, Owensboro
On October 20, 2023 SECURA Insurance announced that it is exiting the Personal Lines insurance market over a 26-month process.
“After detailed discussions and evaluation of many long-term scenarios, we made the decision to step away from Personal Lines. This decision is not easy, yet it is one that will position SECURA for long-term profitability so we continue to be a strong, stable company for our associates, agents, and policyholders," said Garth Wicinsky, SECURA President & CEO. “This change will allow us to focus our efforts on continuing to provide exceptional service and products for Commercial Lines, Specialty Lines, Agribusiness Lines, and Farm Lines."
Effective Nov. 1, 2023, the carrier will no longer accept any new home and auto insurance clients. Over the next two years, the company will be nonrenewing existing Personal Lines business according to all applicable state regulations, for a complete exit by Dec. 31, 2025. Current Personal Lines policyholders will receive a notice of nonrenewal 60 days prior to their renewal and can work with their independent insurance agent to find an alternate insurance company.
On September 14, 2023, Kentucky National informed the Kentucky Department of Insurance they will cease writing new Property policies beginning October 15, 2023 (no new business policies with an effective date later than November 15, 2023 will be accepted); and will begin non-renewing all current Property policies beginning with an effective date of January 1, 2024.
Please continue to check the IAgent Newsfeed Blog on BigIKY.org for updates as they become available.
Staying ahead of the curve in the insurance industry requires effective technology management. Independent insurance agencies, though often smaller in scale compared to their corporate counterparts, can leverage technology to streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and remain competitive.
Let's explore the importance of managing your technology needs in an independent insurance agency and review 5 practical tips for success.
1. Assess Your Agency's Unique Needs
Every independent insurance agency is distinct, with its own client base, service offerings, and operational processes. Therefore, the first step in managing technology needs is to conduct a thorough assessment of your agency's specific requirements. Consider the following questions:
- Who are your target clients, and what are their preferences?
- What insurance products do you specialize in?
- How do you currently handle client interactions and claims processing?
- What are your growth goals and challenges?
By understanding your agency's individual needs and objectives, you can make informed decisions when selecting and implementing technology solutions.
2. Invest in the right Agency Management System (AMS)
An Agency Management System (AMS) is the backbone of your insurance agency's technology infrastructure. It centralizes critical functions like client data management, policy issuance, claims processing, and reporting. A well-chosen AMS can significantly improve efficiency and productivity while reducing errors and enhancing client service. Our partners at Catalyit offer the Tech Selector Tool, designed to help you narrow down your options when choosing an AMS. This is a free service for Big I Kentucky members. Visit Catalyit.com to get started.
3. Embrace Digital Marketing and Communication Tools
In today's digital age, a strong online presence is essential for attracting and retaining clients. Utilize digital marketing tools, such as social media platforms, email marketing, and a professional website, to connect with your target audience and showcase your expertise. Use the Trusted Choice free marketing tools to assist your agency. Plus, get 50% of your marketing spend reimbursed annually, up to $1000. Ask Erin Fosson with Big I Kentucky for details firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Enhance Customer Experience
Providing exceptional customer experiences is a competitive advantage in the insurance industry. Invest in technology that allows for seamless client interactions, including:
- Online quoting and application processes
- 24/7 customer support through chatbots or virtual assistants
- Automated claims processing and updates
- Secure document sharing and e-signatures
By making it easier for clients to do business with your agency, you can differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace.
5. Prioritize Data Security and Compliance
Insurance agencies deal with sensitive client information, making data security and regulatory compliance paramount. Implement strong cybersecurity measures, such as encryption, regular system audits, and employee training, to safeguard client data.
Stay up-to-date with industry regulations and compliance requirements, as they can change over time. Investing in compliance management software can help automate tracking and reporting, reducing the risk of costly violations.
In the dynamic world of insurance, managing technology needs is a critical aspect of remaining competitive and meeting client expectations. By carefully assessing your agency's unique needs, investing in the right technology solutions, and prioritizing client experience, you can position your independent insurance agency for success in the digital age. Stay adaptable, embrace innovation, and continue to evolve your technology strategy to stay ahead in this ever-changing industry.
#insurancetechnology #technologyforinsurance #independentinsuranceagencytechnology #insurtech #kentuckyinsurancetechnology
STANDARDS AND STEPS UPON CARRIER RECEIVERSHIP/REHABILITATION
|If one of the agency's carriers has been placed into receivership/rehabilitation by the state's Department of Insurance (DOI), take the following steps.|
- Run a report in your Agency Management System to determine your customers with policies placed through this carrier, the coverages and the insureds.
- Call each client on the list and advise them of the financial situation with the carrier. Advise them they will receive a letter/email from the agency requesting a response on the matter.
- Create a mailing to those customers outlining the insolvency/rehabilitation. Management will determine at that time if employees should attach the letters to an email or send them through the US Post Office. (It does not need to be certified mail).
Note: If the carrier has issued a FAQ document in relation to their situation that you can share with policyholders, include that with the letter. If the state's Department of Insurance has information about the receivership/rehabilitation, include the state DOI URL in the letter.
- Create a follow-up 90 days prior to the policy renewal date to contact the insured and remarket the coverage. If clients do not respond to the letter with their chosen action, treat it as if the client wishes to wait until policy expiration to quote replacement coverage. Document all conversations with the client.
- If clients respond to the mailing indicating that they would like to replace coverage sooner, then remarket immediately. Document all conversations with the client.
United Home was placed in receivership for the purpose of its rehabilitation on September 6, 2023 by the Pulaski County Circuit Court in their domiciled state of Arkansas. The Court appointed Insurance Commissioner Alan McClain and the Arkansas Insurance Department as the Receiver.
If your clients have a policy with United Home, coverage must eventually be placed elsewhere. Here is a sample letter that can be used in communicating with your policyholders in conjunction with an FAQ sheet. All policies will be cancelled on 12/31/2023 if not replaced sooner. All policyholders will get notice of at least ninety days (90) of cancellation.
As to unearned premium, the Arkansas Insurance Department hopes to have sufficient cash to pay UEP during the rehabilitation period. However, that is not known at present. UEP is covered by the Kentucky Insurance Guaranty Association up to $10,000, so if a policyholder does not receive their UEP during the rehabilitation period, it will be paid by Kentucky Insurance Guaranty Association if and when the company is placed in liquidation.
The company’s Risk Based Capital is at the Mandatory Control Level. The Department will NOT allow the company to write any new business, including for example, adding or replacing a vehicle, thereby adding additional exposure to an impaired company.
Any questions regarding United Home Insurance may also be directed to the following:
-Contact the Deputy Receiver at 501-371-2776 or email@example.com
-Contact United Home Insurance Company at 1-800-467-0723
-Contact the Arkansas Insurance Department at 1-800-282-9134 or 501-371-2600
-And of course, feel free to call us here at Big I Kentucky 502-245-5432
Big I Kentucky will continue to update all independent insurance agencies in Kentucky with more information as it becomes available.
By Melvia Means, Houchens Insurance Group
While empathy has not been a prominent part of the insurance industry it is starting to become a critcal
differentator in our increasingly competive business landscape. Empathy truly is one of my essential
tools in this customer-facing job. Any individual that is commited to customer service should practice
empathy consistently as the results will speak for themselves. Not only with retaining their current
clientele but with getting referral business as well.
Empathy is a mindset and is something that cannot be faked. It is one of the core qualities that all
individuals should embody in their daily interactions with people as it helps build strong relationships. All
individuals desire to feel heard and understood. Empathy has helped me build strong relationships with
not only my clients but everyone that I encounter. I am always actively listening to an individual, paying
attention to not only their words but their tone and the emotion they are conveying. That gives me the
ability to anticipate what their needs are and to be able to personalize the conversation to make the
individual feel heard and understood. In doing so you build a strong relationship based on trust and
respect which leads to loyalty.
For empathy to be effective you must put the customer first. Most customers appreciate having such a
personalized experience and that is what helps me stand out from my competitors. Empathy has a
significate effect on building trust and a strong relationship with individuals. Being empathetic does not
mean you have to agree with an individual, you just need to walk a mile in their shoes and see things
from their point of view. I always to my best to personalize my interactions with my clients, getting to
know them as an individual and not just a customer.
During the Covid-19 pandemic I had a lot of clients that faced some challenging times. I activity listened
to their concerns and troubles they were facing trying to keep their doors open and doing everything in
their power to not have to let their employees go and worked with the carriers to do whatever I could to
help them during those challenging times. My empathetic response helped reduce some of their fears
and concerns and it allowed me to strengthen the relationship even when I was not able to resolve their
At the end of the day, I strive to have an empathetic mindset and to make every one of my interactions
personal and as positive as possible. This world needs a lot more kindness as we do not know what
others are going through and a little kindness and empathy can make a huge difference in an individual’s
day. I tell people all the time I choose to be the bringer of joy, positivity, and laughter every day of my
life. To make a person laugh or feel important is a wonderful gift to give. We must treat others as we
would want to be treated and make every interaction a positive experience.
*Melvia Means is the recent winner of The 2023 National Alliance Outstanding CSR of the Year
You need insurance. Shopping for it keeps falling to the bottom of your to do list. Whether it's for your business, home, car or even pet, the process is daunting, highly technical and most people don't understand the coverages. You are not alone but, find yourself wondering where to start. First, you could engage in an online shopping experience that touts “cheap coverage in less than a minute"? Companies like Geico sell insurance online but do not have a local office or a dedicated insurance agent. Second option is to connect with a captive insurance agent. Maybe you recognize the Allstate logo on the endzone net during a football game. Familiar companies like Kentucky Farm Bureau and State Farm are also examples. But do you only want to receive one quote? How do you know they'll provide the best coverage and price?
When it comes to choosing your insurance, there are so many options. And as consumers, you are interested in the choice that saves you time, gives you the most perks and costs you the least.
So, stop right there. Your solution is easy. Option number three-
Your best choice for insurance is to work with an independent insurance agent.
How many people have time to connect with numerous insurance companies to find the best insurance coverage within their budget? Not many. We're all busy, working, spending time with family and enjoying downtime engaging in our favorite hobbies. An independent insurance agent provides you with the convenience of gathering this information on your behalf. The benefit of working with an independent agent is they do the research for you. Think: Trusted Advisor! Their knowledge of coverage, deductibles and premiums save you the time and money and educate you on the specific coverages.
The Kentucky Derby is around the corner, and you head to your favorite store in search of a beautiful hat to wear. When you arrive, there is one navy blue hat with pink flowers. No other choices. It's the only option. Consider that same scenario applied to shopping for insurance. If you choose to purchase insurance online or go with a captive agent, your choices are limited. Your independent insurance agent provides you with several coverage options, from several different carriers. The benefit of working with an independent agent is they can provide you various policies to choose from so that you make sure you're getting the coverage you want and need.
With recent inflation rates topping out at the highest since the 1980's, consumers are watching their spending. We don't want to overpay for goods and services. The various choices presented to you by your independent agent provide a range of price points. Independent insurance agent Chip Wilkins, of Lawton Insurance in Bowling Green, shares that one of the best things about being an independent agent is “the opportunity to provide my clients with the best coverage and best prices, combined with endless service capabilities." The benefit of working with an independent agent is they keep your monetary needs in mind. Their goal is to meet your coverage needs within your budget.
There are additional reasons to choose a local independent insurance agent. One example is supporting local businesses. Many independent insurance agencies are small businesses. Buying local helps drive the economy as an employer and taxpayer. They are a member of your community. And often, being an engaged community member is why your independent agent chose his/her career. Wilkins also shared “the opportunity to serve the client, educate the client and build a lasting relationship with my clients is why I became an independent agent". In fact, Wilkins states his experience as a captive agent felt too “transactional".
You need insurance. It's no longer at the bottom of your to do list. The task is not daunting. You know exactly where to start. Connect with an independent insurance agent in your community today for the convenience, coverage and best price!
If you are looking for an independent agent in your area, go to TrustedChoice.com. Trusted Choice is the nation's largest organization of independent insurance agents.
The insurance industry has long been perceived as a dull and uninspiring career choice, often overshadowed by more glamorous options. However, this perception fails to capture the exciting and fulfilling opportunities that the industry offers. In reality, a career in insurance can be financially rewarding, intellectually stimulating, and socially impactful. As a fairly new ambassador for the independent insurance agency system, how can I shift the paradigm? After only one year of employment in an insurance association, how can I change peoples' minds?
This isn't a new topic in our office or the insurance industry collectively. Gaining interest in insurance careers has been a pillar of our association's core values since we came into existence over 125 years ago. But things sure have changed in the last hundred plus years. And with a changeover in staff and younger leadership presence, our association for independent insurance agencies embarked on a project to rethink the way we draw job seekers into the insurance industry.
Step One- determine a target audience.
High school students likely don't have a misconception about insurance yet. In fact, the probability that they know much about the industry at all, beyond needing car insurance when they turn 16, is very low (we're working on that as an association as well). Secondly, those who've been in the workforce for several years are familiar with insurance as both a necessity and a career path. But we already promote insurance jobs across various industries and all age brackets through our national and local marketing efforts. We even partner with remote work companies who staff our agencies with the recently retired. By process of elimination, we now have our target audience.
Step Two- make a college student want to become an insurance agent.
We are magnets-like attracts like. I could ramble all day long to the next generation about the potential rewarding insurance career ahead of them. But am I the best person to convince them to choose insurance as a career? I'm a working mom of two young kids. The typical college student cannot see themself in me. They hear a speech coming from their own mom. A much more persuasive person would be a recent college graduate, currently crushing it in the insurance industry. They see themselves in a young agent. As luck would have it, I work with a bunch of those! Years ago, our association created a sub-group within our membership. We call them our “Emerging Leaders", those who've been in the insurance industry for less than five years or who are under the age of 40. It's all about who you know, right?
We've got our target audience, we've chosen our young and successful advocates to speak to the job seekers on our behalf.
Step Three- how do we get them together?
Four target universities were carefully selected. Starting with just one, we sought out the business school and the business fraternities. After making the right connections, we chose a notable date our group would be on campus. Those connections then spread the word within their respective groups and classes. On the morning of the event, we bought Chick Fil A Minis and Starbucks (college breakfast of champions) and set up a table in the business school. As we passed out the breakfast sustenance, we invited everyone to a popular hangout on campus that night for a happy hour with free pizza. Come one come all for a night of free food and conversation with recent graduates! Oh, and bring your resume because we can share it with our 375 members looking to hire the next great employee.
Attendance expectations were unknown. As our inaugural event started, we crossed our fingers, praying that the young agents we brought would not outnumber the college crowd that accepted our invitation. As we hoped, the turnout was fantastic! We exceeded our goal and were energized after witnessing our emerging leaders engage in meaningful conversation with the future job seekers. “It's so cool-the other day I used a drone to check out roof damage for a client." “If you work hard, the financial rewards are huge". “Honestly, my favorite part is giving support to people during a really difficult time." Insert heart emoji.
It all started with the idea to rethink the way our group can help perpetuate the insurance industry. And it ended with a meaningful conversation over free pizza. One school down and three to go. Onto the next slice…….
New insurance agents often fear sales objections. People experienced with insurance sales welcome them. What's the difference between new agents and successful producers?
Experienced agents view objections as a chance to start a conversation. Some of the most common protests from clients signal agents that they need to refine their pitch and ask the right questions. Clients who state their reasons for hesitation can make the job easier, not harder.
Common Insurance Objections
Successful insurance agents feel confident that their product can help their prospects. They believe common insurance objections usually stem from lapses in communication. Proper objection handling can turn protests into approvals. This skill can take some practice but serves salespeople well. Get started with an overview of handling typical objections from prospects.
1. I'm Not Interested
Think of this insurance sales objection as a knee-jerk objection to an interruption. It's prevalent when cold calling. Clients might think they've already seen a similar product. They might have pressing tasks at the moment. Potential customers need to know the value of allocating time for a discussion.
Let potential clients know they can schedule an appointment at their convenience. Clarify that many customers said they weren't interested at first. Once they took the time to learn the benefits of this offer, they changed their minds. Let clients know you value their time and only need a few minutes. Make them understand that you want to provide a solution to pressing problems.
2. It Costs Too Much
A price objection can inform agents that they failed to demonstrate the product's value. Follow-up questions should help clarify the issue and show why insurance offers economic protection. For instance:
- Does the prospect understand the out-of-pocket costs they might need to pay if they don't have coverage? Can the client afford going without adequate protection?
- Some clients truly cannot afford the monthly payment. A lower-tier plan may suit their unique needs better.
Clients need to understand the value of excellent insurance for protecting finances and managing risks. Agents must offer their prospects suitable plans for their budgets and needs. Finding the right solution requires listening to and educating clients.
3. I Already Have Insurance
Insurance agents may consider this one of the most common sales objections. Clients might have current coverage through work. They might have purchased insurance years ago from another broker.
Thus, producers need to differentiate their products from competitors. For example:
- The agent should tell the prospect they can't keep their job benefits if they switch companies. An individual insurance policy will follow them anywhere.
- Their small policy bought just for them might not provide for their family's current needs or growing business.
- Insurance premiums and benefits also vary considerably. Insurance agents should start a conversation by asking what kind of insurance their prospect already has. They can use this information to explain the benefits of their products.
4. I Need Time to Think About It
Some prospects will say they need to think about the product. They may also explain they need to discuss the product with a spouse, accountant, or lawyer. Insurance sales professionals know prospects often say this as a smokescreen for the real objection.
Some clients might feel embarrassed to admit financial worries. Agents should counter by asking if they could offer specific details to help clarify the offer. They might also ask which of the prospect's concerns are causing them to hesitate. It might be the right time to offer to look for a lower quote. The agent may also help the client save money on other insurance products they need. These tactics can turn a potential loss into an even bigger win.
5. I Don't Trust Insurance Companies
Negative feelings about the insurance industry may get stuck in a prospect's head for various reasons. Some clients have had bad experiences with insurance claims. Others could have read poor press about a fraudulent company or agent in the news.
Licensed agents know they need to adhere to high ethical standards. Successful salespeople also understand that they must maintain their reputation for putting clients first.
They can relieve the prospect's concerns by explaining how tightly the government regulates the insurance business. The agent can also show the client third-party insurance company ratings and reviews. Testimonials from current customers should also help.
Tips to Avoid Insurance Sales Objections
Mastering the sales process means learning objection handling. Skilled agents learn to expect them on a daily basis. They also know how to prepare to listen to client concerns, ask the right questions, and offer the best coverage.
Successful agents will learn to improve to avoid many common objections in the first place. These tactics help save time, close more sales, and ensure referrals.
1. Listen Actively
Some insurance agents choose this career because they're good speakers. Excellent verbal skills help in this business, but the most successful agents prosper because they're good listeners more than great speakers.
Active listeners don't just pay attention to what clients say. Active listening involves:
- Take note of non-verbal cues: Make eye contact. See if the client appears interested or distracted. Try to establish a friendly rapport.
- Respond to what the client communicates: Don't respond to the client by diving into a sales pitch. Discuss reasonable concerns and share common interests.
- Respond as an ally: Let the client know you understand their perspective. Show them how much you want to help. Discuss past clients with similar situations.
2. Build Trust
People tend to trust people who show respect. Agents must return phone calls promptly and arrive for appointments on time. Avoid using insurance jargon in a discussion. Instead, try to speak like a friend having a conversation.
Many excellent agents develop solid friendships with their clients. They listen to their clients but also share their own stories.
No matter what, some prospects will still decline your offer. If they like and trust you, they won't hesitate to recommend you to somebody on their personal network or social media.
3. Feel Confident and Prepared
All salespeople would rather sell products they understand and believe in. Take time to understand the product and how it compares to competitors. Faith in the insurance company, product, and the agent's knowledge will naturally develop confidence.
4. Develop Persistence and Not Pushiness
Agents have a lot of motivation to close quickly. People only sometimes buy at their first introduction to a product. Some well-qualified prospects will hesitate to set an appointment because they're coping with tight schedules. Many clients know they need insurance but may not feel confident about their ability to make a good choice.
Successful agents schedule follow-up calls. They share their confidence and knowledge with their clients. They strive to establish personal connections. They know when to back off but always keep the door open. These traits help clients view their agents as friendly, reliable, and trustworthy.
Even so, some agents have concerns that clients might view their persistence as pushiness. Consider these suggestions to ensure the prospect forms a good impression:
5. Listen More Than Sell
A solid understanding of the client's needs and concerns works better than the most well-tested sales scripts. Acknowledge concerns to let clients know that you're listening. For the next step, provide the same reassurance and information you would give a friend.
6. Ask Permission to Make a Follow-Up Call
Agents often face the common sales objection that their prospect needs more time to think or must discuss the decision with somebody else. Sometimes, the best objection-handling skills fail to close a sale right away. Too often, salespeople respond by waiting for the patient to call back. Almost as often, they do the opposite by wasting energy on multiple calls that get no result and even worse, start to annoy the prospect.
Skilled salespeople rely on a solution between these two extremes. They close the appointment by asking for a follow-up call when they can't close with a sale. For instance, an agent can ask to call back in a week.
Asking for permission to contact the client again shows respect. Setting a timeline and then following through demonstrates reliability. These qualities help successful salespeople stand out from the crowd.
7. Find Out How Clients Prefer to Communicate
Insurance agents can do themselves a favor by learning how their prospects prefer communication. Most companies ask their customers if they like emails, phone calls, or texts. These days, many choose to connect on social media. A digital connection can help introduce the agent to others in the client's social network.
Messages should occur regularly enough to keep the brand in the client's mind. At the same time, prospects should not receive so much communication that they grow annoyed. Thus, find a sweet spot to space out communication.
8. Learn When to Quit
Even the hardest-working agents have finite resources. Instead of calling inactive prospects weekly, consider emailing once a month. If the prospect won't engage after multiple contacts, it's time to stop wasting time and energy that agents could use to help other people.
Leave the door open. Clients might hesitate because they want to stay with their current broker. Other times, they may need to get through a financial or personal issue. Six months to a year later, prospects frequently emerge back into the light, suddenly eager to do business.
Grow Your Insurance Agency with Big I Kentucky
Big I Kentucky offers independent insurance agencies the resources of national organizations without sacrificing their independence or hometown ties. Highlights of Big I membership benefits include:
- Marketing support from Trusted Choice
- Phone support, legal representation, and political advocacy
- Agency insurance products, like E&O, group health, and business insurance
- Personal networking to build connections with other agencies
- Market access that smaller agencies may not get on their own
- Friendly, helpful phone support
Gain the resources you need to grow your business and better serve your community. Learn more about Big I Kentucky membership advantages today.
Running a business today offers plenty of challenges. Issues can range from unreliable supply chains to changing market behaviors and from cutthroat competitors to technical disruption.
Some well-run companies can successfully overcome plenty of obstacles. However, disgruntled or opportunistic customers may take legal action to try to recoup losses. Many good businesses still suffer because they fail to protect themselves against liability claims.
Who Needs Professional Liability Insurance?
Liability insurance and the support offered by the best insurance companies can provide solid protection and peace of mind. Most organizations start out with a typical business liability policy. General liability protects against damage claims in the standard processes of doing business.
However, these standard business policies won't protect executives and professionals against claims that they caused damage while performing their jobs. Influential decision makers and professionals need more specialized coverage. Many businesses need professional liability insurance to cover themselves against the chance of customers or clients claiming that poor decisions or negligence caused a problem.
The right insurance product may include a directors and officers (D&O) or an errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy. Let's take a few minutes to compare D&O and E&O insurance to understand how these policies differ and why your business may need them.
What is a D&O Insurance Policy?
Think of D&O insurance policies as errors and omissions insurance specifically for executive suite residents, managers, and business owners. This kind of professional liability insurance protects key decision makers against claims that they unintentionally made poor choices or committed harm through negligence.
Some directors of nonprofit organizations may not believe they require this protection. Just because an organization represents a worthy cause doesn't protect its board members from a lawsuit from donors, vendors, employees, or even the government. Decision makers for a nonprofit may need coverage as much as those for a for-profit public company or private company.
Examples of claims that a D&O policy can protect against may include the following:
- Wrongful termination or unfair employment decisions: A board member may decide to lay off employees in one department to focus on growing other areas of a business. What if that department coincidentally employs a majority of women or older workers? Employees might visit an employment lawyer who will argue management singled out these employees because of age or gender.
- Improper use of investor's money: Business ventures don't always live up to their promises. Disgruntled investors may claim that management misled them about the opportunity and lost money because they made bad choices.
- A lack of transparency about important events or decisions: A business may have had an opportunity that executives failed to disclose to all stakeholders. Once the news gets out, some of these potential investors or partners might say that a lack of transparency caused them to miss the chance to profit. Disappointment could result in a claim that the executives only told a select few or engaged in insider trading.
Typically, D&O policies will help pay legal fees to defend insured executives against claims. They also help pay for judgments or settlements. Best of all, good programs will provide plenty of resources to help businesses avoid complaints and lawsuits in the first place, which saves time, preserves reputations, and can often reduce insurance premiums.
Employment practices liability insurance protects companies against such claims as wrongful termination, discrimination, and sexual harassment. This coverage can complement D&O coverage and fully cover the business against these common issues.
What are E&O Policies?This professional liability insurance protects professionals against claims that they committed a wrongful act or negligence while doing their jobs. Some examples of professionals who might need this insurance product include insurance agents, lawyers, doctors, and financial advisors.
Some states or employers mandate this coverage to maintain professional licenses or jobs for specific professionals. Many other professionals, even wedding planners, interior decorators, or pet sitters, might consider buying a policy, even if it's not required to maintain a license or keep a job.
Examples of personal liability claims that errors and omissions insurance protects against include:
- A financial advisor could recommend an investment opportunity. The market might change, and the investment could lose money. In turn, the client may file a lawsuit against the advisor to recoup their financial losses.
- An accountant might neglect to include revenue on tax forms during the busy tax season. This accountant's business client might file a claim because the IRS caught that error on their tax forms and issued a steep penalty.
- An insurance agent's client might suffer from a devastating flood on their property. Since their business property insurance doesn't cover floods, they may claim the insurance agent should have told them they needed to buy flood insurance. The business owner might sue the agency to recoup property damage losses.
- A doctor may fail to note that a patient suffers from a severe allergy to a medicine used during surgery. If the patient passes away because of this oversight, the grieving family could sue the doctor for losing their loved one.
As with D&O policies, E&O coverage will help pay legal fees and the cost of settlements or judgments. The best programs will offer specialized resources to support clients and help them reduce the risk of having had claims made against them in the first place.
What is the Difference Between a D&O and an E&O Policy?
The abbreviations for these two coverage types, E&O and D&O, sound very similar leading many people to work under the common misconception that they're the same. After all, each of these policies offers protection against loss claims for choices the covered person made. Yet, they cover different job functions. This means professionals and business leaders need to understand the difference.
For example, consider who each policy covers to understand the primary difference.
- D&O protects high-level decision makers against claims that they made poor choices or committed negligence.
- E&O protects professionals against claims they made errors or neglected key details while performing their professional duties.
- Coverage from each type of policy will not overlap with the other one. E&O focuses on professional mistakes, but D&O concentrates on management errors.
Some individuals may require both policies. For instance, an insurance broker could also own an independent insurance agency with employees. That insurance agent may need E&O insurance to cover their work. They might also require D&O insurance to protect against claims against how they run their business. In other cases, a doctor may sit on the board of a clinic and need malpractice and officers' liability insurance. Thus, some professionals may require both E&O and D&O insurance policies.
Thus, some individuals and businesses may not have the right insurance coverage for complete protection. More commonly, professionals and executives may need help understanding why they need to buy coverage to protect themselves against liability claims. Either of these liability policies will help defend their client, pay damages, and provide resources to develop better practices to avoid the chance of having complaints made.
Essential Considerations for Professional Liability Insurance
An experienced business insurance agency can make the process of shopping for coverage much easier. These professionals can explain contracts and find policies with competitive rates and valuable benefits for specific businesses and individuals.
A few important considerations include the following:
- The coverage period: For instance, a claims-made policy only covers incidents that occurred when the policy remained active. Insurers may limit the reporting period as well. In particular, address coverage periods when switching policies to prevent lapses.
- Covered people: Policy owners need to understand who the contract covers. For instance, assistants or receptionists may sometimes relay information to clients. Supervisors who aren't technically managers may make employment decisions.
- Covered incidents: Some policies may narrowly define the types of incidents covered and exclude other events. For example, some policies may only cover formal, written complaints or demands but not kick in during an informal investigation, even if it could lead to more severe action later.
E&O Insurance from Big "I" Kentucky
Many insurance companies and agencies market E&O insurance policies. Big "I" Kentucky offers more than superior coverage to independent insurance agents in Kentucky from top-rated insurance providers, Swiss Re and Allianz. We also provide a robust program to ensure each client enjoys the most competitive rates, updated risk-management education, and comprehensive support from local organizations and a global insurer.
Enjoy worldwide coverage, up to $20 million with no contractual liability exclusions, and much more. A few outstanding features of E&O from Big "I" Kentucky include a broad definition of professional services and a clear understanding of who the policy covers. These policies also provide protection against data breaches and a chance to reduce deductibles by tens of thousands of dollars through risk management activities.
Besides working with a top insurance company, enjoy the benefits of a program that provides risk management education to avoid claims, competitive and stable rates, and an association for support in case a claim does happen. Learn more about E&O insurance from Big "I" Kentucky to get started protecting your agency and improving your business processes.