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3 Questions to Make Sure Your Client Is Ready for More Financial Uncertainty

While your clients may be tempted to cut corners on their insurance coverages, insurance protection and proactive risk management measures are vital to make it through an economic downturn.
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3 questions to make sure your client is ready for more financial uncertainty

If there is one thing that's certain about today's financial climate, it's uncertainty. This environment has led to business owners examining every aspect of their operations to see where they can tighten their belts to weather the financial storm.

While your clients may be tempted to cut corners on their insurance coverages, insurance protection and proactive risk management measures are vital to make it through an economic downturn.

Instead, slow economic growth or retractions are times when business owners can lean on their insurance agents to help limit their exposure and help them get through this rough patch. In this complex economy and market, agents can provide timely counsel and context to their clients around why some of the things impacting the insurance industry are happening, and how they affect coverage options and rates. Further, you can take advantage of the disruption to establish or deepen your understanding of your clients' business needs and long-term goals.

Having the right conversation may uncover shifts that could warrant a change in coverage or renewed commitment to the plans you have in place. Here are three questions you should ask your clients to protect their business against the unique risks today and in the future:

1) How are you navigating the economy and the talent shortage? The challenges and opportunities posed by the pandemic for many businesses have shifted. So, how are your clients adapting to 2023 compared to 2020?

For example, the restaurant industry has been heavily impacted by the pandemic and continues to evolve. Now, increased expenses and labor shortages have squeezed profit margins and led many to alter hours of operation, streamline menu offerings and reduce upkeep—which all have implications on their business and insurance needs.

Understanding these types of challenges provides a strong lead-in for agents to demonstrate their value as true client advisers by delivering critical coverage insights and risk management resources for business owners to reduce losses and lost time. 

2) What are the trends in your industry that I may not be thinking about? Despite your best efforts to stay up to speed, your clients may be noticing subtle and emerging trends that could impact their coverage needs. More than half of small construction firms expanded their offerings this year to meet customer demand and 42% hired new workers specializing in those trades, according to a recent Nationwide survey.

When agents proactively identify these changes with clients, they can come to the table with key coverage or risk prevention considerations customers might not be thinking about, such as making mid-term adjustments to coverage as they grow and add employees, which can help avoid a premium audit and potential fees down the line.

3) What do you value most in your agent and what can I do to increase that value? It's a good time to focus on the carrier services that are available behind the scenes to make sure clients get the maximum value for their premium dollars. Expert advice and consultation from a team of risk management professionals, free online programs and safety resources, and customized services designed to meet the needs of the customer are great services that carriers offer to help businesses proactively avoid losses and prepare to manage a loss if one happens.

When helping your clients navigate tough financial times, look for a carrier investing resources in both small and middle-market businesses and make sure you're taking time to showcase that expertise as you check in with them.

While it may be tempting to try to lower insurance premiums, comprehensive coverage and counsel from an agent who specializes in the industry can be one of the best ways to position a client for mutual long-term success.

Peter McMurtrie is president of property & casualty commercial lines at Nationwide.

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Sunday, January 1, 2023
Sales & Marketing