While business owners continue to face challenges, here are three ways independent agents can differentiate themselves and add value to their clients.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic adversely impacting and challenging businesses of all sizes and sectors, workers compensation insurers have managed to maintain—and in some cases increase—profitability. Overall, the market has remained stable across most states and industries for the past number of years. As a result, the market has displayed continuous positive results.
And while business owners continue to face challenges, agents can put workers comp at the bottom of their list of concerns. As employers shop for coverage, here are three ways independent agents can differentiate themselves and add value:
1) Controlling costs in light of inflation. The U.S. is experiencing inflationary pressures that it hasn't seen in 40 years. Inflation surged to a new pandemic-era peak in June, with U.S. consumer prices jumping by 9.1% year-over-year, according to fresh data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For business owners, this inflationary pressure is leading to “upward pressures on wages which has added another source of volatility to the payrolls of many businesses," says Andrew Dalton, workers compensation practice lead, The Hartford. “Carrier practices around exposure management vary widely, and those with strong capabilities in the space, such as payroll billing and transparency around the audit process, are best positioned to help their policyholders navigate this environment."
Agents can play an important role by “stepping out of the insurance arena and talking about risk management and helping craft risk management programs with clients that help control their workers comp costs," says Meredith Messenger, founder & CEO of InsureGood in Hartford, Connecticut.
2) Claims management and auditing assistance. “A lot of agents miss an opportunity to really cement their relationships and their knowledge by not helping their clients through the audit process," Messenger says. “Working one-on-one with clients to understand not only the audit that they've received but how they can impact that audit going forward is a really big opportunity for agents to play a stronger role."
Additionally, when it comes to claims, it is crucial to “place your business with markets that provide excellent claims management services without you having to watch over them or intervene," says Reagan Pufall, president & CEO, Omaha National.
And in this period of worker shortages, strong claim capabilities will also help ensure “that injured workers can be back on the job as quickly as possible when an injury does happen," Dalton says.
3) Staying up to date. Savvy agents stay up to date on trends, such as the use of safety technology and the increased use of telemedicine, in an effort to reduce the frequency and severity of workers comp claims.
“It'll be interesting to see how carriers pick up on this and what they do around these types of efforts to reduce employee injuries and comp claims," Messenger says. “Not only does safety technology alert an organization if there's some sort of injury or workplace illness that takes place immediately, but it allows them to do real-time training and monitor safety initiatives."
And while many employees have returned to work, some continue to work from home. “With the increased prevalence of remote work, it is important to validate that policyholders have the right states scheduled on their policy," Dalton says. “This helps avoid headaches if a remote worker is injured on the job."
And as employees return to work after injury, agents can ensure clients are current by discussing “what are some things they can implement in those return-to-work programs that could cut back on workers comp costs?" Messenger says.
“The workers comp market has been competitive with ample capacity for well over half a decade now, and there are no significant signs of that slowing down in the near term," Dalton says. “Despite years of negative loss cost changes from the rating bureaus, the fundamentals of workers comp are strong and it remains an attractive line for carriers to write."
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.