The market for lawyers professional liability insurance is like any other line of business—it ebbs and flows through hard and soft market cycles.
In a soft market, price can easily become the primary driver of insurance sales. But agents should be mindful that selling on price alone can make it difficult to stay afloat once the market turns.
That’s why it’s important for prospective lawyers professional liability clients to understand the additional value your agency brings to the relationship. If clients are buying from you just to save a buck, what’s stopping them from taking their business elsewhere for a lower cost?
Enhancing Agency Value
A malpractice claim can not only be emotionally taxing, but also adversely affect future business opportunities. This is true whether the claim is legitimate or unfounded.
Unlike insuring an object such as a car or watch, a lawyers professional liability policy insures a law firm’s reputation and ultimately its viability. Unfortunately, lawyers often fail to comprehend the significance of certain coverages, or the importance of placing insurance with a financially stable carrier until after a claim is made.
“The key is to be a trusted adviser for your law firm clients,” says David Lazzaroni, Esq., senior vice president at wholesale brokerage RT Specialty, LLC in Irvine, California. “While market knowledge is certainly an important aspect, a major differentiator is having coverage and claim advocacy expertise.”
How? One way to demonstrate value to an attorney is to share risk management and prevention resources that can further safeguard and enhance a law firm’s reputation. Providing educational materials such as malpractice avoidance tips, relevant legal articles or advising of continuing education seminars in the firm’s jurisdiction can exhibit some of the benefits of working with your agency.
Sharing such information not only demonstrates knowledge of the current legal arena, but also conveys that you will be an advocate in protecting the firm’s good name. If your agency does not have your own risk management department or materials, you may be able to leverage a carrier’s resources and cobrand the communication to promote that partnership.
Reaching out to current clients for referrals and introductions is both an effective prospecting strategy and a great opportunity to re-engage clients you haven’t connected with in a while. By contacting current clients to share policy updates or relevant risk management guidance, you could walk away with some great new leads.
Another efficient way to communicate with prospective clients is to utilize electronic marketing. Sending useful content at appropriate intervals in a drip campaign can validate that the agency is well-informed and invested in educating clients.
“Realistically, the thing that makes the biggest impact is sending segmented content utilizing different delivery methods,” says Draye Redfern of Daniels-Head Insurance Agency, Inc., headquartered in Austin, Texas. “Drip only the content that the recipient is most readily going to digest.”
Redfern’s agency, for example, offers webinars and risk management videos for people that prefer to watch and listen, but also provides a series of e-books. “Clients and prospects are more inclined to appreciate and process electronic marketing when the communication approach is tailored to how they want to engage,” Redfern explains.
While medium and content are certainly important, be mindful of appropriate frequency to prevent email fatigue. It does not matter how valuable the content is if the recipient gets overwhelmed by the messaging and ultimately ignores, deletes, unsubscribes or sends the email to spam.
In any line of business, consumers appreciate excellent customer service and personal attention. But demonstrating each usually requires time, which makes it important to work with business partners that make it easy to do business and advance the agency’s objectives. Efficient processes such as an automatic renewal option can reduce the administrative burden so the agency can focus on new business opportunities and enhance service to existing clients. Likewise, client firms will appreciate not being bogged down with repetitive paperwork.
Ultimately, a lawyers professional liability client must appreciate an agent’s role as esteemed advocate rather than mere bargain hunter. Whether the market is hard or soft, carrier-agency and agency-client relationships should be about more than just premium—they should establish an enduring symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship.
Erin McCartney, J.D., RPLU, is risk management lead for Attorney Protective, which entails leading the development and implementation of risk management initiatives for insured law firms. She began her career as an insurance defense attorney in Philadelphia and later joined Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, where she handled professional liability claims and acted as the risk and claims service consultant for the company’s top accounts.