From the Front Lines: EPLI

Warner_PhelpsWarner Phelps

Commercial Marketing Manager
Soules Insurance Agency
Conroe, Texas

How did you get started at your agency?

I’ve been a producer at Soules Insurance Agency for eight years. I was working for another agency in town when I met the previous owner at a social event. He asked me how much I knew about employment practices liability insurance and if I was recommending it to all my business clients. At that time, I didn’t even know what EPLI was, so I had to sheepishly admit I wasn’t recommending it. He convinced me I needed to be working for him and offered to mentor me and show me how to be a valuable insurance resource to business owners in our community.

Why EPLI?

Once I understood the value of knowing technical EPLI coverages, I was able to build connections with our community and offer something besides a business card when out networking—I had real actionable advice for businesses. There is just too much to lose if you don’t have the coverage.

Biggest EPLI changes?

It has become more prevalent in the marketplace. Previously, we were able to use the absence of EPLI coverage to open conversations with prospects. Now, insureds already have the coverage in force. Therefore, the conversation turns to coverage, limits and understanding what you get for your money.

Biggest EPLI challenges?

There are times when we encounter resistance from businesses, especially those faced with a budget crunch that are looking to cut overheads. But one of the things I always point out is that if you are in a budget crunch and you find yourself facing the possibility of layoffs, I wouldn’t consider getting rid of EPLI coverage because that is when you probably will need it the most.

Future of EPLI?

As the market matures, I see a trend toward agent and agency niches and specialization. Agents who invest the time and energy to learn niche products like EPLI will always be able to find ways to grow their book and place new accounts.

EPLI advice for a fellow agent?

With all the recent news about sexual harassment, labor negotiation and employee rights in the workplace, it is too easy for business owners and managers to fall victim to a claim that could be handled with an EPLI policy. If you aren’t already recommending it, I would suggest you begin immediately.

Favorite EPLI success story?

A client needed to terminate an employee due to performance issues. There was sufficient documentation of the performance issues and the employer managed to procure a resignation. However, once the employee went home for the weekend, they decided they didn’t want to quit and sued for workplace harassment. The matter was handled very efficiently by the carrier once the claim was filed. After the claim was investigated, it was very clear that there was no liability on behalf of the employer. We always use this example to explain that it only takes one malcontent to wreak havoc.

Will Jones is IA senior editor.