In a competitive market, agents can gain an edge on the competition and reel in new business by thinking outside the box when it comes to clients and services.
Strong market capacity for architects & engineers risk makes 2020 an opportune time for independent agents to grow their A&E book. But in a competitive market, how can agents gain an edge on the competition and reel in new business?
“The capacity is there,” says Kevin Collins, design & construction leader at Victor U.S. “But the product differentiation comes in the form of pricing, underwriting and suitability.”
But what a lot of agents don’t realize is that their definition of who and what their prospects are, is not broad enough, Collins explains. “The baseline A&E professional liability policy has a broader appeal than just that group,” he says. “In our program, we've got more than 50 classes of business outside the A&E classes that we underwrite with the same forms.”
Moreover, “architects and engineers are hiring other specialty subconsultants for various projects,” Collins says, which means there are more opportunities within the traditional definition of an A&E client.
For example, “if an architect is designing a new conference center for a school, they may be hiring an audio-visual consultant or an interior designer,” Collins explains. “We can add an endorsement to the policy that stipulates that their services qualify as a professional service as provided in the A&E policy,” he says. “It's just a recognition that the product form available to architects and engineers is equally available to this other class or classes.”
“Not everyone connects the dots,” he adds. “It's a lack of recognition of how expansive the coverage can be towards other classes that agents may not think about.”
If an agent really wants to expand their A&E book, “focusing on subcontractors and owner developers is a great place to start,” says Audrey Lau, U.S. architects & engineers product head, Hiscox. “It’s not an untapped market, but it's definitely an underserved market,” she says.
However, finding a client and offering appropriate coverage is only half the battle. After that, agents need to be prepared to bring more value to the table. As more architects and engineers rely on employing third-party services, reviewing contracts is a great way for agents to provide value to their clients.
“In the last couple of years, a lot of agents are focusing on value-added services like risk management and contract reviews,” Lau says. “Some brokers and agents offer them in-house but if they don't, they can partner with their carriers that have their own offering.”
As a result, selecting the right carrier to partner with is imperative. “It's tough to specialize effectively in one market,” Collins admits. “So finding a carrier that might be able to provide value-added services is another opportunity.”
“If there's a hiccup, you know that they'll be able to respond and you're going to have strong client feedback so that you’re providing a great solution in the partnership,” Collins adds. “You don't want to get that call on a midterm policy where you've got a service issue at the carrier level because obviously, that's going to reflect on you and your agency.”
Will Jones is IA managing editor.
For more resources on value proposition and flexibility, register for “Pricing is Dead! Long Live Pricing! To Succeed, You Need to Learn to Adapt,” a 90-minute Big "I" Virtual University on-demand webinar hosted by Frank Pennachio.