The experts weigh in on resources for developing a general checklist of questions to ask commercial applicants.
Q: It seems like agents constantly have to ask the same questions to each new commercial lines applicant. So, what are the resources for developing a general checklist of questions to ask commercial applicants?
Response 1: There are a number of resources out there. Some are available to subscribers only, however:
These checklists will require modification for your particular use and unique questions. I have never seen one that did not need customization to be useful to me. Relying solely on these lists instead of expanding the interview using your professional skills and instincts is detrimental to the process.
Response 2: There is no one-size-fits-all checklist of questions. Every entity is unique in some way.
Most carriers have questionnaires for different lines of business, and upon completion of a questionnaire and submission to underwriters, the underwriters will often send a list of additional questions based on the answers they receive.
After you get the insured's name, address, and some other basic identification information, the ballgame is just getting started. Underwriting guides can be a help, but they are blunt instruments that don't reveal enough about complicated entities. Your agency management system might link to applications and questionnaires, but probably will not be complete for a good number of cases.
You will ask a lot of the same questions with each new commercial insurance prospect you meet, but those questions will be just the beginning.
Response 3: Your state association may have some resources. You could also ask the professional librarians at The Insurance Library in Boston to research and prepare a collection for you. They have access to many resources that you might not. Then make it an agency project to extract data to develop survey forms for agency use.
Be cautious about relying on checklists instead of a thorough discussion with clients. Extracting proper data requires additional questions, listening and following up with more questions to follow trails that broaden or hone the conversation.
Response 4: ACORD applications. Supplement those with a list of questions that your carriers ask on their company-specific applications. I never understand why agency staff don't utilize the value and ease of use of ACORD applications.
This question was originally submitted by an agent through the Big “I" Virtual University's (VU) Ask an Expert service, with responses curated from multiple VU faculty members. Answers to other coverage questions are available on the VU website. If you need help accessing the website, request login information.
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