How to navigate yearly insurance renewal
04 October 2023
Your insurance renewal. Your favorite time of the year, right? In reality, it is more likely a time of the year that you are not looking forward to. Nobody likes surprises, waiting until the 11th hour for quotes or an overly complicated process. Trust me when I say insurance carriers appreciate a seamless renewal as much as you. With ample timing, there are practical and proven risk financing tips that will help you earn the best results.
LEAN ON YOUR INSURANCE ADVISORS. You are running a crane & rigging company and should depend on your advisors to help navigate the complex waters of the insurance market. It is critical to work with a specialist who can provide the best options for you. You may decide that you’d like to consider multiple options for your upcoming renewal. Many specialists may not recommend “shopping” your insurance every year as there is something to be said for loyalty and building a relationship with your insurance carrier. However, there are a variety of reasons that may lead you to a decision to look at alternates. If you decide to look at multiple options, your broker will approach markets with your submission 60 to 90 days prior to your renewal. One critical piece that you can arm your broker with is putting together a narrative to highlight different aspects of your operation.
START EARLY. Don’t lose sight of your policy’s expiration date. Did you know that most insurance carriers usually start planning for your insurance renewal 90 days prior to your current policy’s expiration? During that time, the insurance carrier will assess how your performance has been. Are there claims issues that need to be addressed? Perhaps claims are being reported more than two days past the date of loss. If that is the case, they will want to understand the reasoning and work with your team to improve claim reporting time. Or maybe there was an uptick in claims this past year. The insurance carrier will want to understand what is driving the increased frequency. These are only a few examples of what may be reviewed when developing an approach for your upcoming renewal.
About 60 to 90 days prior to your renewal, your insurance carrier is most likely having conversations with your broker to set high-level expectations going into the next few months. While the strategy may be altered over the next few months, it allows them to be on the same page directionally. Did you know that every state has different notice provisions and requirements? One of the driving factors to setting a strategy is to ensure that the insurance carrier is complying with state law requirements regarding notification on your upcoming renewal.
REVIEW YOUR CURRENT POLICY AND EVALUATE YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS. With your insurance broker, review your existing policies; pay attention to coverage limits, deductibles, policy endorsements, and any changes or updates that may be necessary. Consider any changes in your business operations, size, or assets and assess any new risks or exposures that may have emerged since your last renewal.
GATHER UPDATED INFORMATION. Having a close working relationship with your insurance broker is critical as they will work with you to prepare any updated information that may be required. While it could feel overwhelming at times, aim to get information back to your insurance broker as soon as possible. Identify someone on your team who will be the responsible party when it comes to information gathering and work with your broker to set realistic expectations. Many times, outdated information and unresponsiveness can drag out the process. An underwriter will be able to provide the most accurate pricing when given the most recent information. If an underwriter has an in-depth understanding of your exposures and risk appetite, they may be more willing to provide new and unique risk financing options.
THINK RISK FINANCING, NOT BUYING INSURANCE. The savviest insurance buyers take into consideration how they are going to manage risk over a time horizon much longer than a 1-year insurance contract. They consider how they will balance collateral and cash flow by analyzing and understanding the ways in which large deductibles, varying retentions, captives or other insurance products will impact their business over time. Often a cheap, short-term option may be attractive at first, but may lead to years of heartburn. Stop buying insurance year to year and focus on how to control risk over time.
TAKE THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF RISK. Work with a seasoned insurance professional to evaluate how much risk a company of your size should take. What risk can you control and should be retained, and what risk should you transfer? Understanding this distinction can help reduce your overall cost of risk. The willingness to bet on yourself opens a world of possibilities when it comes to creative risk financing options. Don’t wait until your insurance renewal to get educated on the different options available; work with your broker to explore and learn about options that you may want to consider depending on your risk appetite.
DEVELOP STRONG RELATIONSHIPS DURING YOUR POLICY PERIOD. Ask your broker to facilitate a meeting with your current insurance carrier well in advance of your renewal. Ask what influences pricing decisions, and how you can improve as a risk in their eyes. Address any concerns the insurance company personnel may have, and work on developing a healthy relationship so you are best positioned for renewal. Maintaining close contact with your insurance broker throughout the renewal process is important to help avoid surprises.
FOCUS ON CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT. During your policy period, work with loss control resources to help improve your operation rather than viewing them as an hinderance. At many insurance carriers, including National Interstate, a consultative approach is taken to help you implement new best practices and hopefully, have some quick wins. There are many practices that will help you become a best-in-class risk and an expert insurance broker and specialty insurance carrier can help you decide which practices will have the greatest impact. The sooner you identify which practices you want to implement, the better position you put yourself in the future.
EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY. Many insurance carriers have identified the use of telematics data as the next frontier. National Interstate understands the importance of this technology and has for many years been at the forefront of telematics innovation when we began offering subsidy programs for eligible insureds.
QUESTIONS ARE ENCOURAGED. Most insurance carriers, including National Interstate, want to make sure that you understand the different options presented. Your insurance broker will work with you to highlight the differences in programs you are considering, so don’t turn down the opportunity to be educated on something that may benefit your operation in the long run. Work with your insurance broker to weigh your options and make a decision on what route you would like to go for the next policy term.
By being proactive from a risk management standpoint and focusing on intelligent risk financing, you will set yourself apart and turn risk into a competitive advantage. Having advisors who understand the complexity and uniqueness around crane, rigging & specialized carriers is a also a critical component. While the renewal processes may differ depending on the insurance provider, regardless of the program or product, communication is key.
Lauren Fronczek is AVP of specialty transportation for National Interstate Insurance Company based in Richfield, OH. National Interstate Insurance is rated “A+” (Superior) by A.M. Best (rating affirmed on December 16, 2022.)