I sat down with Darren D’Aguilar, CIP, CAIB, CRM, Regional Sales Manager at Policy Works, to discuss his experiences over the last 8 years. In his time with Policy Works, Darren has consulted with over 1,000 brokers across Canada. These brokers ranged from 100% commercial business focus, to doing no commercial at all.
A former Commercial Account Executive and Commercial Lines Underwriter, Darren has seen just about all there is to see in terms of brokers’ practices in how they manage their commercial lines business.
Here’s what he had to say.Steve Pieroway (SP): What is the most common thing you are hearing from brokers these days?
Darren D’Aguilar (DD): Brokers are looking to commercial-lines as a means to survive. Almost across the board, when I meet with brokers they readily acknowledge that commercial lines is the ‘last frontier’ for the independent broker to own.
SP: What is shifting brokers to this view?
DD: Competition. Competition in the personal lines segment is fierce for the margins received on the business. Along with that, direct writers are continually stealing market share, making it even harder to compete and grow. Commercial lines becomes more attractive because of the higher margins.
SP: You’ve consulted with over 1000 brokerages across Canada of varying sizes. Is there anything these brokerages share in common?
DD: From large to small, many brokers lack standardized procedures in how they manage and process their commercial lines business. This really impacts brokers in two ways.
First, there is a tangible cost to inefficient workflows. CSRs and marketers spend more then needed working on files; time searching for files, re-creating files like submissions, proposals and renewals. And then they have to do it all again on the next policy. It’s crazy.
The second is E&O exposure. When there are no standard procedures, staff will do their best to create their own, but they are not uniform and consistent. If you have to go to court, the first thing a judge will ask is, “Do you do the same thing, the same way, every single time?” Proving this becomes much more difficult without standardized and documented workflows.
SP: If there was one piece of advice you could give commercial brokers, what would it be?
DD: Standardize your procedures. And it doesn’t have to be with any particular piece of software. Just standardize your procedures. A good start is to create a workflow procedure document that shows staff how to process a policy at each stage of the lifecycle, at each touch-point. Then create templates and a common directory where everyone in your brokerage can access, and save, the files.
Having worked as an Account Executive in a brokerage, I understand what it's like to be busy. The hardest part of making a change to your workflow, to improving your business, is to dedicate time to making it happen. Hands down.
But, take a few hours a week. Start with analysing your current workflow. Then look for the glaring gaps or inefficiencies, like re-creating documents, copying & pasting, stuff like that. Once you know where the gaps are, you can start to build standardized processes to improve those workflows.
The key, though, is making the time and committing to the change.
This is the first in a series of interviews with Darren and other Policy Works employees. Through these interviews we'll share our insights into what's happening where commercial insurance, brokers, insurers, and software meet.