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Lawrence Ian Geller.
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This business is not one of the easiest in the world. No-one ever promised us that everyone who we met would buy from us. In fact, we have almost been promised the opposite. Equally, no-one ever promised us that every case that we sold would be approved, but, as agents, we do have the right to expect that those companies which solicit our referrals to their clients (i.e. who come to us and ask us to sell their products) will treat us, and those clients who we bring to them, as honoured clients.

This is often not the case. An example of this is the rep from a brokerage company who comes to your office and tells you that their product is better, their premium lower, and that everything will go more smoothly if you deal with them. Yet, we find time and again, that many of these brokerage companies cause us more aggravation than doing business with them is worth.

 This may happen because each company has different ways of underwriting cases, different forms, and different rules. While we know how our traditional carriers treat our business, and we know how they underwrite cases, we don't know the same things about other companies. We have often been assured by the senior brokerage representative at a brokerage company soliciting our business that they would be more responsive in all areas than the companies which we currently deal with. When we do write business for these companies they generally weren't any more responsive, and often were even less communicative than we were used to. The underwriting takes forever. Forms and blood work are lost. Second, and then in some cases third A.P.S.' are required by the underwriters who haven't determined in advance what evidence of insurability they need, or who are reluctant to pay for medical reports which they may (or may not) need.

This isn't that much of a surprise, since the underwriters at this company don't know us, and we don't know their systems and requirements, but we don't expect them to be that different from what we are accustomed to from our regular sources.

 The lessons?

In brokerage there are a number of important issues. Some of these are:

  1. How well do you know the brokerage representative? When you call them, do they return your calls immediately?
  2. Do they suggest a way to avoid problems which may occur, knowing the systems that they have to operate within?
  3. Do they do more to help you than just providing quotes? Do they ask about the case and make suggestions about the way that you might sell products?
  4. Do they get all of the brokerage paperwork done when you sign the application, not after the policy is delivered?
  5. Do they keep their word to you? When they promise something by a certain date, does it arrive, or are they always making excuses for their inaction?
  6. Are they always coming in to ask you to sell their products and never available when you have a problem?
  7. Are they always talking about how good they are (compared to the competition) and telling you how all the big producers use them, rather than earning your respect?
  8. Do they only tell you that they don't annualize commissions after cases are placed?
  9. Is anyone in the brokerage office able to help you, or do you have to wait for some boss (who never returns 'phone calls except when (s)he wants something) to decide what will be done?
  10.  Do they always blame you (or worse the client) for their slow underwriting on the premise that A.P.R.'s and A.P.S.'s are the client's responsibility?

If you ask yourself these questions and then start to worry, maybe it is time to start to review your criteria for a brokerage company. I can assure you that, at least when it comes to the share of our business that has been going to one "major" brokerage, we will.

In spite of these problems, brokerage business is a fact of life, the companies themselves have encouraged it and we often are encouraged to write business on this basis. If you don't believe me, just look at the amount of brokerage business accepted by your sponsoring company (except two or three who accept almost none).

This being the case, we have to:

  1. Look at our client's needs as our first priority. If a company that we now deal with has the product, and it is competitive, then there is no reason to place the business anywhere else;
  2. Review the stability and financial security of each company soliciting our brokerage business. Remember, as agents we may be responsible for recommending the products of a company which later is unable to meet its commitments to our clients;
  3. Make our recommendations based upon the product, the client's needs, and our conscience. We cannot make the amount of commission, bonus and override a primary consideration.
  4. Make sure that we make recommendations to our clients which we ourselves would want to receive. Remember to do unto others as you would have others do unto you;

and most importantly, trust our instincts about the people who we deal with, this because we have to trust them, on our clients' behalf, for long periods of time.

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