How did you get into insurance?
I’ve been in insurance for about seven years now. I have basically always been drawn to sales-type positions, and I worked in mobile phone sales for a while. Eventually, I was approached about an opportunity at one of the major captive carriers. I took that chance and worked there for about three years; I was even a part of their agency training programs.
As I started to look at my options, I was drawn more toward the independent side of things. I did my own research and decided that going independent was the route for me. I began looking for opportunities and have been with Radcliffe for over four years now.
As a whole, the agency is pretty broad. Throughout my career, I’ve mostly been on the personal lines side of things, but over the last year I’ve shifted my focus to the small and medium commercial lines side. In our community, we have a big base of contractors and those type of small, sole proprietor businesses: contractors, tradesmen, and the like. Also, as a Spanish speaker, I’ve made that part of my niche. There are simply not enough Spanish speakers in our industry, and that tends to be a very loyal community.
What do you focus on to facilitate customers’ needs?
When we bring on a new client, we have a system to set expectations. Especially since COVID began, everyone has been more friendly toward technology. We try to set them up in a way that they can self-service their policies with online accounts and mobile apps, but we always make sure that we’re available to them as a resource.
For claims, they have that self-service option set up, but for anything that’s serious, we always want them to contact us first so that we can offer them guidance, since that’s really the value of working with us. We want them to have the tools to do things on their own but know that we’re here as a safety net if they need us.
What do you look for in a carrier when placing business?
At the beginning of this year, we started to be more selective about what we take on in order to increase the overall quality. Over time, we’ve come to know different carriers’ appetites and develop relationships with the underwriters. Knowing what they do and don’t like, we’re able to ask clients the qualifying questions and find their best fit. I have a questionnaire sheet for new clients that hits all of the points to segment prospects out and identify the best carriers for them.
With some carriers, we haven’t been able to build those personal relationships, and that makes it a little more difficult to work with them. In those situations, having a good text or live-chat system can be helpful, but there’s no replacement for having a personal relationship with the underwriter and cultivating that relationship.
By giving carriers the type of business they want, we build a relationship of mutual trust. They’ll even occasionally accept some risks that may not be ideal for their appetite, but because of our relationship, they are a little more inclined to take the chance. For really unique risks, I’ll try to talk with the underwriters directly first to at least get an idea if there’s a market and even a ballpark premium range. I can then speak to the client to spare everyone’s time; it beats filling out forms, sending them in, and then finding out it’s too expensive, for example.