Are they specialists?

Does your agent have a specialty or focus in consulting firms? If not, why are you with them?

Consulting Engineers, Architects and Environmental Scientists and Contractors face unique insurance challenges. Not every street corner agent can handle their needs, though many claim to have the markets. The interaction of the different exposures, along with the contractual requirements of job sites creates an opportunity to incorrectly place insurance policies, leading to significant headaches, wasted money, and even lawsuits down the road. An agent that has years of experience practicing in this field is vital for your practice. As you grow, they will have the answers based on experience and practice.

Can you easily access your agent?

Does your agent offer 24 hour access? Will they be available when you are locked out of a job site at 5am on a holiday Monday due to incorrect insurance certificate language?

Insurance issues don’t occur Monday through Friday 9 to 5. They occur at 6am when a job site is locked out. They occur at night when an employee drives home from a late municipal meeting and an accident happens. They occur on weekends when you are served a Summons at your private home but don’t wish to wait until Monday for next steps. An experienced agent who understands this field gives you their personal cell phone, and recognizes that a business owner works seven days a week. You should demand an agent who does as well.

Do they read contracts?

Does your agent read your contracts? Do they offer more coverage every year, or do they just seek the lowest price?

Reviewing contracts is a critically important skill for your practice to grow. An experienced insurance agent who knows this field must turn around requirements within one hour. Certificates should be issued within one hour. Negotiations with insurance requirements should involve the agent. You should not practice law or even contact your lawyer without your insurance agent being a part of the discussion.

Do they offer training?

Do you receive risk management training from your agent? Have they offered these services free of charge?

Risk management training involves knowing what terms in a contract are preferable, and what terms are not. It involves dissecting the workplace, the job site, the prospect with an attitude towards safety and a culture of accident avoidance. Risk management involves training new employees from day one to understand what insurance covers, and what it does not. An experienced agent who has concentration with engineers, architects and environmental consultants can perform risk management services either free or low cost, and can scale the program for any sized firm.

Do they own their markets?

Does your agent have personal relationships with the underwriters who focus on consulting firms?

There are only so many insurance carriers in this space. An experienced risk manager knows the carriers well, and doesn’t place your business in a market you will outgrow in a few short years. Your policies need to be placed so you can develop a loss history, a track record, and become a known entity to underwriting. Avoid agents who shop every year. Change carriers infrequently and only for growth opportunities. But change insurance agents immediately if they are focused on price only.

Do they understand you?

Does your insurance program reflect the firm you are going to be, not only the firm you are?

An experienced risk manager has taken many an engineer or environmental consultant from 1 person to 100. They understand growing the insurance program to suit the size and revenue of the firm. Make sure to ask your agent for industry-specific references. Take the time to call or email those references. Read the testimonials on the agent’s web site. Look for keys like “trusted advisor” or “accessible” “knowledgeable” and “thorough”. Do not pick your insurance agent on price alone.

Do they take care of you?

Does your agent take care of the business owner, and not just the business?

The best risk manager can take care of a business owner’s home, auto and umbrella in addition to the business insurance needs. They should insure the key employees so the business owner doesn’t have moral peril from an employee who suffers a loss outside the workplace. Your insurance advisor should also be knowledgeable in Key-man life insurance and buy-sell agreements. They should take a 360 degree perspective and see the whole business and personal risk.

Do they only purchase policies?

Does your agent seek to lower your risks without purchasing insurance?

Your risk manager should be able to email you case studies, and claims examples prior to you hiring them for the insurance. They should be able to prove how they improved their prior clients. Testimonials and references are vital. You may be a 1 person firm now, but you need to place your risk with the future in mind.

Do they understand Pollution?

Pollution with regard to consultants and Engineers can take many forms. Intentional design, unintended consequences, or other contractual obligations can all change the type of pollution insurance needed. A thorough experience with contracts and obligations common to the workplace are needed when it comes to pollution insurance. Does your risk manager know the difference between incidental and professional pollution exposures? Do they know the markets and underwriters for each? A true risk manager is needed who can handle both the professional liability and the pollution insurance.

Do they insure drone usage?

Do drones belong on your policy or with a subcontractor? How can I create contracts to protect myself beyond insurance?

Drones represent an opportunity to grow your practice and create a new revenue stream. Drones also represent a strategic risk to your overall insurance program. There are significant downsides to marketing for best price. Does your insurance agent understand aircraft liability? Do they know personal and advertising injury exposures for flight vehicles with cameras? Do you know the impact to your General Liability policy? A risk manager will know these exposures, and be able to judge the risks and benefits of adding drones to your operations.

Can they help me with audits?

Annual audits are a policy holder’s responsibility but can also be a hassle. Does your agent know every class code and General Liability ratings basis needed in your profession? Can they effectively negotiate new codes with the comp bureau? Will they track down subcontractors, and lower your audit risk? Many insurance agents have experience with audits, but a Risk Manager will understand the need to get the audit correct and survive claims should they occur.

Interested in learning more?