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How one broker’s creativity turned a ‘no’ to a ‘go’

The tough economy and heavy underwriter workloads mean that commercial accounts are routinely shopped for price and underwriting decisions tend to come quickly. Nevertheless, a broker’s perseverance can still break through an automatic “no” and salvage an account for an agent. Property and Casualty Broker Ginny Morales of the Burns & Wilcox Baton Rouge office recently discovered just that in a case involving an account with a $400,000 premium.

A Louisiana producer received an unpleasant surprise recently when visiting a longstanding client to deliver a renewal proposal. His client, a ready mix concrete provider, had found another agent who could place the business coverages for a lower premium. There was a hitch, though: the new agent had not been able to place the account’s auto physical damage. The old agent saw an opening and requested the opportunity to hold on to the account. The client acquiesced, giving the producer two days to find Auto Physical Damage Coverage at a specific low rate or lose the entire account.

This was a stop-everything situation, so when the producer came to Morales for assistance with the now-separate Auto Physical Damage Coverage, that’s exactly what she did.

“We had only two days to place this and I called a lot of underwriters. Everyone was reachable, but it’s a heavy class and they didn’t want to compete,” she says. The lowest rate she got was almost 40 percent more than the insured was willing to pay. It was time to get creative.

Morales had the agent provide details about the loss-control activities of the insured, particularly its driver screening and training programs. She called back underwriters and found one willing to consider this program, factoring in that the insured had been loss-free for two years. The insurer wanted drivers to be at least 23 years old, but Morales explained the difficulty of meeting such a requirement, pointing again to the comprehensive training all drivers get at the company. Finally, she worked with the insurer to quote coverage with several higher deductible options. It took a day of intense work, including plenty of phone and email back-and-forth with underwriters and the agent sitting in the client’s office to get answers, but in the end it was worth it. Morales secured the APD Coverage for the rate the agent needed.

“I persuaded the underwriter he could make money on this account,” she explains. “In the end, everyone was happy.”

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