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Winning at Negotiation

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An insurance market as competitive as this one requires strong specialized knowledge and the right relationships. Senior Professional Lines Broker David Derigiotis of Burns & Wilcox recently demonstrated that to a new agent who was trying to win a “referral law firm” account from another agency.

The four-person law firm is essentially in the legal triage business, reviewing client files and sending them to other firms they believe have the right expertise to handle the specific case. What makes the referral firm a higher hazard is that if there is a claim, this California firm is always named as party along with the firm that actually handled the case and allegedly made the error. The referral firm was dissatisfied with the cost and terms of its current coverage.

Derigiotis knew that placing this at a time when brokers, agents and carriers are hungry to write business would involve beating stiff competition, but he and Professional Lines Underwriter Jordan Kurkowski were looking forward to the challenge. The application was sent to five markets, and blocked by four who had already been approached by the current agent. The fifth, though a newer appointed market for Burns & Wilcox, was the charm. Derigiotis had worked alongside this Chicago underwriter when they were both at a different carrier, so there was a high level of trust between them.

After a series of sharp negotiations where the incumbent agent and carrier would counter their offers, his team finally won the account, “a great grab for us,” Derigiotis said. The law firm was also a big winner, with its $125,000 premium dramatically reduced to $75,000 and its $250,000 deductible drastically reduced to $100,000 for the same limits of $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate.

History repeated itself almost immediately. The same agent brought this team at the Professional Lines Center of Excellence one of the law firm’s partner firms. This partner firm also was dissatisfied with the cost of its professional liability coverage. Working with the same carrier, they were able to reduce premium from $71,000 to $50,000, a “drop of $21,000 and an unbelievable savings in premium for a California law firm,” he said.

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