Quality Submissions- Setting your own standards

By Ken Kukral

In other industries the standards for applications is MUCH higher.  If you applied for a mortgage and left 60% of the blanks empty the application would be rejected.  For that matter if you left 10% of the questions unanswered the application would be rejected.  So how can an agent expect to get a reliable quote based on limited information?  Is it an exercise in trying to provide the absolute minimum amount of information to get an indication?  I hope not.

 First let me get a couple terms defined:

 Indication – A rough, ballpark guestimate of what the premium will be based on insufficient information.  They are non-bindable, can be withdrawn without notice and can not be relied on.

 Quote – A solid estimate of insurance premium based on information that addresses the insurance exposures.  A quote is bindable and has a high reliance that the policy will be issued based on the price given

 Why do I define these two?  Because many agents see these as the SAME thing.  While I may be able to give an indication based on limited information, the account has not been “underwritten”.  Wouldn’t you rather give your potential customer a quote that has been underwritten and is able to be bound if the prospect agrees to the terms?

 While I may be preaching to the choir with most of you, I hope to change the perspective of others.  I hope have some influence on setting higher standards for submissions.  I hope to have each agency set higher standards each year and “up their game”.  Competition is fierce in the insurance business, so why not find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition by providing superior submissions?

 What would a quality submission include:

 1. For many risks ACORD applications are a good starting part.  ACORD provides tutorials on how to complete their applications in case you are not familiar with them or a question is confusing.

2. Supplemental applications – If the prospect is a contractor, include a contractor’s supplemental application.  If they are an apartment complex include a habitational supplemental application.  Check the website of the carrier or wholesaler you plan to go to and review their list of supplemental applications. 

3. A Narrative!  This is more times than not, missing.  This is the opportunity to “fill in the gaps” and provide information that the applications did not ask for.  This is also the chance to explain why this account is an excellent account and should get favorable pricing.  When I review submissions, this is the first place I look.  This sets the tone for the submission.  For many agents, this becomes an “art form”.  They build their own style and this soon becomes the “highlight” of the submission.

4. Website for the prospect – Since most businesses have websites please include their website.

5. Pictures – as they say, pictures are worth a thousand words.  The quality of the risk can be shown by what they look like.

6. Cost estimator – If it is a property submission make sure you include this. And why you are at it, include a statement of values.  Also make sure you include details on any updates they made to the roof, HVAC plumbing or electrical.

7.  Loss runs – Years ago they were not a part of a standard submission, but now they are “expected”  If you are not going to include them, include a no known losses letter or details on any claims.  Make sure to include any information that explains why past losses are not likely to continue.

8. Whatever – If there are contracts with insurance provisions, include those.  Include details on any additional insured’s.   For certain risks they may need financials. 

9. The “lowdown” – Advise current pricing and terms and what pricing and terms are needed to secure the account.  If you are not the incumbent, explain why you should be able to extract the account away from the current agent.  Ask for options that may help you enhance the account.  Advise when you need pricing by.  Set your expectations.  Your market will have trouble meeting your expectations if they don’t know what they are.

10. Be accurate and truthful – Accounts can’t all be perfect.  Explain the negative side of the account so that the underwriter can weigh this into their pricing.

As you may know, quality submissions tend to find their way to the top of the stack.  When you give the underwriter the “tools” they need to do their job they can do a better job for you.  Make sure you submission is something you can be proud of.  The potential client is counting on you to show them in the most favorable light.  With a quality submission your client stands the best chance of getting the most favorable terms and pricing.

 Set the standards for your agency and stick to them.  Let your brokers and carriers know they can count on you for a quality submission.  It is one more way you can get an edge of your completion.

 I would be interested in hearing more from agents who provide superior submissions.  What sets your submission out from your competitors?

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