By Ken Kukral
I wish I had a dollar for every time this question was asked on an account or a prospective account. Early on in my career I used to dread this question since first of all, my knowledge of coverage is not what it is today. I didn’t feel “qualified” to answer this question since I wasn’t in this business long enough to be taken as an expert on ANYTHING!
My “uncomfortableness” led me to do a few things:
– I answered the question, let me check and get back to you. This bought me some time to get the answer and not be pressed for a quick judgment.
– I researched it myself. I looked at the forms and sought the answers without the help from anyone. This taught me some lessons on how to read forms.
– If I couldn’t determine the answer myself, I went to the “expert” in the office. I asked a ton of questions and soaked up all the knowledge I could.
– I developed a network of “coverage experts” I could call on and run some scenarios past and help to make sure I concurred with their advice before passing it on.
– I made the decision to get a designation (CIC) that would be more coverage based so I could continue to develop my knowledge.
– On a regular basis I asked a million questions. It is amazing in this business how much other professionals are willing to help out and answer questions. Almost like they want other insurance professionals around them to be more knowledgeable for the good of the industry.
– I didn’t shy away from learning about new coverages and discussing forms. This helped to breed a comfort level and a confidence level that I could eventually be the one they came to and asked the coverage questions.
– I gravitated to magazine articles that discussed coverage issues and court cases. I knew that if we could find a competitive advantage (coverage wise) we could use that as a selling point. Price is important but providing more expansive coverage does help.
– I sought out continuing educations that would expand my knowledge rather than just ones that would get me the required hours. I figured if I was going to spend the time to take classes that I might as well expand my mind.
– I built a philosophy of “show me where it is excluded” approach so that I could take the insured’s point of view and look at how the court might interpret the coverage. As you may know, ambiguity is ALWAYS decided in the insured’s favor.
So know when I get asked the question, “is it covered”, I can confidently answer the question or point them in the right direction to get their answer. Agents have a higher degree of trust in what we do, when we know what we are talking about. They can come to us in confidence and know we will put together the best program possible.
One of the side benefits has been that I know what coverage enhancements are available (what exclusions that can be “bought back” or amended) and can look at a current program for an insured and help pick it apart and provide a more expansive solution with fewer coverage gaps. All things being equal (from a pricing stand point) the better coverage solution will usually put you over the top to get the account. Being a wholesaler, you must add value to the equation and this is one more way we can add value.
So is it covered? The answer…. It depends…