Knowledge Center

Knowledge Center Items Podcast Episode 19

What Happens When You Tell The Best Insurance Story?

Published on

One thing is for sure, you give your clients a fighting chance to get an underwriter's full attention. 

Not only that, but you make it easy for them to quickly decided if your client is worth their time. 

The positive impact continues to ripple out because now you can get back to your client quickly with their decision. 

Now everyone involved looks like a hero. 

But really every story starts with finding the right business to talk about in the first place. 

Christa Nadler, RPS Area Executive Vice President, walks through some of the key ways you can do that for your next property risk.

For more Change Insurance episodes, click here.

Full Episode Transcript

Joey Giangola: Christa Nadler, how are you doing today?

Christa Nadler: I'm doing good, how are you?

Joey Giangola: I'm doing all right. So I often have this problem, I'm kind of curious, I need to kind of put this out there to the world to make sure that I'm not too crazy. But what's the thing that you buy in bulk often, but then you forget that you buy in bulk and never remember to buy again?

Christa Nadler: Oh my goodness. Buy in bulk often, never-

Joey Giangola: Not often, just like you buy such a large quantity, you don't have to buy it for six months and then like you forget to like ... it's just off your radar and then you usually run-

Christa Nadler: Oh, I'm going to go toothpaste. I feel like we like always buy a ton of toothpaste and I'm like, "All right, good, we're set on toothpaste." And then all of a sudden you don't realize until you need that next tube of toothpaste, that they're all gone.

Joey Giangola: We're always trying to push it to the very end too, until you're like just out of it and then just one day, it's just not there anymore. And then you got problems.

Christa Nadler: Exactly, what's your answer to that?

Joey Giangola: Garbage bags. I go for the biggest box I can get, it's like $120, I bought one before everything locked down and I haven't bought one since. And I'm thinking, "It's about time." And then, you go to put the new bag in and then you're out.

Christa Nadler: That's a good one.

Joey Giangola: Yeah, it is. It's just one of those very first world type problem things that we have to deal with.

Christa Nadler: That's right, you motivated me to go work on my grocery list after this, I think.

Joey Giangola: Is that a process? Are you guys very organized when it comes to that in your household?

Christa Nadler: Somewhat. I think now with the whole quarantine thing, you're trying to go to the grocery store a little bit less. Before you just like pop over there once every day, if you need to do and now it's like a process.

Joey Giangola: You're much more thoughtful about the actions and where you go and all of those things and everything that goes with it. And if you want to take your kids out, that's a whole another thing like-

Christa Nadler: Oh yeah.

Joey Giangola: Because usually like you would take one or somebody from the household and now it's like, "Maybe we just keep everybody home." It's a whole sort of logistics nightmare now.

Christa Nadler: Exactly.

Joey Giangola: But let's talk about something slightly more serious and productive outside of our random trips outside of the house. What is going on in terms of property? What are you seeing? What is the conversation around there? What types of trips are people making? Not making? [inaudible] premises? How is that effecting their coverage? What's going on, Christa?

Christa Nadler: Oh man, that's a loaded question. So the property market, I mean, it's definitely changed. I mean, we've seen things become a little bit more difficult over the course of the last six months. It's definitely been, I would say, the most difficult market of my 14 year career, just in terms of trying to find capacity. We experienced a long period of seeing rate reductions on everything and it was pretty easy to go out and tell somebody that you got them a 5% rate reduction every single year or double digit rate reduction in some instances. And now, we have carriers telling us that they're having no problem getting 15% and 20% rate increases, which is a dramatic departure from what we were seeing before.

So that's just been a big change, learning how to sell in that type of market, learning how navigate the market and kind of understand what all of the different markets are doing. So it's a different world, that's for sure.

Joey Giangola: Yeah. And I mean, what's that conversation look like for you? And I mean, what are you finding works when you are talking to underwriters and to the agents? What is going into that, that maybe wasn't something you had to account for before?

Christa Nadler: So it's really kind of walking a really thin line now because you want to manage expectations, you want to set expectations, but you also don't want to scare people. Just like anything there's other retail agents out there chasing insured's business and there's other wholesalers chasing our retailers business. And so we don't want to go out there and tell them they're going to get a 50% rate increase and scare them off to go look at marketing their business elsewhere. But by the same token, we don't want to tell them that everything's going to be great and then come down to the 11th hour and deliver a big rate increase.

So it's been a lot of discussions and managing expectations, trying to set expectations early. There's obviously been a lot of really good industry publications out there and data out there in the marketplace that we can share to just continue to educate people as best we can about what's going on.

Joey Giangola: Yeah. And what does that look like from the the agent's perspective? How has that conversation shifted from what they're telling you, their expectations? I mean, how have we sort of had to adjust to sort of manage their expectations? And also at the same time, educate them as to, this is what we're all going to need to do to make this kind of a better situation.

Christa Nadler: I think it's getting out there early, I think it's having those conversations early, making sure that people understand that it's not going to be the same type of environment as what we've had in the past.

One of the things that's really worked well for us, especially on accounts that we've had for a number of years is putting together charts and graphs and different type of visual information that actually shows five years ago, when we first wrote your account, this is where your rate was. We've gotten you a 5% rate reduction, a 10% rate reduction and now here's what your rate is. It's a 15% rate increase and what we're finding is that even with that 15% rate increase, often the rate is still lower than what it was when we first wrote the account. So being able to have kind of that hard data to share and a visual that you can show to the insureds that's been really useful.

Joey Giangola: Yeah. What's that response been like then? Because obviously getting back to that sort of neutral or breakeven point that's got at least feel like a small win in that situation.

Christa Nadler: Yeah. I mean, I think so. I mean, but we're also not the ones paying the bill. And I think a lot of people, maybe weren't funding for the fact that they were going to have a rate increase and then you couple that with the fact that there's some economic pressure going on right now too. It's not like all these different insureds have a big influx of money and people are struggling with the pandemic and that kind of thing. So, I mean, it's never an easy conversation, but the more that we can try to break it down, generally, we find the better.

Joey Giangola: Yeah. And in terms of what types of property is maybe having an easier time, is there something that agents can look for that might be a little bit easier given this time, in terms of property? Is there something that you deal with often that they should kind of be paying attention to a little bit more now?

Christa Nadler: Sadly, I can't say that there's one class that's like necessarily be easier than another class. I'd say just to kind of flip that question around, I think the classes that are the hardest are the ones that have been in the standard market for a long time and maybe have always teetered on that, are they standard market? Or are they ENS kind of area there? Because a lot of those accounts, we're seeing deals that had been with some of the admitted carriers for years and years and years, and they kind of had just continued to be passed down. And all of a sudden, it ends up moving into ENS and the rate goes up four or five times because that account really did deserve that higher rate, but it just sort of didn't hit the radar screen until now.

Joey Giangola: That's interesting, I guess I've never really thought about it that way. If you sort of had to break it down in terms of, what does an account look like when it is sort of on the edge? Like what are some of the signs that agents should be maybe looking out for, maybe even to get ahead of it? Even a little bit more in terms of when you might want to at least start to consider ENS versus a standard approach, is there sort of any red flags that pop up?

Christa Nadler: Well, what we're seeing a lot of, right now, are maybe accounts that have had open recommendations for a number of years. So maybe there's been a couple of things that the carrier has allowed to slide for a couple of years and then they take another look at it this year and they say, "You know what? We've just kind of had enough, we're not willing to allow this recommendation to continue to set open." That's probably the biggest thing.

Right now, one of the areas that we're seeing move into ENS ... excuse me, in the ENS a little bit more is some of the Midwestern business. A lot of that business, if you listen to Dave McGurn speak ever, Dave used to say that when he was an underwriter, they would say, "Write a little bit of business on the East coast, write a little bit of business on the West coast, and then write everything you could find in between." And that business in between was what offset all of that cap business. Well, now what a lot of people are saying is that there's a ton of wind and hail exposure in the Midwest and carriers just continue to get pounded literally and figuratively with losses in the Midwest. And they weren't really accounting for all of them, the rates.

Joey Giangola: Yeah. That's something that like you said, maybe not a bit on everybody's radar, is there something that you think goes overlooked when it comes to going after property in the Midwest that agents maybe neglect or maybe don't take into consideration heavily enough?

Christa Nadler: I mean, I think the biggest thing that people maybe don't pay enough attention to or look at enough, is in the Midwest is going to be the age of roofs, the updates that have taken place to roofs, that makes such a significant difference when underwriters are looking at an account, a newer roof or a roof with a better type of roof material, that's maybe more resistant to wind and hail that can have a significant impact on what your rates look like and what kind of wind and hail deductibles you're getting.

Joey Giangola: All right. So I want to kind of dive in on the roof topic then, let's go because-

Christa Nadler: Uh oh.

Joey Giangola: Well, I'm curious because it's, it's probably one of the most expensive things to insure against in terms of getting replaced on the structure in terms of like you said, they don't necessarily look into that. Is that just because they'll ask the business owner, "When was the roof replaced? What's maintenance have you had done on it?" Is there something that maybe more could be done to kind of dig into the overall condition? Is there anything that is being neglected, I guess, in that process?

Christa Nadler: Well, I mean, I think what happens a lot of times is insurance don't necessarily always keep records of those types of things or they don't always have that information to share. A lot of times you buy a building ... an insured that owns a number of different habitational properties, they might buy a building and they don't know the last time that the roof was replaced or that maintenance was done on the roof. I can't say enough about people who go out and have roof contractors that are inspecting the roofs and have hard data that they can provide, that's really important.

One of the things that's kind of interesting now and probably a product of our technological environment these days is you can use drones to get that type of information. We've seen some of our carriers that actually will like provide us with their photos, that they took with a drone. So they're not actually going out and physically inspecting the inside of the building, they're actually going by air to look at the roof of the building. And there's a lot of reliance on Google Earth, which is great, but sometimes that Google Earth photo might be outdated or whatever. I am seeing instances where agents actually have engaged with companies that will go out and take drone photos of their insureds roofs and I think it pays off, I think it's smart.

Joey Giangola: I mean, I'm going to be honest, I'm pretty sure it took Google Earth two or three years to get the swing set in the background of my house on there. So a lot can change, I don't know exactly what the timeframe is on updating that. But flying drones is fun, I don't know if you've ever done one, but I mean, it's a good time to actually get up there and fly it around. Is that something that you would maybe recommend agents start to at least try to include some sort of step like that in the process? Whether it is getting somebody up there, whether it is getting a drone up there, some type of evaluation process. And I guess if they do want to go through that leg work, what kind of benefit would they be looking at on the backside of it?

Christa Nadler: Yeah, I mean, I think it's worth considering it. The more information that we can provide the underwriters, the better. Our job, we like to say our job is to show underwriters the good about the account, the bad about the account and the ways to underwrite around the bad. And if there's an account that has some older roofs and we can say, "Hey, we know that the roofs are a little bit older, but check out these pictures that we have of the roofs that actually show that the condition of them is really, really good. Or here's some information from a roofing contractor that was just out there a few months ago." So I think in instances where those roofs might be teetering on the edge in terms of their age or something like that, I certainly think it's worth imploring those types of tactics, I suppose.

Joey Giangola: Do you have a sort of a highlight moment, like a top moment of where you had something like that in your back pocket to really save something for somebody? Is there something that really stands out to where, man, we were able to kind of provide this piece of information that really made a difference?

Christa Nadler: Oh man, you put me on the spot with that one.

Joey Giangola: We were here, I thought we would see if we had something.

Christa Nadler: Sorry, I don't think I have anything on that one that I can think of.

Joey Giangola: All right, well, not a problem. But I'm always curious though, because we're always trading sort of underwriting stories and things like that. And it's something that I think agents, like you said, especially in the market that we're dealing with now, that whole lead time. And this is just one of those things that would help get you in the mindset to get to that lead time. And then also, you hear a lot of people talk about the submission, the submission, the submission it's got to be spot on or it's got to be whatever to stand out. Is there something that you kind of have like a little checklist that you would recommend to sort of clean that up, to help it stand out, to help it get noticed, to really improve the chances for getting the time and attention it deserves?

Christa Nadler: Yeah. I mean, I see a major part of my job as being to put together a really good submission, the type of submission that's going to go to the top of the stack for an underwriting company. So, there are certainly things that we look for, on the property side, obviously, we're looking for a statement of values that is complete as possible. All of the cope information, the construction, the occupancy, the protection, the exposures, the roof update information, the wiring plumbing and heating update information. All of that stuff goes into making a good statement of values, which is going to be the main thing that the underwriting companies are going to take a look at.

I can't understate enough or maybe overstate enough, I don't know which one's right there. But the importance of having like a loss summary, the more that we can show that the losses have been good on that account or the more that we can explain what happened in a loss, the better. So we spend a lot of time putting together our loss summary, putting together a little bit of a narrative around what happened in the loss, why is it not going to happen again? What did they learn from it? And why is this a better risk today than it was whenever that loss occurred? So that's really important.

You mentioned lead time and I think lead time is really important, but right now people are so busy, we're not looking ... or we are, but underwriters aren't looking at submission 60 or 90 days in advance. They're looking at them 15 days in advance because it's just too hard to get to everything that's on their desk. So we're trying to get a one page document together that they can pick it up and they can make a very quick underwriting decision as to whether or not they want to put their company on risk for that account.

Joey Giangola: Yeah. And this whole idea of the stack, I mean, it's something that's interesting to me in terms of, it is almost like you're trying to deal yourself the best hand possible and I've had countless people time and time again, talk about, "Oh, it's got to be complete. It's got to be whatever." Is there something outside of all this stuff that we've kind of covered? Is there really one thing in the process that, that stands out to you from the agent's perspective? The conversations you've had that if they're going to put a little more emphasis somewhere, where would you have them maybe put it?

Christa Nadler: I think the most important thing in my eyes is, what's the opportunity? What's the story behind the story on this risk? Is it your brother's cousin's sister ... well, I guess your brothers cousin is still your cousin. But is it, do you have a relation to the insured? Is this your account that you've controlled for 15 years? Is this new business that you're trying to win? What's the real opportunity? Because I think we have to really make that case to our underwriters right now. Like you said, there's a huge stack of submissions on their desk right now and they don't want to spend time quoting business just to quote it. They want to know that they're putting their time and resources into an opportunity that's actually very likely to bind.

So the more that we can say to someone, "Here's what the opportunity is, here's where we need to be from a pricing standpoint, here's affiliated FMs getting off of the risk this year, but it's been a really good risk. And here's some engineering reports and that kind of thing." Being able to really tell the story, I think is what gets an underwriter to pick up a submission.

Joey Giangola: All right, Chris, I got two more questions for you-

Christa Nadler: Sure.

Joey Giangola: And we've kind of talked broadly about the industry, but I'm a little more curious as to your specific outlook. Like what's the thing that you are most excited about right now in terms of the opportunities that are available to you and say, agents?

Christa Nadler: Oh man. I think what I'm most excited about right now is just like, we're getting so many opportunities in right now and it's been exciting to look at so many different types of business, to have our hands on so many different types of accounts and be involved in so many different deals. It's really exciting. I'm not somebody that likes a boring day, so to have a day where we're kind of going from account to account to account, and on the phone all the time, and just putting deals together. It's an exciting time right now.

Joey Giangola: Christa, last question for you, maybe the most unfair, but we'll see what happens. I'm giving you a magic wand to kind of do whatever you want across the industry, maybe a little bit better, a little bit faster, a little bit different. What's that thing that you want to see happen and where's it going? What's it doing?

Christa Nadler: Oh my goodness. That's a loaded question.

Joey Giangola: That's the idea.

Christa Nadler: Yeah. What's my magic wand ... all right, repeat that again for me.

Joey Giangola: So I'm giving you a magic wand and it can go really to do anything that you want in the industry a little bit better, a little bit faster, a little bit different. What is that thing that you want to have happen? And where's it going? Like, what's it doing? What's the thing that you think has the most opportunity?

Christa Nadler: I think maybe this sounds like kind of an answer, like a canned answer, but I think like it's just around data. Like I would love for us to be able to wave a magic wand and have the data on an account that we ... like all the data that we might need in order to underwrite it and in order to look at it. I think more than ever, that's so important. People want data, they want to have the information on the building and on the construction and that kind of thing. And I think it's being coming harder and harder to get. Especially in our world where a lot of these accounts have been in the standard market for a long time and maybe information hasn't been updated in a while or things like that. It's just, I feel like sometimes it's pulling teeth to get some of that data. So I think it would be pretty cool to wave a magic wand and just like have a completed SOB on every single account.

Joey Giangola: Christa, I appreciate it. This was awesome, I'll leave it right there.

Christa Nadler: All right, I appreciate it. Thanks.

Joey Giangola: Thanks a lot.

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