Tuesday, April 9, 2013

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

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If you run your own business, you know that it’s unique. Not all restaurants, for example, serve the same food to the same people during the same hours in the same neighborhood  Some offer take out while others don’t. Some only serve breakfast and lunch while others only serve dinner. And so it goes with whatever type of business you operate and that’s why it’s critically important that your insurance broker fully understands the full scope of your operation. If they don’t, they won’t be able to ensure that your business exposures are properly covered. If your broker doesn't know your business, the consequences can be serious. 
Written By Lorne Wiebe,
Rhodes & Williams Account Executive.

Photo credit: ourhometown.ca

For example, it’s possible that a food manufacturer doesn't have insurance to cover the cost of having to recall a defective product that it has shipped to market. It’s possible that a contractor which operates at an airport doesn't have coverage for any business it conducts at the airport. And it is also possible that a wholesaler which exports a good chunk of its products to the U-S doesn't have any insurance coverage for that arm of its business. How do I know that these scenarios are all possible? Because these are just a few of the real-life situations I've discovered as I've been reviewing the existing insurance policies of potential customers.

Unfortunately, the business owners in all of these cases had no idea that there were gaping holes in their policies. When I asked them if their insurance broker fully understood their business operation, each of them admitted that they probably didn't.

The blame here lies mostly at the feet of the brokers who do not dig deep enough when they meet with their clients. Does your broker know your business?
Every time you meet with your broker (and it should be at least a couple of times a year) he or she should be asking you a lot of questions. Are your business revenue projections still on track? Have you been hiring or reducing your workforce? Is your business providing any new services or products and conversely, has it withdrawn any from the marketplace? What are your future plans? Has your business’s online activity changed? All of these questions and about a dozen more should be a part of your typical broker conversation.

In the cases above, if the broker knew that the contractor had taken on work at an airport and that the wholesaler had begun exporting products to the U-S, they could have easily found coverage, however either the broker didn’t ask or their client didn’t think it was important for them to know. It really all comes down to the relationship that you have with your broker. That’s one of the reasons why Rhodes & Williams Ltd has a formal “Client Service Plan” which includes a mid-year client review. The free flow of information and advice throughout the year is a pretty good litmus test on how your broker relationship is going. If you don’t hear from your broker except when they want money at renewal, it’s time to find someone else.