3 tips for smooth renewals

How to avoid surprises for you and your clients

The renewal process can be an intimidating, complicated and sometimes stressful time for brokers, their clients and insurers. If handled incorrectly, the worst-case scenario can be the loss of the account. However, if each party works together and the process is started early, then renewals can become virtually hassle-free. It can be an opportunity to provide your clients with great service, advice and even a chance to save money.

Here are three tips to make sure the renewal process runs smoothly:

1) Maintain client contact throughout the year. “It’s not a once a year phone call to talk about insurance,” says Patty McNeil, senior partner at Jones Brown. “It’s about regularly checking up with them, tracking them and what’s going on [with their industry] in the media.”

Knowing the client and being in constant contact with them helps because come renewal time, you will already have answers to many of the questions you might have about their business.

2) Maintain insurer contact throughout the year. “We want to avoid the broker getting surprise phone calls from their client,” says Steve Livingstone, director personal insurance at RSA. “If there has been a change to our pricing, we need to be proactive and make sure the broker is armed with the answers to the questions that their client will ask.”

3) Keep a strict schedule. Experts say that the renewal process for commercial lines begins about 90 days before renewal deadline, while the personal lines process begins about 45 days before renewal date. However, this time can be fraught with challenges.

Peter Redmond, president at Purves Redmond says gathering information from clients on time is especially critical if you’re approaching an insurer that is unfamiliar with the client. Redmond’s company overcomes this by starting the process early, mapping out when items are due and who is responsible for what. Purves Redmond has specific due dates for information before the renewal date, and Redmond says this helps his staff, as well as partnering underwriters and clients provide information in a timely manner.

“I find this is one of the flaws that brokers, underwriters and clients all tend to have because they focus primarily on the renewal date only,” he says. “If you’re too focused on the renewal date, then you’re not going to set aside the time for an early and full presentation of renewal terms and options. So we get people to look at and agree to the timelines instead.”

This post is an abbreviated version of an article from the April 2011 issue of Canadian Insurance Top Broker. To read the full article, click here.

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