The Role of the Commercial Insurance Broker

Business come in all sizes, and the role of the Commercial Insurance Broker will vary in some respects with the size of the client company and the amount of insurance expertise it has available among its own staff.

The approach to commercial insurance of a small engineering workshop in a side-street will not be the same as that of a huge multi-national corporation which may number an insurance company among its subsidiaries. The essentials of the broker’s task will be the same, however, for the largest company as it is for the individual: to use his knowledge of insurance and of the insurance market to help his client to arrange a sound insurance programme which, to the maximum extent possible, meets the client’s particular needs.

The Business Insurance Broker will handle the insurances of a small company in a manner very similar to those of an individual. The relationship is likely to be a personal one wit the directors of the business, and they can be considered, in a way, as individuals who have a different, and more extended, set of insurance needs because of their involvement with the company.

The first essential will be for the insurance broker to ensure that his clients have the compulsory commercial insurances which they need for their business to be carried on legally.

Employer’s liability cover to protect the workforce must be arranged, and motor insurance is also likely to be a necessity. If the business has plant or machinery which must have a periodical statutory inspection, it will be usual to arrange for this to be done by a specialist engineering insurer under the terms of an engineering inspection contract, with or without insurance.

Fire insurance will be very important, as will consequential loss insurance to protect the firm against loss of earnings during the period following a fire until it is fully back in business. Then there will be all the other insurances which a business needs – public and products liability, theft and money insurance, goods in transit and perhaps marine insurance, all-risks covers, fidelity guarantee and possibly others. The broker may also be asked to provide insurance covers for staff, a group life and pensions scheme, or personal accident or permanent health insurance for example.

The range of insurance which may be needed, and the variety of problems which may be associated with them, place great demands on the broker with an industrial firm as his client, and make it much less possible for him to be a specialist in one or two types of insurance only. The individual may be happy to consult a broker for life or motor insurance only, but the industrial company is likely to want a single source of advice for all its insurance problems.

The larger the client company is, the less it will be interested in buying standardised commercial insurance covers or packages designed for small business insurance, and the more it will want policies which match its own specific needs. This calls for a very deep understanding of the client’s business on the part of the broker, matched by creativity in designing insurance solutions to the problems posed. The Commercial Insurance Broker’s negotiating skills may also be called upon to persuade an insurer to accept what may be an entirely new approach to a particular insurance need.

The problems of a small spread of risk may be overcome because the company is large enough to be rated on its own past record rather than as a member of a trade which is rated as a class in an SME business insurance package. When it reaches this size, a company may be interested in extensive self-insurance, and these days it is part of the broker’s role to help such clients develop appropriate self-insurance plans and to advise on risk management measures to ensure that the risk that is being retained is reduced as far as is economically possible.