Posts Tagged ‘Insurance’

Is YOUR Business selling to RETAIL?

April 24, 2017

It wasn’t that many years ago when a manufacturer didn’t really worry about Accounts Receivable (A/R’s) if one sold or supplied to a BIG NAME firm, e.g. General Motors (GM), Chrysler, Delphi, Kodak, Blockbuster, Schwinn Bicycle, Marvel Entertainment, Hugo Boss, Reader’s Digest, Trump Hotels, Sears, Radio Shack, etc., because they always paid you and you really didn’t worry the same as the neighborhood “Mom & Pop” operation, right? Even if you gave 30 or 60 day terms and didn’t get paid for 90 days, it just meant you waited but why would you really need worry.

Unfortunately, today’s world has changed substantially and auto makers like GM had to restructure with governments bailing them out, Radio Shack went under and Sears recently said there was “substantial doubt” as to their long-term operating ability. WOW! Many of the names listed above have all had to restructure and that meant unsecured vendors were not very happy.

So how do YOU manage your business to ensure that you will be paid and remain afloat? I have met so many companies, through the years, that would often have 80% of their sales from a small number of customers and I would always recommend prudent Risk Management – “don’t put all your eggs in 1 basket” – and suggest they consider diversifying their markets and considering options for transfer of their risk, e.g. trade credit insurance. Some clients neglected to follow any or much of my advice and I do know of several who are no longer in business.

Trade credit insurance is often used by firms in Europe but not so often in North America. Why? Europeans may have been less reliant on one’s reputation, perhaps, but my own banking background tells me that North American banks don’t suggest the option, don’t know enough about it and don’t vary credit terms adequately to encourage YOU obtain this. I also hear that terms are much more favorable in European banks for those companies who do purchase the option so many of you don’t feel the savings warrant the added expense.

Where I do find many Canadian (can’t say the same is more or less frequent in the US) companies using Trade Credit Insurance is in their Export Financing but why only for those types of deals? Perhaps you Factor your A/R’s but I just read “Wells Fargo & Co. is among the firms no longer providing Sears vendors with factoring — short-term financing that helps gives them a cushion.” Imagine then what I seem to hear more often than not – insurance works when you really don’t need it but often doesn’t respond when you truly have the need. Do you feel that way or have you heard this said?

This is why I continue to preach Risk Management and supplementing with a suitable Risk Transfer mechanism (insurance should not be solely price-driven when purchasing but knowing what is and is NOT covered and buying the policy from a reputable agency/brokerage with adequate Errors & Omissions insurance of their own and a suitably rated (I tend to like AM Best A-ratings or better) underwriter for your General Liability, Trade Credit, Cyber, Crime, Specialty and Directors’ & Officers’ Liability policies.

I do hope you realize that insurance buying may be 1 of the most important business decisions you make each year but I do know that you overlook this importance because of the trust you place in your providers and the lack of understanding of what is really behind an insurance contract.

 

Let’s discuss today! I can be reached on Twitter (@WRiskManager), on LinkedIn or Facebook and by e-mail – larryewinsurance@gmail.com

 

Info derived from http://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/companies/sears-payless-woes-push-retail-vendors-to-get-more-militant/ar-BBAcFIC?li=AA54rW&ocid=spartanntp and other online material.

SURETY – BONDING, BANKING AND INSURANCE

November 11, 2013

After a recent discussion with a contractor who was expanding their business into the Municipal focus, it came to my attention how appropriate it would be to have a discussion of “bonds” in relation to my own experience in banking and insurance.  The reason I feel it is so appropriate is that my focus on Risk Management delves into the areas of risk, identification of your risk, transfer mechanisms to reduce your risk, etc.

By “bond”, I don’t mean to refer to debt instruments that one might invest into or have issued as a source of capital but Construction Bonding or Surety that includes Bid Bonds, Performance Bonds, Labour & Material Payment, Maintenance, etc.  This is a legal “guarantee” from the surety company but not every insurance company issues surety instruments and any business should be assured that the surety company is expert in this area.  My own preference (this is personal preference) is to have an “A” rated carrier or better (as provided by firms like AM Best, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, etc.).  Those rating agencies review closely the financial capabilities of the firms issuing a guarantee and, if you’re relying on another party to “guarantee” payment, does it not make sense to know they will be in business to meet all the terms and conditions of the risk transfer mechanism?

Insurance is a legal contract (a “policy”) that transfers risk of a loss to a third party (the insurance company, for simplicity sake) who will reimburse you for a financial loss that has been detailed in your written contract.  Contracts can be used for various types of risk reduction but insurance is a specific type that permits reimbursement following a loss.  Other types of contracts that might mean a reduced need for insurance include an Indemnification Agreement, a Lease or an Insurance Certificate where you may be named as an Additional Insured, etc.

In Banking, a Line of Credit is an Agreement between you and a Lender that permits your business to draw down against a pre-arranged approved limit of funds for various reasons.  The Line has to be repaid, within certain conditions, and brings many legal requirements with it.  Unfortunately, many businesses don’t pay close enough attention to all the legal terms within their “agreements” with the bank and, often, when needing to make a draw will be unable due to the demands of the lender.  I have seen many businesses expect to draw upon their Line and be told “NO”.

What about a Surety Instrument?  A “surety” is difficult to explain without trying to draw comparisons that are better understood.  A Line of Credit is an agreement between you and the bank and an insurance policy is an indemnification agreement between you and the insurance company to repay for a loss upon pre-agreed conditions.  A surety is an agreement between you, the bonding company and another party.  It provides for pre-qualifying, project monitoring, security, etc. to the party contracting to a contractor and guarantees you will meet the commitments you promised and that were ultimately accepted by the other party to your contract. 

A government, whether municipal or any other level, will require as part of the Request for Proposal (RFP) process that contractors “bid” for a job.  Following the review of all bids approval of one bid is made.  What if the contractor is unable to meet the agreed-upon conditions following winning their bid?  This is the reason that contractors request a surety or a Bid Bond because the Bank might offer a Line of Credit for “X” dollars but may not advance funds as needed.  Contractors are likely to need a Bid Bond for Sewer and Watermain Construction, Roadwork, etc. but what about guaranteeing their “performance” after they do win any bid?  Well, another surety instrument is the Performance Bond which will guarantee to the government agency the completion of the construction project.  Any agency asking for “bids” on a project will also require guarantee of performance following the awarding of any contract.  Usually, the Bid Bond and the Performance Bond go hand-in-hand because what good is it to anyone to request a Bid Bond but not qualify for a Performance Bond, right?

The financial requirements, in requesting a surety bond, will be quite similar to asking a bank for a line of credit – preparing an application, submitting personal and corporate financial information, disclosing details you might prefer not to tell anyone but still must.  The time frame will be similar in the processing and approval of the request and surety companies must also have strong financial statements with expert underwriters so don’t think it is any easier or very different from dealing with a bank.  As for your insurance broker/partner, yes, I do use the word “partner”, please ensure it is someone you trust with this very private financial information and someone who understands and relates to both you and the underwriter.  This is one area in which I do have difficulty because too many competitors lack this expertise but are still successful in placing business due to the “trust” placed in them.  Privacy of information, now, is almost a given due to legal requirements but do those individuals understand your finances and can they work with you to your satisfaction?

I hope I have given a general idea of what you should know concerning what a surety bond is and how it can be used to your benefit.  If not, please feel free to contact me on Twitter @WRiskManager

 

Real Estate, Investing, Risk & Insurance

September 10, 2013

Following several meetings I have attended – as an observer – of various Real Estate Investment Forums, I decided that I should blog about some of the information and misinformation that I see being offered by experts in their fields when touching on my own expertise – risk and insurance.  Why?  Being in the business of sales, I must forgive them for trying to convince others to follow in their footsteps at being as successful as they are; I know how important it is to be contagious when selling but their excitement might give someone the impression that they know all and that their views are cast in stone when I know that they’re wrong.

Example, a very well recognized real estate agent recently mentioned about “his” contact and the “group” package for investors he uses.  Yes, it might be a very good program – sorry if I’m skeptical – but following 9/11, I’ve learned to read closely what is and is not included in an insurance policy coverage (from the definitions to exclusions and the legal descriptions).  I also know that any “program” – like the 80/20 rule – might be terrific for 80% of the people, 80% of the time BUT…what about the remainder?  Most insurance professionals tend to know less about risk and more about sales than what the public, business-owner or investor might think, especially those relative novices in the insurance industry (and there are far too many of those). 

When studying the Canadian Risk Manager (CRM) program, would you believe that insurance company underwriters or “risk managers” of companies like The Gap were in attendance but lacking were insurance brokers/agents, those professionals upon whom you rely for your information?  Risk involves understanding about currency, interest rates, market factors, contingent risk, etc. – NONE of which tend to affect the usual insurance policy nor reason for insurance salespeople to want to learn about risk since there isn’t any increased income to them – and not about selling insurance to a client or a prospective client!

Second example, another expert mentioned about the reasons “he” likes the previously mentioned group insurance package – yes, 90 days vacancy might be very important but that doesn’t mean one cannot buy coverage beyond 30 days in any other “in force” insurance policy – and that the buying power of “X” members ensures the best rates in the country?  Well, possibly, but the “X” was nearly 2X what the website for that organization shows as members.  I question where the figure originated since, again, this is misinformation for the insurance-buyer-investor who might be relying on those comments.  This expert is not in the field of insurance and should not be relied upon for that lack of understanding; all investors/buyers should look around and ask questions.  When that expert also downplays the delinquency risk of an investment, I wonder why 90 days vacancy is so important.  I worked in credit so I know this is a significant risk to any investor and one should NOT discount it when encouraging others to buy real estate as an investment – this is WRONG!  If there was never a delinquency risk and/or vacancy risk, would not every real estate investor be a millionaire and be driving up the value of real estate even further by wanting to outbid one another?

Following a phone call with a prospective client, I was surprised to hear that someone had researched the group plan and commented to me about the weaknesses in that policy.  Does everyone else research in this manner?  I know that most people don’t – having recently seen information from an insurance company that indicated nearly 25% of all commercial insurance buyers ask their lawyer or accountant for insurance information!  What accountant or lawyer will know as much about insurance as he/she should?  I don’t know any who don’t rely on an insurance professional friend for the answers because that is not their level of training and expertise.

I also had my eyes opened by a property manager I know; she didn’t realize that Tenants’ Vandalism could be purchased on Rental Units.  That individual commented on a Social Media site to the effect that damage by tenants could never be insured and this is absolutely wrong.  I have learned, with experience, to never say never in this business.  Many times, coverage can be bought – for a price!  Because I emphasize risk and discuss appetite for risk vs. risk transfer with clientele, I do understand what clients need and ensure they understand deductibles and risk retention on any investment of theirs.

Would you not prefer to deal with someone who represents your investment interests by knowing what you need, someone with a career in the financial services industry from banking to lending to insurance?  I have personal experience working with credit risk and currency risk; I’ve consulted with lenders and approved the compliance of insurance policies with loan agreements. 

As an insurance broker with a large and reputable brokerage, I can buy insurance for you – the right coverage for your individual needs – from most of the country’s insurance sources and I have the training of a recognized Risk Management program.  You need to put your faith and trust in someone who will represent you, in good faith, to be as professional as your accountant and lawyer!  Let’s talk!  I can be reached on Twitter @WRiskManager

Employment Law, Wrongful Termination/Dismissal & Employment Practices Liability Insurance

August 7, 2013

Often, writing a blog can be very challenging.  What should I blog about?  So, I procrastinate – doesn’t everyone when a task seems tedious?  This time, however, I have to admit that I can hardly wait to write – just trying to arrange my thoughts in an orderly fashion so you will better understand me.

An opportunity arose during this past year whereby a client purchased, upon our advice, an insurance policy for Directors’ & Officers’ Liability (D&O) AND Employment Practices Liability (EPL) – a very wise decision.  Why?  Well, first I’ll explain that a wonderful online acquaintance of mine, a legal expert whose sole practice is devoted to Employment Law, tells me that “defending any claim will easily involve tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees” so I have been targeting those businesses who can least afford this type of event taking place, small to medium sized incorporated entities. 

Now, it is time for me to tell you about my client.  The employer/owner, upon seeing a long-term employee abuse his trust, stealing inventory from him, decided to suspend the employee until all circumstances were properly investigated, documented and, seemingly, took adequate steps to terminate or dismiss that employee.  Guess what?!  The employee met with legal counsel and has now presented his former employer/my client with a lawsuit for $100,000!  YES, that’s right – the former employee is now suing for Wrongful Dismissal/Termination for this shocking amount.

How many of you business-owners could continue to operate your firms if faced with this type of lawsuit?  Even if the case is dismissed, how many of you can afford the “tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees” you might face?  Will your bankers be happy if you have to use your lines of credit or approach them for additional financing?  As a former banker, you might not actually be able to obtain affordable credit for a request of this sort or you may be in violation of loan agreements where you already have, in place, approved lines of credit should you lose a suit for this amount and lack adequate liquid capital.

Let me further explain a few additional details.  The client is typical of many or most small businesses that I know, having fewer than 20-25 employees, no legal counsel on retainer (how many of us do?), inadequate Human Resources personnel/training to handle situations like this, slim operating margins AND be aware that they can AFFORDABLY purchase insurance to protect against a potential claim of this sort.  There is a time limit to respond to a legal suit or you will be found to be guilty and how many of you know of proper legal counsel – assuming you don’t have insurance of this kind – who can, adequately, defend you?

What do I mean by “affordably”?  Let me run some examples for you Accountants!  In many cases I can prepare for you within two minutes through an online portal to one of my exceptional insurance carriers for this class of business.

#1 – Company with $500,000 Annual Revenues, 4 Full-time Employees in Canada, $1,000,000 D&O, $500,000 EPL – ANNUAL COST $840 + PST;

#2 – Company with $3,000,000 Annual Revenue, 12 Full-time Employees in Canada, 1 Full-time Employee in USA, $1,000,000 D&O, $1,000,000 EPL – ANNUAL COST $1,470 + PST;

#3 – Company with $5,000,000 Annual Revenue, 10 Full-time Employees in Canada, 3 Full-time Employees in USA, $2,000,000 D&O, $1,000,000 EPL – ANNUAL COST $2,228 + PST;

#4 – Company with $30,000,000 Annual Sales, 25 F/T Employees in Canada, 5 F/T Employees in USA, $3,000,000 D&O, $2,000,000 EPL – ANNUAL COST $4,620 + PST;

#5 – Company with $50,000,000 Annual Sales, 75 F/T Employees in Canada, $5,000,000 D&O, $3,000,000 EPL – ANNUAL COST $8,125 + PST

These examples are only that – we will still need to verify some information to ensure a firm qualifies but, when comparing the annual cost vs the “tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees” (provided you don’t lose a lawsuit), it is easy to see why I believe this insurance protection is now affordably priced for any incorporated business.

Can you sleep easier at night by investing two minutes in following-up with me?  I can be reached easily by e-mail – larryewinsurance@gmail.com

Social Media and its impact on your business and mine!

October 26, 2012

Coming through one of my busiest seasons in several years offers some unique insights as I continually review what I do correctly and analyze how to improve.  Does Social Media have any impact on the “why” I have been successful recently?  YES, unequivocally! 

 

What I see, however, are people who want value but expect to pay the lowest insurance premiums for what they buy, meaning they usually obtain less than they want.  Unfortunately, what is so easily forgotten is that there are many differences between insurance policies and that cost should only be 1 factor!  What else should be considered?  How do “you” determine who you should be buying from and what you should be buying?  Do you like the salesperson or do you “trust” the individual advising you?  What should be important to you, believing the provider of your coverage or asking questions and evaluating the honesty and integrity and knowledge of that person?  How should you evaluate that person and the professionalism exhibited?    

 

One new client asked that I quote a second insurance policy because he valued my opinions.  What he didn’t know (and, apparently, hadn’t been explained by his prior insurance broker) was that the insurance company he is insured through increased his premium when he purchased the building from the previous owner.  This was due to the added risk that his “operating” business, as a tenant in the building, had on the property’s insurance. 

 

What value did I offer to this client?  We discussed Risk Management to reduce his potential for any insurance claim and also various deductibles, necessary and optional coverage, etc. to lower his insurance premiums.  I found many other insurance companies did not want to quote the building insurance and suggested that he be happy with what he had and he appointed me the broker for his business.  Knowing he will implement some of my suggestions will permit our brokerage to shop his renewal in subsequent years and maintain lower pricing for his insurance, a win-win for both of us. 

 

As for his “operation”, isn’t it nice that I can promote his business through my own online activities?  When my competition is reluctant to have an online presence on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest – well, how many of your customers or potential customers are using Social Media now?  Wouldn’t you like to connect with them or have someone, maybe a business partner, promote you to other businesses, increasing your sales and profit?

 

As an insurance broker, I know there are major differences between the “intermediaries” (insurance salespeople) and not just insurance companies and policies.  Offering my various and large online networks should assist you, especially in comparison with my competitors who are not online in any manner.  Additionally, I try to find information of importance and interest to you and disseminate in a timely manner so that you understand the many opportunities and various risks you are or may face in your business at the present time or in the near future.

 

Some of these risks include Occupational Health & Safety, Employment Practices, Human Rights Legislation, Business Continuity Planning, etc.  I am on the mailing lists of various law firms, consultants and governments, agencies and regulators to help you!  Some of these issues may involve insurance but many may only, indirectly, due to the changing environment concerning “risk”.  Imagine using contract workers, for example.  What if the employment agency doesn’t submit EI or W/T?  Do you know you can be held responsible, individually?  What can you do to avoid this?  Should you purchase additional insurance protection to cover in the event of something like this? 

 

Let’s talk!  If your insurance provider is not offering suitable professional assistance to you, maybe you need to make an immediate change?!

Errors & Omission (E&O) or Malpractice (Professional Liability) Insurance

October 26, 2012

Attending a seminar is always of value to me, even if I don’t receive “continuing education credits” (in this case, I did and it is a necessary part of my annual license renewal as an insurance broker) but there are many times I choose to attend seminars, webinars, etc. for general knowledge and the amount of information that is available online is phenomenal so why not use what I can to learn more and share with my clientele?

 

On this particular occasion, however, I attended one, in person, and was lucky enough to see several people I’ve known for many years and, subsequently, had a chance to converse with some of them.  What I find strange, though, is that insurance companies should truly understand the broker audience they have and relate to them.  To talk about products that are so far above the level of knowledge of the broker audience and then suggest that those brokers should be submitting that type of business is not just ridiculous but amazing. 

 

I was asked a question by one of my many online friends to define “good customer service” and I used the above situation to enable me to respond.  Why?  The questioner was a paralegal and the type of product discussed at the seminar was Errors & Omissions (E&O) Liability Insurance which most of the insurance broker audience will rarely sell so how much knowledge and experience will that salesperson truly have?  I have many clients who need and buy E&O and we shop the various markets for them to locate the best available coverage and pricing.  These clients range from Property Managers to Environmental Consultants to Contractors, Manufacturers, Alarm Installers, Bio-Tech, Business Continuity Planners, etc. and you can now see the wide range of my expertise.   

 

Someone once told me that the greatest reason for seeing a “malpractice” (errors/omissions) suit/claim is that YOU aren’t meeting a client’s expectations!  How many businesses set, as their business goal, to “meet or exceed the customer’s expectations”?  Well, it is obvious to me that there is a gaping discrepancy here and it is not because “we” aren’t, in many cases, doing “our jobs” but understanding what the client anticipated being delivered.  AND, the big item to remember is that anyone can sue for this (whether any of us are truly guilty or not) and legal defense costs mount very quickly! 

 

That is the reason for so many lawsuits in the areas of Professional Liability – we all think we know what is best for the client but there is a complete breakdown in communication between what our clients want, expect and what we are delivering!  This is why it is imperative that “we” buy Errors & Omissions (E&O) Liability Insurance because just imagine the cost a lawyer will bill you when you feel you are innocent and he still needs to defend you in a court of law.  How many hours of work will be necessary to spend on your file (and invoice you for)?  What is the going rate for a good lawyer in this specialized area of law? 

 

I hate to say that E&O insurance premiums are significantly lower but…isn’t it time for us to now discuss?

Looking for a true business partner who is interested in helping YOU succeed?

October 25, 2012

When navigating Highway 401 recently, I thought about work.  For me, this is easy and I soon forgot about the stresses of rush hour traffic on a Friday evening.  Driving 350 kms to visit my wife’s family, knowing that I’m going to enjoy a weekend feast fit for a king, also helped; anyone who knows me knows my appreciation of good food accompanied by some fine wine.

 

I can identify almost anything with the business of Risk Management and I saw many drivers who were distracted, inattentive to the point that if I was a member of our “illustrious men in blue”, it would have been so very easy to ticket drivers for violations other than speeding.  Glancing, as a defensive driver, makes it easy to see what vehicles I should avoid – the drivers who tend to stare at their laps instead of the “stop and go” traffic indicated to me that someone is paying closer attention to an electronic device (maybe a Blackberry?) or similar item.  Yes, I did see several drivers looking down for extended periods of time instead of through the windshield.

 

But that is not the reason for writing this.  I realized the last while that I have not been blogging and this has me wondering why?  To begin with, I don’t have a shortage of ideas – on the contrary, I have an abundance of thoughts that could be written about.  So what is my problem?  Is it time management?  I know that I need to set aside time – each day – to write for just a few minutes.  But this is the key item here!  Tweeting and posting to G+, FB, LI, etc. a lead-in to my blog takes much more time than just authoring the original article.  Pinterest is a fabulous tool but, somehow, I need to use it to increase my online visibility even more.  My “learning” about Social Media seems to be the true obstacle but I hope a manageable one that I will overcome in the very near future. 

 

I work with Canada’s “oldest insurance brokerage” but the 21st century brings so many opportunities that I need to relate how to use these technologies in my own business – identify my Vision, develop niches and work with those people and businesses who want my specialized skills and training to reduce their “total cost of risk”, not just their insurance premiums for this year but the risks of operating their business for the short and long term.  I live and work in “Canada’s Technology Triangle” and this means that my own knowledge and training has been focused on IT, Start-Ups and cutting-edge business ideas from Life Sciences to Bio-Tech and Environmental Industries.

 

If you think you have a business that is leading in your field, let’s discuss!  I will work with you to determine what your expectations of an insurance broker may be but also identify areas in which I can assist you with increasing your sales, profits and value.  Isn’t this what you really want from all your business partners? 

 

As an insurance broker/risk manager, I will be your partner because I don’t earn any income/profit from you if you don’t succeed!  As a business partner with you, we both derive benefit – mutual and beneficial, and isn’t this the best way to work with each other?

 

Addressing Reputation Risk, Handling Media and What If?

May 2, 2012

Recently, something came to my attention that I just wanted, desperately, to write about – media and reputation. 

This is an issue that could easily be headlined differently – something really catchy but…I won’t be drawn into what I remember once as media’s goal of shocking its audience to draw attention to an article (yes, I know that a larger audience and readership equates to greater profitability, even with blogging) but I’m not a reporter or editor – only an insurance broker/risk management consultant.  Because my purpose is to educate, however, I will better explain my choice of titles and topics below.

Gay Pornography – does that now catch your attention?  I didn’t wish to headline this article as such but could have easily included in my title since that is how this article came about.  I’m sorry for my version of shock tactics but there was an incident that took place where gay pornography was being broadcast, errantly, in place of regular television programming.  I don’t know if 3 minutes is an accurate amount of time but some media reported it as such – during a cable company’s daytime broadcast schedule (apparently, this was not the fault of the television station but that is still to be determined).  Now that I have explained, let’s commence with my purpose.

Why do I wish to write about this topic or, for that matter, reputation?  Well, I know how difficult it may be to avoid any and every risk in life – it is not reasonable or practical (though I did have a client who, for many years, described himself as “risk averse” and I still continue to wonder how his business remains profitable and expanding, if he truly is reluctant to assume any risk in business). 

What I want to highlight is how reputation and media risk can be handled differently by various individuals or businesses.  The incident that came to my attention did pique my Risk Management curiosity, especially when I read where a similar event like the above recently occurred, in another locale, and was curtailed in a very short timeframe (I read 30 seconds!). 

Did someone, as we say, fall asleep at the switch?  Was the system hacked into?  How could this have taken so long for anyone, working, to notice?  Was there negligence by an employee and/or management?  How will broadcast authorities now respond?  What about the audience?  What feedback will be caused and will there be financial losses due to advertiser(s) being upset and choosing other forms of marketing?  Will the advertiser(s) see adverse feedback from their own customers and, if so, will they seek recourse for financial and reputation claims from the cable broadcaster and/or television station?  You will now see that Risk Management entails a lot of questions – not all have simple responses but require considerable thought, contemplation and planning for what we all hope will never occur.

Let’s imagine any business facing a catastrophe of any kind and then how one is to address the media onslaught (did I forget to mention that the above happening was reported almost instantaneously, online?).  This should be the single most important lesson to be learned by my writing about this.  In somewhat recent local history that I recall, a manufacturer had a disgruntled employee enter the work premises, armed, and subsequently shot some co-workers, injuring and killing people.  Immediately, there occurred bedlam, media frenzy, with the police and emergency personnel responding.  Have you heard of Twitter and Google +?  Imagine your company’s name being mentioned negatively hundreds of thousands of times in a matter of minutes on Social Media! 

By having a plan of action, you could be prepared for the adverse publicity created by such an event and neutralize or maybe even generate positive attention by being pro-active in your management of such an unlikely but potential calamity.

Another incident a number of years ago was the situation with Tylenol.  The manner in which they addressed it – let me remind you that there will always be significant costs associated with any choice in your plan of action – was unique at that time and may now form the template for proactively handling similar events.  Your reputation should be the most important issue when deciding how your company will appear, following the public’s scrutiny and review, and Tylenol did exactly that – they considered their Brand and the value it had.  This will determine your overall future profitability!  You will need to assess the financial and non-financial damage which could impact lender lines of credit, regulatory agencies, sales by competitors, etc.  If you don’t agree that your reputation is of paramount importance in any decision you make or don’t choose to make then why not brand yourself generically?

By planning for the unknown (and, hopefully, what won’t ever take place), one must decide who the best professionals will be and take the necessary steps to devise a plan of action, in conjunction with your senior management personnel, accounting and legal professionals, PR experts, insurance providers, etc.  Why not let me assist you in determining who is best suited to assist your business?  I work with many key professionals who I gladly recommend in the fields of expertise they operate and I work in conjunction with them.

Thinking “Outside the Box”

November 15, 2010

Having just completed my President’s Message (Guild of Industrial, Commercial & Institutional Accountants) for the Christmas Season (yes, it is early – at least for me, I don’t try to think about Christmas until December), I decided to digest this week’s numerous events.

I heard an excellent presentation by Faith Seekings at the Toronto Chapter of CIM’s AGM (for anyone who doesn’t know, CIM is the Canadian Institute of Management) with whom I am fortunate to be connected by LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, as well as personally. I highly recommend her for anyone looking to synchronize their marketing efforts to show some level of uniformity from a website to business cards to stationery, brochures and corporate image.

Yesterday, I also heard someone whom I have wanted to see in person for awhile, now – Wolfgang Jaksch – and the introduction by MediConsult of their new iMRS which will be available in North America in early 2011. My wife has been treated by a health professional with the current MRS offering and I try to keep an open mind concerning anything in life so that “electro-magnetic resonance” is, obviously, something I want to know more about. Wolf even ended his presentation with an introduction to a new online “health network” – www.wellaxy.com – and I wish to promote this site for good health and health-related exchanges of information.

What else is happening, from a business standpoint? It seems that my best month for new business in 9 years (yes, September was amazing) has been the catalyst for some “good luck”, though hard work seems to be the oxygen that ignited the flame. I have been attempting to close a deal for a home builder and was introduced to a realtor who also has need of commercial insurance. Then another home builder and I spoke about insuring “common elements” for a condo complex they are constructing – seems that their insurance broker may not have known it possible to insure (what other reason for the lack of service since it took them so long to provide a reply).

One account on which I have been working has added 6 other properties to insure and a former small business client of mine has asked me to quote on his business again. Recently, I insured a flea market booth for a long-time acquaintance of mine who then proceeded to provide me with a directory of listings to assist me in my solicitation efforts. Another source of business referred prospective clients to me, a new business associate has asked me to work with her on some clients and a member of the Guild of ICIA & CIM has asked me to prepare a quote for a new business of his.

Whether it be general commercial property/liability, commercial auto, Directors’ & Officers’ Liability, Builder’s Risk, Liquor Liability, Group Home/Auto or something as unique as “franchises”, “student rooming houses”, “hot dog carts”, “chip wagons” or Specialized Liability (including Product Recall and Errors & Omissions), I am ready to discuss with you.

My spreadsheet of activity for 2011 is quite substantial – including “hot” files and “cold” files that I hope to move into the warmer category during the next year. What is the reason for much of this activity and confidence? In the past, I felt that I needed to quote “apples to apples”, even if I did not agree with the coverage and deductibles. With limited markets available, it meant that I was unable to provide suitable quotes to a prospect to enable the closing of a deal. Now, our carriers are numerous – enabling us to offer reduced premiums and better coverage in most cases, allowing me to provide terms that I feel are the best for the client’s long-term insurance needs.

Why should a client have low deductibles ($500 or $1,000) if the business is most suited to $5,000 or $10,000 (or higher) deductible – yes, premiums will be lower but the client will not be faced with considering his/her filing a small claim that might mean a policy being non-renewed or having terms amended and fewer insurance companies wanting to insure that client. As the client’s “risk manager”, I might be making the decision but am expert enough to realize it is in the best interest of that client. That is a big difference, the difference from prior packaging and presentation. Confident, yes! But better yet, experienced and certain – not thinking inside old parameters but “outside the box”.