How an Agent Can Go From a Vendor to a Trusted Advisor


My goal in these articles is to create a dialogue among agents and insurance buyers about the differences between being a vendor and becoming a trusted advisor. This concept starts with how insurance is viewed. Insurance cannot be viewed as a product, but rather a relationship. Insurance buyers need to understand that the insurance relationship consists of the agent, the buyer, and the insurer. The insurer does not really care about the buyer; they offer a set of products. The agent is the one who should care about the buyer, and develop a relationship through education, not selling.

You will not move from a vendor to trusted advisor overnight. Here are the stages: vendor, credible source, problem solver, then trusted advisor.
What Are the steps an agent should consider?

• Understand the needs of your client
• Know your client’s industry
• Be willing to do some work without compensation
• Stop selling and do more educating
• Develop other contacts within the business
• Be willing to evaluate business processes
• Don’t assume insurance holds all the answers
• Ask your client to allow you access to information
• Help them identify emerging issues and needs of their business and industry
“The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.” – Henry Ford

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How To Keep Your Church From Burring Up

Firemen at work on fire

Every church has the risk of having a fire. But the good news is that the likelihood of having a fire at your business can be reduced through action you can take.

Having the right kind of business insurance is very important to every business, because you rely on business insurance to protect your assets in the event of a fire, theft or other loss. In 2015, there were over 344,000 commercial fires which caused 3,275 deaths and over 11,600,000,000 of damage. (FEMA Report)

Here are some actions you can take that may reduce the severity of a loss if and when a loss does occur. This is a good checklist for you to review annually.

  • Test smoke detectors monthly
  • Check fire doors. They are not permitted to be propped open by wedges or any other temporary device.
  • If you have an automatic sprinkler system in place, this will provide primary fire protection for your business.
  • Best practices for fire safety is for smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on every floor. Your best option are multipurpose extinguishers.
  • Make sure nonessential electrical equipment is turned off at the end of the workday.
  • Are all exits clearly defined and visible?
  • Keep exits unlocked during business hours.
  • Be sure the area directly around the sprinkler head is free of obstructions. Move any items that are stored within about a foot and a half from the sprinklers.
  • Require spills of flammable or combustible liquids and hazardous materials to be cleaned up promptly.
  • All exit doors should be able to be opened from the direction of exit travel without the use of a key or any special knowledge or effort.
  • Are your employees familiar with the firefighting equipment of your business?
  • Have a safe assembly point for employees outside the building.
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Your Employees Driving Record Can Damage Your Ministry’s Reputation

A Ministry Insurance Review

When an employee gets into an accident while driving a company vehicle, there are many implications for your business. Depending on the accident an employee’s CDL can be suspended, canceled or revoked.

Employers are often caught in the middle especially if the employee in question has a good track record.

What Can Employers Do To Protect Their Business?

  • Establish guidelines for reporting major violations
  • Develop a company policy regarding driving accident and violations
  • Check MVRs annually
  • Develop a company policy for “occasional” drivers (for example, office employees who may drive to the bank or post office during the course of their work.)
  • Complete a thorough background check on al potential employees
  • Institute radium drug testing of all employees.
  • Provide driver training programs
  • Develop guidelines for the use of personally owned vehicles on company behalf.

Whether your company needs to purchase Commercial Auto Insurance on one vehicle or a fleet, there are solutions for you. We understand you may have questions regarding Commercial Automobile Insurance and we are ready to help you.

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Planning a Summer Construction Project?

Is your church starting a construction project this spring? Make sure you have the insurance protection you need. A traditional liability policy provides coverage for people injured on construction sites, but there are risks associated with construction projects that require special insurance. CMI can help you review all insurance and contract documents, callus today.

What you need to know

  • Standard church insurance policies don’t cover new construction.
  • Before a project begins, either you or the contractor must purchase builder’s risk coverage to insure the new building or addition during the construction phase.
  • Clarify in writing who’s responsible for insuring the building while it’s being constructed.
  • After the project is completed or occupancy begins, you’ll want to cancel the builder’s risk coverage and endorse the building onto your policy.
  • Get a certificate of insurance if you are requiring the contractor to carry insurance.

Some common claim examples include:

  • Rain causes exposed wood floors to warp and crack.
  • Wind damage to walls that are not secure.
  • Workers drop windows while installing.
  • Thieves target valuable construction materials, like copper pipes.
  • Church member overloads equipment in the truck.
  • Fires do far more damage to an unfinished building than one with fire prevention systems in place.

Before a project begins, either you or the contractor must purchase builder’s risk coverage to insure the new building or addition during the construction phase. Brotherhood Mutual offers a Builder’s Risk endorsement which covers unfinished buildings and the construction materials on construction sites.

Contact CMI today to add this coverage to your policy. Not a Brotherhood Mutual customer yet? Contact us and we’ll help you get connected.

 

 

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How To Prepare Your Church For Summer Interns

Many churches offer college students the opportunity to hold a summer intern position. These can be rewarding for the college student as well as provide some help to the business. Offering paid or non-paid internships can create risk for your business. We wanted to highlight some of the business risks associated with having interns. Before you bring that person on board, make sure your business is well prepared.


• You should have a written plan. It should include a job description, hours, and line of authority.
• Check to see if there are any state regulations that might be impacted.
• If you offer a paid internship, you will need to treat the intern like any other employee. We suggest having a formal agreement indemnifying the terms of the agreement, including the time period of the internship.
• If the internship is a paid position, don’t forget about workers’ compensation.
• Make sure you comply with Healthcare Reform relating to employee benefits.
• Make sure the intern understands they are not entitled to “regular” company benefits, i.e. retirement, insurance, vacation, etc.
• The internship must provide similar training that would be given in an educational environment.
• There must be a “true” benefit for the intern.
• The internship cannot be for the sole benefit of the company.
• The intern must not replace regular employees, and should work under the close supervision of existing staff.
• Unpaid internships for for-profit companies are subject to the U.S.

Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act. There are provisions if you offer educational credit. Here is a link to the U.S. Department of Labor.
We recommend you check with the department of labor to make sure your program meets all of the requirements. There have been many businesses who have been sued as a result of improper internship programs.

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A Ministry Guide to Earthquake Insurance

Earthquakes occur almost every day in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. Most are not large enough to cause damage, but sooner or later a big one will hit. The resulting damage, loss of life, and the impact on our economy could be devastating. Many businesses may not even give earthquake insurance much thought, but if you are in the process of business planning or working through your renewal, earthquake insurance may be wise to consider.

Why You Need Earthquake Insurance

  • Your business policy does not cover damage caused by earthquakes. You must either purchase an earthquake coverage endorsement or purchase a separate policy for earthquake insurance.
  • You can’t count on the federal government to help.

What Earthquake Insurance Can Insure

  • Buildings
  • Business personal property
  • Loss of Business Income
  • Earthquake Sprinkler Leakage
  • Betterment or Repairs required by local ordinance or law

We recommend every business complete a short risk assessment that can include the following questions:

  1. Do you operate in a high risk area?
  2. What would your potential loss be?
  3. Do you have resources to repair or re-build if there is damage?
  4. Can you minimize the loss through building retrofits or additional construction?
  5. What is the cost of insurance?

If you do purchase earthquake insurance, you’ll probably want to buy enough to cover the costs of rebuilding your building and replacing damaged personal property. That means the amount of insurance you buy generally should be based on replacement or reconstruction costs and not the current market value.

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Communication…Key to Your Business Success

Smiling female boss promoting rewarding handshaking motivated worker showing respect while team applauding congratulating colleague at group meeting, appreciation and employee recognition concept

Communication is the single most important part of any relationship–including business relationships. Effective communication is so important for organizational success that not only managers, but also employees must have good communication skills. Here are a few quick tips on how to improve your business communication:

  1. Focus on the situation, not the person. Don’t attack the person’s character, but deal with the issues.
  2. Don’t group people. If one person is violating company policy, manage that person, not the people who are following the rules.
  3. Communicate expectations. Clearly share your expectations with your employees. That way there are clear expectations with no misunderstandings.
  4. Be a good listener. Remain silent, keep eye contact and watch non-verbal behavior.
  5. Share the success.  People will work harder and smarter if they know how the work they are doing contributes to an end result.

Effective communication skills in the workplace will improve your ability to be a strong leader. These tips for improving workplace communication can be implemented and perfected by anyone. Take an honest look at your own communication skills, and then choose one of the above to improve upon.

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” – Mark Twain

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How To Celebrate July Fourth Safely

Fireworks during the Fourth of July are as American as apple-pie, but did you know that two out of five fires reported on that day are started by fireworks, more than for any other cause? So you think it cannot happen to you? Here are a few facts:

In 2018 over 9,800 people went to the emergency room as a result of fireworks related injuries. There were an estimated 15,700 reported fires started by fireworks. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported deaths, and $32 million in direct property damage. This is why it is a good idea to have a free home insurance review and quote, call us today!

Fireworks Safety Tips

  • Buy fireworks only from licensed vendors
  • Never combine fireworks
  • Obey all local laws
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting
  • Follow directions
  • Never relight a firework
  • Don’t smoke or drink while lighting fireworks
  • Soak used fireworks in water before placing in trash 
  • Make sure there is parental supervision
  • Never experiment with homemade fireworks
  • Use fireworks outdoors, in a safe area away from dry grass and buildings
  • Keep a fire extinguisher, bucket of water, wet towels and a garden hose nearby
  • Light one firework at a time – then move back quickly!
  • Never shoot fireworks from metal or glass containers
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket
  • Never point or throw fireworks at people or animals
  • Clean up all used fireworks including debris

 “Fireworks and celebrations go together, especially during the Fourth of July and year end celebrations. Remember, fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries. You can help us prevent fireworks-related injuries and deaths” Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Enjoy the holiday; we live in a great country, happy birthday America!

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How To Prepare Your Church For Summer Interns

Many churches offer college students the opportunity to hold a summer intern position. These can be rewarding for the college student as well as provide some help to the business. Offering paid or non-paid internships can create risk for your ministry. We wanted to highlight some of the business risks associated with having interns. Before you bring that person on board, make sure your business is well prepared.

  • You should have a written plan. It should include a job description, hours, and line of authority.
  • Check to see if there are any state regulations that might be impacted.
  • If you offer a paid internship, you will need to treat the intern like any other employee. We suggest having a formal agreement indemnifying the terms of the agreement, including the time period of the internship.
  • If the internship is a paid position, don’t forget about workers’ compensation.
  • Make sure you comply with Healthcare Reform relating to employee benefits.
  • Make sure the intern understands they are not entitled to “regular” company benefits, i.e.  retirement, insurance, vacation, etc.
  • The internship must provide similar training that would be given in an educational environment.
  • There must be a “true” benefit for the intern.
  • The internship cannot be for the sole benefit of the company.
  • The intern must not replace regular employees, and should work under the close supervision of existing staff.
  • Unpaid internships for for-profit companies are subject to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act. There are provisions if you offer educational credit. Here is a link to the U.S. Department of Labor.

We recommend you check with the department of labor to make sure your program meets all of the requirements. There have been many businesses who have been sued as a result of improper internship programs.

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Church Insurance

Property Insurance

When your ministry’s property is damaged, destroyed, lost, or stolen, your ministry suffers financially and in other ways. Brotherhood Mutual’s property insurance offers protection for physical items—from songbooks to steeples.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance fills the gaps and protects your ministry’s people and finances. Brotherhood Mutual offers a wide variety of liability coverage options to help safeguard your organization from the unique risks Christian ministries face.

Excess Liability Insurance

Churches and related ministries aren’t immune to legal action, or the millions of dollars in damages that courts are known to award. That’s why Brotherhood Mutual offers optional excess liability coverage to provide an ‘umbrella’ of protection over your ministry’s primary liability coverages—general, vehicle, and employers’ liability coverage.

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