Obtaining loss runs
Service unlocks loss-run data
By Dave Willis
Jim Gilmore says the single biggest problem many agents face in quoting commercial business is obtaining loss runs or, for that matter, finding where to order them in the first place. But that’s not just Jim’s opinion. A carrier he worked for surveyed its agents, and that’s the answer that came back. “Agents spend an unbelievable amount of time trying to get this information,” says Gilmore, whose job (while with the carrier) was helping agents boost production.
While most carriers are eager to comply with loss run requests, Gilmore says, the process for obtaining them is confusing and complicated. Plus agents or brokers currently servicing accounts have no incentive to offer assistance. And clients tend to get turned off quickly if they must do extra work for another quote.
So Gilmore decided he’d try to solve the loss-run procurement problem. Four years ago, he ventured out on his own and formed a company called ATIN for small business LLC. Early last year, he launched MyLossRuns, a service designed to automate the process of—and remove barriers to—getting loss runs.
Since the service went live, he’s had a chance to learn even more about agency challenges. “We asked customers how long it takes from cold-call to permission-to-quote for $50,000 and below accounts,” Gilmore says. “It averaged between five months and three years.” Then he asked the easiest way to dissolve a prospecting relationship. “Overwhelmingly it was to contact the prospect two times or more looking for loss runs,” he adds.
Bobbie Thomas, senior account manager at Torrance, California-based Nickerson Insurance Services, agrees. “We often get stuck and can’t proceed because we don’t have loss runs,” she says. “The more you badger a prospect, the more they put you off. It’s easier for them to deal with an existing agent; they don’t have to do as much work.”
In addition to these challenges, many agents and brokers find the standard process of obtaining loss runs to be downright painful. Traditionally, a producer or CSR would use a word processing program to create customer letterhead, cut and paste a form letter onto it (hoping it passed legal muster), find and type in client and policy information, identify proper carriers and figure out appropriate addresses, print the letter, send or deliver it to the prospect for signature, mail it off to the carrier, diary the correspondence for follow-up, and then pray. Often, those prayers fell on deaf ears, and a second or third request was needed.
Losing loss run hassles
According to Gilmore, MyLossRuns eliminates virtually all of that work. “We checked state rules and laws and found a way to force carriers to comply with loss run requests 100% of the time,” he says. And he automated the process so, as he puts it, “an eighth grader could use the system.”
The system automatically defaults to each state’s requirement. Using a series of pull-down menus, agents and brokers can easily create customer letterhead—the system even offers logos for different business types—and enter policy or client information. Again, using drop-down menus, users select the carrier from a list of, as Gilmore puts it, “every single loss run desk throughout America,” and create an official letter that meets state regulatory requirements.
Thomas was skeptical when she first heard of the service. “My first thought was, well, this isn’t legal,” she says. She knew the amount of work required to get loss runs. More than that, she knew the labyrinth of regulatory requirements.
She went through an initial training conference call, something Gilmore’s firm offers every day, and gave the service a try. “My first time out, I created and sent a letter that didn’t even have the client’s name on it,” she says. “It had my name and the client’s initials, exactly as the instructions said, signed with the authorization of the insured. On the next day, I got my loss run.”
Thomas found it worked like a charm even with a carrier known for being difficult to deal with—one that routinely ignored requests if something was amiss and one that required numerous follow-up calls. “In the letter, I requested loss runs, x-mod worksheets and the inspection report,” she says. “Within three or four days, everything was there.” And Thomas was able to get a quote in a timely manner.
Agents and brokers benefit
According to Gilmore, any of the nearly 18,000 agents and brokers who use the MyLossRuns service benefit, even if they don’t write the policy right out of the gate. That’s because information entered is available for use in future years, with little more than the click of a mouse. “Each user has a prospect vault and an insured vault,” he says. “Anyone you’ve ordered a loss run on—whether last year, yesterday or this morning—is in your vault. If you don’t bind coverage the first time around—and it’s very common that you won’t—you can access it again.”
The new request defaults to the new date, but that can be changed. “Sometimes users have more prospects to contact on a given day than they have manpower for, or perhaps a producer has a vacation planned for the request date,” Gilmore says. “They simply go in and pre-date or post-date requests, and leave them on an assistant’s desk to send out on a particular date. It’s set up to make a producer’s life—and work—easier.”
Fred Dick, owner of Fred L. Dick Insurance Services, a two-person agency based in Livermore, California, agrees the service makes life better for agents. “It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread,” he says, unashamedly. “It makes ordering loss runs easy.” Dick handles all of the commercial lines business in the agency, so he knows first-hand the struggles that come with getting prospect claims information. The product works as designed, he says. “Rarely do I have to do a second request.”
Ease of doing business leads to more business, he believes. “Because the success in receiving loss histories is much greater, I’m able to get a lot more quotes through. It definitely increases your numbers.”
Dick, who has owned his agency for 28 years and was one of MyLossRuns’ first clients, says the system was easy to learn. “Agents generally already understand what information is needed to get loss histories. This just makes it very easy.”
Thomas says it freed her up to focus on more important things—like making money. “I have only so many hours in a day,” she says. “If I don’t have to hassle with loss runs, I can market more and handle the service end of the business.” In the few months she’s been using the service, Thomas says she’s been able to round accounts—sell more to existing clients—and is lining up new business prospects, too.
More than just loss runs
Gilmore’s All Things Insurance Network offers more than just loss runs. Customized Illness & Injury Prevention Program Manuals and OSHA Log services are also part of the mix, available as stand-alone products or, more often, as a free benefit to users of the MyLossRuns service.
And more is on the horizon. He’s been asked by customers to explore how they might be able to access the loss run service directly from their agency management systems. He’s met with some vendors and expects to pursue further discussion on ways that such integration might occur.
He’s also in the process of launching other modules, as he calls them, to help agents better manage various aspects of their business. One of these focuses on agency prospecting and marketing efforts, building on a database he has containing some two million businesses, using a letter-based system not unlike the one that drives the MyLossRuns module. Others address markets, quoting, and claims tracking.
They’re all part of Gilmore’s goal of addressing several of the challenges that agents and brokers face in growing their commercial business. *
For more information:
ATIN for small business LLC
Web site: www.allthingsinsurance.net
Web site: www.mylossruns.com
Dave Willis is a freelance business, insurance and technology writer and a regular contributor to Rough Notes magazine.