The Hard Insurance Market – What to do?

“The hard insurance market is hurting me, but what can I do?

I can’t make it go away!”  We’ve heard this and other similar messages of frustration from brokerage CEOs across Canada. While it’s true you can’t make the hard insurance market go away, your burnt-out team members are looking to you as their leader to do something to ease the pain.

Let’s start by defining the problem. This version of a hard insurance market is like no other. Here’s what its face looks like to us:

  • Long duration
  • Large rate increases
  • Capacity limitations
  • Non-renewals
  • Extremely short notice, leaving brokers insufficient time to remarket
  • Company demands for exhaustive underwriting information
  • Brokerage frontline team frustration because they can’t help their clients
  • Inexperienced underwriters who are unable to explain underwriting decisions
  • Frustrated clients
  • Loss of underwriting knowledge & ability due to retirement
  • Insurance companies experiencing exceptionally positive financial results

We see the hard market having 7 points of impact on brokers:

  • Brokerage staff emotional wellbeing
  • Insurance industry reputation and brand
  • Staff recruiting & retention
  • Client retention
  • Real organic growth
  • Independent brokers’ market share
  • Broker-insurer relationships

Given that brokers can’t make the hard market go away, just what can you, as CEO of the brokerage do about it? There’s no doubt CEOs are experiencing burnout too! You may be frustrated that all you can come up with is thoughts like – “We’re all in this together”, “I think we’re near the end” and, “We just have to get through it”.

We believe your team members are looking for help, and if you don’t find a way to provide it, you risk losing some very good, long-term people. Let us help with the following ideas.

What are things you can do?

Here are some ideas on how you can mitigate the damage caused by the hard market:

  • Muster your entire Leadership Team, develop a pro-active process for frequently checking in with your team members, regardless of whether it’s a work-in-office, work-from-home or hybrid model that you are following. Research tells us your people are hurting from a lack of feedback – positive or critical. They need to know you care.
  • Hold the Leadership Team accountable for executing this check in process
  • At every opportunity, ask your team members “How are you doing? No, really, how are you doing?” and listen to their answer.
  • Develop and implement a “Stay interview” program
  • Develop a concise and compelling “Why it’s great to work here” statement, based on employee feedback and over-communicate it
  • Implement a systematic Career Development program
  • Invest in training your leaders to be great coaches and give them time to coach
  • Evaluate your meetings – are they necessary, are they effective, do you have an agenda, are you being sure not to over-collaborate
  • Use your marketing program to broadcast to your target market what is going on in the insurance business and how you are uniquely capable of minimizing the negative impact on your clients
  • Get the message out to all renewing clients well in advance of renewal and explain what’s going on and how you plan to deal with their renewal
  • Shift your approach to setting growth goals away from an incremental model to a capacity-based model and drive for 15% growth
  • With your Leadership Team, develop a concise message to address each of the unacceptable company practices and train all leaders and frontline team members in how and when to consistently feedback your messages to your companies
  • Arrange a high-level meeting with each of your Top 5 companies to share each other’s 2022 Business Plans and document an agreed mutual plan for the year. Have a quarterly accountability meeting with each company.

We have more ideas to share, but we urge you to pick 2 or 3 from this list and kick your leadership skills and behaviors to a higher level! Your future may depend on it!