Value added is classically defined as the enhancement a company gives its services before offering those services to potential customers.
It is used to describe instances where the company takes a product or service that may be considered homogeneous to its industry peers, but with a few differences from its competitors, the company enhances what its customers receive.
“With us, we work to give our customers a greater sense of value when working with ECBM,” says Daniel R. Slezak, vice president at ECBM. “For example, our claims department actually reads policies — sometimes late into the night — to make the right outcome for our clients.”
Smart Business spoke with Slezak about what you need to know about the value of value added.
What exactly is value added for insurance claims?
While most brokers will say they have a claims department to assist their customers, there are wide ranging differences in how that happens.
Most agencies will ‘process’ claims. They make sure they get to the carrier for proper notice.
You get value added service, however, when a claims department takes the time to read and understand the merits of the claim being submitted. The agency takes time to read the policy and give support to the claim before it goes to the carrier, which makes your broker your advocate. That’s added value.
What’s another example of value added services and how does it help the business?
The process should help you start to understand who you are and what goals you need to achieve. Value added services go beyond the mere sale and provision of insurance to risk control services and claims management services.
The best insurance agencies will have a dedicated team that can market your needs to the insurance marketplace. Then, there should be another team of account managers who work with you on a daily basis. And if a claim should arise, a claims team springs into action.
Those three segments need to be managed by people with experience and knowledge who have a sense of pride and understanding of your business.
We all know that when a claim occurs, it’s often not limited to nine to five, Monday through Friday. How should a broker respond to a client’s needs at 3 a.m. on a holiday weekend?
This is another instance of value added. The agency needs to have a 24/7 telephone contact system for clients. When the switchboard shuts down for the day, calls can be automatically switched to a service that will contact a claims associate.
Every day, it’s best practice to have at least two people ‘on call’ for claims. Each one would have all of the necessary contact numbers for insurance companies and adjusters. This includes a 24/7 spill response for environmental cleanup.
Imagine that it’s Fourth of July weekend. Your truck driver has a heart attack while driving and hits six other vehicles on the road. It’s a mess, but this is a real life example.
A value added broker would be able to have an accident investigation team on-site within 90 minutes of the accident.
What do business owners need to know in order to take full advantage of value added services?
Communication is the catalyst that drives any relationship to the desired goal.
The insurance agency needs to know who in the company is responsible for insurance issues and claims. Your employees need to know exactly what to do in order to reach the right people, no matter what the time of day or situation.
The nature and quality of the value-added services provided by an agent, broker and/or insurer should be a critical factor in determining where you get your commercial insurance.
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