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How do I Find an Insurance Professional who Knows my Business?

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Question: How do I Find an Insurance Professional who Knows my Business?
Many small business owners find it difficult to purchase business insurance on their own. Working with an insurance professional helps the business owner find insurance tailored to their business. But, how does the business owner find an insurance professional that knows the business.
Answer:

Many businesses are categorized by insurance companies as high risk or too difficult to underwrite. Often, this is the case when a service business will be performing a service for low cost with a high potential for damage or injury. Businesses that will be serving the public, serving alcohol, working with expensive property or operating risky activities are some examples.

But, insurance is operated in a competitive market and there are always insurers willing to insure businesses of any nature. The trick is to find the insurers and their programs.

An insurance professional that specializes in your business is the best person to know and find this insurance. For example, we have a contact who specializes in insurance for salons and beauty parlors. But, how do you find such an agent or broker?

First, speak with other professionals in your business. It is best if you speak with local professionals (often competitors) and ask who they use as their insurance professional. You will often find that the same insurance professional's name comes up repeatedly. Local agents often establish niche practices (like lawyers) and by speaking with others in your industry you will be able to find them.

Second, search out a professional organization that is representative of your industry. Such organizations exist for every conceivable industry. For example, the Professional Dog Walkers Association International is an organization of dog walkers and the Ohio State Bar Association is an organization for Ohio lawyers (where my professional liability insurance comes from). For a relatively low cost, you can join such a professional organization. These organizations often set up a network of insurance contacts for their members at a reduced price.

Third, if all else fails, join a local chamber of commerce or community organization and seek out one-to-one consultations with insurance professionals in the group. Most are happy to explore the market on behalf of a potential customer.

Finally, two points.

A broad Internet search is not a good way to find insurance for your business if it is not a commonly insured business. There are many, many reasons why you want to find and keep an insurance professional (local if possible) who knows your business in person. The do-it-yourself approach to finding insurance on the Internet should be used to find the agent and arrange a meeting - not to purchase the policy.

Premiums for some businesses are high. The best insurance professional in the world cannot overcome basic underwriting. If you are working with the public or can cause serious damage, then premiums will reflect that reality. Approach this with realistic expectations and after establishing a relationship with your insurance professional you can work on lowering premiums.

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