Imagine you’re at a major league baseball stadium, and there are 100 bats next to the batter’s box.

Some of the bats appear far better in terms of quality, and far more likely to successfully be used.

Other bats appear older, worn, and less appealing.

The deal is, if any one of those bats is used to hit a home run you get $1,000,000.

The player who hits the home run for you gets a reward of $100,000, and you get to pick the player who will swing on your behalf.

Here are the rules, but as you read this pretend in this scenario that you don’t yet know these are the rules.  You only know a home run will get you $1,000,000.  The rules are:
1.  Each bat can only be swung one time.
2.  The first player to pick up a bat is the only player that can use that bat.
3.  This all resets and you get another opportunity every 12 months.

Now, imagine a player from the dugout comes over to you.  He’s a fifth-year professional baseball player, looks to be in proper shape, is dressed for the part, and confidently offers to swing the bat for you.

You tell him yes, so he goes to the batter’s box, picks up his first bat and takes a swing.  Miss.

He then proceeds to swing with every bat starting with the best quality bat and working his way down to the raggedy, old bats until they are all used up – – – nothing close to a home run.

Year two:  same guy.  Same results. Year three:  same.

In the fourth year, the same player swings all the bats and, no surprise, no home runs.

Another player then comes over and offers to bat for you.

You say, well, sure.  My other guy didn’t do so well, let’s see what you can do. (Again, you have not yet discovered the rules, but you’re about to.)

This player gets to the batter’s box, eyes the best bats in the mix, and discovers one by one that all the bats have already been used this year.

He has no bat to swing, so he comes back and apologizes to you and politely excuses himself.

Then you talk with a baseball analyst who is paid to give owners, recruiters, and coaches advice on which players are the most valuable in the league.

You ask the analyst about how those two players who offered to swing for you have performed in the batter’s box.

The analyst tells you that the first batter who swung all the bats on your behalf has not gotten a home run in his entire career.  He’s a nice guy with an average bat who can run down a fly ball better than anyone around.

The second guy leads the league in home runs hit, and has for the past four seasons.

You go to the first batter and ask him whether other players have successfully hit home runs with the bats he swung for you, politely mentioning what the analyst indicated.

The first batter tells you the analyst is full of prunes and that he can hit a home run just as well as anyone – – – including the other player.

He also says it would be unfair to him to allow another player to swing the bats because it takes away chances for him to hit a home run for you.

A year later, you get another shot – – – only this time you realize the three rules that apply and you realize not every player bats as well as another.

Do you let that same batter who failed to hit a home run last four times use all the bats for you again?  Do you let him swing only a number of them?  If so, which ones?  

Do you trust the analyst and let the second player who reportedly hits home runs better than anyone in the league have the first shot?

You know the guy you have been using has been unable to do what you needed, and you have it on good and reliable authority someone else is far more capable, so what will you do?

In commercial insurance, that bats are the insurance companies and the brokers/agents/producers are the players.

Each player has a favorite bat or two, just like most every insurance salesperson will have two or three favorite insurers with whom they likely place the lion’s share of their business.

Each insurer can only quote or decline to quote for a single agent, so once an application is sent to that insurer every other agent is blocked from using that insurer to quote for your business for at least a year – – – just like the rule that once a bat is swung by any one player it cannot be swung by another.

Knowing this arms you to strategize well when asking agents to quote your commercial insurance.

Do your homework. Find the agencies that have the strongest relationships with a particular insurer, and use the agent that has the most leverage with that insurer to get the best possible result.

This means you will have to assign insurance companies to individual agents based upon that agent’s ability to “hit a grand slam” for you with that insurance company.

Like the first player who swung the bats in the story, many agents want full access to every insurer they can find.

After all, just like the bats in the story can only be swung one time, if an agent is able to send applications out and “get there first” to every insurer they can think of it locks all the other agencies out from having an opportunity to quote for you.

Why is this bad? Because insurers will do for one agent with a strong relationship what they will not do for another with whom the insurer is less familiar/comfortable.

This means your business will miss out on quotes that could be significantly cheaper and at the same time significantly better in terms of limits and scope/quality of coverage.

So, to close, if you were in this story you would want to find out for each bat which player has hit the most home runs with that bat and allow that player to swing that bat.

In your business’s risk management, you want to assign individual insurers to the agent that can demonstrably prove to you they can do things other agencies cannot.

How will you know who is the best? Here are some tips:

First, any agent worth their salt is going to tell you it is absolutely true that strength of relationship with an insurer is critically important and they will be able to tell you their top relationships and the results those relationships have achieved for other businesses.

Next, ask questions. Ask the agent how much total written premium they have with a particular insurer. Ask them if they have successfully changed policy language with an insurer before to provide extra coverage for one of their clients.

If you ask these questions and an agent answers them well, that’s good news. Otherwise, move on to another agency/agent until you find one that gives you solid answers to your questions.

Have an awesome day and protect your business well friends.

To Your Success,

Drew Boyd