Agents only turn to a surplus lines broker when the standard market denies coverage, so Craig & Leicht knows that time is of the essence. You should always go with a surplus lines broker with the right kind of credibility and experience.
All surplus lines brokers are not created equal, so you need to have an idea of what to look for when navigating the surplus lines market. We’ve put together a list of key traits you should keep in mind when looking for a surplus lines broker.
1. Your Surplus Lines Broker should be active with affiliations.
You want a broker who’s enthusiastic about keeping up with the trends and committed to lifelong industry education. You can identify the types of credentials your broker has by the post-nominal acronyms listed in their title.
For example, in “Amy Leicht-Craig, CIC,” the “CIC” stands for “Certified Insurance Counselor.” To become a designated CIC, the candidate must complete five courses and pass the examinations within five years. Additionally, CIC designees have to update their CIC credits annually. A CIC is only one example of the many affiliations available to insurance professionals. There are dozens of programs available, each with its requirements to bolster your broker’s education and experience.
Wouldn’t you feel better working with someone you know is impassioned to fulfill continuing education requirements? You want an expert who’s driven to continually further their knowledge in the field, not just let their career run stagnant.
It’s one thing to pay for a membership with all the insurance affiliations, but how active is your surplus lines broker within those organizations? Affiliations should be more than just a title. Look for a broker who gets involved in the organizations they’re a part of. Craig and Leicht are very active in organizations that educate retail agents so that they can understand exclusions on surplus lines.
A surplus lines broker who can serve as a trusted resource for an agent will have up-to-date education and advocate for education amongst insurance agents.
At Craig & Leicht, our team boasts affiliations with Certified Insurance Counselors, Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, and Associates in Surplus Lines Insurance. Our owner, Matt Leicht, has served as president of the Texas Surplus Lines Association.
2. Your Surplus Lines Broker should have years of experience.
Experienced brokers can see opportunities where agents might see obstacles concerning new and existing clients. They’ll be much more confident about dealing with new business enterprises because their past experiences will help guide the process.
Matt and Amy have a wealth of experience, but their initial interest and enthusiasm in the industry stem from their parents. Their mom worked at an insurance company in the 1980s. When she found out she was getting paid significantly less than her male counterpart, she started her own business wholesaling. In the late ‘80s, Matt and Amy’s dad joined the company. When Matt and Amy were children, they were separating policies for their parents’ business after school, learning the ins and outs of wholesale insurance as early as the fifth grade!
They went on to join their parent’s business in the 2000s. In 2008, their parents sold the business, and Amy and Matt stayed on until their parents left. Before founding their own company, Matt and Amy managed national wholesaler’s, RPS, Houston branch. Shortly after that, the sibling-pair formed Craig & Leicht. Insurance runs deep in their blood! With decades of experience in the field, Matt and Amy are incredibly knowledgeable about their industry. It’s second nature to them.
3. Scaled for service.
There are advantages to working with a smaller wholesaler such as Craig and Leicht. A regional wholesaler is better-versed in the needs of smaller or mid-sized retail markets. They can focus on relationships with their retailers without getting bogged down in extensive business dealings.
At Craig & Leicht, our distribution and product offerings are smaller, allowing us to be even more focused on our clients and service. On the other hand, we’ve worked with large wholesale establishments given our experience with RPS, so we’re uniquely positioned to take on a wide variety of clientele. We know the sweet spot in terms of how many agents we can feasibly work with, and we’d never expand so much that it hindered the close relationships we’re able to make with our retailers.
Larger wholesalers have to divide their attention in many different directions. At Craig & Leicht, we prefer a smaller operation because it’s easier to steer the ship. We have flexibility that a lot of corporate-controlled wholesalers lack. Our small size and office structure encourages fast communication where underwriters and brokers can share knowledge to execute quickly.