Lynchburg, Va.-based Scott Insurance recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, having grown from a small fire insurance agency to the largest independent, employee-owned commercial and private risk insurance agency in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
In a climate of tough economic obstacles and increasing pressure from direct-selling carriers, the accomplishment is major. Insurance Business caught up with current Scott Insurance president, Hutch Mauck, to learn some of the secrets of agency’s success.
1. Become a trusted advisor, not just an insurance agent
At the top of Mauck’s list is a very simple piece of advice: extreme and sincere commitment to clients.
“We have a culture of client service, and I think we also have an culture of innovation and creativity to finding better solutions for our clients,” Mauck said. “That’s the number one part of our DNA that’s helped us be around 150 years.”
Producers at Scott Insurance get to know clients “at a very deep level,” which allows them to seek and develop highly customized insurance solutions. They also visit clients on-site to gain an appreciation for each commercial client’s company culture and to work directly with employees on things like education and safety awareness.
2. Develop unique value-added services
Part of Scott’s “client-first” mentality is developing value-added services to differentiate the agency’s offerings from those of its competitors.
To that end, the Scott Risk Performance Group was created. Established in 1994, the Scott Risk Performance Group is a 25-person division within the agency committed to developing proprietary programs and strategies to control costs and losses—particularly within workers’ compensation.
“We have a staff within Scott dedicated to helping our clients perform better, and we feel that’s a unique aspect of the firm,” Mauck said. “We are very hands on and work with clients as an advisor and coach to integrate these strategies to create a culture of safety within the company.”
Training programs offered by the Scott Risk Performance Group include safe driving strategies, behavior management strategies, physical agilities testing, measuring and accountability strategies, and safety strategy.
Scott staff members are also highly involved in loss events, Mauck said. In the case of workers’ comp, that means using the agency’s “ACE Navigation System” to navigate the best outcomes of an injury and create a return-to-work strategy.
“The minute a loss occurs, we help manage, steer and control the cost of the loss in real time,” he said. “Occasionally, that’s onsite.”
3. Seek out alternative risk financing vehicles
Another string to Scott’s bow is its exploration of alternative risk financing vehicles, including captives and large deductible plans.
“In the mid-90s, we had several clients who were really just seeking more creative and innovative solutions,” Mauck said. “In working with those clients, we sort of took it as a charge to really go out and find some unique and different opportunities for them.”
By working with group captives, Mauck said his agency has managed to substantially lower the cost of workers’ comp as compared to working in the traditional marketplace.
Scott Insurance is setting its sights on another 150 years in the insurance business. The key to making that dream a reality is hiring young and talented staff, said Mauck.
“The most important step that we’re taking is making large investments in younger, talented people to build the next wave of Scott employee owners,” he said. “We’re actively recruiting and hiring to ensure that we’re going to be around and we’re going to have a team that will be around for years to come.”
You may also enjoy: "7 tips to boost your client base"
"People skills crucial to getting ahead"
"Your body language may be killing your deal"