A human touch in a hard market

A human touch in a hard market | Insurance Business Australia

A human touch in a hard market

Maxton Insurance is a family business for broker Joseph Cuzzocrea. The brokerage was founded by his father; Cuzzocrea was brought in as a broker assistant in 2012. Over the past eight years, he’s built up his qualifications, including undertaking a stint with Marsh to gain a broader perspective on the insurance business.

Today, Cuzzocrea is back at the family brokerage, where he’s developed his own port-folio of risks and manages all major loss claims. He puts a strong emphasis on personalised customer service, stressing the importance of person-to-person contact with clients. Human interaction, he says, is crucial to broking practice – you can’t simply delegate everything to automated programs and rely on online quotes or leads.

“Personal contact develops a relationship between you and your client and shows you are willing to give their business your time to properly evaluate their needs,” Cuzzocrea says. “Meeting the client and reviewing the business on-site will give you the upper hand when obtaining terms, as you have firsthand information and can thoroughly explain the risk to the underwriter.”

In practical terms, Cuzzocrea’s strategy spans everything from pre-renewal meetings to touching base with clients throughout the year to see how they’re going. These are relatively simple touches, but Cuzzocrea believes they’ve helped set both him and Maxton Insurance apart from competitors.

“It’s common in our industry to become complacent and only interact with client at renewal time or when they make a claim,” he says. “However, the more contact you make, the better your personal and professional relationship will become. Working closely with and understanding your client’s risk develops trust between a broker and a client.”

There are longer-term implications to the trust-building process, too. Insurance is a long-tail business, after all, and Cuzzocrea describes trust as fundamental in client retention. Building these trusted relationships and using multiple ways to stay in touch demonstrates a broker’s value and integrity. And, Cuzzocrea points out, it also builds respect and enables more effective expectation-setting on both the client and broker side.

“If executed correctly, this will result in great ongoing customer relationships and can create further opportunity with referral busi-ness,” he says.

Cuzzocrea adds that there’s no better time to put such behaviours into practice than now. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented both brokers and clients with significant challenges, but Cuzzocrea believes it’s also a time of opportunity. Coming off the back of a hard market, the pandemic represents a chance for brokers to demonstrate just how valuable they can be in helping businesses stay on – or get back on – their feet.

“We’ve recently been through a hard market, which may worsen due to the COVID-19 crisis,” Cuzzocrea says. “There’s uncertainty across both national and international markets. There’s potential for chaos; you’ve got underwriters increasing premiums and reducing the amount of risk they take on, as well as not offering terms to high-risk occupations.”

“It’s common in our industry to only interact with client at renewal time or when they make a claim. However, the more contact you make, the better your personal and professional relationship will become”

A reduction in the number of insurers that can offer terms on difficult risks presents several quandaries for clients, from greater expenses to the potential for underinsurance.

“At face value, this is a negative, but it can also present you with a number of opportunities,” Cuzzocrea says. “It will often result in your client tendering their business and, in turn, create opportunity for you to tender across many industries.”

It’s a crucial chance for client education and to showcase your ability as a broker, he adds.

“You need to build closer relationships with your clients to completely understand their risk,” Cuzzocrea says. “This gives us further opportunity to educate them on the market at hand and detail the value of what you’re doing – all to provide the best possible outcome at renewal.”