As we approach the end of 2018, I encourage every agency to set a 2019 goal (or two) that will enhance their E&O culture. This will enable the agency to continue to make progress on building a stronger culture to minimize the potential for E&O claims to happen.
There is the possibility that some agencies may not be sure where to start or what issues to address. In other words, they don’t know what their weakness is. A good place to start is to ASK THE STAFF. Have a dialogue with them to assess where things need to improve moving forward. I have seen agencies do this one-on-one with each staff member, by division (personal vs commercial vs benefits) or in total.
In order to have some structure behind the dialogue, it is suggested to start with some key questions. Here are a few that should get the conversation started:
- Is there inconsistency among the staff on how various tasks are performed? This might prompt the agency to develop a manual that details the expected procedures.
- What is the quality and promptness of the documentation in the files? Agencies should have a document that details what the documentation expectations are.
- Where is the weak link in the agency from an E&O perspective?
- How diligent is the agency in getting updates on any change in exposures of the personal and commercial clients? If the agency does not utilize a renewal checklist for this purpose, this would be a great initiative for next year.
- What is the level of consistency in the confirmation of the coverages the client purchased and which ones they did not purchase. Implementing a procedure requiring a confirmation of the client decisions would address this issue.
- What areas of the agency or what tasks (such as the issuance of certificates of insurance) should get a greater degree of training?
I have been asking these types of questions for many years and very honestly, every time I always get a very thoughtful answer. Whether the staff member is a “newbie” or a 30-year veteran does not make a difference. It might be appropriate to give the staff some advance notice of the questions to encourage very thoughtful answers. Maybe even consider a recognition of some type for the issue of highest concern.
I firmly believe the agency staff know the issues that could occur or are occurring in their area that concern them and may in some cases “keep them up at night”.
Ask the staff …you might just be surprised at the responses.