As many of you know, Ball Insurance specializes in helping local agents insure their local governments. Many times when a local agent will approach a board to advise that they want to bring a proposal from another carrier, they are also offering their agency as a servicing agency for that account. There is more being offered than just the insurance policy. They are offering their service, knowledge, dedication, expertise, partnership, commitment and experience.
Ultimately all involved know this is true, otherwise agents would be out of a job and municipalities would be buying their commercial package online. What is not pointed out that an agent or agency’s worth is not reflected the insurance proposal. It should considered. It is extremely important that the trust an entity is putting in their agent is well founded. If an agent unwittingly does not add a coverage, either property or worse yet an liability exposure, there will be no coverage at claim time. This is why even many experienced agents partner with Ball Insurance for municipalities. They willingly take a pay cut to make sure their municipal clients are covered accurately. It is also why we at Ball Insurance don’t write other policies, such as crop insurance. We know nothing about it! The fear is that we would inevitably miss something.
When the agent comes to offer a proposal, boards (and often even the agent) are confused into thinking this requires a bidding process. I would propose that Nebraska Statute Section 23-3109 indicates that bidding is not required for having insurance needs met. An entity is choosing more than a carrier or a commercial package. They are selecting an agent/agency who has prepared that proposal and who is recommending the coverages, terms, limits etc on it. It is assumed by the entity that the agent/agency will continue to keep abreast of any issues pertinent to entity, and advise if changes are necessary during the policy period.
The agent/entity relationship should not be “one and done.” For example, the agent is successful in getting the entity’s business and then they only see him/her at renewal time to sign some new documents the carrier is requiring. Worse yet, an entity never sees their agent again. They only receive an email annually from the agent or a customer service representative requesting they sign renewal documents.
It’s clear that the entity is obtaining a professional service. There are agents who are just better at servicing clients than others. It’s true that agents are paid by commission, which is different than many professionals, such as an attorney. Both are considered professionals by law in the State of Nebraska and are required to maintain professional standards.
If you need an attorney, you certainly don’t want the least expensive one. You want the best one. PERIOD. When there is so much at stake with a municipality’s commercial package coverage, doesn’t it make sense to have the best agent/agency? The one offering superior service, knowledge, dedication, expertise, partnership, commitment and experience?
The obvious answer is yes. A board has plenty to deal with. If there is an opportunity to have a professional look at coverages and give recommendations, take it. There is no obligation of move to another agency or carrier. It’s free professional advice. You just might find a good agent, premium savings and more coverages for your entity.
See below Nebraska Statutes Section 23-3109.
Competitive bidding; when not required; waiver of bidding requirements; when.
(1) Competitive bidding shall not be required (a) when purchasing unique or noncompetitive items, (b) when purchasing petroleum products, (c) when obtaining professional services or equipment maintenance, or (d) when the price has been established by one of the following: (i) The federal General Services Administration; (ii) the materiel division of the Department of Administrative Services; or (iii) a cooperative purchasing agreement by which supplies, equipment, or services are procured in accordance with a contract established by another governmental entity or group of governmental entities if the contract was established in accordance with the laws and regulations applicable to the establishing governmental entity or, if a group, the lead governmental entity.