Unique Risk Assessment Review is Changing the Insurance Industry for the Better

Butler Byers unique risk assessment review is gaining momentum across Western Canada. Hear more about this industry change from Colin Rooke and Paul Martin in today’s episode of Risky Business.

Listen to the full episode here, or read the full transcript below

Paul Martin: Welcome to Risky Business, Commercial insurance with Butler Byers. This is Paul Martin, the business commentator on this radio station. And as always, joining me in studio, Colin Rooke, the expert in this field, the commercial risk reduction specialist with Butler Byers Insurance. And Colin, today we’re going to talk about something a little bit different. You tweaked my interest for the comment you made the other day.

Paul Martin: And you know, we’ve been doing this show for, I guess, a little over two years now. And clearly, people in this radio station’s audience area are very familiar with what you do. But what you said that caught my interest was, “We’re getting national attention,” and I was curious about that, that you were starting to get calls from companies across the country about your risk reduction program and that really got me thinking about, here, we know what we do, but it’s that old story about you don’t know what you don’t know.

Paul Martin: So, I don’t have any benchmark to compare what you’re offering me against anything else and then when I hear somebody from another part of the country’s paying attention, my spidey senses go off on that one. So, I’d like to explore that with you. Just this program that you bring to the commercial community in Northern Saskatoon, and Saskatoon in general. The step by step risk reduction plan, unique to you, you guys have invented it at Butler Byers. It is getting traction, isn’t it? And it’s not just here.

“I heard about your show. I know you do things differently at Butler Byers. We certainly don’t have anything like that in our area and I’d like to explore that.”

Colin Rooke: Yeah. You know, it is and it’s kind of cool. You get the odd phone call from a market that you just weren’t expecting, you know? We get calls from Calgary and then all of a sudden a few come in from Edmonton, and then a few come in from Vancouver area, and then a few came in from just kind of remote places in Alberta, and then we get a couple phone calls from Ontario. And after a while …

And of course, we are absolutely happy to take those, but then I just started asking the question like, “How the heck are we getting this call?” It’s, “Well, I heard about your show. I know you do things differently at Butler Byers. We certainly don’t have anything like that in our area and I’d like to explore that.”

Colin Rooke: And it’s a pretty cool feeling. I mean, you said that we’ve been doing this show two and a half years. I think it’s even closer to … It’s almost four. It’s like three and a half, a good three and change, and I guess this will be a little bit of a shameless plug, but we do host this show on our website. So, most of the episodes are there, most of the episodes have transcripts. We are on SoundCloud, so you can pre-play the recording. So, I can only assume that in addition to the fact that you can listen to, of course, News Talk 650 by the internet, you can also play the shows through our website.

Colin Rooke: And I think that when companies are out there searching for just a better way to buy insurance, and depending on what they’re searching, I quite frankly think our name is coming up and they’re looking into what we do and they’re playing back some of the shows or reading through the shows. And it’s pretty cool to hear that, “I can not get this in my market, I’m going to call you from out of market and I want you to take care of me.”

Paul Martin: Well, that’s the point that I was trying to get to, I think, because we hear you on the radio every week talking about this, so we just assume, “Well, this is one of those programs that you bought into somewhere or whatever. It’s a national thing or international thing and this is your moniker.” No, no. Not at all. You’ve invented this, this is proprietary to you and Butler Byers.

Colin Rooke: Yeah, it’s our unique approach to commercial insurance and it makes sense for us, it makes sense for the clients that we work with. I always say that we’ve changed the conversation from insurance to risk, and I think that while we’re certainly gaining traction and I think the more we discuss it, the more we discuss you really need to look at your business from a risk perspective and when you do, you will see increased performance, you will see decreases in cost, including insurance. But this whole idea that, “I’ve never really considered that if I put in the work, if I try to speak the language of the insurance market, that maybe I can reduce my cost of risk, not just insurance premium, but my total cost of risk. But I can benefit from those.”

I always say that we’ve changed the conversation from insurance to risk, and I think that while we’re certainly gaining traction and I think the more we discuss it, the more we discuss you really need to look at your business from a risk perspective and when you do, you will see increased performance, you will see decreases in cost, including insurance.

Colin Rooke: Again, I’ve always said our industry is really bad for … Client approaches broker and says, “I need to save some money,” “Well, let’s go to market.” And that seems to be the norm, you know? “We’ll go to the market, maybe we have some markets that your current broker doesn’t have or there’s a program available, etc, and we’ll cut some costs.” But the conversation needs to change to, “Well, Mr. Client. Mr. And Mrs. Client, what have you done to earn a discount?” I mean, that’s the real way to save. Put the work in. Why are you better than another manufacturer? Tell me. And if you have a story, that story needs to be shared. If you don’t have much of a story, you got to get one.

Colin Rooke: We said okay, we can keep doing things the way it’s always been done and we’re a large commercial brokerage, there’s not a lot of insurance markets we don’t have access to, so we can say, “Well, we’ll see what’s out there,” but it’s a lot easier to have an understanding beforehand of the nature of the business, the risk tolerance, the work our clients are putting in, or even going to put in. I mean, you don’t have to have already done this. And then to say, “I have a perfect fit for you, there’s already an insurance market that would love to hear this story. I’m going to make one call. I’m going to talk to them. You will be a great client, and there will be discounts available for this work.”

Paul Martin: Now, we’ve categorized what you just said as helping business become a better client, a better customer of the insurance industry. Now, that has ramifications to talk about how business in general, how do I get to be a better customer of all my suppliers and will I get better treatment from them if I do that? But that’s really been the mantra that we’ve been talking about is how do I get to be a better customer of the insurance industry? And this comes at a time when …

You know, we’ve talked about over the last couple of years, how many hurricanes and wildfires and all of this, insurance companies have been paying out claims, huge claims, and they’re going to be looking at their book of business and saying, “Is that one right there a customer I want to even insure anymore?”

Paul Martin: So, if I’m coming to you and I need my insurance looked at, you’re going to say, “Man, it’s hard to even get a company to look at you, so we got to make you look really pretty.”

Colin Rooke: Yeah. For anyone that’s listening, whether you own a business, work at a business, or I’ll even say live in a condo, you’ll know that there’s certain classes of businesses that insurance companies don’t want. So, if you’re listening right now and you own a restaurant, I mean, this is not news to you. If you live in a condo, you’ve seen without question, a 40% rate increase over the last five years, because the claims are rampant. They go into every single condo scenario saying, “You’re a terrible risk, you’re going to have water loses, and we’re going to be paying out each and every single year.”

Colin Rooke: I mean, that is the assumption they go in with. And again, this isn’t news to those people, but for those sitting back saying, “I’m not in an industry where I’m constantly hearing that it’s just negative, negative, negative. I mean, I don’t know if my industry is riddle with loses.” That doesn’t mean that you are paying what you should. It just means that they’re not just arbitrarily charging you more, but there still is a spread. I mean, the insurance companies are going to charge what they think get, but when we change the conversation, when we make it about the client, and when we turn our client into a desirable prospect for the insurance market, rather than say, “Well, I’m just going to charge what I think I can get away with.”

Colin Rooke: It’s, “I got to have that, because if they don’t have losses, I look good as an underwriter, my book of business is profitable, I receive bonuses, the insurance company receives bonuses, everyone is happy.” And so rather than say, “I think I can get away with this.” It’s, “I got to price it right or I’ll lose it.”

Paul Martin: All right. Excuse me. We got to take a little break here, but you’ve really got us off on a topic that I think we need to explore a bit more after we … We’re going to take just a short break. We’ll come back and we’re going to dig into that. You’re listening to Colin Rooke, the commercial risk reduction specialist with Butler Byers Commercial Insurance. Risky Business returns after this break.

Paul Martin: Welcome back to Risky Business, Commercial Insurance with Butler Byers. And just before the break, Colin, we were talking about how, as a customer of the insurance industry, I have to figure out how to make myself look better to them and we started this show by saying you’re getting calls and interest at a national level for the conversations that we’ve been having on this show. And I’m curious what the insurance companies are saying about what you’re talking about and what we talk about on this program. What are you hearing back from them?

Colin Rooke: The number one response is that, “I really like working on your file, because all the information’s there.” Meaning, I don’t have to fill in any gaps. Now, I’m not in any way suggesting that other brokers do not fully complete insurance applications. I mean, the underwriter is not even going to take a look. But the usual is you fill out an application that really in no way describes the business. I mean, there might be one line, “And please describe your operations.” From there, the underwriters will go to the website to learn as much as they can.

Colin Rooke: And then they will have … They usually have red flag question. Like you’ll get three questions, four questions back and you know that if, depending on what the client says here, they’re going to say, “I can’t take this.” So, we always ask, I mean, these hard no questions. But what we get from the underwriters is, “I just have to do so much less work, because I know the history of the company, I know the company story, I know what they’re doing, I know what they’re not doing, I know what they want to be doing, I know that on their website they have a whole … They have listed everything they could do, doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing.” There’s a marketing side to every website and so, we get this relief and we always talk about top of stack submission.

Colin Rooke: And it’s a term that’s used in our industry all over the place and it just means that when you present a risk to an underwriter, you hope yours is the one that they can’t wait to get to, and that’s the one that they want, right? And so, I mean, our goal … We use that all the time internally. It’s our goal, is to have the best submissions coming from Butler Byers so that you’re in Toronto working at your desk, you see Butler Byers, an email coming in with all this information. You say, “Hey, this is going to be new business for me. I need to get to this right now.” And for any, again, business owner out there, if you’ve ever been told really close to renewal that, “We’re going to do a quick re-market for you.” I mean, it is just that. It’s a quick re-market, meaning we take old information, we send it out there, underwriters have a look, they spend 10 minutes kind of glancing it over. “I won’t be competitive. I will be competitive.”

Colin Rooke: You might get a quote or two, but no real work goes into it. There’s no, “I’m going to stay up late and get this done.” And I can say that the underwriters do that for us, because they know how we work, they know we didn’t go to 45 other markets, and we’re very transparent. “I’m bringing you this risk, because of the story they told me and based on our volume with you, we know that this is a great fit, this is the type of risk you want, and we want to place this with you. And here’s our rationale.” This is a totally different way of selling.

Paul Martin: So, as a business owner, I’m hearing you talk about that and I go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Check mark, check mark. I really agree with that.” Then I get a little bit daunted by one thing. “Oh, I got to write that thing and I don’t know what they need.” That’s where you come in, right? That’s the step by step plan, you make it easy for me to give you the information to tell the story.

Colin Rooke: And again, for any broker listening or, again, buyer of insurance, if you’ve ever been upset with the pricing of your premium and gone on a rant or a broker being on the receiving end of that, if you listen to what the client says, they don’t say, “Did you get my square footage right? Did you make sure to say it’s 50% brick and that it’s a mix of tar and gravel for a roof?” They do not cite what was on the application. They will tell their story. They’ll say, “That’s not fair. I’m this, this, and this. We haven’t had a claim in 35 years. In fact, every time there’s damage, I mean, I don’t want to waste anyone else’s time. I just quickly fix it. We have onsite safety.”

Colin Rooke: They’ll go on a rant for why it’s so unfair they’re paying what they are. That rant’s, their story. Like that story needs to be told. And so, we write that story, we write your rant for you. Like, “Okay, if you were in front of an insurance panel of every market and you’ve got the mic, what are you saying?” And so, we like to have the agreement that would you have said this? Is this what you would have said? Are we in agreement in this?” Okay, and then so you know, that you know the whole story and we dodge those rants. I mean, I’m giving away a bit of the secret sauce here, but I mean, that’s it. If you’ve ever been so upset with your insurance, you know what you’ve said and you want the underwriter to understand that and you feel like they just don’t care.

Colin Rooke: They didn’t know. They don’t know you. You’re a number. They’re in Toronto or Vancouver. If you’re lucky, Winnipeg.

Paul Martin: And so, the job is, and you’ve been arguing this for years now, just tell the story.

Colin Rooke: Yeah.

Paul Martin: Let me help you tell the story and if I can show where you’re good and where you’re not so good and how we’re fixing the not so good, insurance company will say, “Man, these people are on top of their file.”

Let me help you tell the story and if I can show where you’re good and where you’re not so good and how we’re fixing the not so good, insurance company will say, “Man, these people are on top of their file.”

Colin Rooke: You sort of lead me to another really good point that what if we go through the workshop, what if we’re formulating a story, and we stumble across the best in the business. I mean, they should be teaching me about risk management like how am I supposed to help this company, what story would you tell then? And really, what value would you bring? Well, if you want to be top of your industry in safety then you’re investing heavily into safety. I mean, you didn’t stumble across this, you don’t have this secret that no one knows about, you’re investing, you’re putting the time in.

Colin Rooke: So, part of our risk reduction plan is to say, “And as are we. We invest heavily in safety, we’re going to work together, we’re going to keep improving or maybe we can reduce your investment, because of our investment in safety. But we are going to partner with you and make sure this safety … What’s near and dear to you never falls off the map.” So, how do we help the best? We keep working on what is so important to those companies, what got them there, and again, we tell that story as well. We say, “Jeez, we were blown out of our chair when we started talking about safety and here’s what they do, here’s their approach with the employees. There’s regular training, they have third party consultants come in. We are also going to add to that, we’re going to add these documents, this type of training, this work flow,” etc, etc.

Colin Rooke: But again, we share that and we keep improving what is already keeping you best in class.

Paul Martin: Well, I think we’ve talked about this on a number of areas before and just maybe with a minute left to go here, I just want to kind of summarize here real quickly. I’ve seen some of your step by step plans. They vary by industry, so depending what category of business I’m in, you’ve got dozens of these things. It’s not one form fits all kind of thing. They’re very tailored to a business and to its industry. 

Colin Rooke: Yeah, and they’re all moving targets, too. There might be certain risks that we do have to cover all. We got to make sure. I mean, you’re working on the basics, but then they change based on what’s occurring in the world today. And so, it’s really kind of a working, moving document that we’re constantly adding in new topics that are relevant now. And what’s top of mind today wasn’t top of mind six months ago, so again, it’s something that’s changing all the time. 

Paul Martin: So, if I did one this year, I might be doing another next one, because things have changed?

Colin Rooke: Yeah, exactly.

Paul Martin: Yeah, yeah. Listen, Colin, we’ve run out of time and I’m really quite intrigued by the fact that this little conversation we have each week is now starting to capture some national attention and I know of at least one case of international attention. So, good on you for what you’re doing and I just want to say thanks for allowing me to be a part of telling this story, as well.

Paul Martin: You’ve been listening to Colin Rooke, the commercial risk reduction specialist with Butler Byers Commercial Insurance. This is Risky Business. Talk to you again next time.