New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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The Importance of the Personal Touch

The Problem. There’s a 2,600-unit condominium complex with 30 different condominium associations. We already insured six of them, and the other 24 received insurance premium increases from their incumbent insurance carriers on the magnitude of 40 to 80 percent. The renewals were coming up within five weeks when I found out about the issue.

So we had both an opportunity and a massive challenge. The opportunity, obviously, was to write 24 new clients; the challenge was to get quotes for five to seven different policies for each of 24 different condominiums, negotiate them, get them presented, address questions, and hopefully, bind the new insurance, within a 5-week period.

The Epiphany. I realized that I didn’t want to lose this opportunity to write 24 new accounts in less than five weeks. We immediately mobilized a team from our staff to gather underwriting information from the condominiums and the property managers. Also, we have very strong relationships with the insurance carriers that I felt could give these condominiums proposals that would offer equal or better coverage, and at premiums that were less than the 40 to 80 percent increases they faced. So it was a matter of leveraging those relationships immediately to put the gears in motion.

The Execution. We contacted the various insurance carriers and programs with which we work. We actually had the president of one very large insurance company meet personally with all 24 condominium board presidents and commit verbally to the pricing we were going to present. Then we worked to collect quotes, put them into separate proposals for each of the 24 condominiums, and then get those proposals out to the various boards.

Now it became a matter of effective communication. In some cases we sent group emails to all of the board presidents and managing agents so that they knew where we were each step of the way. We also met personally with these condominium boards almost every night of the week for three weeks to answer questions and develop a face-to-face connection, a level of trust. When you’re dealing with insurance, you want to deal with somebody you can trust. And that trust doesn’t come over email or even over a phone call, necessarily. I think that has to be done in person, and I think that was the one thing that we did that really made this deal happen.

The Result. Each of our proposals offered a package policy (consisting of property and general liability), directors and officers, an umbrella, crime, and workers’ compensation. We also provided optional coverage for pollution liability and cyber/data breach. So we’re talking about up to seven separate policies for every single one of these condominiums. In the end, we won all 24 new accounts in five weeks’ time.

There was a right time to use email blasts and telephone calls, but again, face-to-face communication and the trust it builds are critical. And it’s often overlooked in this age of electronic business.

Boards need to make sure they’re dealing with suppliers or vendors who are well connected vertically through the supply chain so that they can get things done – provide the right product or service at the right price on the right timing. You need suppliers and vendors who are willing to push their supply chain for the best possible combination of price, product, and service, delivered when needed by the client.

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