“We’ve been sending our BOP and commercial package business to QBE for several years,” said Doug Snow, CEO of Beehive Insurance Agency in Salt Lake City, Utah. “They had the offerings we needed to take care of our clients. And they could do specific things we had the need for. Naturally, we’ve moved to Arrowhead’s BOP and Core Commercial Program, because they’re managing these QBE products.”
“One thing I’ve learned in this business: Speed and underwriting flexibility are key. If you can’t get in, rate it, sell it and get the policy issued in just a few key strokes, the opportunity has passed. That prospect’s gone on to someone else, because they want it as fast and competitive as possible. Those who have that technology, in partnership with brokers, will succeed,” Snow said.
“My agents need the fast technology and a flexible commercial market to succeed. And I’ve given these to them.”
We chatted with Doug Snow via phone recently, asking him some behind-the-scenes questions about his and his agency’s successes.
What misconceptions do clients often have about your job?
The insurance buyer often sees purchasing insurance as similar to any other commodity, like tires for instance: They wear out and must be replaced, so you shop around for the best prices. But when it comes to commercial coverage, Snow says the buyer who just thinks he’s buying a product unwittingly winds up paying more for his policies.
“They’re not thinking, What do I need to do to make my company more attractive to an insurance company to achieve superior pricing, and then working their broker to make those changes,” Snow explained. “This is where our expertise comes in. I’m talking about initiatives such as checking MVRs, adding a driver recruitment program, putting protocols in place for general liability. Back-to-work and contractual risk transfer programs. These all help you look better to an underwriter. They’re bargaining chips for better pricing.”
What are the main challenges of the job, and how do you deal with them?
Relationship-building, he answered, “and there are two side to this challenge. With our clients and prospects, it’s developing a relationship so that they will trust you with full disclosure and allow you to implement changes in their business to achieve superior pricing. The other side of relationship-building is with underwriters, so that they know you’re being straight with them, giving them all the necessary info, so you get better pricing and so there are no surprises later,” he explained.
“The agent lives in the middle – you’re selling to the underwriter and also to your prospect.”
What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?
Being able to bring risk management solutions to a company, helping them implement the necessary changes, allowing them to be more successful while spending less on insurance, he said.
What do you (or your agency) do differently from your peers in the same profession?
“We’ve focused in two areas,” Snow answered. “One, we’ve placed a great deal of marketing emphasis inside certain trade associations that align with the business we currently have and the business we’re trying to get.”
“We’ve worked hard to become THE insurance provider inside these groups,” he explained. “We’ve also provided a suite of value-added services to our customers such as BizAssure Consulting, ex mod analyses, back-to-work program templates and safety analysis programs, among other things, helping our clients implement steps to increase their insurance score with carriers.”
What’s your background? How did you choose your career path?
“It all started with a conversation with my dad. He asked, What interests you? Where do you think you’re headed? I told him I thought I wanted to pursue a career in real estate. He said that’s fine, but you need to realize real estate is a feast-or-famine industry, with high highs and low lows. And then he encouraged me to consider insurance, because it’s not as cyclical,” Snow recounted.
He began his insurance career working at Fireman’s Fund in their commercial lines department, and then moved to Beehive Insurance. Over the next several years, he helped expand the agency’s commercial lines, including business insurance, commercial truck insurance and health insurance by hiring talented career producers. He soon began specializing in providing coverage and surety bonds for the construction industry as well as all other lines of commercial insurance.
Snow became the president and CEO of Beehive Insurance in 1992 and has grown the company to an agency of 17 producers in an office of 35.
Outside of his duties at Beehive, Snow is a member of the executive leadership team at Clyde Companies, a Utah heavy civil construction company in Orem. He has served as president of the Salt Lake Association of Independent Insurance Agents and was awarded the 2011 Utah Agent of the Year by the Utah Association of Independent Insurance Agents, recognized for his integrity and service in the industry.