International insurance is inherently complex. Organizations must secure coverage that addresses the specific risks involved in their international operations while meeting the legal, regulatory and tax requirements of multiple countries. It typically requires placing an overarching controlled master program as well as local policies for specific countries.
Effectively meeting these demands depends on striking the right balance between scale and service. A broker must be able to handle diverse needs on a global scale while providing the right coverage and the right support for navigating claims and legal issues. A global brokerage that has the scale to offer coverages across the world may fall short of providing the high-touch service required in dealing with claims across continents and time zones.
Often, successfully balancing scale and service is best achieved with a customized approach to addressing all of the variables of international insurance coverage. Here are three key considerations when selecting the right international insurance broker.
1. Prioritize Deeper Relationships
A strategic partnership between client and broker is critical in building and maintaining effective international insurance coverage. When brokers have a more robust understanding of the client’s business and operations, including potential exposures and coverage structures, they can view international coverage in a broader context and more effectively advise the client. Building a deeper understanding also allows brokers to develop and place more customized international insurance policies specific to the organization’s risk, such as focusing on trips traveled versus covering locations around the globe. That deeper partnership promotes greater accountability and better performance that improves over the length of the broker / client relationship.
Large regional brokers typically have the size and scale to maintain strong relationships with partners and local brokers in other countries. These partnerships are often vital to ensuring the right level of coverage as well as navigating cultural barriers and language differences.
2. Identify Cost Efficiency Opportunities
The partnerships fostered by large regional brokers can drive significant cost efficiencies. Compared to a global broker with set networks and rigid pricing structures, a more agile regional broker has the ability to use other partners to create a customized network that better fits the service needs of the client. For example, it is not always necessary to involve a local broker in a foreign country. Regardless of the particular requirements, a global brokerage likely has local broker services in most areas and passes the costs of those partnerships on to clients. A regional broker, on the other hand, involves partners because it benefits the client, not the broker’s bottom line.
3. Focus on Claims and Legal Advocacy Abroad
There is no guarantee that an international claim will happen during domestic business hours. Consequently, deeper relationships, on the claims side, translate into better service when needed – at all times of the day. The Conner Strong & Buckelew claims team, for example, partners with a global law firm, based out of London, which can efficiently provide referrals to local legal resources in several countries. The result is fast action without sacrificing service. Thus, clients remain connected with the claims professionals, whom they know and trust, and these professionals are at the forefront of helping their clients navigate through a country’s legal process, as well as any language or cultural barriers. Such effective claims service provides clients with the necessary resources and peace of mind, knowing that they have the right partners in place no matter where the incident occurs
Realizing the Benefits of the Right Broker
In the end, when it comes to international insurance, large regional brokers provide the right balance of global scale, product flexibility and customization. Finding the right broker can also offer significant cost savings when securing coverage across international borders.
To learn more about selecting the right international insurance partner:
Please contact a Conner Strong & Buckelew representative.
Case Study – Coordinating an International Claim in Under 12 Hours
An Eastern European subsidiary of a U.S.-domiciled company reported the death of a local employee on the subsidiary’s premises. The local police authorities, as well as the country’s OSHA equivalent, commenced simultaneous investigations. The organization’s first call was to its insurance broker, Conner Strong & Buckelew. Within five hours, the broker had a referral for local counsel in the relevant country. Approximately eight hours after notification, the broker and local counsel were on the phone discussing key information about the incident, the specific legal process and the investigations. Within twelve hours, the client received detailed information about that country’s legal process, the next steps and contact information for a local legal expert. As a result, the client was provided with expert guidance in real time and they were able to focus on proactively managing the tragic incident.
Vice President, Account Executive
Michele Fields, Esq.
Conner Strong & Buckelew