Ep020: Choosing a Specialist with Ron Hallmark

Today on the IC-DISC Show, we’re talking with Ron Hallmark of Hibbs-Hallmark, a specialty property and casualty insurance broker with a focus on the scrap metal industry.

This was a great episode and especially useful for anyone in the scrap metal industry because, whereas many of these companies are served by generalist brokers, Ron’s company approaches insurance from the opposite perspective. They focus on just one industry, nationwide.

We dive into some of the reasons using a specialty insurance broker can really make a lot of economic sense when it comes to things like potentially dramatically lower premiums, better coverage, and better outcomes in the event of a claim.

I really enjoyed this episode. There is a lot to take away.

Show Links

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Contact Ron Hallmark
To find out more about the services Hibbs-Hallmark provide, your can visit HibbsHallmark.com or contact Ron directly on 903-571-1084 or RonHallmark@HibbsHallmark.com

IC-DISC Show 020 Transcript

Dave: Hey, Ron. How are you today?

Ron: Hey, David. Doing great, man. How are you?

Dave: I’m doing good. Well, we are live. Thank you for joining me on the IC-DISC Show.

Ron: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Dave: So the last few of these I’ve read the bio of the guest. I’ll be honest, that’s not my favorite way to do it. Since I don’t have a bio for you handy, let’s do it the way I like to do it. So let me introduce you, and then I’ll ask you some questions about your background. Then we’ll bring this up to speed. Thank you for being on the show. Ron Hallmark has been a long-time resource of our firm. He’s with a firm that specializes in property and casualty insurance for the scrap metal business. Ron has worked with many of our clients through the years and has done a great job. So we’ll just get right into your background. First of all, tell us who you’re with and what you guys do.

Ron: Sure, David. Again, it’s Ron Hallmark, and I am a property and casualty insurance agent with Hibbs-Hallmark & Co. We’re an insurance company out of Texas. We work all over the country. Specifically, I specialize with scrap metal dealers providing risk management services, insurance policies, different types of services to that industry, the name of our program is Recycle-Pro Insurance, and been doing it about, gosh, 25 years now.

Dave: That’s excellent. I believe you’re a native Texan?

Ron: Yeah, I am. We’re actually, gosh, I think I’m fourth generation. My son and daughter are fifth generation Texans, so, yeah, proud of that, obviously, as most Texans are.

Dave: Awesome. Yeah, I fortunately am a naturalized Texan. I got here as quick as I could. I believe we both went to the same college, the University of Texas in Austin, is that right?

Ron: Hook ’em Horns. Sure did.

Dave: Yeah.

Ron: See, what’s surprising is, or at least in the southwest part of the United States, a lot of our customers went there as well.

Dave: Yeah, the tentacles run deep. What is it about the scrap industry that interests you so much that you’d choose to specialize in this industry over others?

Ron: David, I know you can attest to this. It just gets in your blood. It’s just such a unique industry, as anyone associated with it knows, and more importantly just such unique individuals that belong in it, to the owners of the companies and so forth, and, as you know, people of such great energy and drive and just kind of bigger than life. Yeah, just a great group of people. It’s the industry itself and the people of the industry that excite me the most about it and draw me to it the most.

Ron: One of the things I think is the neatest part of it is the multi-generational aspect of the scrap industry. I’m sure you can attest to, third, fourth, fifth-generation families own a lot of these companies that make up our customers. I mean what a blessing to get to know some of the older gentlemen that a lot of them have passed away since, but when I first started 25 years ago, got to know them, visit with them at their offices, and now I’m seeing their grandsons and daughters and great-granddaughters and great-grandsons operating the businesses now. Being a big family person myself, that’s just something else that draws me to it. Of course, the new blood coming into the industry as well, highly educated young people. It’s exciting times.

Dave: Yeah, I would agree. That’s one of the things I enjoy. Although we’re not 100% focused on the scrap metal business, it’s our largest industry sector. Yeah, that multi-generational aspect is really neat as you can stay with the same company for multiple generations, and after a while you start to feel like you’re part of their family as well.

Ron: It’s sad to see some sell out to larger companies. I know that’s part of the process. Even for people like us it’s kind of a loss when that happens because you hate to see it go.

Dave: So all your decades of experience in the scrap business and your focus on the scrap business, how do you think that benefits your customers?

Ron: Well, I think in a lot of ways, again, it just gets back to the unique aspect of the scrap industry and the unique risks that they all face. I wrote my first scrap account, I was trying to think of this the other day, around 26 years ago, and I’ve never looked back, just been hooked since. It’s so complex and so unique. One of the things is we’ve developed exclusive insurance markets. Because what happens is around the country a lot of scrap dealers just use their local agent in town, who are great agents and have great services, but they don’t truly understand the scrap industry. They don’t have that intimate knowledge of the industry. That’s really important because of, like we talked about, the unique risks that are facing their industry, and you have to have specific insurance coverages for that. Over time, over the 25, 26 years we’ve been real instrumental in developing some of these coverages that are unique to that industry, that really cover the risks that your traditional policy and agents are not able to. That’s been a big part of it.

Ron: The other part of it we’ve seen, too, is you buy insurance to cover claims, and it’s not unusual for an insurance company to try to deny a claim, sometimes rightfully so and sometimes not. But having that experience and understanding of the industry allows us to be that advocate for our customers to fight those cases. It’s very common that we’re able to get claims that are initially denied overturned and paid. Again, it’s because of that unique knowledge of the industry and how it works behind the scenes that we’re able to use that and be their advocate.

Dave: I’ve heard firsthand stories of our clients that you have served them in that advocacy role. What types of products and services specifically do you provide to the scrap industry?

Ron: As you mentioned earlier, on the outset obviously, the first part of the answer would be property casualty insurance policies. That would be general liability, worker’s comp, property, equipment, auto, commercial auto, umbrella, and pollution. We’re going down the list of insurance policies. Again, our job is to determine the needs of our customers with them, find the right policies to fit their needs, design them in a way that covers those needs.

Ron: But then beyond that, too, what makes us different, sets us aside, I believe anyway, is all the other services we offer. We really look at it from a holistic approach. We’re not there just to sell insurance. We’re there to protect them, yes, through insurance policies and risk management, but also we do things that help them get employee safety programs set up, fleet safety programs set up, all different types of risk management services we provide them. If they do, let’s say, some demo work and contract work, we review contracts. We analyze their work comp experience modifier, which very few agents do. A lot of times we’re able to find mistakes in that and actually get it corrected and sometimes get refunds for our customers.

Dave: So it’s a lot.

Ron: We look at the big picture, and we’re problem solvers. We try to help them anyway we can even if we don’t benefit from it.

Dave: No, that makes sense. You kind of touched on some things you do that are above and beyond in terms of safety programs and contract review. I think that dovetails into my next question of, what are some of the exposures or risks that are unique to the scrap industry that your background helps you better advise your clients on?

Ron: We kind of alluded to that earlier. One of my very customers 25 years ago or so, I remember very vividly when we visited with him he was complaining to me, and I say customer, he was a prospect of that time, but I was listening to him. He was explaining what his frustrations had been, and he tried to communicate that to his current agent at the time for years. He said, “Ron, I’m a non-ferrous dealer. The insurance industry charges a rate multiplied by my gross sales.” He felt it was unfair, and I agreed with him, that his counterpart who’s a ferrous dealer, his revenues are much lower compared to the non-ferrous guy just because of the price..

Dave: On a per pound-

Ron: Yeah, for process.

Dave: On a per pound basis, yeah.

Ron: So he’s looking at the non-ferrous guys and he knows he’s being charged the same rate that the ferrous guy is, but the non-ferrous guy has much higher revenues. Both of them might not do any difference in tonnage or profits, yet the non-ferrous guy’s getting penalized because the insurance system is set up to charge by your gross sales.

Dave: By revenues, yeah.

Ron: So I went to an underwriter at that time and was able to convince them of the situation, explained it to him, educated him on the situation, and we actually got a credit applied to his rates to bring it back more in line with what the ferrous dealer would be. So from there we piggybacked on that over the years, and we looked for opportunities and developed markets that would based on your liability instead of on gross revenue, they’d base it on, say, number of employees or tonnage or payroll or some-

Dave: I see.

Ron: … exposure other than sales. That’s been a real big plus over the years.

Dave: When you say you developed markets for products, tell me what that means exactly?

Ron: Well, it started off years ago markets would come to us, and we would help educate them, and we would work with them to design endorsements and different additions to their policies to cover some of these unique needs of our customers. A couple things we hadn’t mentioned, another would be the risk of a scrap metal dealer unknowingly purchasing stolen material, and that’s a big claim we see quite a bit these days. What can happen with that is the insured will sell it off, will shred it, bale it, they’ll change the form in some way where the rightful owner comes back, he cannot return that to the rightful owner in the same form it was in before. Then at that time then they’re legally liable for the value of that material that they purchased that was stolen. That’s been something that was not traditionally covered by insurance, and over the years-

Dave: I see.

Ron: … we’ve helped develop endorsements with insurance companies that address that, that do cover that. Another would be impaired properties coverage. That’s where a scrap yard, they sell metal to a mill, and it’s supposed to meet certain specs or chemistry. If it doesn’t meet that, it can actually cause what we call a bad melt or a loss of heat at the mill. That’s a financial loss to the mill that they turn around and charge that back against our scrap customers. Again, that’s a coverage that we helped develop over the years. There’s only a handful of companies that have it available. One of the greatest things, to be honest with you Dave, is just this experience and everything, you know how it is the business where insurance companies know we know what we’re talking about, we know the industry, and so they come to us and want to develop programs with us. They want to give us exclusive rights to programs, etc. So all that comes back to help our customers in just better pricing and better coverage. So those, they’re just benefits.

Dave: That makes sense. The world is becoming more and more specialized, isn’t it?

Ron: It is in so many industries, but, yeah, definitely in this one. The savings in price, I hate to… Price is one of the things that always catches the attention of, of course, customers and prospective customers. It’s not unusual at all, believe it or not, to walk in and actually say people cut their insurance in half, premiums in half.

Dave: Wow.

Ron: Sometimes that’s surprising to people, but it really just all gets back to being with the right insurance company, having access to that right specialized insurance company, and it really can make that dramatic difference on pricing. Then we quickly want to not focus so much on the price but get more into the coverage. Because it doesn’t matter how much you save, if you have uncovered risk or uncovered claims, excuse me, of $100,000 that isn’t covered because you didn’t have the right kind of policy, well, there’s no amount of savings that really justifies that.

Dave: No, that’s helpful. Well, my favorite part of doing these podcasts are getting into the real life stories. Could you give some examples of companies you’ve helped? Obviously, you’re going to do this anonymously, but just to give us a sense of the type of company and what the issue or opportunity was, and what you were able to do to help them.

Ron: Let’s see. I think one of the first ones that jump out in my mind is we talked earlier about being an advocate in a claim situation when an insurance company initially denies the claim. We had one customer that sold some material to a mill, and the mill came back and charged them for a loss of heat. Their reasoning for it was that there was too much lead, too great of a percentage of lead in the chemistry or mix of metal that they sold the mill. So the insurance company, pointing to the exclusional policy for total lead exclusion, denied the claim. Well, understanding the industry and understanding insurance, of course, we understood that the reason for that exclusion typically is for a contamination issue. This was not a claim of contamination for the mill. This was a claim of too greater percentage of lead, not a question that lead was in there but there was just too much of it. It could have been too little of lead as well. So we were able to bring that to attention and educate the claims department of this insurance carrier and get that overturned and paid.

Dave: Oh, okay.

Ron: So that’s one example. Let’s see. Another one I love is I have fun with this because anytime we save people a lot of money and problem solve for people that’s what this is all about, and we have fun with it. We had one customer or actually a prospect, we started working with them, and we started looking at his work comp, his experience modifier, and we just noticed some things didn’t look right on it. So we sent it to one of our consultants. They reviewed it and sure enough found out that there was a mistake on their experience modifier.

Ron: For those who don’t know, experience modifier is a modifier that is added to your work comp policy that either increases or decreases your premium, so if there is a modifier that is a debit modifier, like a 1.2, that’d be a 20% increase of your premium based on that modifier. That was a situation similar to what they had. They were being charged about 20% or 30% more because of this incorrect modifier. So we got it corrected, and not only got it corrected for the future, but we also got him a refund for about $30,000-

Dave: Oh, wow.

Ron: … because they go retroactive and correct it back two or three years. So that was fun to actually see that refund come to them. Again, that’s something we don’t benefit off of other than bringing these value-added services to our customer. I don’t mean to toot your horn or I do mean to toot your horn, but to give you another idea of services we bring to the table and how we look at the holistic picture of our customers is we have a customer on the East Coast, again, we may not name but you know who it is. We start talking to them, and having met you at conventions and gotten to know you I knew what you offered. Sure enough he looked at me with a glazed look, wasn’t real familiar what I was talking about, and I had you call him. I think you ended up getting him a six-figure return, refund.

Dave: A refund, yeah, yeah.

Ron: Yeah, so that was fun. Again, that’s not something… you don’t pay us. We make nothing off of it monetarily. But it’s good to see our customers benefit from that. So we bring a lot of type of things like that.

Dave: Well, and you talked about that specific client, and there have been others too, but that specific one, the most fun for me, and I don’t know if you even know this, but that client was so happy with us. He was really just gushing his appreciation. I said, “No, no, no. I mean we just did the work. Ron did the hard part. Ron’s the guy-

Ron: Well, I appreciate that.

Dave: … you should be thanking.” Every year we try to do that. When they express their pleasure with the result, we always say, “Now, remember who it was that originally connected us, and remember, don’t hassle him just because your rates might have gone up this year through no fault of his.” That’s always fun to be able to help a client with another service.

Ron: Here, Dave, you just mentioned something about rates going up. I’d be remiss not to hit on that. We’re the advocate of our customers, and I think you know me well enough to know that. But the other thing about being experienced and having access to some of the markets is we represent our customers. We do not represent the insurance companies. So we hitch our wagon to our customers. The point of that is insurance will always be going up or down depending on what’s going on in the industry and in our economy. But we do not want to rest on one company, and so every year we aggressively market our customers’ insurance so they don’t have to. In other words, we’re not just going to ride one company year after year and let that premium creep up. We’re going to hold each company accountable. We’re going to force the pricing to be as low as possible, always looking for the best price. That’s something that a lot of agents don’t do simply because they don’t have the choices of insurance markets, they don’t have access to the insurance markets that we do. But we do, and that’s our responsible to make sure we honor that and get the best pricing for our customers.

Dave: I’m glad you mentioned that. I hadn’t really thought about that aspect of it, but that makes sense that it takes more work on your end but-

Ron: Oh, quite a bit more.

Dave: … it’s the best thing for your customer in the long run, what’s best for your customer, and so coming back to you in terms of greater loyalty and retention, right?

Ron: Well, my integrity is very important to me. I don’t want a customer to ever think that I was not giving my 100% to protect their premiums, give them the best coverage. If I just sat and did market and just rested with one insurance company, then they would have to question their integrity. I never want that to happen.

Dave: About some other examples?

Ron: Let’s see.

Dave: Either where you’ve saved somebody a bunch of money or got them a lot better coverage or maybe both.

Ron: Really, Dave, I can’t tell you how many times we walk into a situation with a new prospect where we just slashed their pricing, and that’s the first thing that jumps out to them. That’s just the nature of the business. The thing we’re so proud of is that we’re not only able to do but to greatly increase their coverage. A lot of customers don’t really appreciate that until they have a claim. When that unique and unusual claim is covered because of the specialized insurance we placed on it, that’s when I think they notice it and can really appreciate it. But until then, it’s basically the price savings.

Ron: But I can’t tell you how many, going back to the conversion, how many of those claims we’ve had where, again, typically most insurance policies don’t cover it. Ours do. We had one in north Texas where someone purchased a truck, a trailer actually, a truck tractor trailer and did not know it was stolen. They crushed it, shredded it, whatever they did to it. Then the rightful owner came in and said, “That’s our trailer. There was $900,000 worth of electronic equipment in the back of it.” Of course, our customer said, “Look, we did buy the trailer. There was nothing in the back of it.”

Ron: It’s just those kind of nightmare situations that can pop up. Luckily, we did have coverage for them that took care of them in the situation. We had another customer, a similar situation, where they were buying from industrial accounts, and they had customer’s employee who they knew, they’d seen him many time there’s in a uniform, was bringing equipment to them and did not know it was stolen. Trusted the guy. They had been buying from this customer forever, and come to find out that it was stolen equipment to the tune of about $120,000.

Dave: Oh, wow.

Ron: Luckily there was coverage there for it, conversion coverage took care of that where, again, most policies would not, and they would just be $120,000 out of the customer’s pocket without that coverage.

Dave: Wow. That’s-

Ron: You can kind of tell I have fun with that. I mean it’s kind of cool to see the coverage that we put in place come to fruition really help the customers out.

Dave: That’s good. You’d kind of touched earlier on that sometimes customers may not really understand what you do or just misconceptions they’ll have. What are some of the biggest misconceptions that you’ve seen that now would be a great time for you to correct those misunderstandings?

Ron: I think probably the greatest misconception, and I understand it, in all of our businesses, we’re just moving so fast and it’s just such a crazy world we’re in, and I probably even do it to some extent with my homeowners insurance, which I shouldn’t because I know better, but I think the biggest misconception is that it’s a commodity. That it’s just something they buy because they have to have it, a bank requires them to have it, whatever it might be, and they don’t fully appreciate and understand the benefit it’s bringing to them. It’s certainly not a commodity whatsoever. I mean the very survivability, if that’s a word, of a business can rest on whether you have the correct insurance in place.

Ron: Again, we see claims… We’ve had a situation where an employee was crushed and killed on a scrap yard. I think that ran into a couple million dollars. Well, if he had not had the right insurance, could his business have survived? I’ve had other businesses where a tornado took the business out. Again, if they didn’t have the correct kind of insurance, could they have recovered that, or would the loss of income been so great that it would have put them under?

Ron: It’s very critical and very important and it’s just so important for customers to actually, first of all, trust and understand that we’re on their side, and we’re not trying to make money. We are there to help, be their advocate, help them identify what the risks are, be a consultant, and then address those risks. We’ll put together the plans that will cover those risks, protect their businesses, and then it’s up to them on doing a cost/benefit analysis of what they want to insure and what they don’t want to insure. Everyone takes a certain amount of self-risk, and we understand that. Again, our job is to help them understand what those risks are and find ways to cover if they want to. But probably the biggest thing is being a commodity.

Dave: If somebody’s looking for a new insurance broker and they’re in the scrap industry, what are some of the questions you’d suggest that they ask the broker they’re talking to or that they’re interviewing?

Ron: That’s a great question. Probably two main things just jump out to me. First of all, what experience do they have with the scrap industry? Maybe question them on certain details of the industry and judge their knowledge of industry would probably be number one because having that base knowledge can be very important in a lot of ways. Because they’ve got to talk to underwriters. They’ve got the insured to an underwriter or to claims people, to a variety of individuals on the other end, and they’ve got to understand the industry to do that. The second question I’d ask is, what other scrap customers do they have? Do they just have one customer, or do they not have any? Again, that will tell a lot about their experience, not only knowing the industry but what access they may have to specialized insurance markets. All that’s going to benefit the customer. But definitely find out who else they insure that’s in the scrap industry and then just pick their brain and what their knowledge is of the industry.

Dave: Because it seems like there’s two paths somebody could go down. One is they could pick somebody in their local town who has a geographic focus but does not have an industry. So they have the benefit of that person being five minutes away, and they see them around town and at the golf course and church or synagogue. But the flip side of that is that means they’re probably dealing with more of a generalist, right?

Ron: That’s correct, absolutely.

Dave: Whereas using someone like you, it’s a different approach. You’ve got clients all over the country, so you’re not down the street. They won’t run into you socially. But what you bring, though, is this specialized expertise. Obviously, there’s a lot of your customers that have decided that that’s the path that they think is most prudent to go with a specialist even if they’re not down the street. Because if you’re in a small town and there’s only two scrap yards in town or four scrap yards and you’re using somebody who’s got a geographic locality, then by definition they can’t be an expert in the scrap business if there’s only four scrap yards in town, right?

Ron: Yes, absolutely, yeah. Dave, to be honest with you, across the country almost every customers that we’ve obtained over the last 25, 26 years, it’s been a situation where they have been with a particular insurance agency for, gosh, 15, 20, 25, 30 years in some cases. That’s not an easy change, and I understand that. But in the end what most business owners understand is when something as important as this that could dictate when your company survives or not based on a claim being paid and so forth, or just simply the cost if they can pay half the premiums. That’s a huge cost to their bottom line. It’s usually just a no brainer to make the move. Typically, those agents being that they really care about the customer, they understand that is what’s best for them, and it ends up being a pretty easy transition in most cases.

Dave: Is it usually price that creates the opportunity for you to get in the door, or was it a claim that wasn’t paid, or was it is service, or all of the above sometimes?

Ron: Yeah, really all the above. That’s why it’s important when we talk to customers, again, it gets back to listening. What are their needs? What are their pain points? What’s bothering them? Sometimes it is a claim wasn’t paid, and it probably could have been paid in another circumstance if someone had more knowledge about it. Or we talked about some of these endorsements claim not paid because they didn’t have the right endorsements or right coverage, or simply it’s just they’re paying too much. We can save them a lot of money. What happens a lot of times when an agent doesn’t have access to multiple markets, we call it premium creep where that’s the only insurance market they have for their customer, and so it’s a certain price. The next year the insurance agent comes in and says, “Upper management’s told us we got to get a 20% increase or a 15% increase.” That’s what they pass along, and the agent really has no other choice but to accept it. Then the next year another 15%, and the next year another 15%.

Dave: Until they’re paying-

Ron: So over a period of years, yeah, it just creeps up to this astronomical amount of premium.

Dave: Yeah, where you’re paying double.

Ron: That’s why I get back to what we said earlier how really every single renewal year we look at that pricing. We pit the insurance companies against each, and we create a competitive environment to keep that pricing down.

Dave: Well, I can’t believe how much we’ve been able to cover in a relatively short amount of time. If somebody is in the scrap metal business and is not using your service but is interested in exploring it, what would you suggest they do? Do you want them to just call you or shoot you an email? How would you like them to reach out to you?

Ron: David, I think either phone call or email, but ultimately at some point I think it’d be best for us to actually talk. That’s the only way to really communicate and find out what their needs are, what their current situation is. As you know, we’re easy to deal with. We’re not pushy. Every once in a while we find a case where they’re where they should be, and we tell them that. We don’t want to waste their time if we don’t think we can be of significant help to them. Again, it gets back to communication. I think either a phone call or email, but ultimately it’s best for us to actually talk either in person or by phone.

Dave: Well, what phone number and email address might people use to reach you?

Ron: The toll-free would be 800-765-6767. Then my direct number, which call me day or night, is 903-571-1084, call day and night and welcome them to call me anytime. Email would be ron.hallmark, that’s RonHallmark@HibbsHallmark.com. 

Dave: Okay, super. Then the other way they could connect with you is I believe you’ll be in Las Vegas in April at the ISRI annual convention. Is that correct?

Ron: We will. Now, we don’t have a booth there. We did it in past years, but we find it easier to be able to visit with our customers and prospects and get around better because it’s such a huge, as you know, convention. But certainly drop me an email. We can meet for a cup of coffee or something and visit while there because I’ll be there the whole time. We will have a booth at the Gulf Coast Convention in June down in Houston. We just got back, as you know, from the St. Louis Convention about two weeks ago.

Dave: Yeah, that was good. I will also be in Vegas in April and Houston in June. So that’s another great opportunity. If somebody’s interested in exploring or talking to you, that’d be a good way to do it. I can tell you Ron’s not pushy at all. He’s just very helpful. Oh, here’s one last question, how far before renewal should people be talking to you?

Ron: Actually, that’s a great question. Unfortunately, many times it’s two weeks, a month that we have a chance to look at things. With renewals, we always start about 120 days out, start working on it.

Dave: So four months.

Ron: Exactly. We’d really love to have three months. That being said, it’s very common we start about 30 days with a lot of new prospects and sometimes even less than that. We’ll do our best. Just so people will know, it’s also to the benefit to start early. I know there’s a lot on everybody’s plate, but the quicker and earlier you can start, the better pricing you can get and better coverages.

Dave: So really even six months out if they’re starting a relationship with you and their first one and to just get to know you before they even have you quote them. Even six months out is not too far out, is it?

Ron: Really there is no too far, to be honest with you, because I put our current customer, we really work with them year round. People don’t see that necessarily. Just like we talked about with work comp experience modifiers, that information is sent to NCCI about six months before the end of the policy, six or seven months. So about seven or eight months before the end of the policy we need to help a customer looking through their loss runs for work comp, finding out if they’re correct, if there’s something still open that should be closed because we want to get that information corrected before it goes to NCCI.

Dave: What about-

Ron: It’s really about a 12-month process.

Dave: Let’s say somebody has a 1/1 renewal, and so it seems like it’s way too early to start talking. Let’s just say they talk to you, and they’re one of those customers that you could reduce their premium by half. Conceptually could you start a new program earlier than 1/1 of next year and just terminate the current program, or does that current program have to run its course?

Ron: No, absolutely, and we do that quite often. It’s not uncommon at all to do that especially when we look at their coverages and we can identify that the pricing is way out of whack, way too high, or if their company is really in jeopardy of a potentially unpaid claim because of their coverages, whatever it might be. There may be a need and a desire on all parties to go ahead and get this changed right away. In most cases, there are no penalties to changing, so we can provide proposals, let them look at it, review it with them, show them how it benefits them. If they make that decision to change, there’s usually not a penalty of canceling their other policy and then starting with a new policy at lower premiums and better coverage. Now, there are some surplus lines companies that do have to wait 30, or excuse me, 90 days after the effective date, so basically after the third month of the policy, then you can change with no penalties. Again, that’s just on surplus lines type policies. We help walk the customer through that, the pros and cons.

Dave: If I’m hearing you correctly, the best time to talk to Ron is today, and the next best time is tomorrow.

Ron: Yeah, exactly.

Dave: The best time is tomorrow regardless of when the renewal is.

Ron: Yeah. It gets back to just talking. Again, call. It’s never too soon to call. We’ll just advise and show you the pros and cons of waiting to renewal or try to do something right away.

Dave: Now, what if somebody calls-

Ron: Again, at the end of the day, the customer’s the one that makes that decision.

Dave: Now what if someone calls you and says, “Hey, Ron. We’ve had the same insurance broker for 40 years. They’ve now retired, and somebody new in their office has taken over. We think we’ve got good coverage, but we just really feel like we’re not getting any kind of service at all.” Is it possible for you to come in and actually keep them with the same carrier but if they want you, you can take over the management of that situation?

Ron: Good question as well. For instance, there’s RecycleGuard. It’s an endorsed carrier of ISRI. We work with them. It is open to most insurance companies or to agents. So we do from time to time find a customer with RecycleGuard to a different agent. Then whatever may happen, the agent may retire, or they may not be happy with their service, or whatever the case may be. In that case we come in and do what’s called agent of record letter, and they make us the official agent. Then immediately they get our experience and expertise in the industry, and then at that point we go to work with them. We start negotiating with RecycleGuard to see if there’s anything we can do to improve the policies and maybe even get pricing down immediately, not wait to renewal. At the same time we start preparing for renewal to look at all our other markets. Again, getting back to who’s going to be the best choice, is it still RecycleGuard, or is it another carrier? It doesn’t matter to us. We just want what’s best for the customers.

Dave: I think my understanding is even broader now, so regardless of what carrier they’re currently with, regardless of who their agent is, and regardless of when their renewal is, today’s a good day to talk to Ron Hallmark, right?

Ron: I would agree, absolutely.

Dave: Well, super. Well, I really appreciate your time today, Ron, and I really appreciate the great job you’ve done for our clients through the years. You really make us look like a superstar because we know you and can bring you to the table. A lot folks just don’t know that there’s a specialized insurance brokerage firm such as yours, so thanks again for being such a great friend of our firm.

Ron: Yeah, Dave, I have the same sentiments about you and your service as well. You’ve done some great things for our customers. Again, it’s nothing I get paid off of. I love what you’ve done for them, and you’ve benefited them, and I really appreciate that. I appreciate you having me on today. This is fun.

Dave: Yeah, it has been. Well, hey, it was good talking to, and I will probably see you in Las Vegas in April.

Ron: Yeah, sounds good. See you then.

Dave: All right, thanks Ron.

Ron: Yeah, take care, David. Bye.

Dave: There we have it, another great episode. Thanks for listening in. If you want to continue the conversation, go to ic-discshow.com, and we have additional information on the podcast, archived episodes, as well as a button to be a guest. So if you’d like to be a guest, go select that and fill out the information, and we’d love to have you on the show. So that’s it. We’ll be back next time with another episode of the IC-Disc Show.