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Making Risk Management Company Culture: SeibertKeck Insurance Partners

By October 5, 2021November 12th, 2021Agency Management Moments

SeibertKeck Insurance Partners is a shining example of an independent insurance agency. Started by two families, the Seibert’s and the Keck’s this agency has grown over the past 110 years. Now boasting 19 locations throughout the state of Ohio as well as exponential growth, SeibertKeck is focused on how to give back to their clients and communities. In a recent survey of their associates SeibertKeck showed 127 voluntary board positions held. Not only are they strengthening their ties to the community that they serve, they also know that insurance isn’t just about the lowest premium. Through their Encompass Risk Management Program customers are benefit from a thorough audit of the company and continual programs to prevent risks from occurring. 


Edwin K. Morris (3s):
Welcome to the trusted adviser podcast brought to you by Iroquois Group. Iroquois is your trusted advisor in all things insurance. I am Edwin K Morris. Tim Able is the executive vice president of sales and operations at SeibertKeck insurance partners. That’s headquartered in Akron, Ohio At SeibertKeck, Tim Able oversees the day-to-day operations of this multi location agency. Tim also helps to develop successful risk management strategies for their clients. He is committed to the growth of the agency and its involvement in the communities of its many offices, SeibertKeck insurance partners.

Edwin K. Morris (49s):
What has been going on with that organization over the last few years?

Tim Able (53s):
Thanks Edwin when the last few years for us has been since 1910, we’ve been in business over 110 years. And maybe the most interesting point there we’ve found no one really cares how long you’ve been in business. Just what you’ve been doing lately

Edwin K. Morris (1m 8s):
Is that lead in? You say, Hey, you know, we’ve been in business since 1910, you know, back when model A’s were like really cool,

Tim Able (1m 15s):
Tim Siebert and George Keck established the agency in downtown Akron way back when, but yeah, it was a, something of a lead in, because the last 10, 15 years or so has seen exponential growth more than the previous a hundred or so.

Edwin K. Morris (1m 29s):
What was the magic?

Tim Able (1m 31s):
Yeah. You know, we’re, we’re in probably the most exciting time of the agency’s history. I’d say a strengthened organic sales team and a new strategy of growing the footprint across Ohio.

Edwin K. Morris (1m 45s):
So what’s that footprint look like people, personnel, places, technology

Tim Able (1m 52s):
In places where in over 19 locations across the state, which, you know, going back to today, one is a big change. People has been such a blessing. The agency is blessed with so many experts and just dedicated individuals to the mission here and to protect our client’s assets and preserve the culture of the agency. So we we’ve, we’ve come about this in a couple of ways. It’s finding new clients, which we’re really good at and finding new agency partners to, to join that footprint and to kind of join the team.

Edwin K. Morris (2m 27s):
So how are you connecting all these offices?

Tim Able (2m 29s):
You know, before COVID we had stepped in on some technology that at the time the investment was a little uncomfortable. It was probably more than we needed, you know, kind of a Cadillac of virtual machines and it, and all that. But once COVID hit boy, we were happy that we made a decision like that. So we’ve, we’ve been able to keep in touch very well through technology and video,

Edwin K. Morris (2m 53s):
We’re going about a major investment, right. And technology and what it can do for you. How long did that the application to hit and make money as far as people adopted it. And ran with it.

Tim Able (3m 5s):
In large part, it was very easy because a lot of us had new toys that we had never had before. You know, whether that is an, a tapping into your desktop from anywhere in the world and feeling like you’re really sitting at your desk to, you know, personal individualized conference lines, video lines, and fire up from the car or sitting outside of a client meeting, a lot of them were, were, were really fun and, and aided in the process of serving clients

Edwin K. Morris (3m 32s):
You talked about how blessed you were with the people side of this. So where did you find all these adaptive people that were like, oh, new toys let’s go.

Tim Able (3m 41s):
You know, we’re a healthy mix of folks that have been here for 40 years. In some cases actually correct that 50 years. We’re about to have someone cross the 50 year mark. Yeah. Right. We, we talk about the agency is kind of building blocks in a way because every new agency that joins the fray is kind of another addition we grow. And with that brings excellent people to, we step into an agency and say, Athens, Ohio, which, you know, as a smaller agency has three or four associates in each brings a little something different to the table at times can be challenging to all, you know, why are you doing it this way? What the heck are you guys doing?

Tim Able (4m 22s):
But it can also be affirming as you know, we hear often, oh, we’ve been looking for this technology or would we’ve been waiting to do it this way. And now we’re part of a larger organization. We can finally do it.

Edwin K. Morris (4m 34s):
Well, you’ve talked about everything. That’s an internal facing communication structure, a knowledge flow structure. Is there as much effort and resources put towards the public facing?

Tim Able (4m 47s):
Yeah, I’d say as much, if not more, if you look at it from a dollars and cents standpoint, both are significant investments spending time inside the business, then also engaging our clients and our community, the sales team to our service teams and executive leadership. You know, whether that be traditional annual events to individual board involvement, committee involvement in so many great organizations, which thankfully a lot of clients.

Edwin K. Morris (5m 19s):
Can you give me some examples of what that looks like? Sure.

Tim Able (5m 21s):
And I’ll give you a couple, two examples. You know, some of our involvement in the community, the, the vehicles that we use to communicate our culture, our home grown a few of us, you know, brainstorming an idea on how to give back to the community and the kiddos around our offices that aren’t able to experience Easter. Like the rest of us. We came up with this Easter basket mission, which is in its third or fourth year to attaching ourselves to established missions and causes already in our communities. You know, the opioid crisis has been something that has affected so many and Ohio is blessed with clinics and homes to address that.

Tim Able (6m 5s):
We’ve made it a point to support those again, many whom are clients. So it’s easy to think, oh, we support clients for sure, but we want to support those in our communities that could possibly work here, could possibly be clients of ours in the future. It’s very symbiotic in that way.

Edwin K. Morris (6m 22s):
Sounds like you are set for not just a top down flow, but a bottom up reconnect and in a constant flow of interchange

Tim Able (6m 31s):
We encourage all levels of the agency to get involved, to whatever extent they can, time talent, treasure, and ties is the big one, too. If you don’t have all of those, that’s fine. If you just have one of them and contribute great, the large board of directors that requires some financial investment, those are good for some. And you know, there are cleanup days and different communities around town that need muscles. So we do that too. And this kind of back to your question, kind of all jives with our culture, we are showing the community the same thing that our leadership is exuding internally readings through kind of that we call it a compassionate accountability.

Edwin K. Morris (7m 17s):
And it’s just good leadership by the sounds of it. Yeah. Thank you. So let’s talk about a technology called encompass.

Tim Able (7m 23s):
So we believe here at the agency that insurance is only one aspect of a successful risk management program. We stepped back and looked at this from, from a direction of process, which clients consumers, if you look at yourself as, as a consumer, we become more comfortable with stepped processes. You know, let’s start at step one and assess the organization where you are, where you’ve been, where you guys are headed in the coming years, because there are exposures there and risks that we need to catch up front so that we can plan for them to the chunky kind of risk auditing feature.

Tim Able (8m 5s):
We kind of try to come up with a fancier name for that, but it’s really a risk audi. Nobody, nobody likes nobody liked being audited, but

Edwin K. Morris (8m 14s):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean really, I mean, you’re, you’re doing it for a better understanding and a finer point to what the solution could be.

Tim Able (8m 21s):
Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, you know, audit portrays that deep dive. Like we’re going to sit down and really get in to these things. So step one, we assess the organization. Step two is, is we take a deep dive in to the risks at hand and the exposures as we step into our third, which is kind of that tactical planning, which we feel is kinda missed in the process of what other agents refer to as quoting,

Edwin K. Morris (8m 50s):
Split that out for me, tell me what that actually means then.

Tim Able (8m 53s):
This is the part where we like the phrase client taking back control of their total cost of risk, where they feel involved, not feel involved. They are involved in the process where it’s, it’s not, Hey, can we provide a quote or can we get in there and save you some money? And I’m talking large businesses, not, not main street shops where it’s, yeah, we’ll take a quote this year. Oh my gosh. It’s so much more than that. We step back from where our competition may be starting at step four, Edwin, which we see as implementation. We’ve gathered all of our audits. We’ve assessed the organization.

Tim Able (9m 34s):
We’ve spoken to leadership at the client. Now let’s go to market where the competition may say, let’s grab the policies, put it in the system. Let’s go to market

Edwin K. Morris (9m 42s):
How do you get over the hump of getting a client just wants a quote, right? Just, just give me a quote, you know, cause they’re bottom line oriented. How do you get them to look at this a little deeper? Like you guys want them to look

Tim Able (9m 55s):
That is an excellent question because of It’s not for everyone. We talk a lot about goals of their insurance program, which some, some may have a cross-eyed response as well, goals or the program is to spend less money And that’s that, Hey, that is a priority. And we do that in conjunction with, with reducing the frequency of claims. Can we do that by also reducing the severity of claims because that really is the client’s total cost of risk. They look at their expenses and it’s, we, we pay 250,000 a year in insurance.

Tim Able (10m 40s):
Well, really you pay considerably more than that. If we’re looking at where your losses are coming from, you have a heavy auto fleet and we experience all sorts of things throughout the year or we’re a medical office. And those professional risks can be, can be really damning. So to look at the total cost of risk and where those costs are coming from is important.

Edwin K. Morris (11m 1s):
Is that the end state of the encompass process?

Tim Able (11m 5s):
Yeah, the end state is to supply real data and analysis by digging in both organizationally, which is kind of subjective and also at the policy level, which can be very objective, right? Benchmarking their performance in the insurance marketplace. But also we find this as lost too. How often are we holding ourselves accountable as agent and benchmarking ourself to the competition. We want to come in at, you know, six months, every six months, or as, as much as they want to talk about insurance, to be honest with you and talk about how is the program and performing with the insurance market that we’re in, how is the agency performing on what we promised day one, you know, whether that be safety meetings or deliverables, you know, in the form of employee handbook or safety measures, those risk management principles.

Tim Able (12m 5s):
So the end cap, Edwin is just a long-term plan. You know, we don’t, we don’t make it a secret that we want to be in business with our clients for a very long time. And we want to provide a plan that develops a lot of it develops quickly. I mean, if there is premium to be saved here, that’s going to happen quickly. We want that to happen now and realize those savings, but safety measures and risk management principles can take time to develop. It really organizationally comes from the top down. There’s some really interesting case studies out there about, about what safety and an importance on risk management can do to the bottom line.

Edwin K. Morris (12m 43s):
Well, can you give me a good example of a success story where this encompass process came in and floored somebody, and you just want all kinds of businesses.

Tim Able (12m 54s):
T that one up, I’ll give you, I’ll give you one example, two examples, but one is, is, is funny in a way it’s sad, but it’s funny through that risk audit. You know, one of those pieces is yes, we do eventually have to have the policies in hand, right? I don’t want to dog the traditional process of collecting information and pouring into it. Eventually we need to look at the coverages and, but I will tell you that not everybody is doing that. Give me the policies so that I can just copy it and get a quote. So that risk audit, that deep dive compares, what we think is insured with what is their list of assets?

Tim Able (13m 41s):
And can we find, hopefully we don’t, but can we find some irregularities there, which selfishly, you know, provides our foot in the door, but also more importantly, gets this client covered as accurately as possible. Recently in the last six months, we had a large prospect that we were working with and we presented the dog and pony show of encompass the five steps, you know, our average results with across the many clients we’ve presented this to. And I can share that with you as well, but also our findings that a building had been uninsured for three years with the agent they’re currently with, to the tune of 30 million in value.

Tim Able (14m 21s):
Yeah. That is a real world problem. And a total loss, partial loss, any kind of loss situation troublesome for the client, for sure. Troublesome for the agent that was of record for sure. I’ll kind of challenge myself. Cause others would say, well, that’s pretty easy. Anybody could find a building that’s not insured. Okay. But that policy had, had passed two agent’s hands before we showed up. So what am I left to believe their Edwin is that there are some bad processes in across the industry.

Edwin K. Morris (14m 54s):
I can just imagine that this audit process that you don’t like to call an audit the idea to actually go through and make a person go through what they think they have in inventory, just to reflect on what’s insured. And what’s not is going to take some work. It’s going to take a little diving in there.

Tim Able (15m 16s):
One step even further is to go through. But one step further is to walk through, right? We don’t want to insure what we haven’t seen. Carriers don’t want to ensure what they haven’t seen, right. Even through COVID, but they were sending drones out and all sorts of things to get their eyes on stuff. So as we’re walking around the yard or their different locations, this one came about that way. I’m so glad you mentioned it because it’s, we’ll meet you at 1301 ABC avenue. Well, what’s there. Well, that’s our manufacturing. So it is, didn’t see it over here. So it became really evident. So the other piece I’d want to, if I could answer is more of a frequency of claims.

Tim Able (16m 0s):
We didn’t have much premium to save another client. As the previous agent had done a good job of leveraging their relationship with the marketplace and was able to affect the premium. However, total cost of risk is just as important. So digging into their loss history, which is a great question for any client often, have they done that and finding smaller claims, but very frequent within their auto fleet and asking questions of training their drivers. You know, these trailer talks to, some of them are called simple as operating on the road, turn signals, backing up rear view cameras.

Tim Able (16m 43s):
Are we using, you know, all sorts of things that over a three-year period was able to make a significant impact on losses. So the premium stayed relatively flat. I can’t brag about making an impact there, but I can brag about introducing some training principles that it’s very key that leadership be on board because no one’s going to do it if leadership’s dragging on it. But when implemented was able to save on terrible trend of claims, frequency

Edwin K. Morris (17m 12s):
It appears, that you’re in it for the deep game of changing behaviors, not just sales, right? You’re in it to educate and to reduce risk all the way back through the system, through the organization and not just look at a, a one-shot deal. So I would have to assume you’ve got a fair amount of retention.

Tim Able (17m 38s):
Retention is solid. It saw a new business and the agency is we break our own record every year here at SeibertKeck, I’ll offer a soundbite and that’s insurance agent, client relationship is broken. There’s little to no expectation of real value added or anything driven in service from the agent it’s premium, it’s premium and premium and premium over and over and over. And as that gets regurgitated year over year, you start to miss $30 million building. You get to miss a frequency of easily remedied claims.

Tim Able (18m 18s):
And I’ll tell you what insurance, in most cases, not ours is based on its feel good relationships and as business owner, it’s cool. Maybe I want to do business with the guy I see at the country club every week. But if you want to protect your business long term, save money outside of premium, because it’s more than that. You got to find somebody that has real value driven service. Yeah,

Edwin K. Morris (18m 43s):
Yeah. As you’re saying that I can remember as a kid raised in a small business world of my parents and the insurance guy coming around in the fall with a box of candy. I mean, that was the, that was his little stop in, Hey, as you know, to, to keep everything. And I’m like, you know, when you, when you think about it now and you talk about value, was that value for the client or value for him? The expectation is changed as the, as the world has changed, right? The client, their perspective, their, their view on what they should be getting versus just the run the numbers.

Edwin K. Morris (19m 25s):
Tell me where I’m going to save money kind of thing. You’re building in a whole new world of expectations.

Tim Able (19m 32s):
Yeah. And I can share the steps in grand overview and talk about process. We’ve branded this little thing of ours and others could take those words and write them down on a sheet, but to implement and to have the expertise, to be able to see it through is something wholly different.

Edwin K. Morris (19m 55s):
Yeah. The, the difference between a really professional chef versus somebody making soup out of a, can you, you, right. I mean, it’s like, you can have the recipe, these are the ingredients, how you present them and how you make them is up to you. But yeah, it’s not easy. It’s hard to duplicate.

Tim Able (20m 12s):
I’d say it’s easy to present and attract. It’s very difficult to implement and see it through to results.

Edwin K. Morris (20m 20s):
Tim, thanks for all the great information. And I’m fascinated with the whole connection to how the culture interacts with their community. As you said, giving back is very key to society in general.

Tim Able (20m 33s):
Yeah. I, I appreciate that. We recently surveyed our agency and all of our associates and we sit on or serve a board or committee over 127 spots. If you will. That’s magnificent. It’s not 127 individuals. That may be a little less cause several sit on many.

Edwin K. Morris (20m 53s):
Well, best of success to you and we’ll see you around the insurance business. Thanks Tim. Thanks. Thanks for listening to this edition of the Trusted Advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois Group. Iroquois is your trusted advisor for all things, insurance, and remember get out of the office and sell. I am Edwin K Morris, and I invite you to join me for the next edition of the Trusted Advisor podcast.