As the risk manager for an agricultural cooperative that sprays pesticides, plants genetically modified crops and sells propane and other explosive materials, Faith Cring knows that there are few underwriters who want any part of her business.
“In agriculture, we deal with everything that the underwriter doesn’t like,” she said.
Cring also recognizes that excess underwriters tend to be city dwellers, not immediately comfortable with agriculture, or its risks.
“We’re not the hamburger joint on the corner,” she said. “We’re not typical.”
So Cring, herself a former underwriter with an MGA, took a wise approach to helping underwriters get more comfortable with her cooperative’s risk. So comfortable in fact, that Growmark is now considered a benchmark organization, one that underwriters refer to when asking other firms to step up their game.
“Growmark has embraced enterprise risk management across the board. They want to bear risk, they don’t want to just trade dollars with insurance companies,” said Dan Real, the president of ECC Insurance Brokers in Oak Terrace, Ill., which services Cring’s account.
One of Cring’s key programs brings urban-based underwriters out to the country to educate them about pesticide drift claims, grain siloes, and other realities of the agriculture business. When Cring conducts tours of Growmark facilities, she insists on complete transparency.
For example, she doesn’t coach location managers on what to say to underwriters.
“She wants full and total transparency on the exposure,” said Real. “The last thing she wants to hear from an underwriter is ‘Oh, I didn’t know you did that.’ ”
And rather than just seeing the underwriters at renewal time or once or twice a year, Cring visits with some underwriters four or five times per year. She lets her broker, Dan Real, handle the renewal negotiations.
“No insurance company makes any money that first year they put an insured on the books; they don’t. The only way they are making money is if they keep and maintain relationships, and that is what we’re looking for.” — Faith Cring, director, Engineering, Environmental, Safety and Insurance, Growmark Inc.
What she’s after is a much more thorough understanding of the insurance companies she is working with.
In turn, she wants the underwriters to fully understand her company’s business, and where the risk lies.
Cring seeks long-term relationships with her carriers, some of which she has been working with for more than 20 years, others closer to 30.
As a former underwriter, she knows that’s the way she can get tailored coverage for her business, and make sure that her underwriting partners make enough money to want to keep her business.
“I always tell them, I’m here to see you make money, but that you don’t make too much money,” Cring said. “No insurance company makes any money that first year they put an insured on the books; they don’t.
“The only way they are making money is if they keep and maintain relationships, and that is what we’re looking for,” she said. &