Today’s assignment – try to make insurance interesting. A nigh impossible task without our Provider Spotlight shining on Maxx Hofmann, Associate Producer at Conner Strong & Buckelew.
Chili – To most people – insurance is boring. It’s the flossing of business practices; let’s face it, nobody loves to floss. My dentist had a picture on the wall captioned “floss only the teeth you want to keep” so it’s important. Not to drill you right away, but can you make insurance more fun for our clients? Is there any hope?
Hofmann – I frankly tell people – insurance is not sexy or super exciting. As long those of us in the business are professional, we can help make it a little more stirring. For example, if our review shows a client can absorb more risk and it translates into good performance, they’re excited to “reduce their bottom line”.
I know colleagues doing this job for 40-50 years who wake up looking forward to their day. They turn it into something exciting. For me there is a service function – I can help people and that’s stimulating.
Chili – When you help someone it’s rewarding; how about when you can’t help, or you don’t get a deal?
Hofmann – Usually if you miss an opportunity, you couldn’t build a relationship or someone you didn’t know was involved, influenced the decision. I try to review and figure out what I missed and learn from each opportunity, especially a missed opportunity.
For example, I try to set expectations. You usually only have one broker. So, if we can deliver a better plan, someone needs to be replaced. At times, even if you are able to “identify glaring deficiencies or structure a more comprehensive program,” they may not be ready to give up an existing relationship.
Chili – Our founder, Andrew Smith, was impressed by your exuberance when he first met you. Where do you get that positive energy and is there anywhere I can buy some?
Hofmann – I’ve always been wired like this and love being around people. It’s corny, but I’ve read a lot of positive thinking books. A couple of quotes come to mind “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so” by Shakespeare. The more updated version by Jim Rohn “it’s not what happens, it’s how you handle it.”
Chili – You also mentioned you’re inspired by a person and an event.
Hofmann – My younger sister is a leukemia survivor, and in a wheelchair due to health complications. It’s uplifting to witness her strength as she attended college and overcomes the daily challenges she faces. And my fiancée and I were in a serious car accident and lucky to have survived. After that, it’s easy to appreciate every day on earth.
Chili – We skipped our usual Provider Spotlight question about your first job. Can you tell us about it?
Hofmann – I am a big car guy so working at a garage after I turned fifteen was an ideal job. I got to see some great cars; one customer had a few Ferraris and some Porsches. I also made money so I could afford to work on my own car. I had insurance on it but didn’t realize that my future would be there.
Chili – There are so many aspects of insurance for multi-family owners to consider. What are the two most important areas?
Hofmann – The most important thing is to have a partner with the expertise and experience to understand your business. You must understand the multifamily industry, otherwise you don’t understand coverage and claims and can’t benchmark their existing coverage.
Chili – In every Provider Spotlight we need a shameless ASM plug. Thanks for the transition. At ASM, industry understanding starts with our founder. Andrew Smith learned the ancillary services business as an insider for five years before he launched ASM in 2003, as an outsourced ancillary services company. Now when we launch a program for one client, we find our other clients have a similar opportunity and benefit as well.
Hofmann – Happy to help. To finish up on my answer, the second key aspect is to let an experienced professional perform a thorough review of your entire insurance and risk management program. When we do a review, it takes 40-60 hours. It’s not just about the cheapest price. If there are holes in your coverage, you save on insurance costs but are vulnerable to a big loss. Our reviews uncover those gaps and show where you are exposed.
Chili – I read the article you wrote for the Pennsylvania Apartment Association. It reminded me of Dorothy and her pals, “lions and tigers and bears, Oh My”. Except it was “mold and fungus and asbestos, Oh My”. There are lots of threats out there for owners. How can they best determine the risk factors?
Hofmann – Most people don’t care about insurance until they have a claim. Clients may only have the basic coverages of slip and fall, fire and often there are very restrictive clauses. Cyber insurance ten years ago was not on most owners’ radar. Now it’s a major concern. I worked with a building developer, who until we did our review, didn’t know he had a policy exclusion for development.
I understand how a client could overlook items given the sheer size of the typical policy. I recently reviewed three policies for a real estate company and the documents totaled over nine hundred pages. When the contract weighs more than a pot roast you know the client likely won’t read it all; ultimately it’s the brokers responsibility to explain the policy contents.
Chili – Well, that is more insurance talk than any human deserves. Thanks for your insights. We heard a lot about scary things and that’s unavoidable with this topic. Can you end this piece with anything funny? I’ll double the payment we are providing if you do.
Hofmann – Well, I’m an insurance guy, not a comedian, so I am going to have to pass on that one. I appreciate the opportunity to chat with you, Terry. Thank you.
Chili – Maxx declined my offer for humor, so the best insurance joke I could find was:
Q. How many actuaries does it take to change a light bulb?
A. How many did it take last year?