Finding value in partnership: Understanding client's needs key to success

Adding value. This is an often-used phrase in business, but what does it truly mean? What are ways brokers and insurance companies can add value to clients?

Finding value in partnershipBy understanding what's important to each client and going above and beyond. This story is a collection of examples about how AFM's services are proving valuable to a long-term client.

For 15 years, AFM has insured a food manufacturer with multiple plants—and that partnership recently reached new levels of success. AFM offers a vast array of services to help clients meet their business goals and this manufacturer availed themselves of several of these services in the past year alone. Product testing, global services and loss prevention engineering are just a few of the services AFM provided.

Engineering flexibility
In an effort to tailor our engineering services to this client's specific needs and risks, the risk manager, broker engineer and broker client advocate held a series of discussions about the client's history of equipment hazard (EH) losses. The result was regular EH servicing and special visits focusing on EH exposures. We also revised the scope of our fire visits to take a more consultative approach, focusing on the biggest risk to the client's business—combustible dust exposure. The client expressed satisfaction with AFM's realignment of servicing and willingness to be flexible with the scope of the visits.

Testing at FM Global Research Campus
The client recently came to us about testing dust samples to create a "library" of test results. We will be testing a number of samples over a period of years so the client will have a reliable set of information on hand each time they install new dust collection equipment.

AFM's engineering and research capabilities also proved beneficial while the client was in the process of developing a sprinkler scheme for an area in one of the company's factories. We submitted product samples to the Research Campus for testing. The tests revealed a flash point of >450 °F, (>232°C) which allowed the client to significantly reduce the sprinkler design, making for a more feasible solution in protecting certain raw materials at the factory.

Global services
The client is currently outfitting a new manufacturing plant in China. This is their first venture outside of North America and we assisted with this project from the beginning. AFM arranged a joint meeting at the China project site with our field engineering personnel and representatives from the broker and client's organizations. Not only was our China field engineering team able to comment on potential exposures and how to protect them, but they also served as a liaison to explain the various intricacies of local requirements.

Another example of how our engineers were able to help in China involves obtaining an acceptable pump. The four-month lead time for the pump would have jeopardized the project deadline, so an AFM engineering manager in Shanghai called a number of pump vendors to check if any suitable pumps were on-hand. Eventually, a used pump was found at another client site, and our client was able to purchase it.

Proof of partnership
Just about every step of the way, the client expressed gratitude for the flexible and responsive service they were receiving. Particularly gratifying to the broker and our account team was this comment emailed from the client's risk manager: "It is much appreciated and recognized as another example of our partnership and mutual goal of loss prevention."

But, the ultimate display of partnership came when the client decided to install sprinklers at its largest factory, the last of their facilities that is unsprinklered. This project is currently under way and could have been the focus of this success story. However, more importantly, it is the small successes like the ones previously mentioned in this article that convince clients to even contemplate that amount of capital to a risk improvement project.

These successes also illustrate what happens when we work as a team—client, broker, and carrier. Over the years, the broker and AFM have demonstrated to this client the power of our numerous services and our dedicated staff. AFM employees from underwriting, engineering and research, global services, enterprise learning supported this client, as did the broker's staff. We have formed a true partnership and this has resulted in a shared vision—the majority of loss is preventable and it is easier to try to prevent a loss than recover from one.

Visit our website to learn more about AFM's commitment to building long-term partnerships and how our engineering expertise can help brokers and clients.