Intention is the first step in becoming panel counsel for a new insurance carrier in 2019. This article outlines how to get on more insurance panels in 2019.
As Deepak Chopra says, intention is the starting point of every dream. Whether you want to become AIG panel counsel, Hartford insurance panel counsel, or State Farm panel counsel, everything starts with a plan.
Intention involves a commitment to act; in this case to create and implement a course of business development activities that your insurance defense law firm can follow over the course of the next 12 months.
In our work with 150 insurance defense law firms in 36 states, we have helped clients gain new panel appointments by following the structured business development process outlined in five steps below.
Step 1 in getting more clients as an insurance defense lawyer is for the law firm’s managing partner to create a marketing committee with a stated goal of achieving a measurable increase in 2019 revenue, profitability, and client count. This marketing committee will set the tone from the top, letting all partners and associates know the importance of business development. The same approach can also work within a practice group, where the practice chairperson leads the effort.
Step 2 is the development of professional marketing materials for your insurance defense law firm. A “law firm resume” is an essential sales tool. This is typically a 10-page document that introduces the law firm, the practice areas, the attorneys, and other information that insurance carriers need to see in order to consider a law firm for a panel position.
A practice group resume is also recommended in those cases where one practice area is taking the lead in business development. We see this most often with Labor & Employment practice groups that are feeling the pressure to get named as EPLI panel counsel on an employment practices liability insurance policy. This could also apply to areas like workers’ compensation, trucking and transportation, cybersecurity, or environmental law.
Step 3 is creating a target list of specific insurance companies, corporations, or municipalities that the law firm considers to be suitable candidates for business development.This step is very often a stumbling block for two reasons: a) it is extremely difficult to identify who is in charge of a claims and litigation panel; and b) you also need to identify which insurance companies are admitted to write business in your state.
Every insurance company and corporation is organized differently. In some companies there may be one national gatekeeper, while in other similar firms the claims panel process might be managed on a regional or state-level basis.
Many law firms try to do this research internally but find that they can’t sustain the effort. This is one area where bringing in a marketing consultant with specialized knowledge of the insurance defense market can accelerate your business development efforts.
Step 4 is the outreach effort to introduce your law firm to prospective clients. While a personal introduction is always the best way to get more business, it is not always feasible in a rapidly changing world where many hiring programs are becoming less personalized.
The challenge in this step is sustaining the effort. Very often, it takes multiple attempts to reach a panel manager before you can make a connection. Polite persistence is the best approach, with a balance between simply asking repetitively while also offering something of value to the prospect(like the availability of continuing education seminars).
The law firm that tries one single outreach effort in pursuing a carrier and abandons the effort early with the attitude “well that didn’t work” is leaving money on the table. For law firms that often tout their “aggressive representation,” aggressive in this case means a sustained effort to make a connection.
Step 5 in the quest for how to get on insurance panels is to start the process all over again, this time pursuing more targeted market niches. If the first business development campaign focused on getting on more panels at insurance companies, for example, subsequent marketing programs can target private sector client in the hospitality, retail, trucking, or healthcare industries.
Most corporations maintain some level of “self-insured retention” (SIR) as part of their commercial general liability (CGL) policy or an employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) policy. As a result, corporations also maintain a defense panel program to handle smaller claims under a certain dollar value.
In the author’s experience, those law firms that have the intention, maintain the commitment, and follow through effectively on a campaign that answers the question of how to get on insurance panels.
Why is it so Hard to Get on an Insurance Panel?
It is indeed a difficult process to get on an insurance panel. Here are some of the reasons:
- The insurance defense market is very competitive, with lots of law firms jockeying for a place at the table.
- Insurance companies are cutting back on the number of law firms they work with, creating fewer opportunities.
- Regional insurance defense law firms with multiple offices across a state or region are gaining more prominence, which is attractive to many insurance carriers. Law firms with a single office can be at a disadvantage, even when they claim to provide services across a state.
- Insurance companies themselves continue to merge and refocus operations, further narrowing panel counsel positions.
- It is very difficult to identify who is in charge of a litigation panel, for the reasons mentioned above.
Insurance Defense Marketing Consultant for Law Firms
If your insurance defense law firm is asking how you can get on more insurance panels, give us a call. We have helped more than 150 insurance defense law firms in 36 states pursue new insurance panel counsel clients.
Legal Expert Connections, Inc. offers three key benefits to insurance defense law firms nationwide:
- We are the leading U.S. legal marketing agency specializing in the insurance defense market. We make it our business to identify who you need to contact at an insurance company, corporation or municipality to be considered as a panel counsel member. We accelerate your business development process by helping you focus on introducing your law firm to new prospective clients.
- You get a structured business development process. We guide your law firm through a proven three-step campaign that brings discipline, focus, and productivity to your marketing efforts.
- Increase revenue with professional, Bar-compliant legal marketing campaigns. We do the research to identify insurance panel managers, so you can focus your time on the business development process.
Click on the link to read the latest issue of The Panelist, a newsletter for insurance defense law firms.