Defining Your Value

As a broker, you make your living as an intermediary. And that almost always means people will question the value you add to the process.

This issue isn’t new—or even exclusive to insurance brokers. Intermediaries in every industry are under constant pressure to justify their existence. For example, brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart face heavy competition from online retailers like Amazon.

Herein lies the challenge. How are intermediaries adapting to this new business environment? They add value where possible, by personalizing the customer experience. And rather than fear technology – they leverage it to streamline procurement, engage with customers, and control costs.

As you redefine your role as a broker, you can combat this middleman perception, help your clients decrease costs, and add value so your clients see you as indispensable. To get started, focus on these three areas:

  1. Be the go-to insurance professional when clients need to assess insurance and business risk.

    Employers already tend to see their brokers as a resource to help them get better pricing, products, and valuable administrative support. But because the insurance carriers typically pay your broker commissions, many employers perceive this as free support.

    Aim to add so much value that clients would pay your commission themselves. Some ways to do that include:
    • Make sure your administrative support includes quality help with renewal, enrollment, education, billing, compliance, and claims.
    • Be the first to tell them about new industry developments, like VBID (value-based insurance design) - even if you’re not handling their health insurance benefits (yet).
    • In each sales conversation, provide a broad perspective on mitigating risk that includes questions about business continuity and awareness to the costs associated with employee absence.
    • Avoid focusing solely on finding the lowest-priced plans. Existing carriers and newer insurtech competitors are already doing this – for much less. You need to provide more value than this in order to avoid being removed as an intermediary.
  1. Be the person insurance carriers call when they need insights on client needs.

    Give carriers regular feedback on what’s working and not working for your clients. This can help carriers better understand client concerns in order to develop new products and platforms.

    Providing this regular feedback is also a way to keep your relationships with carriers amicable and valued. Accenture research notes that employers tend to have much better relationships with their brokers than they do with carriers. Carriers see value in that – but not always to the broker’s benefit. In fact, it’s not uncommon for carriers to try to remove brokers from the process primarily to save on commissions.

    This strategy tends to backfire, because carriers end up realizing they need to increase their investment in administrative support, negating much, if not all, of their savings.

    Offer so much value in the form of feedback and insights that carriers would not dream of disintermediating you.
  1. Streamline administrative tasks to focus more on adding value.

    Processing paperwork is a necessary part of running an insurance brokerage. But as you redefine your broker role, cutting down the amount of time you personally devote to this task is crucial. You will need more time to devote to adding more value in roles we’ve just discussed.

    This means doing everything possible to streamline, automate and outsource procedures to take processing roles and costs out of your business. Aim to redirect your overall headcount toward performing sales and/or educational roles for clients. To help those people operate more efficiently, consider technologies that streamline essential client interactions, such as customer messaging platforms.

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