Taking the helm of a company and its two-hundred-year-old legacy comes with some pressure. An executive tasked with this responsibility needs to maintain the company’s reputation among loyal customers. At the same time, that executive must continue to innovate to keep the business fresh after two centuries. Not many executives find themselves in this position, but Steven Dresner happens to be in that exact spot. For him, the key to safeguarding the legacy of Crum & Forster— an insurance industry giant where he serves as the senior vice president of business development and corporate reinsurance—is maintaining a laser focus on customer service.
“If you want to deliver a positive customer experience, you have to provide impeccable service,” Dresner says. “That service is a real differentiator in our industry.”
Additionally, insurance professionals need to be just as familiar with what they’re offering to those customers. After that, the connections between those products and customers are just as important.
“The key thing is making sure that the products we offer are connected to the people who need them,” Dresner says. “My role is to make sure our insurance agents know what products we offer and that our own internal people know what producers have a need for those products.”
Creating New Opportunities
As a leading property and casualty insurance provider, Crum & Forster has a wide-reaching array of product lines, ranging from automobile liability to product recall to marine business. In recent years, it has also incorporated five distinct operating units, with nearly fifty locations throughout the United States.
One of Dresner’s top priorities has been to find ways to take advantage of the breadth of the group’s product offerings to create new opportunities. In particular, he’s looked at cross-selling to policyholders and cross-marketing to brokers. “The number one thing we’ve done is to coordinate our message for various constituencies,” Dresner explains. “We deal with both retail brokers and wholesale insurance brokers, and our risk appetite and strategy is different for each. I think I’ve really helped Crum & Forster explain our vision for each of those agency groups.”
Better Visibility in the Marketplace
One of the major projects that Dresner has taken on to maintain Crum & Forster’s high standard of customer service throughout this growth is revamping its website. Until recently, each of Crum & Forster’s various units had its own site, which had made it difficult for insurance agents to navigate. After hearing feedback on this from both retail and wholesale clients, Dresner led an effort to rebrand the company. The rebrand included a new logo and a single website with separate landing pages for each entity.
In addition to enhancing the group’s visibility within the marketplace, Dresner says that this project also tied in to a greater effort to make sure that Crum & Forster’s employees understand the full extent of services that the company has to offer. “The first thing we needed was to educate our own people on the value and broad scope of what we do,” Dresner says. Different departments focused on selling what their individual entities had to offer. However, they might not have known how to sell what the group does overall. “This makes it easier for them to know that, when they meet with producers, they represent a bigger organization than they might have thought,” Dresner says.
Dresner focuses on hitting the road to physically meet with hundreds of brokers throughout the country to explain products. He also focuses on the organization’s risk appetite and distribution strategy. “The website and product sheets tend to be of interest. But the better part is the interaction and clarification directly with our partners,” he says. “That’s where it’s really helped explain how we’ve changed over time. Listening to our producers helps us to know how to make it easier to do business with them.”
This is an area that Dresner is well suited to lead. After thirty years in the industry on both the East and West Coasts, he’s created relationships all over the country. “People do business with people they like, people they respect, and people who will respond to them,” Dresner says. He has made it a top priority throughout his career to do homework before meetings; he makes sure that he knows what is going on in the marketplace and in customers’ lines of business.
To ensure that the company is continuing to move into the future, Crum & Forster has also focused on streamlining processes,with the intention of making sure that the organization has more time to spend with producers and policyholders. One huge process improvement initiative brings robotics into some of the company’s submission processes. This allows business to come in more easily and analyze more quickly. Another looks at data, both from the industry perspective and from individual insurance submissions. “When you look to the future, one of the trends is that data is key,” Dresner says. “Those companies that have the best data and can mine that data will win.”
Crum & Forster has also focused on specialty and industry-focused segments to help create more expertise within the group and provide added value to policyholders. As an example, Dresner notes that the group has long had a great reputation for claims handling. Leveraging this, he says, allows the organization to create additional opportunities to broaden relationships with policyholders.
Connected to the Changing World
Dresner loves working within an industry that ties in to the many ways the world is changing. Of the hotbutton insurance topics lately, cyberliability has been a priority. The industry has also focused on the risks posed by the heightened concentration of people living in coastal areas. Another concern is a rise in distracted driving due to cell phones. But no matter how much the world changes, Dresner knows that keeping a focus on high-quality products and close relationships with customers will keep Crum & Forster thriving for another two hundred years.
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