Pushing the envelope

In November, BCU Risk Advisors wrote one of the first policies with new insurance provider Berkley One.

“It was apparent from the start that there is an alignment between Berkley One and our client profile,” says founding partner Jeff Cline. For BCU, that alignment is core to their business. Ten years ago, Jeff and his two partners started the agency from scratch with a vision of having positive impacts on the lives of their clients. Their commitment to providing the best service and solutions to match clients’ needs is personal.

“We had a belief that business really should have a purpose beyond the income statement and balance sheet,” says Jeff. It’s a belief that has guided the agency since its start in 2007.


Putting relationships first


Ten years later, BCU Risk Advisors sits in the heart of Chicago with a thriving client base. They specialize in offering personal insurance to successful individuals.

Being a personal-lines only agency means that BCU can focus on growth and distinctive service for the client segment they know best. One thing that’s unique about the agency is that they work exclusively through referrals, many of which come from financial planners and advisors who manage the financial lives of their clients. When those clients are looking for the same kind of responsible management for their personal insurance, their advisors refer them to BCU.

Many of BCU’s clients have complex insurance needs. Jeff believes these customers require someone to manage their insurance portfolio that they can trust—someone who can offer them the value that they’ve come to expect on the financial services side, which they may not expect from their insurance experience.

“There is a conception of the industry that when some advisors place a client’s insurance program, that is where it sits,” explains Jeff. “That couldn’t be further from what we believe. The relationship with the market is much more dynamic—it’s a living thing.”

For BCU, this means working closely with clients to understand their risk profile, and engaging in the market constantly to understand what emerging risks need to be considered, and what new products and choices can offer more value. Partnering with Berkley One, a new insurance provider for sophisticated consumers, is one way of doing just that.


Healthy changes for the category and the client


Like everything in his business, Jeff believes the agent-carrier partnership should be an avenue to work towards the common good. So it’s not surprising that BCU decided to take on a new market with Berkley One because of shared attitudes on relationships and how to make the industry better.

“Relationships and being able to count on the people you’re working with are important to us. That’s what we’re looking for from the companies we collaborate with, and that’s what excites us about working with Berkley One,” Jeff says. “In our business, we need to be able to bring resources to clients that help them solve problems. We know we can count on Berkley One to help us do that.”

Jeff also applauds Berkley One’s commitment to challenging the way things have always been done. As a new start-up insurance provider, Berkley One has set out to create an insurance experience that works differently—in a way that is collaborative and adds value for the client. When Jeff thinks back to 2007, to starting his own business from scratch, it’s a philosophy that he can relate to.

“We understand that Berkley One wants to push the envelope on what they can do for clients—in underwriting and pricing and with the application of technology. It’s healthy for the category and for the consumer,” he says.

To BCU, those changes mean recognizing that consistency is key to good service—along with offering nimble, easy-to-access technology across platforms. For instance, they appreciate Berkley One’s newly-designed customer app and agent portal, and the fact that they can access always-on dedicated service by phone, email, or chat.

With a new year upon them, both teams look forward to working together to use resources dynamically and differently. Like good service, they believe out-of-the-box thinking is something you should be able to count on.

BCU Risk Advisors provides homeowners and condo insurance, auto insurance, excess liability insurance, fine art and collectibles insurance, watercraft and yacht insurance, and more. The agency is based in Chicago.

Berkley One is a Berkley Company.