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Opinion: Business insurance target – is it the right one?

Business insurance training is as perennial as the grass, but the big question is always – why doesn't it seem to work? Certainly to judge by a recent Sovereign course I attended, there is no obvious reason. The course was excellently presented.

Tuesday, May 6th 2008, 6:58AM

by Russell Hutchinson

The trainers not only had good materials and great knowledge – they also had practical market experience in the form of components delivered by Aaron Eastmure – formerly a business lender – and Aaron Baker – who has actually sold plenty of insurance in his own right, a refreshing dose of credibility.

There is no reason why the information and skills should not translate into an avalanche of business for the attending brokers, sufficient to keep New Zealand's balance of payments in deficit through the acquisition of many foreign cars, flat screen TVs, and Italian suits. If they sell it, they certainly deserve it.

So why don't they sell?

Tellingly, two heckling advisers sitting near me (and thoroughly good fellows they were too) shrugged "but try telling the client they need cover".

This indeed is the key. Not all risks can be borne. Some acceptance of risk is critical to businesses. Corporate businesses –defined by the separation of management from ownership – are quite risk averse and will gladly entertain talk about risk management. But smaller businesses where owners are managers, are fundamentally risk-takers. To a certain extent the more you push a risk at them – especially ones they haven't suffered – the more a certain spark in them flickers, grows and bursts into flame: I am a risk-taker crabby and tough – and that's what makes me better than the soft bodied employees of corporates".

To overcome this problem new technologies are required. Doubtless future business insurance courses will cover these as well. Having said that, the courses on offer are no less useful. But as ever it is up to advisers to uncover and develop the necessary field techniques to make the technical information applicable.

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