How to Buy Insurance for Your Nonprofit – Step 4: Research Agents

After developing your lists – your activities, your people, and your things (in insurance lingo, these are your ‘exposures), I encourage you to begin researching insurance agents.

You might already have a connection that you’re comfortable with. This might not be your first time carrying insurance for your nonprofit, so maybe you’ll just want to discuss some of the steps of this process with your current insurance adviser.

Buying Process Step 4

If you do not have coverage or if you are looking to change, I’m going to suggest some very obvious steps to researching insurance agents. If you’re reading a blog on insurance, then you will have already been engaged in proactive efforts to find quality resources.

That said, it’s part of the process, so I’m including the step. Your main source of advice will be your insurance agent. She will review your lists of exposures with you to determine the most relevant insurance products.

A Note about the Independent Insurance Agency System

Unlike most popular home and auto insurance sources, commercial insurance traditionally involves an independent agency.

Independent agencies act as brokers to help connect you with insurance companies that can provide the coverage you need. For instance, I (the insurance agent) might discuss the ins and outs of a client’s restaurant business. I will then present that restaurant to the insurance companies I represent, including various underwriting information such as annual sales to fire safety to hiring practices. My companies will then offer quotes for me to compare and present to my client.

That’s a general overview of the process you’ll go through.

Unless you’re a basic foundation with just an office and no exposure, you will not be going through a State Farm or AllState or similar.

Finding Agents and Creating a List

Here are some ideas to help you sift through the multitude of insurance professionals out there.

  1. Google key words to your industry + ‘insurance’ + ‘your state or city’: For instance: ‘Group Home Insurance Nashville.’ Or broaden it out: ‘Nonprofit Insurance Philadelphia’. Your results will be a mix of insurance companies and insurance agencies. You can make note of both on two separate lists.
  2. Discuss with other nonprofit executive directors, CFOs, or Board members. What agents are your colleagues in the nonprofit world using?
  3. LinkedIn: If you don’t have any colleagues that you’re chummy with, get on LinkedIn and make local connections.
  4. Associations: Is your nonprofit a member of an association? Contact the association and get a list of fellow members or find out if there’s a preferred insurance professional.
  5. If you strike out, feel free to expand your search to neighboring states. Most independent agents are licensed on some level in other states (for example, I can do business in over 30 states).

Those should get you a list. More than likely, it will be a short list, which is fine. If you keep seeing the same name or three pop up, there’s a good chance that those are your best options.


I won’t drone on here. Simply pick up the phone and call and request to speak to a sales or account representative that works with nonprofits. Be armed with the lists we’ve created in the previous three steps and get ready to be questioned.

You’ll get a pretty good feel if the agent knows his or her business and has a personality you can jive with. I’ll leave the vetting to you.

The Summary…

Simply put Google and your professional network to work for you. Have your lists of exposures and make contact.

In the next step, we’ll look at doing a little investigation work regarding insurance companies. Which companies have special programs for nonprofit organizations?

How’s that for a cliffhanger? And if you read this in the not distant future, it’s not even a cliffhanger.

Please feel free to put comments or questions below. I’m happy to help


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