Excel is living up to its name

By Geoff Lee

April 19, 2016 6:00 AM

Lareese Graf general manager of Excel Insurance Group Lloydminster is thrilled to learn the local brokerage is named among the 31 top brokerages in Canada by Insurance Business Canada magazine.

Excel Insurance Group in Lloydminster is living up to its name.
The local insurance group is one of 31 firms included in Insurance Business Canada magazine’s top brokerages for 2016, which showcases Canada’s highest-performing firms.
“We were very surprised and very excited that we would be picked out of the hundreds of thousands of brokers in Canada,” said Lareese Graf, Excel’s general manager in Lloydminster. The company was notified by email two weeks ago about their national name recognition.
Insurance Business Canada ranks the best of the best in the industry by collecting both quantitative and qualitative information from the nominees.
Graf noted the evaluation included the brokerage as a whole with 10 companies in the Excel group.
“They took a look at our total financials, our retention of employees and clients and then just us as a personality,” said Graf. “That was specific to Lloydminster.”
The personality factor is the about character and culture of the local brokerage in the client-focused insurance business reflected in the current economic downturn.
“We’re doing quite well, but we’re very busy trying to help people save money,” said Graf.“We’re trying to help people figure out how to keep their heads above water, re-marketing them, trying to amend coverages to save them a little bit of money.”
Graf said they have seen “tons of cancellations” for people who are moving home.
“Lots of people have left Lloyd and have cancelled their home or auto insurance or both,” she said.
There has been lot of commercial cancellations as well during the downturn.“We are doing fine financially, but it hurts our hearts to watch people have to leave or lose their business,” said Graf.
Excel represents about 42 different insurance companies to get the best available rates for all types of insurance except life and disability.
They also provide quotes over phone and no appointments are necessary.
Graf hopes word of Excel’s ranking among the top performing brokerages in Canada will lead to new business. She said prior to the name recognition by Insurance Business Canada “a lot of people had never heard of us.
“They didn’t know we even existed so if this helps bring to people attention that there’s another option in Lloydminster that would be awesome.”
Excel is located in the Musgrave Agencies building on 50 Ave owned by Graf and partners Scott Musgrave, Daryl Swanson and Doug Wilson.
The company was formed by the merger of Wilson Insurance and Phoenix in 2011 for rebranding as one of the founders of the Excel Insurance Group.
Graf said being part of group makes it easier to negotiate contracts with insurance companies.
In Lloydminster, Excel has developed a large book of commercial business,  primarily oilfield related.
Graf said she and a staff of 10 employees are working with those commercial clients to ensure they don’t get cancelled for non payment.
“We have to help work with the insurance companies and the insureds to keep their stuff insured and their risks covered off,” said Graf. She said when it comes to personal insurance, people need to know what’s important to insure and what’s not for those who might own a boat, a quad, a snowmobile and vehicle and a house.
Instead of dropping coverages, Graf said one cost saving solution is to increase deductibles.
“Maybe we could move the boat from its existing policy to another company and save them a few dollars there,” she suggested.
“We look at the whole portfolio and try to assist them that way.”
Graf said certainly they try to discourage individuals from deleting coverage on possessions, but she realizes in some instances that’s the only choice for them.
“They would rather not insure the boat and keep home insurance,” she said.
Graf cautioned cancelling insurance in a downturn is not productive with higher risk of theft and vandalism so people could be going without coverages when they need it.
“But that is the whole idea behind insurance; it’s up to each individual to decide what’s worth it to them,” she said.

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