Most insurance agents straddle a fence. They have a fiduciary duty to their insurance companies to honor their agency agreement, follow underwriting guidelines and work within their binding authority when placing coverage on behalf of a client. The agent is expected to report claims as accurately and promptly as can reasonably be expected.
The agent also owes a duty to his client. When he assumes the duty to advise he is expected to advise the client as to the types and amount of coverage. He is also expected to assist the client by helping with claims and other services.
Agents get into trouble when they pick sides. "Coloring" an application or a claim report to benefit a client will eventually undermine an agent’s credibility with his company. And glossing over exclusions and limitations in a proposal for coverage can expose the agent to an E&O claim.
Quality agents straddle that fence with integrity. They communicate honestly with their companies and their clients. Accurate representations to underwriters defeat any subsequent denial of a claim for misrepresentation that might be actionable against the agent. And they disclose both the advantages and limitations of their proposals, in writing, to their clients and prospects, thus avoiding any claim that the customer was given the wrong impression.
Mr. Sapourn has straddled that fence for most of his professional career. In 23 years as an agency principal, he cannot recall one E&O claim filed by a disgruntled customer against him or his agency.