Posted on 13 Mar 09
In every state, in every city, in every town, in every neighborhood throughout the United States there exist thousands of grass-root sports leagues and teams that converge and play the game they are so passionate about. In our inaugural issue of Insurance Unplugged, we spoke with John Sadler, president and sole principal of Sadler & Company, one of our long-time ProgramBusiness.com’s storefronts, who provides the insurance programs for these sports entities and communities.
“My dad founded Sadler & Company in 1946, and we first entered the sports insurance niche in the ‘50’s when he wrote the Dixie Youth Baseball account, the largest youth baseball organizing body in the southeast for youth baseball ages 12 and under,” recalls John.
Once John graduated law school, he joined the agency full time and became intrigued with the Dixie Youth account, spending a lot of time studying the insurance and risk management needs and complexities of sports organizations. “I was hooked,” says John.
In 1989, John became president of the company, and over time the firm began to receive one request after another from national sports organizations to create new insurance programs on their behalf. Additionally, the company was flooded with phone calls from independent leagues that were not affiliated with any sanctioning body and began developing programs to accommodate their needs.
“We had a market that was expanding with sanctioned sports entities and a new burgeoning market with non-affiliated leagues,” says John.
Sadler & Company operates nationally with the firm’s most popular niches being amateur teams and leagues and sports camps and clinics. What’s more, the company has recently branched out into other recreational niches, such as health clubs, individual fitness instructors, gymnastics, martial arts, dance studios, special events, and hunt clubs.
What distinguishes this market from others, according to John, is that insurance agencies and producers aren’t actively seeking to enter the team/league or sports camp/clinic niche because of the relatively small account size and the lack of prospects in a given area. “What happens typically”, says John, “is that the accounts come from an agency’s existing personal or commercial lines insureds…from parents of children who are involved in youth sports or from owners who sponsor teams or head up a league.”
These accounts don’t generate the type of commissions that incentivize an agency to write coverage for this market. In addition, an agent’s primary concern is to properly insure the entity and not get into an E&O situation. As a result, an agent will turn to an MGA that specializes in sports insurance.
“An agent needs to complete the MGA’s application and submit it for a quote. The turnaround time could be several days and, once the agent proposes the coverage and requests binding, it can take up to an additional week to receive proof of coverage,” says John. “This is a cumbersome and time-consuming process with a lot of paperwork and phone calls or e-mails going back and forth for a small amount of commission. These typical inefficiencies are compounded by the fact that many sports teams and leagues like to wait until the last minute to request their insurance coverage, placing an agent under incredible time pressure and frustration when the MGA can't deliver.”
The Sadler Difference
This is where Sadler & Company steps in. What sets the firm apart in the industry is the responsiveness, speed and administrative ease in which Sadler can quote, bind and issue coverage at competitive pricing. “Our website technology is unprecedented in the industry and allows us to eliminate most of the frustration and hassle that agents face on these transactions,” says John. “Agents can access our site, put the information in, and literally get an accurate quote within one or two minutes. And after the proposal is accepted, the agent can bind coverage, pay online, and print out the proof of coverage documents and claim forms within five to ten minutes.”
The success of Sadler’s website technology and what it offers to agents is evident in the fact that the site was designed to facilitate and serve how the sports and recreation industry actually works. “I can’t tell you how many times an agent gets a phone call from a travel sports team that has already left for a weekend tournament on Friday afternoon and needs a certificate of insurance to be allowed to play on Saturday morning,” recounts John. “The agent enters our website and is able to quote, pay, bind, and print off certificates of insurance within minutes. The agent can then email the certificates of insurance to his client at the motel where he is staying, delivering exactly what the team needs to play.”
In addition to the speed and convenience the site provides, Sadler & Company is a one-stop shop and offers a full range of products including Accident, General Liability, D&O, Crime, and Equipment, all through A-rated admitted carriers. “My standards are high because of my legal background and our policies offer extremely broad coverages at affordable prices,” say John.
Additionally, agents can take advantage of John’s legal training and sports risk management experience, tapping into the company’s library on the website. League administrators have questions on topics such as "What types of insurance policies do I need and why", "Are waiver forms worth the paper they are written on?", and "How do we protect our children against sexual predators?" The library has over 20 articles and risk management forms that agents can use to easily answer questions and solve problems for their clients.
Sadler & Company obtains its business through the usual marketing avenues, including direct mail, trade publication advertising, search engine advertising, and e-mail blasts. Additionally, being a part of the Storefront community on ProgramBusiness.com has helped to widen the company’s reach nationally.
“Our experience with ProgramBusiness.com has been good,” says John. “The service for us has consistently outperformed its competitors in terms of the traffic generated to our website.”
Visit Sadler & Company’s website at www.sadleragent.com to find out more about its programs and the services offered.