Has New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's investigation into misconduct by insurance brokers made you wonder what life would be like without a broker? Besides a precipitous drop in invitations to golf outings and sporting events, most companies would probably find their risk management and treasury staffs taxed beyond capacity to stay on top of all the details that brokers handle for their clients.

But just because you can't eliminate the role of the broker doesn't mean you can't redefine it substantially. In fact, long before Spitzer knocked on Marsh Inc.'s door, cutting-edge risk managers began to realize that the most effective way to get the best deals out of the insurers–and the best protection against fraud and inefficiency–is to take charge of the procurement process. That usually means meeting with carriers and giving them an education about which risks are actually relevant for your company. "We wanted to present our information [to carriers] in a way that's easy to navigate and tells our story very clearly," says Gary Kilburg, head of risk management at Whirlpool Corp. "Rather than asking the broker what we should do to improve [the process], we started talking to the underwriters and their actuaries, and getting their sense of what a perfect submission would look like."

For the past three years, Kilburg and his team have been organizing Whirlpool's requests for proposals (RFPs) and leading policy negotiations for insurance coverage and, in the process, have saved the company several million dollars. Kilburg's team collected loss history data, eliminated inconsistencies and made sure numbers from different businesses were classified accurately. To ensure conformity, Whirlpool gave its various units specific guidelines on what kind of data to supply. Finally, the information was turned into presentations that were burned onto easy-to-use CDs. Remarkably, the entire process was conceived, developed and executed with barely any help from Whirlpool's brokers. But now that it's in place, Kilburg concedes he is ready to let the brokers try their hand at it.

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