February 26, 2020

Negotiate Your Insurance Non-Compete: Ten Lessons Before You Accept An Offer

by Kris Gibson

In Part 2: Three Steps to Resign, I outlined how to view non-competes and negotiate elements of them with your current employer during the resignation. Now, the flip side of the coin comes. You want to accept the job offer but take issue with some of the new employer’s contract.

Ten Negotiating Lessons Before You Accept An Offer

1. Timing Is Important

Negotiate prior to the offer letter. At this point, you have an opportunity to shape what you sign and agree to before getting involved with it or the organization.

2. Read Everything First On Your Own

Formulate your own thoughts and identify concerns before your attorney gets involved. They may see contracts from a lot of industry perspectives, but insurance can be a unique beast. This helps maximize the time you have with an attorney. **It’s especially helpful at their hourly rate!

3. Do Not Blindly Accept Restrictions

Even if these things are “normal” it doesn’t have to be a mandate to you.

  • Radius Restrictions. These clauses prohibit you from working for certain kinds of organizations, usually competitors, within X miles (50-100 is common) from the office. Depending on where you live, this can be a big deal.
  • Term. This is how long the agreement extends for. Make sure you aren’t restricting or limiting yourself for too many years.
  • Ambiguous or Overly Broad Language. You want definition and clarity on what is covered, when, and how.

4. Have Your Lawyer Draft Alternative Content

Suggest some alternative content to what the agency’s current contract states. If you don’t, then you’ve asked them to rewrite a clause they didn’t take issue with in the first place. Plus, it shows you’re serious without being too heavy handed. The agency knows you have legal support, but it doesn’t sound like they have to deal with your lawyer.

5. Empathize with the Agency

Take time to understand and assess why the agency’s contract is written with X clauses.

  • Why did the company include this provision?
  • What do they want to protect or accomplish with it?

Kill them with kindness during conversations. It goes a long way to accomplishing what you want.

6. This Is How the Agency Behaves in Negotiations

Negotiating contracts is a great exercise in understanding how the agency will negotiate on other matters.  You just got through the offer process and felt like it went well. If discussing non-competes is a total deal killer, then know you may have a Jekyll and Hyde on your hands. It’s a glimpse into your future. Like it, deal with it, or walk away.

7. Grandfathered Clients Are Treated Differently

If you are bringing clients with you, you don’t want them covered under a clause that states you cannot take clients when/if you leave the new agency. It’s reasonable to ask to exclude them. You had these clients before you came, so you didn’t obtain that business as part of any affiliation with the employer.

8. Some Agencies Will Not Negotiate. Period.

Some agencies will not bend at all. Usually, this is because they want every contract to read the exact same. Consistently is a smart litigation defense. Remember, the person with the most power in any negotiation is the one most willing to walk away. If the company is and you’re not, you will most likely find yourself signing regardless.

9. Perception Is King

Present yourself as cautious, diligent, intelligent, and informed. If you’re brash, non-committal, or dismissive, they may get the impression that’s how you will be as an employee. They may also assume you won’t stick around too long and are already planning your exit.

10. Fairness Is Your Goal

All you can hope for is fairness. Companies need to protect their interest. You need to protect your interests. The best you can seek here is something fair to both sides. If you’re reasonable and the agency is too, it’s likely you can work something out that is acceptable to both sides.

Hopefully you are able to work through barriers and find middle ground both sides are comfortable with, but even if you can’t, this is not necessarily the end. As we discussed previously, there is some hope for negotiating terms of an already signed agreement, even at resignation.


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