“It takes an Underwriter to find a way!”
This is one of the most memorable quotes that I ever heard from another insurance professional. The year was 2006 and I was a wet behind the ears company Underwriter for Berkshire Hathaway. Gary P. Alexander, who was then head of the Alexander General Agency and one of my best business partners at the time, uttered those words drawn from years of experience and the wisdom that comes with that. He probably had no idea just how important those words were to me.
My underwriting philosophy changed dramatically that day. Prior to that, I had spent about 3 years “underwriting by exception” at Safeco Insurance’s Personal Lines Division. I managed a book of around 407,000 policies at my departure. In essence, we reviewed everything that didn’t fit the black box system underwriting logic. The underwriting decisions were made mostly by a computer and a closely followed set of authority guidelines. We were mostly glorified call center insurance CSRs. At the time, it was a good position for a young professional like myself. But, as you can imagine, the work was mundane and pretty repetitive.
The shock to my underwriting psyche was huge (and that is a real thing, by the way)![/tweet_dis] From the moment I digested Gary’s words, I aspired to help “find a way” for as many insurance agents as possible. Making the tectonic shift in thinking has been the key to my success in the insurance business.
The world is full of risk. Every person and business faces certain risks each day of their lives and most lack the ability to manage those risks effectively without the help of the men and women in the insurance and risk management field. Though our industry suffers from a serious body image issue (We’re getting old and grey, but cooler by the day), the opportunities for anyone to earn a great living while making a real impact on society is available.
After working for one of the best insurance companies in the US (Berkshire Hathaway) for 4 years or so, I accepted the challenge to work for another one of the best in 2010. The Travelers Companies is one of the greatest insurance companies of all times and the people there show it through and through. The people behind the red umbrella embody the ideals of true insurance professionals and I will always cherish my time there. Having the opportunity to work hand in hand with awesome individuals like Sam Rizzitelli and Tom Postol will forever shape me.
Fast forward to today, I’m now the Founder and CEO of the transportation risk management startup, Carrier Risk Solutions, Inc. I use that exact same philosophy learned so many years to find a way to help my clients and many others solve the risk management problems that they face.
The #insurance industry is full of unique, interesting and quite challenging opportunities and that’s why I love insurance! My transformational journey from an underwriting assistant at a large personal lines insurance carrier to being the CEO of my own company in only 13 years is practically unheard of in many industries. But, insurance has made this possible!
Invest in yourself constantly and strive to make an impact for others. The insurance and risk management field is dynamic, complex and growing. Pick up the phone and talk with your business partners! Invest time and serious effort in developing relationships and focus on providing value to those around you. The human element of the insurance business is under constant attack, but you can easily defend yourself and the value that you provide by always trying to find a way!
A great underwriter finds a way to write the business not a way to decline the business. Your job is to find a way!