Who’s Your Underwriter?

That is an interesting question I used to ask agents when I was actively underwriting or managing underwriters.  Sometimes I’d get a blank look and a follow-up question, “What do you mean?  It’s Susie.  You assigned her to us.”  That wasn’t what I was asking for.  What I really wanted to know was who do they turn to when they needed guidance?

As I frequently told my underwriters when I manage the western USA branch of a major carrier. They need to become the agent’s underwriter.  They need to become the person the agent turns to for advice, even when that advice is not your account.  I remember one highly skilled underwriter who used to come into my office chuckling about an agent calling about a competitor’s account and asking for her advice.

Being an agent’s underwriter is an esteemed position.  It’s very difficult to attain as it requires an underwriter to have superior knowledge about their product and even how their product relates to other products.  It requires the underwriter to take time to be available as a coach for their agents and brokers.  It requires underwriters to unselfishly be about the agent’s success and not about their own success.  It requires extreme transparency and honesty all the time, not just when questions arise.  It means the underwriter put the agent’s interests before their own.

So why should an underwriter try to attain the position?  Because the ultimate payoff is huge.  When an underwriter becomes the person, an agent chose to pick up the phone to call for advice the benefits are endless.  They are given first look.  They are given last look.  They (and the company they work for) are given the preferred placement status of carriers.

Ultimately, it means less work for the underwriter as the position as an agent’s underwriter allows them to write more business in their sweet spot with less competition.  Their word is golden.  Trust and faith given to them is supreme.  You’re position of ultimate trust allows you to set the playing field to favor you over your competitors.

So, I ask all you agents out there, “who is your underwriter?”  If you don’t have one, find one.

If you are an underwriter, figure out how to be an agent’s underwriter.

About Richard Faber

Richard thinks of himself as the underwriter’s underwriter. For almost 40 years, He has underwritten and managed commercial lines underwriting departments for a variety of organizations including large national carriers, MGA’s, specialty carriers and surplus lines carriers. He has helped major organizations develop cost-effective risk management programs through the use of captives, large deductibles, self-insurance and retrospective rating plans for high profile organizations such as Major League Baseball teams, NFL teams, major automobile manufacturers, consumer electronics companies, and national retail chains. In 2018, Richard retired from active underwriting to form Underwriter’s Resource, LLC, an organization dedicated to enabling agents improve their delivery of commercial insurance though improving skills and by creating computer programs to reinforce those skill. Richard enjoys sharing his knowledge, wisdom and expertise and can be contacted via email at Richard.uwresource@cox.net.

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