The role of today’s Underwriter is complex. They must be part gatekeeper, part relationship manager, part marketer and sales manager. As Agents, we must understand, and respect these differing and often conflicting roles with which todays underwriters are tasked. If I were to boil it down into a simple description, I would call the very best Underwriters problem solvers and educators. The best Underwriters position themselves as an invaluable resource for their Agents. They continually educate us on the best way to configure coverage and services to effectively and efficiently manage risk. In doing so, they position themselves as a great source of information on how to underwrite to solve client problems and help you win more business.
The best underwriters approach the information gathering process in an efficient and holistic manner. They have a process that is organized and efficient rather than piecemeal. They understand there are only so many times we can go back to our clients and prospects for more information before we become viewed as unorganized. The best not only ask intelligent, intuitive questions, but they do it in a manner that is educational. They engage you in honest business conversations that explain the reasons for their questions, and how they use this information to build solutions.
The best underwriters help their agents in the qualifying and vetting process. The Agent may not understand a class of business as well as an underwriter, who has previous experience with that industry. That Underwriter can help the Agent better understand the nuances of that particular risk and coach them on what to look for and what questions to ask. Agents should talk to their favorite underwriters to help establish a pre call strategy before they call on a prospect.
Strong Underwriters are decision makers who want to partner with Agents on business opportunities. They also value our time. If they get a strong submission, with a target date and price range, the best Underwriters can and will give an answer quickly. Their answer doesn’t matter. I just want a yes, a no and a why so I can move forward. Or, I want a conditional response, and what I need to do to effectively communicate and negotiate the conditional aspects of their quote.
My least favorite underwriters are those won’t engage in frank conversations and avoid giving me bad news. I call them pleasers. They continue gathering information right up to the deadline, leading me to believe I have a viable market, only to decline. Time and reputation are the only things we have as Agents. I personally appreciate those Underwriters who give it to me straight.
The best underwriters help me sell. They engage in conversations on how their Loss Control, Claims and Underwriting solutions are the best approach to assist clients in solving problems. They give specific, tangible reasons why, their company’s experience, or disciplines, enhance their company’s value. Many companies laud their services, experience and approach as better than the competition.
The best show me why they are better and give me examples, stories and value propositions to help me sell them to my prospects and clients. Great underwriters are also good sales people, and are effective in joint sales calls and proposals. They are passionate about writing business and invested in helping their Agents succeed.
The best think long term and help me develop a long-term plan for retention. They build service platforms and timelines to create stability and the opportunity to drive service to minimize risk and improve experience. These approaches create stability for clients and loyalty from their agents.
My experience is that you only need a few great Underwriters to have exceptional success as an Agent. Find Underwriters that mirror the characteristics described in this article and endeavor to form a true business partnership and personal relationship with them. If they become invested in helping you succeed, you will.