Policy Works blog | Commercial lines bliss

The One Word Description (or How-to Drive Your Underwriter Crazy)

Written by Kathleen Kotchon | Feb 4, 2014 1:30:00 PM

Just like a conversation that you have with your spouse or significant other, a one word description may cause friction when discussing certain topics. It goes something like this:

Would you like to see a movie tonight?


Do you have anything in mind? How about a comedy?


(Insert eye-roll here.)

The conversation does have a positive tone but it’s taking a downward spiral. There are just not enough facts to make an informed decision. The person asking the questions is not psychic. And neither is your underwriter.

You’ve created a beautiful submission, added images, attached PDFs and done everything you can to spiff-it-up to grab the underwriter’s attention. However, when they get to the Description of Business Operations segment, you have a one word description, like “Electrician.” This is what can drive an underwriter crazy.

Ok, 'Electrician' is a start. At least the underwriter knows they work with electricity, but they also need to know:

  • Are they employed in the construction industry and if so, is the majority of their work commercial or residential?
  • Are they maintenance electricians? Do they inspect equipment, or find and fix problems before an incident occurs?
  • Do they do anything else besides electrical work? Do they do plumbing, heating, or air-conditioning as well?

A solid Description of Business Operations can make or break a submission. In a competitive business like commercial lines, an underwriter may sidestep a submission if a lot of research is required that they just don’t have time for. Consequently, their quote will be late or not competitive and you’ve lost an opportunity to get the best price and coverage for your client.

Please don’t be a 'One Word Wonder!' This may be the only time in your career people will appreciate a long-winded answer so go for it!