Policy Works blog | Commercial lines bliss

The talent gap: 3 ideas to help your underwriters help you

Written by Steve Pieroway | Sep 21, 2015 3:21:00 PM

The talent gap. Every brokerage principal is faced with the challenge of finding and developing talented producers, account managers and CSRs. But brokers also need to deal with another talent gap that directly impact their success: underwriters.

Many of the brokers we talk to face the challenge of dealing with new underwriters who often receive only basic training and are thrust onto the front-line of risk assessment.

According to a recent paper from Ernst & Young called The Future of Underwriting, “Insurers must prepare to deal with an emerging underwriting talent gap, as many experienced workers face retirement in the next several years. The talent impact cannot be overlooked.”

But really, that’s an insurer issue, right? Wrong. Think of the submissions your brokerage sends to its underwriters. Would a junior underwriter be able to confidently turn-around a quotation on it?

A survey of commercial underwriters found that incomplete information on broker submissions (think one-word descriptions of business) are the biggest challenge that keeps underwriters from doing their job i.e. quoting on risks. And these results were from more experienced underwriters.

As a commercial broker, your success is directly tied to your underwriters’ success. Here are three ideas to help you help your junior underwriters do their jobs better.

1. Be the front-line underwriter.

Underwriters need brokers who understand what good risks look like. Actively educate underwriters about the key markets you target, the nature of the risks and any specifics or idiosyncrasies in certain lines of business.

Know each of your carriers' risk and rating profiles – don’t submit accounts for which the company has little or no risk appetite. This wastes time for everyone involved. Brokers who bring in the right kind of business will create a win-win situation for both parties.

2. Be complete about each risk you submit.

Ask good questions. Not unnecessary ones, but good ones. The goal is to collect enough information so that an underwriter can rate the risk the first time around.

How do you do this? Create a template for submissions that is thorough, consistent and repeatable. Brokers know they will be making a lot of submissions for their markets in a given year. Invest time in making this process as efficient and fail-safe as possible.

Submitting a good, clean and straightforward request goes a long way to helping the underwriter look at an account once and get a competitive quote back to you. 

3. Be selectively patient.

Don't be the child who always cried wolf. Underwriters receive dozens of submissions per week, not to mention a long string of phone calls and emails. They rarely have the opportunity to clear their desks on any given day.

So if you really don’t need the quote back that day, don’t push for it. Your underwriters are likely to have many requests – all of which are urgent to their respective brokers.

That said, make it easy for your underwriter to give you a quick quote when you need it. How do you do that? By creating complete, compelling submissions. One that doesn’t require any back-and-forth type clarifications.

(Click here to see a submission that helps underwriters give better, more competitive quotes.)

Always think mutual success.

Like it or not, brokers and underwriters are in a symbiotic relationship. Both parties have to understand – and work with – each other to create mutual success.

Brokers need to nurture their relationships with underwriters, just as they do with prospects and customers. Given the dynamic differences between brokers and underwriters, committing yourself to building long-term relationships and avoiding short-term assumptions is key to continued success.