Policy Works blog | Commercial lines bliss

What stories do your submissions tell?

Written by Steve Pieroway | Jun 23, 2015 2:42:00 PM

Every submission tells a story. From small floral shops to large manufacturers, the submissions your brokers create tell the stories that end up becoming policies.

Ask yourself: what story do your submissions tell? Are they vivid, detailed, and well-structured narratives that are easily understood. Or are they more like haikus: slightly mysterious and cryptic verses that leave the reader scratching their head?

With competitive pressures in the marketplace and an emphasis on lean operating models, it’s clear that commercial underwriters are under pressure to approve, decline or follow up on broker submissions as quickly as possible.

At the heart of their work are their brokers’ submissions. How effectively underwriters rate and write business risks is almost perfectly correlated to the quality of submission they receive. However, the stories that are being told to underwriters today are not of the highest caliber.

Underwriters are often frustrated by the lack of information and quality showing up on the submissions they receive. But don’t take our word for it.

Underwriter dissatisfaction

We did a survey of underwriters from across the country to ask them what they liked – and didn’t like – about broker submissions. Here’s what they had to say.

The number one frustration underwriters have with their brokers’ submissions is that they are incomplete or lacking information (81%), followed closely by one word description of business (61%). Two other pet peeves included hand-written or faxed in submissions (21%) and lack of visuals/pictures (21%).

A significant number of underwriters (41%) said that poorly written submissions go to the bottom of their pile – a figure that increased to 47% if they were extremely busy.

You can see the full results of the commercial underwriter survey here.

Question your submissions

If your brokerage is frustrated by submission bounce-backs, declines or non-responses, you have two choices. One, you can blame the underwriter (that usually doesn’t work so well). Or (and more constructively) you can take an impartial look at your documents. 

Review your submissions and ask some key questions:

  • Are they incomplete or missing key aspects of information underwriters need?
  • Do they lack detail about the particular risk at hand (small retail store, large factory, professional consultant)?
  • Do they provide proper context of the risk and its sector/industry?
  • Do they have sections for value-added information, such as visuals (read ideas for adding pictures to your submissions).

After this review, the next step is developing your ideal submission document. What does a good story look like? It should show that the research was done properly and the right questions were asked of prospects. Not sure where to start? Look at a sample Policy Works submission for ideas on what underwriters look for in a great submission.

Let’s face it: brokers are in the game of selling themselves. The first sale in commercial insurance is to the underwriter. The submission, which most brokerages do hundreds or thousands of time each year, is at the heart of that first sale. So polish yours up with a thorough review and re-examination of what makes your firm a good strategic fit with your markets.

Now that’s a story worth telling.