Underwriters are constantly under pressure to increase both new business and profitability. With insurance being a competitive market, however, these goals often conflict—as premium growth does not always equate to increased profitability.
Here are four tips that can help you become a more successful underwriter.
1. Maintain underwriting discipline
With increased competition pressures on price, terms and conditions are inevitable. Don’t sacrifice long-term profitability for short-term premium volume on accounts that don’t meet underwriting standards. In addition to maintaining underwriting discipline on new accounts, continue to monitor existing business, and take appropriate action when variances against established goals, such as higher-than-expected loss ratios, are identified. Determine why they exist and take any required corrective action.
2. Think outside the box
Although predictive modeling and other underwriting systems help, successful underwriters still need expertise in underwriting, as well as knowledge of innovative underwriting methods, to find alternative solutions to meet the needs of your customers without sacrificing underwriting discipline. There are many profitable accounts that are being declined. Finding innovative ways to profitably capitalize on new business opportunities, rather than turning business away, goes a long way toward building relationships with your producers and customers.
3. Strive for a human connection
Despite the focus on technology within the industry, you should be thinking about differentiating yourself by honing your relationship skills—especially with producers. The more we become digitally connected, the more we lose those human connections. Underwriters who can harness the benefits of technology and still hold on to those close person-to-person relationships will be the most effective.
4. Set yourself apart
Underwriting professionals face considerable challenges to make sound decisions on accounts, as those decisions are vital in maintaining an insurer’s overall profitability. Changing economies, natural disasters, use of technology, and the advent of new business models are pressuring carriers to find new roads to profitability. In this type of environment, maintaining a competitive edge requires you to have superior knowledge and to stay current with emerging risks, issues, major industry trends or events, and changing state and federal laws and regulations in order to make sound underwriting decisions that are vital to maintaining an insurer’s overall profitability.
Earning a professional designation, such as the Associate in Commercial Underwriting (AU™), can provide a solid foundation in a changing industry while demonstrating your commitment to the profession. Credentials can help you set yourself apart by enhancing your professional image and credibility, which can lead to gaining improved career opportunities or obtaining new clients.
Editor’s Note: Susan Kearney joined The Institutes in 2007 as a senior director of knowledge resources. With more than 15 years of industry experience, she is an expert in commercial underwriting, reinsurance, and management.