Building stronger relationships with underwriters can help you grow your book of business. Here are four tips for collaborating more effectively with underwriters.
Independent agents know how to build strong relationships. It's part of your professional DNA. Whether it's with customers, carriers or other partners, relationship building is essential for success. But be sure to add underwriters to your networking list. They offer another opportunity to develop valuable relationships—particularly when the market is tight and it's tougher to write policies.
To help you strengthen these connections, here are four tips for collaborating more effectively with underwriters:
1) Get to know your underwriters. Taking time to develop relationships with underwriters builds trust while boosting your working knowledge. These conversations allow you to discuss risks in detail, including those that fall in gray areas that may be harder to classify.
When you give underwriters an opportunity to explain their carrier's appetite, you'll come away with deeper insights into their processes and the types of risks they prefer, which will help you screen future customers.
2) Have a clear reason for why an underwriter should make an exception or offer a credit. Underwriters want to be helpful—and they want to write your business. If you're coming up short on a risk, it's time for a phone call to discuss an exception or an underwriting credit.
Now, asking for an exception that's clearly outside a carrier's comfort zone usually gets you a quick “no." But if you know your customer's risk and the carrier's general guidelines, you'll have a good place to start the conversation and make your case.
It comes back to relationships. You're more likely to get an exception in states where it's permissible when you and the underwriter already understand and trust each other. When you have the chance to explain any mitigating circumstances, it gives them all the relevant information they need to make a decision—which could be the difference between securing a policy or not.
If an underwriter declines your request without explanation, ask for details so you can understand why the risk was unacceptable. Even if you can't secure a quote this time, inquiring about appetite and risk eligibility will help you learn and get a “yes" next time.
3) Provide complete and accurate information upfront. Transparency is essential when working with underwriting and it starts with submitting a complete, accurate and thorough application. Embellishing or omitting information will only delay a decision or cause your application to be rejected out of hand. If you're unsure about something on the application, call your underwriter before submitting it. This will help them make a faster, more informed decision.
Also, while a business lines carrier representative may assist with completing your quote input, you'll want to ensure your submission is thoroughly filled out to avoid errors for your customers.
4) Understand your carriers' processes. Agents are busier than ever—and so are underwriters. Since every carrier does things differently, you can help your underwriter by understanding their processes upfront. The more you know about how a carrier works, the faster you can get an answer and write the business.
If you have a complex account question that involves more than underwriting, give them a call, but be prepared to finish the conversation with another department as necessary. After all, an application for insurance is a legal document intended to accurately show the risk to the carrier. Missing or inaccurate information can misrepresent the risk, leading to rate or coverage issues. Plus, an underwriter doesn't have a relationship with the insured like you do, so they wouldn't know for sure if the information is complete and accurate.
Work Toward a Common Goal
Agents and underwriters share a common goal: To grow a book of profitable business. To help you both succeed, communicate clearly and often and find ways to make their lives easier—and you'll develop a relationship that benefits everyone.