The Modern Underwriter

The role of an underwriter has certainly changed over the years. What may have once been at best an educated gamble and at worst a punt, based on basic risk information, recent claims activity and varying levels of experience, has now evolved into something much more complex.

Richard Beaumont, Senior Underwriter – UK & Ireland Liability, looks at what new skills are needed in today’s market.

Underwriters have a broader range of responsibilities, and it’s not enough to excel in just one area. What was more or less a transactional process when I started my career, has developed into a multifaceted role.

Here are just 5 attributes that are recognisable as part of a modern underwriter’s day to day role:

1. Decision Maker: Confident decision making has always been one of the cornerstones of being an underwriter, except now we have more insight to influence the process. The greater the detail, the more informed the decision. So, finer levels of granularity in data modelling and analytics enables precision underwriting. With technology playing a dominant role, now, more than ever, it’s essential to find the balance of incorporating technological progress without eliminating the, all too crucial, human element to the decision-making process.

2. Relationship Manager: Relationships are another traditional component of underwriting. Today, underwriters must be able to interact with brokers and clients alike, as they are a positive influence throughout the clients’ lifecycle and add demonstrable value. Underwriters cannot be a faceless entity hidden behind a broker, instead they must continually build relationships; experiencing the risks they underwrite, and ultimately putting themselves into the clients’ shoes.

3. Creative Strategist: With a unique perspective, an underwriter will intuitively identify areas of interest that others may over look. Utilising creative thinking and applying it to specific cases, allows an underwriter to recommend the most suitable strategy with the broker and client in mind, rather than a one size fits all approach.

4. Business Analyst: Insight and understanding of a client’s business ensures a risk is underwritten correctly. Clarity in the analysis of the business model and how this is incorporated into sophisticated risk profiling techniques is a valuable skill. As is, the evaluation of the practical operations of a business to identify the inherent risks Articulating the underwriting process, to gain buy-in from both the broker and client, is part of the personalised approach which cannot be underestimated.

5. Policy Architect: The consequence of deep dive analysis is the ability to design and deliver creative solutions. Bringing together data and strategy, an underwriter must interpret this into a robust and relevant insurance policy. Be it generic cover, to suit a large audience, or something bespoke which is designed with a specific client in mind, the intricacies and detail of policy design and configuration is a crucial element of an underwriter’s role.

The modern underwriter has an arsenal of cognitive skills to deploy every day. Recognising these various roles, not just those mentioned above, is essential to empowering underwriters and the wider business to succeed.

This in turn, ensures the broker and customer experience an enhanced service and a policy that delivers.