On his blog, insurance claims expert witness and “Claims Coach” Kevin M. Quinley CPCU, AIC, ARM, RPA writes Risk Managers: Use These 8 Tips for Better Meetings with Underwriters.
The risk manager’s ability to procure insurance coverage and to do so on the best financial terns depends in large part on the discretion of the insurance underwriter. Underwriters are the insurance company gatekeepers. They decide whether or not to offer coverage terms and, if so, at what price.
Meet with Underwriter
Within insurance companies, the underwriter decides which risk applications to except for coverage and which to decline. They also will determine how much you pay, what kind of policy terms and conditions the insurance company is willing to provide, etc. They are the “gatekeepers” to insurability. As such, the underwriter is key to a company’s insurance program, risk management program and financial protection. This can work for – or against – a risk manager. It pays to get to know the underwriter.
#1. Don’t be “too busy” to meet. However, this is rare in buying insurance. Risk managers may feel they are too busy to meet underwriters. To kick start the insurance process, the prospective policyholder may have to complete an application for coverage.
#2. Get into selling mode. The ability to get insurance coverage at the best price on the best terms may hinge upon how successful and skilled you are in “selling” your company as a good risk. If you convince the underwriter that you have strong loss control/prevention and risk management systems, you have a better chance of being insured on the best possible terms. If, however, you cannot make a compelling case to the underwriter, seem befuddled or ill-prepared, that may compromise your negotiating leverage and the ability to get the best insurance price and terms.
#3. Understand the underwriter’s world. Here it helps to have some appreciation of the underwriter’s work environment and job context. Underwriters are often besieged by the volume of incoming applications that they have. They always feel (not without justification) that there is more work to do than there are hours in which to do it. It is challenging for them to stay on top of their workload.
#4. Know your aims in meeting with underwriters. The aim for risk managers is to emerge from the pack, from the herd and to differentiate their companies in a positive way, as a good risk which any sane underwriter and reasonable insurance company would WANT to insure.
#5. Seek an in-person meeting. One way to do this is to seek a brief but in-person meeting with the underwriter. A conference call or email doesn’t cut it. This may be a challenge, but there are ways to do it:
Prepare well in advance Have your insurance broker run interference Propose to meet underwriters in their office Ask for a short amount of time
#6. Prepare an “elevator speech,” a short verbal presentation generally meant to persuade or in foreign. It should be two to three minutes long. Explain why your company represents a good risk Highlight key features, particularly in so far as safety is concerned. Underwriters often have limited availability and attention span, so hit the high points.
#7. Be brief. Practice and rehearse your talking points. Prepare to amplify if you field questions. When you meet with an underwriter, you are an ambassador for your company. If you are well prepared, the underwriter may infer that your company has its act together with regard to safety and related features.
#8. Make a positive impression. If you appear unprepared, this can cast a negative pall. Your aim: to leave the exchange with the underwriter thinking, “That company really seems to have its systems in place and to be an attractive risk!” This impression should manifest itself in the form of a favorable insurance quotation both in terms of price and coverage features.
For risk managers, time spent meeting with underwriters may seem like a needless distraction but can pay off in broader insurance coverage at a more favorable price!
Q: What techniques have worked for YOU in having more productive exchanges with insurance underwriters? Share here or email me at email@example.com
Kevin Quinley is an insurance claims expert and industry thought-leader with 35+ years of operational experience. Read more: Kevin Quinley.