Thriving in Environmental Underwriting

Environmental Underwriter Puts Relationships First

For Snohti Nmah, relating to people and building relationships are key to thriving in an environmental underwriting career.

Snohti Nmah

Snohti Nmah, Senior Underwriter for Argo Environmental, learned growing up that she’d have to adapt quickly to new environments. Of Liberian descent and born in Utah, she moved many times before eventually settling in the Atlanta area.

“Being able to adapt to people from different backgrounds and cultures made it easier,” Snohti says. “I was always switching schools and had to learn to make friends quickly.”

Snohti began her career as a bank teller, a job she started while working toward a degree in managerial science at Georgia State University.

After graduation, she “fell into” insurance, initially working as a claims analyst. She transitioned to underwriting a couple of years later, seeking a new challenge.

Since then, she’s found that adaptability has been an important part of building a successful environmental underwriting career.

Thriving in environmental underwriting

The difference between claims and underwriting, Snohti explains, is about the difference between cause and effect.

As a claims analyst, her job was to determine the cause of an incident. In underwriting, she’s looking at all the potential risks to which the client or company might be exposed – or everything that could go wrong.

She says it’s led to a change in mindset that’s common for underwriters: wherever she goes, she’s looking for risk.

“It’s a reason I don’t go to amusement parks anymore,” she jokes. “I started thinking about all the possible things that could happen.

“Every time I go somewhere, I’m thinking, ‘Do they have adequate insurance? What if someone slips and falls? Are there signs to warn people?’ As you get further into underwriting, that’s how your mind operates.”

Snohti says the key to success in underwriting is an ability to relate and maintain relationships with people of different backgrounds and personalities.

Her advice for developing these relationships is simple: pick up the phone.

“First starting out in underwriting, I was quick to just shoot off emails,” she says. “The more I talked to my clients, the more I’d just pick up the phone. We can have a relationship through a hundred emails, or we can just have a quick two-minute conversation and build a rapport.”

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COVID-19, capacity and other challenges

Adaptability has proven especially helpful over the past year.

Amid the massive shift to a remote workforce, Argo Environmental underwent significant organizational changes, hiring a new head of environmental and subsequently expanding its underwriting team in the second half of 2020.

Snohti credits the team’s closeness with helping each other get through these changes.

“We’re a very tightknit group, and we always support each other,” she says. “Everyone’s willing to help out where they can, and that’s a huge thing – even when you’re fully staffed.”

Even through uncertainty in the market and personnel changes, the service Argo Environmental offers its clients and broker partners has been consistent because it can offer capacity that other insurers can’t.

“We’re seeing that as kind of a sweet spot,” Snohti says. “Our clients really like knowing that Argo’s going to put up consistent limits.”

Investing in a new hobby

When she’s not working, Snohti keeps herself busy reading research about business trends and new technologies.

She used to spend more free time working with other Atlanta-based artists, doing choreography and background dancing. Now she just dances on the weekends, “to keep the bones moving.”

For the past few years, she’s invested in a new hobby: stock trading.

“I like to trade on the Asian market,” she says. “That stuff just interests me, looking at the commodities. Everything from oil to cotton, and different penny stocks – that’s my nerd side.”

Read more Behind the Scenes stories, and learn more about Argo Environmental.

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