Insurance Underwriters: Follow These 3 Tips for Early Career Success

Three Tips for New Insurance Underwriters | Property Casualty 360

Underwriters must anticipate change, predict what carriers will do, and stay ahead of industry trends.

This article was originally published by Property Casualty 360.

Getting into the world of underwriting can be daunting for anyone at the beginning of their career. It’s a tough road that requires a great deal of due diligence, patience and hard work. After seven years in the business, I have a perspective on how you set yourself up for success.

I began as a licensed sales producer at Allstate and then moved to a wholesale brokerage, which is essentially a middleman between a retailer and an insurance company. There, as a managing general agent with underwriting authority, I was able to do an array of work related to my current duties. This is where I developed my underwriting skills. Now I work with Argo Group as a lawyers professional liability (LPL) underwriter.

Here are three important tips for early-career underwriters:

  1. 1. Increase your value by knowing the marketplace gives you an advantage

    As an underwriter, you need to be two steps ahead of the trends. The LPL marketplace, for instance, is saturated and carriers have been aggressive on pricing. Appetites for coverage are always evolving based on the hardening or softening of the market.

    It’s an underwriter’s job to anticipate change or stagnation, and predict what carriers will do. We all compete with one another, but at the end of the day our work dictates the shape of the market and we don’t want to overstep boundaries. This is especially true in a hardening market.

    As a newer underwriter, you must get as familiar as possible with the lines of business your company is writing as it is your job to bring a deep understanding to the table, every day. When I started, I spent hours with my team to learn the LPL market and acquire a comprehensive understanding of it.

    Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and speak with your clients to get to know their needs and how they fit into the market at large. Read news outlets like PropertyCasualty360.com, stay up to date on new client deals, and make sure to follow other insurers to see what kind of work they’re transitioning toward or away from — it may present a chance to stake an advantageous position at just the right time.

  2. 2. Boost your credibility by pursuing a professional designation

    To set yourself apart in a crowded field, a professional designation will make you much more valuable to your clients and your company. It’s akin to getting a postsecondary degree in terms of difficulty and long-term rewards, but it will let you speak to clients with confidence, while also giving you the technical background to adapt to any situation with ease.

    For example, I’m currently pursuing my registered professional liability underwriter (RPLU) designation. To pursue this, you need two years of experience. The coursework consists of 12 modules and exams.

    It takes hard work and dedication, but the recognition is appreciable. Clients will seek you out for guidance because of your vast expertise and you’ll be able to navigate the often murky waters of the insurance profession with conviction.

    Scores of other younger insurance professionals are also advising that their colleagues pursue a designation. From risk management to reinsurance, the possibilities are endless.

    Not all underwriters have designations, so if you pursue this path, you’ll be among the qualified few who have broadened their career paths and become a true master of insurance.

  3. 3. Build stronger relationships through face-to-face meetings

    Now that companies are returning to the office and travel is resuming across the country, get out and see your clients to build and maintain strong relationships.

    We were all disrupted by a global pandemic that made our jobs a lot more difficult. In fact, my first day at Argo was fully remote. It was tougher to build the kind of relationships I normally would have in a typical office.

    But traveling will always be one of the most significant aspects of the insurance world, and it’s crucial to keep clients in mind and show them you care and, most importantly, that you’re up to speed on their business lines.

    The more you can see them, the better you can build a relationship and the more loyal they will be to you through lean times. Gaining trust will lead to even more lucrative business further down the line.

    Simple as they may seem, travel and authentic client interaction are among the most important weapons in your arsenal. Being a dependable, familiar face will yield dividends in the short and long term.

Your opportunity to take control

It’s been a rough year for early-career underwriters, especially those whose first jobs came about during COVID-19.

To take that next step in your career, you must develop will and determination. Follow the steps laid out here and you’ll have the confidence you need to succeed with strong client relationships, a professional designation and a comprehensive understanding of the market.

John Marchant is a lawyers professional liability underwriter at the Argo Group. Contact him at [email protected].

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