4 Ways Insurance Agents Can Help Their Underwriters Write More Business

By Brent Kelly

The relationship between insurance agent and underwriter is critical.

Both parties are vital to each other’s success, yet often times, the agent/underwriter relationship is strained. Why?

There could be countless reasons, but ultimately many agents feel that their underwriters make their lives more difficult by asking for additional information, not providing a competitive price, or just plain make it a challenge to make sales.

Although it may seem that some underwriters don’t want to write business or overanalyze basic risks, they have a tough job to do. They want to write business, but equally important, they want to write profitable business.

No, underwriters are not all the same and some are better than others, but if you want to be a successful agent, establishing a positive relationship with your underwriter is critical.

I asked one of my company marketing representatives to ask her team of underwriters a basic question, “What can agents do to help their underwriters write more business?”

It is straightforward question, but four basic themes developed that I think can help all agents improve the relationship with their underwriters.

4 Ways Agents Can Help Their Underwriters Write More Business

1) Communication
Insurance agents typically are terrific communicators with their prospects and customers. However, agents often overlook the importance of maintaining a clear channel of dialogue with their underwriters.

Here are some tips on how you can improve your communication with underwriters.

  • Be crystal clear using email. Email can be a great communication tool. It’s fast, easy, but can also lead to ambiguity and misunderstanding.
    When using email, specify what it is you are wanting accomplished and provide all of the pertinent information.
  • Pick up the phone
    How many times have been involved in an email conversations with multiple replies. Most times, one phone call would have saved you time and frustration.

If you receive a memo or email from an underwriter that you don’t understand, pick up the phone and call that underwriter.

Also, emails do not pick up the tone of your voice and can be taken the wrong way. I love sarcasm, but if my email recipient does not understand my humor, funny can turn into angry.

2) Patience
Agents want to get things done now if not sooner. That is a trait that can you succeed, but can also cause strain with your underwriter.

  • Ask for a reasonable response time
    Often, underwriting receives hundreds of phone calls and emails per day and will get back to you as soon as they can. Believe me, they are not ignoring you, just working as fast as they can to get to everyone. Underwriting goes through cycles so sometimes they may be able to respond quickly and other times they may be behind. If behind try to be patient.

There are times when underwriters will respond slower than necessary, but that is the exception, not the rule.

Having clear communication up front will help set expectations and make sure everyone is on the same page.

3) Be a Frontline Underwriter
As an agent, your job is not only to write new business, but also be the first line in underwriting.

  • Know the risk
    In property and casualty insurance, look at properties before submitting them. Understand the risk you are trying to write as much as possible. Verify with underwriting prior to submission if it is something the company wants to write. This will save you and your underwriter time.
  • Use Technology
    Check your prospect’s website. That is the first place an underwriter will go so make sure you know what your prospect’s website contains.

If you are unsure of how to best rate or complete the application while quoting, call underwriting don’t just guess. Collect as much information as possible before submitting the account. Nothing is worse than selling an account and having the company issue/cancel or increase in price because the information wasn’t 100% accurate.

  • 4) Think Team
    Insurance agents can think of themselves as conquerors. High achieving agents are goal driven, highly competitive, and focused.

Those are fantastic traits, but insurance is a team sport. Not only do you need a great service and support team, but you need a great underwriting team.

Make sure you share this approach with your underwriter. When you win, they win. Make sure you acknowledge and show appreciation for your underwater when they help you land that new account.

Just like your prospects and clients, underwriters want to do business with those agents they know, like, and trust.

The Bottom Line
Building and maintaining a strong relationship with your underwriters is vital for success. You need to nurture these relationships just as you do with your prospects and customers.

It takes an effort to do the things necessary to establish credibility and respect with your underwriters. However, that effort will result in writing better and bigger business for your agency.

Question: What do you do to improve the relationship with your underwriter? 

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