Initial Risk Review, What's Missing?

By Ken Kukral

Being a big fan of CSI type shows I enjoy the solving of mysteries.  As an underwriter (actually as a broker but trying to look an account from an underwriter’s perspective) I look at a submission to see what is missing.  I know ultimately my mission is to portray a risk in the “best light” so that an underwriter will offer favorable terms.  So if I am going to tell the whole story I need to make sure there are no “blanks” to fill in.

So when I am looking to send a submission to a carrier the minimum amount of information I would hope to send would be:

–        ACORD Applications (fully completed of course)

–         Supplemental application (for most risk such as habitational,  contractors or professional liability

–         Loss runs or no known losses statement (with details on any significant claims)

–         Account narrative (the “rest of the story”)

I think you have to look at the submission process as providing a level of information that meets your own personal standards.  The higher you set those standards the better your submissions will be on a consistent basis.  In fact you should look to create your “own style” that will help your submissions to stick out from the rest.  Having empathy for the underwriter, you will try to look at it from their point of view and provide the information they will need to best do their job.

What I see missing the most from submissions:

–         Account Narrative – I guess the submission speaks for itself, right?

–         Prior carrier and current premium level – This helps the underwriter know if they are competing against a standard carrier and the premium lets them “eyeball” it to see if they are even in the “ballpark”

–         The question asking if the account is being non-renewed.  Yes is not a bad answer!  It actually gives a clue as to why the account is being marketed.

–         Details on if the agent is the incumbent agent or if they currently “control” the account or have a better than average chance to write the account.

–         Missing loss runs.  When I started in the business, carriers did not demand them as much as they do now.  With the ease of getting these with most carriers they are now “expected”.

–         Premium basis.  Especially with general liability applications.  Always give payroll, receipts and sub-contracted cost on any contracting account.

–         Details on larger losses.  Larger losses deserve their own separate narrative.  Any carrier looking at an account with losses wonders if they will continue to have losses and be an unprofitable account or was it more of a “one time thing”.  Also include why you believe the loss will not happen again or the measures the insured took to control future losses.

–         Target pricing and terms.  This is where you get to give us your expectations so we can determine of we can meet or exceed them or if we need to tell you up front we can’t so you can make the best use of your time.

–         Need by date.  This helps us to schedule our workload so that we can meet your expectations.

–         Unanswered questions on the application.  With many underwriters a question left blank sends up a red flag.  They think the worst of a potential answer.  If the question does not apply, mark it as such.   If it is not applicable, mark it as such.  If the answer doesn’t fully answer the question, then add an additional narrative.

–         No website or a failure to check out the insured’s website.  I can’t tell you how many times I have the underwriter come back to me asking about information on their website that has not been address in the application or narrative.  One of the first thing underwriters do on a risk is Google the named insured.  So do it yourself and see what you come up with.

I could continue to elaborate on what I find “missing” but I think you get the point.  It is not the mission to provide the “minimum” amount of information in order to get a quote.  The less you provide, the less reliable the indication or quote will be and the higher likelihood the account will get bounced after binding the account.  Poor submissions tend to go to the bottom of that stack and that is just a reality.

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