The Underwriter’s Role In Working With The Affluent

To The Editor:

I just read Richard Harris’s article “Working with the Ultra-Affluent” in the April 15 issue and I take it that Harris is more a financial advisor than an insurance agent. I liked his approach on how to obtain the required information from wealthy clients, which will always be case-specific.

I’ve underwritten many wealthy insureds, and in the process discovered–from inspection reports and financial statements–that the agent didn’t take into account that the client also owned several other businesses worth millions aside from the “main” enterprise–the reason for the coverage.

These agents did not do a full “discovery”–as they say in law circles–of their clients’ assets, and in the process, lost a chance to sell a higher coverage, which the person actually needed.

Harris talks about “network” of contacts, and it is absolutely indispensable that agents and brokers consult certain cases with an experienced underwriter in order to know what to expect, or whether the case makes sense from a financial point of view–in other words, that there’s a “need” for the coverge. You can write the largest case ever, but if the person has enough coverage already, additional insurance may not be approved.

I once had this case with 2 execs wanting keyman insurance for $2 million each. I reviewed all the financial and medical info and sent the case to our reinsurer because everything seemed fine.

Turns out there were other executives from the same company asking for keyman insurance as well, for $2 million also, but I wasn’t aware of that!

The agent didn’t call me or anyone else to let us know he was sending a group for keyman insurance. If he had, I’d have asked him, among other things: Amount of coverage required? Line of business? Net worth of business? Average yearly income of the keymen? Job function?

The first thing the agent needed to establish was “need.” When he failed to do this, the case had no purpose. Did they need $2 million each? No. Did they need $300,000? Probably.

The agent lost this business due to lack of preparation.

Dan Vel?zquez
Senior Underwriter
Great American Life of Puerto Rico


To The Editor:

I recently read Ara Trembly’s column, “In The Battle To Protect Computer Systems, Our Shields Are Failing Badly” in the April 15 issue. While I agree 100% with the column, the problem I have is with the photo that accompanied it. It is incorrect with the scenario used.
The picture shows the Enterprise D which Kirk never commanded, and during that timeline with the Enterprise D the Federation and the Klingons were allies. The point is well taken but the photo shows the wrong Enterprise.
I hate to be a stickler for facts but when it is in written form or in this case photo form, accuracy counts.

Have a good one.

Roger Leonard Jr.
Vice President
Leonard-O’Neill Insurance Group
Gibbsboro, N.J.

Editor’s note: I appreciate Mr. Leonard’s absolutely accurate observation and take full responsibility for picking a photo without first running it by Mr. Trembly, who would undoubtedly have spotted the error. In the words of Spock: Live long and prosper.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, April 29, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.