Differentiate Yourself Through Underwriting Advocacy
Never before has a strategic, hands-on approach to underwriting been more critical.
Too often, producers select carriers, products and even strategies without fully considering the underwriting impact. But after more than a decade of underwriting advocacy, I can say that almost without exception, a proactive emphasis enhances results.
Among affluent clients, underwriting advocacy is increasingly becoming a requirement and a key differentiator. This is especially true in instances of complex risks, larger cases or older cases in which significant coverage is already in force.
Essentially, the job of an underwriter is to match individual medical profiles and health histories of applicants with existing risk classes that range from preferred best to standard to substandard to declined. But as we all know, individuals often do not fit neatly into a specific risk class. Medical profiles can be vague, incomplete or simply inaccurate. That’s where underwriting advocacy comes in.
Just as determining and addressing objections, prior to approaching a prospect, is an essential sales skill, optimal underwriting results often hinge on knowing what needs to be overcome prior to submitting a case to a carrier. Knowing what price to expect and managing customer expectations accordingly is also essential. Communicate to customers that price is not dictated by the product; price is a function of underwriting. Indeed, products are fixed. Underwriting is subjective and negotiable.
Focus on presenting your customer’s medical history and APS in the most favorable light possible. As a matter of course, include a cover letter that addresses your customer’s lifestyle and commitment to caring for any medical conditions. Personalize the case. Do your clients play 18 rounds of golf without using a cart? What are their hobbies? Did their mother or father live to be 100? Are they engaged in any volunteer work? Do they have a dog that they walk every day? Include pictures, when appropriate, that depict your customers as vital individuals engaged in life.
Presenting a customer’s case in the best possible light often means doing whatever is possible to control the parameters among the various carriers. For example, I recently worked on a case of a 69-year-old female who had had back surgery 2 years before. All but 2 of the carriers involved did not require a treadmill. In such a case, the first step should be to try and find out why the treadmill was required. If it turns out that the treadmill is an obstacle that cannot be overcome, consider leaving the 2 carriers that require it out of the initial process, to avoid the risk of tainting the outcome.