Good field underwriting is critical in the life insurance sales process for clients, producers and insurance carriers alike. It allows producers to set realistic expectations for their clients. When the client knows what to expect, the underwriting process will be smoother, less confusing and less time-consuming for all parties involved. For a producer, good field underwriting can help build credibility and boost his or her reputation with both the client and the home office underwriting the case. Most importantly, it can lead to better case ratings, which will be beneficial to everyone involved.

So, where does good field underwriting begin?

>> First, get to know your client. You should be able to identify the purpose of the insurance being applied for as well as the source of the premium. For older clients, more common sources of payment include trusts or RMDs if they’re retired. Does the client have major medical issues such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer? If so, ask for the dates and details of treatment. It will also be helpful to the underwriter if you can articulate your relationship to the client. How long have you known each other and how did you meet? Is he or she a friend, referral, neighbor or colleague? Verifying the client’s identity builds credibility for the sale as legitimate business.

>> Write the cover letter. Before you submit the application to the carrier, it’s time to write the cover letter. A well-written cover letter provides useful information that can speed up the underwriting process and prevent delays by clearly indicating the purpose or need for the insurance. Depending on the situation, the cover letter can be short and sweet, including basic information obtained in the initial fact-finding meeting with your client and noted in the aforementioned tip. In larger or more complicated cases, the cover letter may include how the amount of premium was determined, details of special ownership or beneficiary arrangements, and even an indication of any discrepancy between agent and carrier expectations of premium class.

>> Develop a relationship with the carrier’s underwriter. He or she can be more helpful than you know. These individuals are often very knowledgeable about the products available, requirements and forms needed for submission so your order will be received as soon as possible. Carrier underwriters can be available to discuss specific cases so that you are more informed about medical conditions, time that may be involved in the process and what the outcome might be.

During the field underwriting process, keep in mind that you are the eyes and ears of the carrier, making you a very important part of the team.