Underwriters urge brokers to engage earlier

Senior figures say it’s key to a successful customer outcome

Underwriters urge brokers to engage earlier

Insurance News

By Nicola Middlemiss

Several senior insurance figures have urged brokers to engage earlier with their underwriters, saying it will likely lead to better customer outcomes and a smoother renewal experience all round.

“Early engagement is vital to obtaining the best outcome for insureds,” says Kirsty Owens, South Australia state manager and national portfolio manager for Berkley Insurance.

Speaking to Insurance Business, Owens said early engagement is even more important when dealing with hardening markets – such as the D&O space.

“The reality is, we have been in a protracted soft market cycle, and most parties have come to expect rollover or even a reduction in pricing while obtaining more and more coverage inclusions,” she says, commenting specifically on D&O insurance.

“Unfortunately, we now find ourselves in a place where the market has turned, so the once simple account is now more time-consuming and complex for brokers and underwriters alike.”

Patrice Nigon, head of engineering and construction at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions’ Asia-Pacific operations, agreed that early engagement can make a significant difference to all parties involved.

“Engaging early is key with the necessary underwriting information, so, as a partner, we can together discuss client needs and requirements to find the appropriate solution,” he told Insurance Business. “In certain situations, this may require a certain level of creativity from both sides to explore alternative solutions matching the needs and budget of the clients.”

As an example, Nigon pointed to the recent case in Asia, where Swiss Re Corporate Solutions was able to combine EAR and Marine DSU in a seamless way.

“In the same vein, parametric NatCat protection can be combined with traditional covers to find the best solution for the clients,” he said – although this is almost impossible without early engagement.

“Alternatives need time and, for instance, as happened recently in Asia, to be urgently confronted with a placing slip when there is no capacity available on the market for an exposure, does not lead to the best solutions for the client.”

Of course, it’s not just insurers who are spruiking the benefits of early engagement – brokers, too, are reaping the rewards of the additional discretionary effort.

Julie Hamilton, Aon’s national D&O practice leader, is well versed in weathering hardening markets and says early engagement is vital when belts begin to tighten.

“Strategic planning and early engagement are essential to achieving the best outcome,” says Hamilton, who works closely with clients to help them differentiate their risk and understand exactly what insurers are looking for.

“By doing that, the insurers can obtain a much higher degree of comfort with the risk and therefore understand how that risk fits with the rest of their portfolio and price accordingly,” she says.

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