Canadian Underwriter

2022 Underwriters of the Year | Wendy Rodriguez Suarez, Senior Underwriter, Aviva Canada

September 30, 2022   by Canadian Underwriter Staff

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Wendy Rodriguez Suarez joined Aviva Canada in December 2013 as Senior Underwriter, Commercial Lines. With 30 years of experience and a track record of driving profitable growth, Wendy is a seasoned technical property and casualty underwriting careerist.

Says Wendy of being recognized by Canadian Broker Network (CBN): “I am humbled and earnestly grateful for this recognition. Absolutely and unequivocally, I love my chosen profession – and working with great brokers is an indispensable part of that. One day, when I take my final bow on the underwriting stage, I simply (and humbly) wish to be remembered… as a celebrated technical/risk-based commercial underwriter that left an impactful footprint in the business. This award will forever be the ‘exclamation mark’ in my professional legacy.”

Q: What makes for a great working relationship between underwriter and broker?

“The formula is a simple one: respect and appreciate the broker’s goals and pressures and work with them to develop an insurance solution that is a win-win for all parties. In a broker/underwriter relationship, neither party has the upper hand. That statement is true, be it a hard or soft market. In my opinion, it is the highest art form in underwriting to be tough enough to name befitting terms and conditions for the exposure and be well liked and respected throughout the transaction process (and beyond).”

Q: What is the biggest challenge for underwriters, and one thing that underwriters/insurers can do to overcome this?
“The shortage of experienced underwriters. In my estimation, the need to foster the younger or newer underwriters to think about risk and exposure, and not just running numbers through a system, is paramount and critical, especially as the more experienced underwriting generation is retiring. We need technology certainly, but it does not and should not replace ‘traditional hands-on’ risk assessment. Risk underwriting is so much more than choosing an industry code and working numbers through an electronic rating tool.”

Q: What’s one opportunity underwriters should focus more on?

“One immediate focus should be to stress the importance of learning the art of underwriting – in terms of assessing risks and exposures outside of technology. Technology is here to stay, and it definitely has its purpose, but it, unfortunately, is not capable of replacing a human brain ‘piecing the story together.’ There is a wealth of experience retiring in the next ten years and it is very important to the industry that this knowledge does not get lost.”

Q: Why did you become an underwriter and what do you love about it?

“I fell into underwriting by chance, and it has been a 30-year love affair still going strong! I dare say I live and breathe underwriting. What I love most is the challenge of truly understanding the client’s operations and exposures, their insurance needs, and in turn providing an insurance solution that is ‘fit-for-purpose.’ I really enjoy the interactions and negotiation process with experienced brokers. Ultimately, transacting quality binds, especially new business, gives me immense joy.”