September 24, 2020 by Adam Malik
Brokers need to pay close attention to the quality of submissions they make on behalf of clients to underwriters because the smallest missing detail can be the difference in whether or not the application is approved.
Underwriters are swamped these days, explained Kevin Neiles, chief marketing officer and Western Canada president at Gallagher, so the onus is on brokers to make sure they’re not leaving any doubt as to why their client’s submission can’t be ignored.
“We have a situation where premiums are increasing, so brokers and clients all want their business remarketed to make sure they’re getting the best terms possible. That’s just, in turn, driving up the number of submissions that are going to the underwriters rather extensively,” he said. “Those underwriters are working from home in a market that they’ve not experienced before, both from a hardening and pandemic point of view. They simply can’t quote all of the submissions that are coming across their desk.”
In order to get client submissions looked at by the underwriter, brokers need to work with their clients to ensure they’re putting together better submissions with greater detail.
“Build a story on why this client is a client that somebody wants to write,” Neiles advised during the recent Gallagher Talks virtual event in the session entitled, Canadian Market Projections. “The underwriters have piles and piles on the desk and sometimes they just have no choice but to say, ‘This submission’s incomplete,’ or, ‘This has one little thing we don’t like so we’re going to put this off to the side.’
“We want to make sure that our clients’ submissions are getting to the top of the pile and have all of the information in them so that they can get quoted on,” he added. “It’s certainly really important to us.”
While the industry has generally pivoted well to a work-from-home environment, not everything is seamless, Neiles noted.
“The ability to access insurers now that they’re home-based makes it difficult to do risk surveys and inspections and whatnot. As much as the insurers and us as brokers have tried to maintain business as usual, it still creates complications,” he said.
There are a lot of video conferences with underwriters these days to ensure client submissions are being looked at. “It’s very tough because, [for] the underwriters, this is an unforeseen circumstance. I mean, who would have ever thought we’d be seven or eight months into this,” Neiles said. “Underwriters’ desks are swamped with business and we’re doing what we can to get our clients’ business in front of them and get our deals done.”
And the hard market isn’t expected to ease up any time, even if COVID-19 retreats. Neiles reported that insurance carrier leaders are consistent in their estimations of how long the tough conditions will last — 18-24 months following the main impact of the global pandemic.
“However, rate increases will continue to likely slow a little bit because … a lot of our larger, significant clients have had one or two cycles of increases already,” according to Neiles.
What may help is the return of some insurers to the marketplace who had recently left. “In the last two weeks, I’ve talked to insurers that are considering re-engaging in the Canadian marketplace,” Neiles said.
“We know that when capacity is the biggest issue, we’ve just got to fight for our clients to get them what they need to feel comfortable with their coverage.”
Feature image via iStock.com/VallarieE