By: Stephanie Hawkins – Production Underwriter, AmFed
Q: What is underwriting?
A: In short, underwriting is a thorough analysis of a risk and the type(s) of exposure(s) connected with that risk for insurance pricing purposes.
Q: What role do underwriters play in insurance? Why are they important?
A: Underwriters play a very important role in insurance as we are the first ones to set eyes on incoming risks. It is our duty to establish and nurture our working relationships with our agents to maintain a steady flow of incoming submissions and determine if that business fits our company’s business portfolio and risk appetite. It is also our role to provide the utmost service to our insureds over the lifecycle of an account – from processing endorsements in a timely manner and assisting with loss control coordination to bi-annual stewardship meetings and day-to-day policy servicing.
Q: What are the steps in the underwriting process?
A: For a typical account, the underwriter must review the risk, its historical loss history, projected losses, risk management capabilities and ability to comply with recommendations, financials, and so much more. It’s like getting a puzzle and putting all the pieces together without having the box/picture to reference – but that is what I love about the underwriting process! You will be equipped with countless tools to assist in the process, and again, cultivating great working relationships with your agents is key to keep the line of communication open and to obtain additional information to further review each risk.
Q: How does an underwriter decide whether to approve an application or deny?
A: Whether an application is ultimately approved or denied is generally determined by the insurance carrier’s appetite. If you have a solid knowledge of the types of risks that your company will and will not take on, that part comes easily.
Q: How do underwriters classify risk? How do underwriters determine appetite?
A: We can usually classify and determine if a risk is a fit for our company fairly quickly by looking at class codes, historical losses and how well it matches up with our company’s established appetite. However, I have learned in this industry that appetite can shift from time to time based on the individual risk.
Q: What experience did you have prior to becoming an underwriter?
A: I have now been in the workers’ compensation industry for 15 years! Prior to my role in workers’ compensation underwriting, I worked for a workers’ compensation insurance defense law firm doing legal secretarial work and marketing coordination.
Q: How did you get into underwriting?
A: I was very fortunate that a local carrier with an amazing reputation, AmFed (now an Ascot Group company), had an opening in their underwriting department. I did not have a day of experience in underwriting prior to starting at AmFed, but over the last 7 years, I have learned a lot and loved every single day of my job. I was driven to learn and blessed with supervisors who had the extensive knowledge and patience to provide me with the tools I needed to excel.
Your heart is racing and your palms are clammy. You take deep breaths and resist the urge to wipe your hands on your stain-free suit. It’s interview day, and you’re stressed. It’s almost impossible to avoid—nerves and interviews go hand-in-hand, but going in armed with these helpful tips could save your suit and help you land that job.
Preparation Makes Perfect
Do your research. Channel your inner student and study like it’s finals week. Do not underestimate the value of putting in serious preparation time before the big day. Gather useful information about the company or client and the interviewers, and don’t be afraid to use LinkedIn as a tool to help you. They may see that you viewed their profile, but this doesn’t make you a stalker—in this case, it can only serve to show that you’re taking the time to learn about them and the company for whom you hope to work.
Remind yourself of your achievements; exude confidence with a healthy dose of humility. If you’re interviewing for a claims-specific job, be certain of how many claims you have handled at any given time. If you’re interviewing for a position outside of claims, re-familiarize yourself with your sales numbers if necessary, and be sure of the amount of time you have been with each company. Ensure that you have concrete examples of your accomplishments, and how those accomplishments have helped the company. Furthermore, if a hiring manager asks about your knowledge of a specific tool or software program—such as Xactimate—you should be able to provide real life examples of your experience with it and how it has helped you in your previous positions.
You should also be prepared to address your weaknesses as well as your strengths. When discussing your weaknesses, however, avoid portraying yourself in a negative light. Focus on “faux weaknesses” that could have a positive result for the company, such as working too hard or being a perfectionist. Lastly, think of a few hobbies to share with the interviewer(s) that show them you are the dynamic, well-rounded individual they are looking to hire, not someone whose only hobby is binge-watching their favorite show every night (even if that is the case!).
Suit and Tie
You’ve done all of your research and refreshed your memory with regards to your performance metrics. You’re almost ready. Almost. In order to truly impress the interviewer(s), you need to look the part. It is always safer to overdress—wearing a suit despite the company’s lax dress code shows professionalism. Underdressing in a formal environment sends the wrong message. Make sure what you’re wearing is appropriate for the situation, which means no B’s. Don’t wear an outfit that shows your Boobs, Butt, Back or Bellies. Save the flashy number for a night out on the town after the interview is over. Unless you’re interviewing for a fashion-focused position, keep it simple. It’s hard to go wrong with a clean blue or charcoal/grey suit for men and blue or black suit for women. Avoid brown or tan suits, as these colors don’t tend to inspire confidence.
In addition, avoid distracting the potential employer from your accomplishments and skills with extreme odors at both ends of the spectrum; arrive fresh and clean, but there’s no need to bathe in Chanel No. 5 beforehand, either. Today is about you and your qualifications, not your perfume.
The time has finally come. You’re well-equipped with information about the company, your interviewer(s), and yourself, and you’re looking fresh. Now, you need to be certain you have all of the necessary materials to help you. Print and bring multiple copies of your resume, just in case there are more people in your interview than you anticipated. It’s a simple gesture that proves your level of preparation. In addition to your resume, you should also bring a pen and a notebook with a few questions to ask. Even if your questions get answered during the course of your interview, a quick flick through at the end to check that all of your questions have been answered will show the interviewer that you came fully prepared. If you happen to arrive early, instead of sitting while you wait, stay standing. This helps you maintain decent posture, and means you’re ready for a handshake as soon as they come out to greet you. If you’re kept waiting long enough, have a look around the lobby. Take stock of your surroundings and try to use them to your advantage. You might find some information on the wall such as a recent award or staff announcement, or even just the age of the business, which could give you an edge in the eyes of your interviewer(s).
During the interview, don’t ask about benefits or PTO. Think of the first round of interviewing as a first date—you wouldn’t ask your date how many kids they want when you shake hands, so don’t ask your interviewer what the company intends to do for you when you first meet. Save those questions for when you know you like each other.
The End is Nigh
The interview is coming to a close and you’ve done just about as much as you can to show them you’re the right person for the job. But it’s not over yet! Before you leave the room and breathe a sigh of relief, ask the interviewer(s) if they have any reservations about your application, your resume, or yourself as a candidate. Let them know you’re happy to address any concerns they may have. Addressing any doubts that the interviewer(s) may have in person means that you can leave safe in the knowledge that you’ve shown them your best self and all that’s left is for them to decide. Before you run through the goodbye handshakes, be sure to ask about the next steps. This reaffirms your interest in the job, shows that you are proactive, and brings the interview to a natural but firm close. Lastly, remember to ask for the interviewer’s business card or contact information so you can easily follow up with them after the interview.
Don’t You Forget About Me
Show how much you care about the job by following up with a thank you note for every interviewer within 24 hours of your interview. Make sure each note is specific to the person you met, not just a generic note that you’ve copied and pasted for the whole team. If you really love the job, send an email and follow up with a hand-written note. Writing the note by hand adds a personal touch and helps you to stand out in a crowd over-saturated with technology.
Remember that people hire people they like, so go in with a friendly, positive attitude and let your awesome self shine. Follow these tips, take a deep breath, and go get ‘em. You’re destined for success.
These tips are from Chelsea Buzer, Head of Recruitment at Insure National Staffing, and written by Rebecca Kirkpatrick. For more information please contact Chelsea Buzer at Che[email protected] or go to Insure-National.com
https://cdn.riseprofessionals.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/28172132/interview-2-1-scaled.jpg17072560Katerina Garavitohttps://cdn.riseprofessionals.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/28161650/Rise-Redesign-Logo-Blue_Website-Header-250x250-1.pngKaterina Garavito2019-03-21 17:31:192019-03-21 17:31:19Little Known Tips to Rock the Interview
Deborah Saunders is Senior Director, Claims Management for Comcast NBCUniversal. She is responsible for managing all lines of Comcast and NBCU’s claims programs, including Workers’ Compensation, Auto Liability, General Liability, Employment Practices, Property and Media Professional E&O. Prior to joining Comcast in 1998, Deborah was the Workers’ Compensation Claims Specialist for Campbell Soup Company. She started her career in claims as a representative for Travelers Insurance, where she handled both workers’ compensation and commercial liability claims. Deborah earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts. She also holds Associate in Risk Management (ARM,) Certified Workers’ Compensation Professional (CWCP) and Certified Claims Professional (CCP) designations and is a certified paralegal.
“I think when people either look at risk management programs in schools or look for a career path when they get out a lot of focus is on underwriting, but I’ve found that claims provides endless opportunities to do good in the world and to satisfy curiosity and the desire to grow.” Deborah states in an interview with RISE founder, Amy Cooper. Deborah discussed more about what her typical work day is like along with some encouraging advice for young career seeking professionals.
What do your mornings
My alarm is set for 5:25 but I get up between then and 6 am,
depending on the day. I actually have an evening regimen, so I don’t need a
morning one. I lay out clothes, look at my calendar for the next day, and have
my bags packed. That’s a trick I learned from my mom.
What is your commute
I go to the office almost every day that I’m not traveling. I
cross a bridge from New Jersey to Pennsylvania during my commute, which takes
20-30 minutes. I purposely add one mile to my route in order to pass by the
fountain at Logan Circle. It’s one of the many things in the city that makes me
happy so I make sure to enjoy it.
What is the first
thing you do when you start your work day?
A: I pick up coffee on the way in. The first thing I do when
I get to the office is break out the lint roller! I have pets. I update my to
do list for the day and carry over any leftover tasks from the prior day.
Who do you work most
I am responsible for a claims team within the Global Risk Management
team for Comcast NBC Universal. There are eight of us in claims, and with our colleagues in
program placement, we make up the risk department. I consider our TPA, brokers,
and insurers partners to be an extension of our team. Not everyone can say that,
but these partnerships are very collaborative.
How do you balance
meetings, email, solving problems, and your own tasks?
I’m not a practitioner of a formal time management
technique. I’ve been here for more than 20 years and I have a lot of practice
pivoting when needed. It’s second nature for me. I have non-traditional work
hours while traveling, which is great catch up time. I travel 2-3 times a month
but usually they are short trips.
Usually I eat lunch at my desk. When I was starting out, it
was Snickers and Diet Coke. I’m doing a lot better with my food choices now, so
I typically get soup or sushi. I try to avoid lunch meetings because I find
them to be inefficient.
You never get through
a day without ______.
On the downside, I never get through the day without falling
into an internet news rabbit hole. I’m extremely interested in current events. On the positive side, I never get through the
day without stopping to be grateful. I have a wonderful family and fun career.
I try to think about it every day.
Who is home waiting for you at the end of your day? What is your
biggest motivation in getting up every morning to do it again?
My husband, who is now retired,
two cats and a dog. Motivation isn’t an issue because I don’t need to motivate
myself since I love what I do. I thought it would be hard to leave the house once
my husband retired, but it’s not.
What changes in the role of technology have you noticed in your
department? Does this change the skills you hire for?
I began my career with paper
files – I’ve been at Comcast for more than 20 years. Yes, it does change at
least some of the skills that you’re looking for. We need people who are effective
and accurate at a much faster pace, with the efficiencies that come with
technology. I appreciate people who are detail-oriented and methodical but need
them to be thoughtful about how they spend their time.
What is the most rewarding/favorite part of your job?
I work with great people inside
my organization – everyone is smart, creative and looking for solutions that
improve people’s lives. I love the diversity
of the business in both within Comcast and in the claims profession. I’ve had
the same role since joining Comcast, but endless opportunities to learn. Almost
every day, there’s something new.
Can you name an innovative solution that made a huge impact for your
area of responsibility?
We use data analytics, as a lot
of people do, but we tried to figure out a way to use it not just for goal
setting, but also to eliminate bottlenecks that stood in the way of resolution and closure. We used data analytics
to set discretionary settlement authority limits with our TPA – we figured out
how much authority we could give them so they don’t have to wait for our
response, while still controlling the dollars. We were able to eliminate 80% of
the instances they had to contact us but still keep control over the vast
majority of the spend. It worked exceptionally well. We’re also looked at how closely we monitor
ALAE. We trust our TPA team as
professionals as long as spend is line with industry benchmarks.
When you were 18, did you envision your life to be like this? What
advice would you give to your 18-year old self?
I absolutely did not envision it.
I have this great career because the path I had in mind didn’t play out the way
I thought. Follow your dreams, but if through circumstance you’re diverted, be
open and curious. Wherever you can, set yourself up for job satisfaction –
there’s always something you can turn into a positive. Find it, build it, focus
on it, and you’d be surprised where it can take you. I could not be happier.
What advice would you give to other women who might be considering a
career in insurance?
This is so important to me. My advice is to consider claims. I think when people either look at risk management programs in schools or look for a career path when they get out a lot of focus is on underwriting, but I’ve found that claims provides endless opportunities to do good in the world and to satisfy curiosity and the desire to grow. It’s perfect for people who think of themselves as lifelong learners. The number one thing I would say if you’re considering claims – call me! I’ll be delighted to tell you why I think it can exceptionally rewarding career.
https://cdn.riseprofessionals.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/28172137/WEEK-4.png1123794Katerina Garavitohttps://cdn.riseprofessionals.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/28161650/Rise-Redesign-Logo-Blue_Website-Header-250x250-1.pngKaterina Garavito2019-03-01 06:00:272019-03-01 06:00:27A Day in the Life of…
I have always loved connecting people. I am the first one to introduce my work friends to my personal friends. If I see they share a common interest, I really enjoy creating “love” matches amongst my friends and family. So when I graduated from college, it was only natural I would take an interest in the recruiting business to match candidates to like-minded companies. Over the past few years, I have devoted my business matchmaking skills to the insurance industry. Why you might ask? Because the insurance industry is the best opportunity out there! Too many people are overlooking this industry as a viable career opportunity because they think it is boring, and I think it is time we change that stereotype. Here are my top 5 reasons why I believe people should explore a career in insurance.
No matter your skill set, the insurance industry has a position for you. Whether you studied to be a lawyer or an accountant or general business (or none of those!)- insurance has a place for your skills to thrive. People usually think of an insurance sales agent when they think of a career in insurance, but in reality, there are so many more jobs that requires a variety of skills. From critical thinking to negotiating to being tech savvy or good with numbers, there is something for everyone. (Underwriter, Resolution Specialist, Data Analyst, Investigator, and More!).
When I interview people, many ask about growth opportunities, so it is no secret that people want to climb a ladder. Insurance has so many professional development courses, groups, and company training programs that steer you up the corporate chain, that you are bound to move up.
Working in insurance will challenge you every day. The misconception of insurance being full of boredom is so far from the truth. The insurance industry is always changing and evolving as society and technology changes. I bet no underwriter ever thought they would be insuring Taylor Swifts long, beautiful legs, but now one of them does. The insurance industry will always keep you on your toes and solving problems. If you want to work in an environment that challenges you and gives you new opportunities to learn and grow, then this industry is for you.
Work from home, work in the field, work at night. Insurance is known for their flexible schedules that accommodate your lifestyle.
Many of us want meaning and purpose in our careers. We want to feel like we are doing something good. When you really think about it, people call on their insurance companies when they need them most. That means that a position in insurance will allow you to make a difference in someone’s life every single day.
Insurance isn’t going anywhere. And with over 400,000 new positions needing to be filled by 2020, this is the time to explore a career in insurance!
About the Author:
Chelsea Buzer, Head of Recruitment at Insure National started recruiting legal professionals back in 2012. She left recruiting and began working in the insurance space where she fell in love with insurance. She recognized the need for new talent to join insurance and re entered recruiting to help fill the gap.
https://cdn.riseprofessionals.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/28172303/5-reasons-PIC-1.jpg7871280Chelsea Midlarskyhttps://cdn.riseprofessionals.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/28161650/Rise-Redesign-Logo-Blue_Website-Header-250x250-1.pngChelsea Midlarsky2019-01-05 15:56:022019-01-05 15:56:025 Reasons to Start a Career in Insurance
Growing, Recognizing, and Advancing the Best Young Professional Talent in the Insurance Industry.