Skip to Main Content

Following in Fast-Paced Footsteps

A Day in the Life of an Underwriter

Posted in Professional Development

Author: Rudie Heling

One might say insurance is in my blood.

My father, Mark Heling, has worked in the insurance industry for more than 30 years. His experiences and guidance strongly motivated me to pursue education and a career in the industry as well.

In addition to being my inspiration, he is my mentor, role model, and an all-around great dad.

Even with his career as an example, I’ve had to create my own routine and rhythm to make the most of the fast-paced tasks each day brings my way.

My Road to JM Wilson

In 2012, I earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. My training included a Financial Representative Internship at Northwestern Mutual: The Blevons Group in Appleton, Wis.

Prior to joining JM Wilson in 2015, I served as a Sales and Service Representative at The Auto Club Group (AAA) and became a licensed intermediary for Property & Casualty.

Working for an MGA is similar to serving as a retail agent since I still serve as an agent, just to our carriers now. The main difference is that my role as an underwriter is a business-to-business relationship rather than a business-to-consumer situation.

My Typical Day

I prefer to come into the office, rather than work at home, and arrive at 8 a.m. To get things started, I make my morning coffee and dive into my emails. At 8:30 a.m., we have our daily team meeting to discuss successes, challenges, and changes in the marketplace.

Next, I immediately go to work. If there are any quotes to be bound, policies to be processed, or related questions, I like to take care of those in the morning to get them expedited. From there, I move on to underwriting and quoting new business. All the while, I am on and off the phone taking new business inquiries, following up on quotes, and helping my team members and agents with questions.

At 11:30 a.m. each day, I take lunch and go home to let my dog Moxie, a Toy Australian Shepherd, out. I am very prompt with my lunch routine. It gives me an opportunity to reflect on what to do next when returning at 12:30 p.m.

As the afternoon starts, new business continues and inspections come in to be looked at and processed as well as endorsements, audits, and cancellations. Multi-tasking becomes a big part of my afternoons. Renewal quotes also get mixed in that have areas of concern, need to be shopped, or are being displaced in the market.

Often sooner than anticipated, 4 p.m. rolls in and I begin wrapping things up for the day. Often there is a new business app/inquiry or a binding request that comes in at the end of the day or a risk that I just received approval on. These take priority and are a great opportunity for a phone call or quote to speed up the process late in the day.

At 5 p.m., I take a final look at the work I have accomplished and start planning for what to do the next day. Every day is a little different and I enjoy the opportunity to provide timely assistance with risks.

Regardless of the day or task, time flies in an underwriting position. There is never a dull moment and I love the ability to help our agents and their insureds with hard-to-place risks.

What Brings Me Joy

What I enjoy most about underwriting commercial property and casualty insurance, especially in the excess and surplus lines marketplace, are the unique and diverse risks that I get to see. It could be a contractor, a tavern, or anything in between.

I take pride in helping my agents with their hard-to-place business and get a great deal of satisfaction knowing I am making a difference in our community to help agents and their clients.

Overcoming Challenges & Sharing Advice

Prioritization is the most challenging part of underwriting. It is a constant balancing act from working on new business to policies and all the items in between, all while maintaining great customer service and speed.

When you want to help everyone, it can be hard at times to choose what to work on first.

For a new property and casualty underwriter entering the excess and surplus lines space, and really just in general, kindness and gratitude can go a long way. I always strive to treat people how I would like to be treated.

There will be many challenges and successes in an underwriting role, and I never really know what others may be going through, so kindness is key. Be transparent and upfront with your agents and, whenever possible, pick up the phone.

Working in Partnership

Agents themselves can help underwriters by bringing as much information as possible to the table. This allows me to best serve them, yet I understand this can be challenging for agents as they may not know all the information required to receive a quote on a risk.

Having complete applications and all the pertinent underwriting information up front can greatly increase service speeds and turnaround times to get business from the quote stage to an issued policy quicker or simply make decisions faster as to whether a risk will be quoted or declined.

In my excess and surplus lines world, there is also a need to qualify a risk for competitiveness. Pricing in the surplus lines non-admitted space is often higher than the standard admitted market pricing as we are not geared to compete with these carriers. 

Knowing pricing expectations up front and whether the business is being renewed in the standard market or not, can help to make decisions and set client expectations.

Another helpful practice is including a policy or reference number in an email. This greatly helps us more quickly identify the risk that needs attention as underwriters are handling multiple accounts throughout the day. 

On new business inquires, including the name of the business and the type of operation is helpful.

Submitting a binding request with the effective date and all the information the carrier needs to bind and issue a policy can be a great help to speed up the binding and issuing process for all parties of interest.

I’m proud of the work I do as an underwriter for JM Wilson and being a resource for the agents we serve. I’ve had a great example to learn from in my father and hope that I can be an example to someone like he has been to me.

Related Blogs

view all blog posts