Why We’re Solutions Advocates, Not Underwriters

I was recently in a meeting among some of my industry peers, and I was asked why our “underwriters” did certain things certain ways. 

I politely interrupted my new adversary, asking “Can I make a clarification?” Judging by the sneer on her face, I’ll take that as a “Sure, go right ahead.”

“They’re not underwriters. Technically, their titles are Solutions Advocates, and the reason we gave them…” Here it comes.

“Why do you have to make things so difficult?” If looks could kill.

We’re not making it difficult. We’re making it right.

When I joined the company back in 2014, our insurance teams had a myriad of titles – underwriter, placement specialist, account executive, and the list went on. The funny thing was, none of those titles had a job description that explained what their roles were actually responsible for.

And I don’t mean inaccurate job descriptions. I mean no job descriptions.

It was not funny at all, in fact.

We spent the next few years trying to align the right titles with the right roles and responsibilities, for what our insurance team does. And in doing so, we fell into the usual trap of taking the easy way out – we established titles that we knew about and were comfortable with.

Account Managers and Account Executives, it was.

But as time went on, we started to rethink our model. I even blogged about it a while back, explaining why we're a market access provider (not a broker).

At the same time, we started to rethink what our roles really were.

We're not underwriters. We’re not underwriters at all. Depending on the source and definitions you find, in general, an underwriter is responsible for:

  • Determines risk eligibility and risk factors
  • Establishes pricing
  • Rejects or approves a risk
  • Approves and applies credits

Our insurance team does none of that. We don’t not have any of those authorities nor do we ‘have the pen’ in any circumstances.

Carriers? Yes.

Us? No.

We're not Account Executives. We’re not account executives at all, either. Again, depending on the source and definitions you find, in general, an account executive is responsible for:

  • Work for insurance companies or brokers to promote the company’s products to other companies that will sell them
  • Gives clients advice on the best products to use with regard to covering their risks
  • Is sales focused and revolves around sales targets and increasing business for the insurance company
  • are typically responsible for client servicing and client acquisition

Our insurance team does none of that either.

Agencies? Perhaps.

Carriers? Yes.

Us? No.

So, now what?

Insurance Solutions Advocates

If I were in charge (wait, what?), all our titles would simply be Chief Problem Solver.

We could simply hire a bunch of insurance experts for our roles, call them "underwriters" (or some other industry known but meaningless title), and be done with it.

We could.

But that’s too easy. That’s lazy, actually.

We needed to be better than that. So we went back to the drawing board.

This was our chance to be creative and get it right. And this time, we weren’t going to fall into the trap of going with what we knew.

Do we need to know our carriers' appetites? We do. 22 of them, in fact.

Do we need to screen applications for quality, based on what we know about our carriers' appetites? We do.

Do we need to identify a fit for an application with our carriers? We do.

But we don't have the authorities carrier underwriters have, and we don't sell the business to the insureds either, as agents do.

So what job description for a role like ours exists in the industry, that everyone is familiar with and understands?

It doesn’t.

One of the issues we face today is the rate and pace of change in our industry. It's so fast, a so-called "expert" today is out of the loop tomorrow.

Therefore, we need problem solvers. We need a team of resourceful problem solvers, who can think creatively and believe anything is possible.

What do we do, any way? We get paid to solve problems. We get paid to find solutions.

Solutions = problem solving.

Along with the value of finding solutions, one of the most understated values we provide our agents is advocating on their behalf with our carrier partners.

We work to connect our agents with our carriers, and we facilitate finding solutions for them. And in doing so, we advocate on behalf of the agents we serve, so they can provide the solutions they need for the insureds. Boom!

Advocates = promoting the interests of another.

And there you have it. Solutions Advocate, it is.

So now we have a team of Commercial Insurance Solutions Advocates and Personal Insurance Solutions Advocates. Problem solvers, for agents and carriers.

Not to make it difficult. To make it right.

 Chad Eddy, MBA, is the CEO and fearless leader at Indium. He has more than 20 years of multifaceted, multi-industry experience. In addition to serving independent agents, Chad is passionate about spending time with his family, playing and watching hockey, listening to good music, reading, and raising money for cystic fibrosis research.