Underwriters and Their Forms

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I recently had a conversation with a valued agent regarding underwriters’ familiarity with their forms.

I was competing for a risk against one of her standard carriers, and I asked her if a certain endorsement was on the policy, and provided some cautionary language about how the endorsement reads.

She and I had a lengthy discussion about the form, and went over it together in detail.  By the end of the conversation she had come to the realization that her underwriter didn’t know what the form said.

When I was on the company side, I noted that most of my co-workers did not read our policy and endorsements.  They had a good grasp of what the form was supposed to do, but had not spent any great deal of time studying the language, let alone comparing it to our competitors’ policies.

When you have a question about coverage that may or may not be in a policy you’re quoting, you may want to make sure the underwriter can point you to the desired language.  If he or she can’t, you may have a situation not unlike my agent’s, where the underwriter is relying upon marketing hype or assumptions and does not truly understand the form.

Underwriters come in all shapes and sizes, just as agents do.  Some are very technical, some are not.  Some are very diligent and educated, some are more inclined to shoot from the hip.  They all serve a purpose, and are all fine people.  But you need to know whether you can rely upon their representations and guidance.

Keep in mind that company underwriters have no E&O exposure and have no obligation to guide you to correct coverage or competitors’ programs if they cannot or will not do what you need!

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