Field Underwriting is a critical part of our profession – it is the first decision which the insurance agent makes after getting to know a client as it pertains to the potential client’s ability to meet the carrier’s underwriting standards. It is equally important for the client, the agent and the insurance company because of the value it provides. Good field underwriting provides an opportunity to set expectations with the client. Often times the life insurance process can be mysterious as it is different than any other purchasing process that a client will engage in. The agent plays a role in getting to know the client, making sure they understand not only the importance of life insurance but, also what to expect in regards to the underwriting process. This will help the agent ultimately build trust with the client and good field underwriting can help an agent build credibility with the home office as well. In turn, this information and taking the extra time to get to know the client will lead to more accurate underwriting outcomes and hopefully a greater amount of placed business.
So, where does good field underwriting begin?
- Be a coach – get to know your client. In order to be a good coach, it is important that you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your players in order to increase your chances of winning. The same holds true for your life insurance clients. It is critically important that you understand their goals and objectives, as well as what their behaviors and their general health outlook is. Is the client looking to protect their future or are they hoping to accumulate cash value for retirement? Does the client participate in avocations which may impact their insurability – scuba diving or aviation? Does the client have a health history which would be important to learn more about – diabetes, heart disease or challenges with their weight? Verifying the client’s identity builds credibility for the sale.
- Leverage the opportunity to make the client “come alive” for the underwriter. When the underwriter receives a life insurance application, they need to make a risk assessment based on the information provided by the agent & client, as well as reviewing 3rd party data sources which help to create a well-rounded picture. Understanding the needs of the client – helping to make them “come alive” as a real person through additional information is very helpful to the underwriter. Think of how differently an underwriter will be able to envision the person if there is a great description provided versus all “No” answers on the application. At the end of the day, the agent and underwriter have the same purpose – to help ensure National Life Group “Brings peace of mind to everyone we touch”.
- Build relationships with your underwriter. One of the unique differences at National Life Group is that our underwriters are accessible to our field partners and that is very purposeful. Our underwriters are experts – they can help to provide information regarding different health conditions that your client may have or talk through different business scenarios in advance of application submission. This will help to ensure when you meet with your client you have the expertise you need to serve customers more effectively. We feel strongly that building a relationship between underwriters and agents helps to ensure a customer experience for our clients that is beyond comparison. We truly are part of the same team, with the same goals and objectives.
One way that we have made things easier is our eApp process. We have architected the process to only ask for the things we need in order to assess the client’ overall mortality – no more, no less. If you think about it – we are giving you some home court advantage as it this is really like having an underwriter by your side when you are meeting with your client to ask all of the correct reflexive questions regarding your client’s medical and non-medical histories. Certainly for larger cases or clients with more complex medical histories it is still important to add more detail than less (this is a great opportunity to send us a cover letter!) but, know that for small cases our eApp process will ask for all of the detail we need in order to make a risk assessment quickly. Some tips in utilizing our eApp to ensure a smooth process:
- Do not free form additional information – use the drop down options provided or answer the questions asked.
- Double check all of the client’s critical personal identifiable information at the beginning of the process – things like name, date of birth, social security number and address. Our eApp process has two signing ceremonies and as a result we need to lock down this information prior to reaching out to 3rd party sources therefore, you will not be able to go back and change it.
- We do have two signing ceremonies in the eApp process – ensure that you are completing both of these with the client in order to avoid delays in the process.
During the field underwriting process, you are the eyes and ears of National Life Group which makes you a critical part of our team. In addition to our underwriters we also have other sources of great information in our field underwriting guide which will ensure you have everything you need when meeting with your client. We want you to have the confidence needed – so please leverage all members of the team for our joint success!