Empowering the Underwriter of the Future

Steve McOrmond
December 12, 2022

In this article published by Insurance Thought Leadership, Megan Bock Zarnoch, COO at Federato discusses how the insurance industry must lean in to a human-centric approach to underwriting technology in order to attract, retain, and empower the next generation of talent.

Speaking to a standing-room-only audience at The Institutes CPCU Society In2Risk22 conference in San Francisco in November, Megan Bock Zarnoch kicked off her “Hot Topic” session by asking how many people intentionally chose insurance as a career. In a room full of ‘Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters’ – arguably the community most dedicated to the ongoing learning and impact of the underwriting craft – only a handful of people raised their hands. In Megan’s view, this is unacceptable and unsustainable:  

“It’s become an overused, trite joke that the majority of people ‘fell into’ insurance rather than choosing it intentionally, but when we consider the talent shortage in underwriting today, it’s not so funny anymore.”

– Megan Bock Zarnoch, COO, Federato

The insurance talent gap is only growing, and insurers can no longer afford to be complacent about the fact that most people in our industry had no intention of being here, and the new talent we need for future growth is choosing other industries over ours. 

Insurance is and will continue to be a people business, Bock Zarnoch argues: “Regardless of line of business or size of business, there still needs to be a human touch, and there is a requirement to think about the overall business strategy, the portfolio, and broker/agent relationships. It is not the right answer to assume that AI, machine learning, and other technologies will replace the underwriters we are losing. Instead, we must look to leverage new technologies to empower and enable the human side of underwriting, and create a work environment that people want to join.”

“A good culture can exponentially improve the underwriting experience, but it needs to start with the backbone of a productive and capable work environment. Technology, tooling, and workflow all have a huge impact on the underwriter’s day-to-day work environment and how they feel about their job at the end of the day.”

– Megan Bock Zarnoch, COO, Federato  

Megan identifies three key areas where intelligent, next-gen underwriting technologies can make a huge impact on the underwriting experience and help attract new generations of talent to the profession: 

  1. Portfolio Management – Allow underwriters to see into their portfolio at the most granular level in real-time, so they can dynamically course correct, balance, and shape the portfolio. Track progress toward goals and enable individual underwriters to see how their portfolio is doing relative to every other underwriter’s transactions across the entire organization. 
  2. Action-Oriented Underwriting Workflow – Digitally enable underwriters with dynamic risk selection assistance and prompting, account triage to surface the best deals based on appetite and winnability, and task management directly within their workflow. 
  3. Single Pane of Glass – Gather and distill the right information – rating data, pricing models, exposure information, loss information, 3rd party data, CAT modeling – all in one place, and then serve it up to the underwriter who is making the decision at just the right point in the underwriting and pricing process.

To improve underwriting performance and attract and retain talent, insurers need to take an ‘underwriter-first’ approach to technology adoption. They need to focus on solving workflow problems by creating a beautiful underwriting experience that supports and empowers underwriters and staff. 

“People who feel supported, informed, capable, and good at what they’re doing tend to stick around – and if we can help them feel that way quicker, we can ward off burnout and churn. Insurers who show a commitment to advanced technologies like AI and ML will be much more likely to attract the right talent. Empowering the next generation of underwriters is the way that we solve the ‘people problems’ that have plagued insurance for too long, and get new generations to seek out and choose our industry first above all others.”

– Megan Bock Zarnoch, COO, Federato  

Read the Full Article

For more insights on the link between underwriting technology and talent, read the full Insurance Thought Leadership article here.

View the Presentation On Demand

Watch the replay of Megan’s In2Risk Hot Topic presentation (running time: 43 min) here.


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