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“Resolved: Underwriters Must Be Increasingly Prudent In Their …”

I have been part of many panels before many an audience over my four decades in the life and health insurance business. Usually a panelist is constrained from being controversial or opinionated by the ground rules laid down by either the moderator or the organization running the event. Traditionally from my recollections there have been very few meetings of underwriters where the panel is controversial, meaningful fun and leaves the audience with a message to think about. 

In 1994 George Brennan, one of a large crop of Canadian iconic underwriters who played a large role in all associations, put together a great panel (personally speaking and from memories of audience feedback) that really got the juices flowing and left many a valid point to ponder for the audience. George let the four panelists do their own thing and he did not encumber the spoken word or the venom so playfully thrown around.

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Jumbo Limits Compensating For Terrible Administration

Before most readers were born, and for those that were they were still thinking mathematics was a lucrative career choice, reinsurance played a trivial role in the life insurance industry. In Canada 0.04% (rounded up of course) of all life risk was reinsured in 1969. There was a slightly higher percentage in the USA but my notes and memory failed to enlighten me as I wrote this article. Believe it or not for you youngsters, reinsurance was a follower and minor player in the realm of life insurance risk taking. The icons of the era were insurance company leaders not reinsurance personnel. Reinsurance personnel deferred to the wise counsel of insurance leaders who were at the leading edge of pricing and risk selection. Content to beg or cajole for a mere pittance of the premium pot, the reinsurers fought each other for the privilege of table scraps if we liken the fat purses of insurers to the gluttonous meals served to the emerging obese of today. About the only worthy feature of reinsurers in the “good old days” was their research into impaired lives and the experimental risk taking they fostered for notoriety.

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Two Hymn Books and Two Choir Masters

or Advisors Never Refer To Underwriters As Refulgent (A Geck Maybe but Never Refulgent)

A 2011 opinion on the relationship between advisor and underwriter.

Many many years ago I wrote an article for the now dormant Marketing Options magazine (dearly missed by all while fondly remembered by writers and readers) about the conflict often created by miscommunication or no communication between advisor and underwriter. Thus, to say that the seemingly constant battle to get a life or living benefit insurance application through the mysterious and far from transparent new business department is new has not been around for long. Like most Canadians the advisor has a short memory (just look at how we continue to elect politicians who mere months prior to election screwed us royally) and the underwriter is not paid to remember so they never stored the historical perspective anyway. This chasm of misunderstanding, poor communication and lack of empathy between two integral parts to getting premium in the door to keep the life business going strong is not new but merely in an exaggerated state unseen in intensity in the last 41 years.

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