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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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An Actuary, an Underwriter and a Marketer In A Boat

Okay they were not in a boat but rather on a stage in Toronto in front of a couple of hundred underwriters and those that love to hang around underwriters. It was the one part of a two day meeting that I really wanted to see and hear even though the meeting overall conflicted with other travel and client commitments. I thought it and lunch would be worth the day’s admission price. I was able to slide into the back of the room just as the session started and tried to stay as conspicuous as possible by remaining standing.

Regardless of the title they put on their presentation it was to me a chance for the three key disciplines in our business to explain why we are in the position we are today. You could say we are not in great shape or you could boast we are in great shape. It is the old “the glass is half full or the glass is half empty” comparison. I was very curious if the three would meekly state their case and slyly point the finger of blame at the other two or would there be challenging and perhaps even derogatory innuendo thrown freely. I knew the actuary and the underwriter so I did expect a feisty session. Surely someone would address the appalling state of customer service in the industry today as advisor and even customer scratches their head in confusion over the new business service experience. Sorry let me correct that since the service for the “vanilla” case clear of even a facial blemish does slide through unencumbered by restrictive and confusing underwriting  as recounted to me for the past two years by numerous advisors and MGAs.

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