If I were responsible for training new underwriters, the most important concept I would emphasize to them – again and again, until it was uppermost in their mind every time they looked at a case – is CONTEXT.
CONTEXT is defined as all of the factors which come together to put a given impairment, risk-related scenario or individual unfavorable finding into full insurability perspective.
When teleunderwriting began to disseminate in the late 1990s, life insurance underwriting began a literal metamorphosis. The net effect has transformed risk assessment more in the last decade than it changed over the second half of the last century. For compelling reasons, this process will accelerate in 2010 and beyond.
This essay is one underwriter’s observations regarding aspects of the Association of Home Ofﬁce Underwriters (AHOU) which may be deemed worthy of rethinking and, if so, perhaps modifying on some basis, now or in the future. A wide range of topics is discussed, with the sole purpose being to offer up thoughts for consideration by AHOU members. The author hopes what is said here will be received in the spirit intended.
Just a year ago, one would have had comparatively little incentive to write this commentary…which is perhaps the best way of saying that our underwriting environment is now changing dramatically due to the confluence of a number of factors.
“Faster, cheaper, better” has been the mantra of life insurer senior management for years now where risk appraisal in concerned. This has propelled teleunderwriting into the forefront as our paradigm of choice and also fueled the embrace of rapid-acquisition assets like Rx profiles and MVRs in America.
Unlike “Terminator” movies, the machines in question here are the so-called “underwriting engines.” These “straight-through processors” have been around for years. Yet despite smashing success in the United Kingdom and other markets, they have languished in North America.
This appears to be on the cusp of changing now, due to the confluence of (at least) five key factors..
Cardiovascular events are the #1 cause of mortality (and morbidity).
Our traditional screening approach to cardiovascular disease has elements that confer value. But there are also prevalent screening modalities that have considerable expense and delay baggage, and may also be overvalued when compared to more progressive alternatives.
While we underwriters do not get directly involved in the sales process for the most part, there are likely some advantages to accrue to us if we suggest some “angles,” if you will, that help our producers make the value of CI policy ownership clear to prospective customers.
This is one approach that I think has merit, especially in the USA.
“In the literature, there is still a pervasive lack of recognition between skeletal muscle injury and ALT elevation, which has led to the unsubstantiated conclusion that serum aminotransferase elevations are due to liver injury...”
Rahul A. Nathwani et al.
Division of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases
University of Southern California School of Medicine Hepatology