Survey of Agents Reveals Underwriting Disconnect in Commercial Lines

June 19, 2017

Independent agents want to talk about underwriting, and they’re urging their carriers to listen. Preliminary results from the 2017 Channel Harvest Research survey indicate agents want to see companies put greater emphasis on how and what they’ll underwrite.

The 10th anniversary issue of the study, Agents’ Views on How Carriers Can Compete & Win, examines agents’ views on property/casualty carriers and marketplace issues. More than 2,000 agents provided opinions for the survey, which was sponsored by Insurance Journal.

When asked what’s most important in a carrier, commercial lines agents put all four underwriting attributes at the top of their list: 95 percent said “underwriting appetite,” “underwriting responsiveness” and “underwriting flexibility” are important or very important, while 94 percent said “underwriting expertise” is important or very important.

Yet there’s a significant gap between expectations and performance, as only two-thirds of agents said their favorite carriers are better than average when it comes to underwriting expertise and responsiveness. And 57 percent said their favorites are better than average when it comes to underwriting appetite and flexibility.

There's a significant gap between expectations and performance, as only two-thirds of agents said their favorite carriers are better than average when it comes to underwriting expertise and responsiveness.

“Agents tend to be more satisfied with their top carriers’ underwriting expertise than their ability to take on certain risks and willingness to bend on terms and conditions,” said Regis Coccia, research director of Channel Harvest.

“This could very well be a consequence of a soft market and the fact that business risks are continually evolving.”

Year-over-Year Comparison

While all four underwriting factors were just as important to agents in last year’s survey, there’s been a decrease in satisfaction across all four areas: responsiveness; expertise; flexibility; and appetite.

“The numbers suggest agents feel they’re at a disadvantage and struggling with incomplete information when it comes to understanding what their carrier will write, and how much,” said Coccia. “The fact that agents rate their carriers higher on claims and customer service than underwriting indicates there’s a greater anxiety at the start of the policy cycle, even before quoting begins.”

The Channel Harvest survey also compares agents’ expectations versus carrier performance in areas such as pricing, customer service, claims survey and technology.

Some 2,100 agency personnel working in personal and commercial lines responded to this year’s survey, co-sponsored by Insurance Journal and conducted in March. Respondents ranging from principals to producers to CSRs answered nearly 200 questions about personal lines and commercial lines carriers.

From This Issue

Insurance Journal West June 19, 2017
June 19, 2017
Insurance Journal West Magazine

Construction; Medical Professional Liability; Umbrellas – Personal & Commercial

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