Posted on the 30th June 2016

It is now a month since I joined Annecto Legal, and in doing so, crossed the great divide from ATE Underwriter to Broker. I came in with big ideas that the way forward was to apply underwriting principles to broking legal cases, but there was a voice nagging at the back of my head that no-one, solicitors, clients or underwriters, wants their cases underwritten twice.

Everyone wants to feel that their broker is earning their commission and is not there simply as a glorified post box, but equally, they don’t want the broker to add time and work to a process that most already find lengthy.

So I quickly allowed the nagging voice to grow louder, and asked myself how best I could use my previous experience to add value to the process, but not over-complicate it at the same time. First of all, I remembered the frustration, as an underwriter, of being sent applications that could be fairly quickly seen to be simply not fit for insurance, whether it be for reasons of proportionality, clear lack of prospects, proximity to trial, or others.

If these are weeded out, then effects are twofold. To start, the solicitor’s and client’s expectations are managed far more effectively by a quick word from the broker that the case was uninsurable than they would be if sent on to beleaguered underwriters, to wait for some time for inevitable wave of declinatures. As well as this, not sending sub-par cases over for assessment hopefully frees up time for underwriters to get to the insurable cases more quickly. This obviously makes for a happy (or happier, at least) underwriter as well as better customer experience for the solicitor next time they seek to insure.

The second thing that seemed to be achievable was to be able to assess if there were any glaring holes in the information provided on application form, or in the supplementary documentation provided before sending everything out to market. Have the solicitors nailed down the financial information that needs to be provided to make it insurable in the post-Jackson world? Is any underwriter going to want to provide a quote on this case without seeing an opinion from counsel? If there are obvious holes that underwriters will identify and ask about, then it is probably best to go back to the solicitor straight away and ask if they have the information to hand, or if they can get hold of it in the near future. Then, at best, it can be sent out as fully formed as possible, or at worst, if the solicitor wants to press on in the meantime, with a note, so the underwriters know the information is being considered by the solicitor and will be sent quickly.

This should hopefully eliminate some of the email ping-pong that can occur (in two directions from where the broker is standing) when only part of the story is provided to the underwriters at the outset. Again, this has the twin benefit of being a better way of managing client expectations for the solicitor and the broker, as well as reducing time spent on what is effectively administration for the underwriter.