Top Marine Underwriter Skills

Experienced Marine Underwriters share the secrets to their success

We asked marine underwriters about their skills and daily activities. Which skills do they think are important for success? Where do they prefer to focus their time?

Marine Underwriter Skills

Nearly 4 out of 5 underwriters agree that risk evaluation is the single most important skill they need to succeed. Insurers depend on their underwriters' experience, knowledge and intuition to make the right call. A great underwriter can dramatically influence the success of the entire business.

In this changing environment, when risks are larger and more complex, underwriters’ evaluation skills become more crucial than ever. Fortunately, there are new data sources and digital tools that allow them to focus their efforts on evaluating risk.

Risk Evaluation | The Needle-Mover

More than two-thirds of London Market Underwriters believe technology will enable operational efficiency.

2017 Gracechurch Survey

More than half the underwriters we surveyed said preparing data is the least important skill; a similar proportion said it was the least enjoyable activity. Yet they still spend half their time doing it, according to a recent study by IBM.

While data matters for evaluating risk, collecting it, processing it and keeping it up-to-date is time-consuming. Resources and time that could be more productively employed are taken up by chasing data. Perhaps even more disturbingly, the slow pace of data preparation can lead to lost business as brokers, frustrated with delays, take their business elsewhere.

Data Preparation | The Day-Killer

One in four underwriters surveyed said negotiation was their least enjoyable activity. This figure jumps to almost three in four for underwriters who love business development. Why the difference?

We put it down to the tension between building relationships and getting the best deal. It is fair to assume that underwriters who base their success on strong relationships will avoid risking those relationships by driving a hard bargain. Indeed, striking the right balance between a good relationship and strong negotiations is an area where many underwriters would love to do better.

Business Development | Building Relationships

In our survey of marine underwriters roughly half said preparing data was their least enjoyable activity. That number jumps to 90% for underwriters who love negotiating. Why do negotiators resent researching and gathering data?

Here is one theory: underwriters who won their reputation by getting the best deal do not have time to waste. They need access to critical information, fast. Speed is a competitive edge and negotiators are the ultimate competitors. These types of underwriters are even more likely to resent data gathering that slows them down.

Negotiation | Getting Straight to Business

The key to survival at the moment is ruthless risk selection…people have to try to make sure they are writing business that can stand on its own two feet.

Angus Wilson, 
Head of Marine, Neon Underwriting

Marine underwriting is an art. It takes years, even decades, to develop the necessary skills and gain the relevant experience to evaluate marine risks. It is no coincidence that risk evaluation - the ultimate underwriting skill -  is seen as key to writing profitable risks for marine insurers. However, underwriters have other responsibilities, some less enjoyable than others. For example, they need to prepare data before evaluating risk.

This prompts some interesting questions: If underwriters no longer needed to gather data would there be opportunities for improvement? Would they invest more time in deeper risk evaluation or building relationships? Or perhaps they would use the extra time to respond to submissions faster and gain a competitive edge?

Food for Thought 

One for the road: How would your day change if you had immediate access to all the data you needed?

Get Straight to Underwriting

Evaluate is a fleet analysis system for marine underwriters, offering decision-ready data from multiple sources in one convenient and secure location.

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Poll Results | The Need For Speed

The results are in, and marine underwriters feel the need for speed: 3 out of 4  would “make decisions faster”  if they had access to decision-ready data. That's almost double the number who chose to investigate risks more (40%) or invest more in broker relationships (40%).

In our conversations with underwriters, we heard four main advantage to making faster decisions. We are going to explore these advantages in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned!