A Mid-sized Commercial Lines Insurance Company

Nolan’s Underwriting Health Check Provides a Roadmap for Improvement

The Challenge

This US insurance company expects additional stress and challenges as it expands its markets, implements major systems initiatives, and copes with the loss of valuable intellectual capital through employee retirement. Though successful, the company never had a full assessment of its underwriting operations in 20 years. With this in mind, the CEO asked his team for an impartial assessment of the underwriting operations and how it compared to competitors. The team wanted a plan documenting opportunities for improving quality, improving customer service and creating additional growth capacity.

The Solution

The company hired Nolan to perform an Underwriting Health Check using Nolan’s underwriting expertise and proprietary analysis. The Nolan Views methodology focused on both individual components of a healthy underwriting operation as well as how those components work together. As a team, the CEO, the underwriting executive, and the Nolan team outlined the following project goals:

  • Conduct a capacity analysis to find opportunities to grow the top line without increasing expenses.
  • Understand opportunities to lessen the workload on senior underwriters and provide personal development opportunities.
  • Assess the use of business analytics vs. industry trends/practices in providing optimal underwriting productivity and cost effectiveness.
  • Identify automation and process maturity opportunities to enable capacity growth, improve service and expedite the underwriting process.

The Nolan team performed a detailed assessment to fully understand the current underwriting organization including:

  • Business processes
  • Service delivery model
  • Technology
  • Staff skills and workloads
  • Metrics and performance

The Nolan team obtained and reviewed existing documentation and reports and interviewed key stakeholders for their insights and concerns beginning with the C-Suite along with the other executives.  The Nolan team worked alongside underwriters to observe and understand their daily activities. Workshops were held with key underwriting staff to validate the collected data, identify areas for improvement and growth, and determine ways to optimize underwriting.  As a result, the Nolan team was able to develop objective observations and comparative client assessment findings.

The Results & Benefits

The Health Check found the current underwriting operation to be a high-performing organization. But, it also identified actionable opportunities to improve performance:

  • Put key management information at managers’ fingertips.  Business profitability information and the corresponding drivers were not readily accessible thus limiting critical business insights.
  • Rebalance workload and responsibilities to lessen underwriters’ stress and allow cross training and employee development.
  • Broaden authority levels, automate manual processes and rationalize referral criteria to increase growth capacity and improve quality.
  • Modify processes to reduce underwriting processing time and improve quality, in turn leading to increased customer satisfaction.
  • Implement formal training and desk-level mentoring using modern, user-friendly documentation to eliminate time-consuming workarounds and costly duplicate efforts.
  • Scale back efforts to modify the technology to adapt it to outdated processes, and instead begin using the technology as it was designed.

The CEO received specific recommendations and an operational blueprint for change which documented opportunities for improving quality, increasing customer service and creating additional growth capacity. The CEO and his team promptly began implementing the suggested recommendations and realized immediate improvements in the underwriting function, with further improvements anticipated over time.