Underwriting has come a long way from businessmen signing the bottom of ship manifests in London coffee houses.
While underwriters have always needed to assess information in order to evaluate risk, the ways in which they receive that information is rapidly changing. Traditional requirements like applications, medical records and lab results are all undergoing digitizing efforts while newer requirements like medical claims data and electronic health records are being adopted into the workstream.
As we learn to integrate these new data sources into our risk analyses, it’s important for underwriters to get comfortable with the tools by learning how to best harness the information they receive. For example, medical claims data looks and behaves very differently than reading a traditional set of records. While both have their own individual value, having the skill set to understand when one would be preferred or even used in combination with each other is important for an underwriter.
It takes time to adapt to new technology. Changes in the industry mean changes in the day-to-day work of an underwriter. Updating workflows and creating best practices on how to use these new tools are helpful in setting user expectations, but equally so is creating a space to hear and process feedback from the underwriters. Allowing for time to get comfortable and troubleshoot is imperative as it will lead to a higher rate of success. Having ‘change champions’ in the organization, who can be early adopters that assist their peers and offer guidance, is a great way to build comfort.
Change is inevitable. As more new tools, data sources and technologies become available, underwriters become more efficient and make better decisions. The data we compile today may not come from coffee house gossip, but as the industry continues to evolve, we can be certain that being able to adapt to those opportunities will make us successful.
 Lloyd's is regarded as the center of the modern insurance industry. It was founded by Edward Lloyd at his coffee house on London's Tower Street in 1688. Lloyd’s coffee house specialized in shipping information and was popular with ship owners and captains returning from overseas voyages. Lloyd’s began renting out ‘boxes’ (tables) where entrepreneurial businessmen took the opportunity to sell insurance to ship owners in the event their ship did not return. History - lloyd's. History - Lloyd's. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2022, from https://www.lloyds.com/about-lloyds/history