Tech Support for Remote Underwriters

I was planning on doing some work this past Saturday until my Internet connection crashed.  After waiting a few hours (maybe the problem was out there somewhere) I got the sinking feeling my problem was internal.  I called my Internet provider and got a computer.   I followed all of the computer’s instructions for around 15 minutes before I was connected to a human.  Another 15 minutes passed and the techie on the line determined my cable modem had fried.

Panic was not an option. After all, it was Saturday and hopefully someone could get to the house early Monday so that I could begin the work week without any hassles.

“Could you possibly get someone out early Monday morning?”

“How about tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow?  It’s Sunday.”


The technician arrived Sunday morning at 9:00 AM, did his techie evaluation, and told me my cable modem had fried.  45 minutes later, my new cable modem was installed and I had Internet access once again.

The take home message of my little story is simple.  Managers need to know what Internet providers their remote underwriters use and the service capabilities of each provider.  Managers also need to know what to do and who to call if the problem is determined to be a non-service provider problem.  The cable modem was provided to me by my Internet provider, so they replaced it.  If I had a wiring issue, router issue, hardware or software issue, the provider would not have helped me.

Can your remote underwriters resolve their Internet access issues on a Sunday?  If not, do they wait until Monday morning before calling and asking for help?

Are these and other technology support issues are included in your department’s operational plans?

Please tell me you have a plan.


The Lesser of Two Evils

Back in May the FDA released an advisory on Chantix. The same month a study from The Institute for Safe Medication Practices shed light on the numbers:

  • 544 reports suggesting Chantix may be related to a loss of glycemic control
  • 224 reports classified as potential cardiac rhythm disturbances
  • From May 2006 through December 2007, the FDA received 227 reports of suicidal acts, thoughts or behaviors, 397 cases of possible psychosis and 525 reports of hostility or aggression.

I think I’d rather keep smoking.

Read a Book a Week – Off The Shelf

One of my less than normal habits consists not only of the number of books I read, but also the manner in which I read them.  At any given time, I could be reading between 8-10 books, each at a different stage of completion.  I rarely read just one book at a time.  So to sooth my latest obsession I’ve started reading Manias, Panics, and Crashes by Charles Kindelberger.  I expect the same type of lessons learned from reading Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay.  Remember that the good times never last as long as you would wish and when times are bad things do eventually get better.

Different perhaps, but better.

I changed the theme of my blog and hope you like it.  The new appearance is clean and easier to read than the last theme.  Of course, I reserve the right to revert.

The Financial Meltdown – Predictions for Management

The time usually spent on reading and writing this past month was completely devoured by reading and staying current on the global financial meltdown.  It is at precisely times like this when we try to figure out what’s happening and what it means to each of us.  After absorbing a riduculous amount of information I came to the realization that this was becoming an obsession. As events continue to unfold I’m certain my obsession will only get worse.

OK.  What if I manage a life underwriting division for an insurance company?  I thought about the possibilities and decided to make some predictions.  If I’m wrong, who cares?  But if I’m right, my blog traffic will go through the roof.

In no particular order this is what I think could happen.

  1. In the future there will be fewer financial firms.  If you haven’t already noticed, this is happening at a dizzying pace.  There will be more consolidations, mergers, and divestitures all contributing to a new financial landscape.
  2. Management will ask more questions.  How do you manage concentration risk?  Do you have checks and balances in place?  Do you use external independent third parties to audit your underwriting?  If no, why not? The devil will be in the details and personally I would rather have the answers to questions like these before they get asked.
  3. The people asking these questions may be your new owners (see #1).
  4. There will be a greater emphasis on risk management rather than risk assessment and selection.  Don’t rely on your actuaries for this one.
  5. There will be more, not less, regulation.
  6. Pressures to cut costs will intensify.

Peter Drucker once said there is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.  There will be new and better models for the underwriting function that at present do not exist.  If you’re excited about remote underwriting, the future gets even better with talent spread around the world, web meetings, office-less office workers, and more.