If you are like me, nice people are more pleasant to talk to. But maybe, again like me, you sometimes get frustrated by obstacles and feel like saying some not-so-nice things. As a life insurance underwriter with many years’ experience in the carrier world, the reinsurance space, and now at my own company, I can say there is one thing you can do, as an agent, to give your case and your future cases a better chance of success—use sugar!
Now, this isn’t about protecting anybody delicate. I have a thick skin, and probably most people in business do. But if I have a choice whether to make life easier for this person or that person (and say I can’t help both), I’m going to pick the one who treats me well. That’s just human nature, and underwriters are human.
When an underwriter gives you an answer you don’t want to hear, if you go all vinegar-and-hot-sauce on them, you’re not only treating another human being badly, you could be breaking down the teamwork between underwriter and broker that is so vital for your client. I’m not here to tell you want to do, but is that really what you want?
So, here are four situations where you have the opportunity to make life a little sweeter:
1. Sometimes Underwriters Make Mistakes
Maybe the underwriter was wrong and your client should have gotten a better deal. It happens. Showing up the underwriter isn’t the way to handle it, though. Chances are this isn’t the last time you’ll have to deal with this person, and when it’s your turn to make a mistake, they’ll remember whether you were gracious about theirs. That doesn’t mean the underwriter won’t be professional the next time around–it goes back to my earlier point of it being better for all if there is a solid relationship in place.
2. Sometimes Your Client Makes the Mistake
Maybe you didn’t get the answer you wanted because your client didn’t provide all necessary information—but you don’t know that, so you get mad at the underwriter. So, then the underwriter gets mad at you. Bad things ensue between the two of you. You can avoid those bad things by not assuming the underwriter is automatically at fault. Yes, underwriters make mistakes, but so do all other human beings. A little sugar goes a long way towards smoothing everything out.
3. Sometimes a Better Offer Isn’t Available
Carriers have guidelines they have to follow, as do reinsurance carriers. If those guidelines say your client can’t get the great offer you’d hoped for, the underwriter can’t do anything about it. Yes, it’s frustrating, but yelling about it won’t help—especially yelling at the underwriter. Instead, be professional and courteous, for the underwriter’s sake, and for the sake of smoother dealings on future cases.
4. Sometimes You Are Having a Bad Day
There are days when ordinary situations seem like giant problems and everyone else seems like jerks. There are days when terrible things come out of your mouth, even though you didn’t mean them. On these days, the problem, unfortunately, is you. Even when you reach for the sugar spoon, you’re going to grab salt, or hot pepper, or something else that doesn’t belong in a hard-working underwriter’s coffee. So, don’t grab anything. Don’t talk to the underwriter. Take some time, talk things over with a mentor or a friend, then when you’re ready, make the call—with sugar in hand.
Some will say the squeaky wheel gets the grease and while that may be true, the delivery (tone) of the message matters.
Underwriters truly want what is best for the applicant and they do not want to take adverse action on cases. When dealing with underwriters, let’s all work together in a professional and courteous way to get the best possible outcome. Let’s all use some sugar.