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Price certainty and underwriting clarity key to solutions delivery in Insurance

By July 12, 2021April 13th, 2022No Comments

The team at Surer has been getting feedback not only on our product features but also Insurance products that users would like us to create or strike up partnerships for.

With this, we started work looking for and finding the perfect partner for such – Windward Insurance Brokers!

In our conversation with Windward Brokers, we were able to speak to a veteran and stalwart of the industry, David Lee, Broking Director at Windward Insurance Brokers.

Read on as David shares his views about the industry, technology and what he values most when interacting with clients

About David Lee, Broking Director, Windward Insurance Brokers

David has had more than 15 years of experience with regional insurance firms with bulk of his experience focused on General Insurance. He is a top General Insurance Financial Representative and was previously part of Great Eastern Life Achievers’ Club (Top 20% of Financial Representatives). David prides himself on having a big-picture view, with a result-based accountability approach in delivering tailored-made solutions.

A journey unlike others, yet, powered by a story of a personal motivation

The first thing that stood out for us when we spoke to David was his passion to uplift this industry. Sensing a deeper sense of motivation apart from monetary rewards, we immediately quizzed David, about his journey into the insurance industry.

What David shared was unconventional (in the context of the other folks we spoke to for our ‘In Conversation With’ series) but truly inspirational.

David mentioned that after graduating from NUS in 1993 with a B. Eng (Civil) degree, he joined SCDF to serve out a 6-year bond as he was a PSC scholarship recipient. This got us rather curious. It is indeed an uncommon path to make a switch from the Public sector to the insurance industry. 

“I would most probably still be with SCDF today if not for a heart attack on 7th May 2000. Fortunately, I managed to recover without any permanent repercussions. By then, I had purchased 3 CI policies and was pleasantly surprised that my claims were approved. On a not so pleasant note, I have a friend 1 year younger than me who suffered a stroke in Dec 2000. Unfortunately for her, she has been wheelchair-bound since then. However, she also has gotten adequate insurance coverage…” David shared. 

Inspired by his own personal experience and that of his friend, it was clear to him that insurance was something that should not be ignored and of high importance.

“Beside the CI and TPD pay-outs, she is still getting $1,200 per month, as she had also taken up a Disability Income policy. This has been a great help in helping her to manage her daily expenses.” David added. 

This thus sparked his journey into the insurance industry in 2001, leaving SCDF to join Great Eastern.

These 2 experiences reinforced my conviction of the importance of getting the right kind of insurance when you can. 

Always think in the best interest of the client 

Understanding David’s story and journey set the tone for the rest of the interview, giving clear context to the passion he has not only to serve his clients with the best advice, but also to work towards elevating the insurance industry as a whole.

It came as no surprise that when David was asked about the key lessons and principles he abides by as an insurance practitioner, his answer was to always think in the best interest of the client.

Always thinking in the best interest of your clients – this has been my philosophy whenever I am given the opportunity to help my clients design their insurance and investment portfolios. 

While many may brush this aside as the payment of ‘lip service’, we felt this line of thought was heartwarming – it is a vision that is shared by the folks here at Surer as well; where the insurance intermediary should act as an advisor and not just an order taker or a vendor. 

“It is crucial that all insurance practitioners should constantly keep up to date with the latest developments, not only in insurance, but also business operations, government regulations, etc. – anything that might have an impact on your client’s individual or business needs. Only then, you can work together with your clients to update their insurance portfolio to meet their evolving needs.” David added. 

Which, to this writer, made total sense. Understanding your client’s needs goes beyond just asking them what they want. It is having a level of curiosity, almost treating a client’s business like your own, to then empower oneself to be able to advise the client on risks they might have overlooked.

“Price Certainty” and “Underwriting Clarity”

Delving deeper into David’s experience as a GI intermediary of 17 years (he got his certifications in 2004), we asked about his take on the General Insurance industry in terms of evolution.

“Intermediaries are a crucial part of the GI sales process, as they are client-facing. To shorten the time taken between preparation to closing, the intermediaries need to ensure that all relevant information that is necessary for underwriting are obtained and presented to the insurer. Conversely, we [intermediaries] can help by working together with the insurer to identify gaps in product, hence achieving Price Certainty and Underwriting Clarity in our solutions.” David shared.

In the same way, Surer stands for radical improvement in the way we place our business, which is congruent with Windward’s mission to deliver Price Certainty and Underwriting Clarity.

 “Price Certainty” and “Underwriting Clarity” were terms that David had repeated a number of times and we dug deeper to further understand what they mean.

“At Windward, we have started on our digital journey, with the underlying principles of delivering Price Certainty and Underwriting Clarity. It was this conviction that motivated us to launch our “Windward-designed” Employee Benefits plan” said David.

Using this Employee Benefits plan as an example, David went on to share that clients get a discount on renewal premiums if no claims are made, and in cases where claims are made, but the experience remains a good one, premium refund will be given.

And it was at this point that we fully appreciate the reasons for David’s passion. He is now in a unique position where he not only gets to serve the interest of the client but to ALSO be able to relay their concerns to the insurer, and be able to work out better product propositions that allays such fears.

“ ‘Always thinking in your best interest’ also works in our relationship with the insurers. We must remember that without the insurers, we as intermediaries, will not exist. We hold the unique position which allow us to understand the concerns of our clients and [relay it to the] insurers” said David.

Communication and collaboration is key

Continuing on this theme of relaying client’s needs and working with insurers, David further expanded on his view that open communication and collaboration is crucial.

“Adopting an open channel of communication is key. This will allow us to anticipate and understand the concerns of business owners and how they can be better protected. Working in a common ecosystem such as Surer helps foster a stronger relationship with agents.” said David.

Working in a common ecosystem such as Surer helps to foster a stronger relationship.

When asked if he could share more about the positive impacts of open communication and having meaningful dialogues, it is clear to David that the client sits in the heart of this.

“My personal view is that agents, brokers, and insurers have been working very well individually in their respective silos. [While] Engagement between intermediaries and insurers has improved, it is mostly through the insurers conducting product updates etc. My view is that intermediaries and insurers should also have regular discussions to identify the evolving needs of individuals and businesses, so that the industry can deliver the right kind of solutions at the right time.” David explained.

Given the drive and passion he had shared thus far about serving the clients better and having the industry collaborate more efficiently, we felt we had to ask for his opinions on how intermediaries can improve.

His answers were short, sharp and pointed.

“Ability to respond faster to our client’s requests, access to capacity and access to products to meet our client’s evolving needs.”

Technology helps save time and provides opportunity for further engagement in the GI Community

As we wrap up the interview, we got one last question in; to get David’s take on technology in the General Insurance industry. 

In similar fashion, David continued on the theme of collaboration for the purpose of serving clients better.

“As I’ve previously shared, Surer is the leading example of a tech solution that helps us to save time and enable us to track our cases with Insurers. The ecosystem is great, with regular opportunities to engage the GI community.” said David.

He added that technology helps with the tracking of cases as well, but the biggest advantage in using the Surer platform, lies in its technological ability to provide for a faster, more efficient way to collaborate, create great products and ultimately, the needs of clients.

“We use technology to track our cases. Product design in collaboration with insurers is crucial. If we can identify suitable straight-through products and propose to the right insurers, we will be able to leverage on technology to reach out to a bigger prospect pool.”

This writer could not agree more.

The key takeaway in this interview was very clear and here is our personal summary of it: 

  • Start with the client as the heart of what you do
  • collaborate with the community to drive efficiency 
  • and then ultimately, surface the results of these to work with the insurers on designing meaningful solutions.

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