So what is an underwriter?
There are benefits and drawbacks to being “independent”. Every Insurer has an ethos and sometimes trying to extract that ethos is difficult as Underwriters operating within a large organisation, often do not realise that their company has leanings in one or more directions. A prime example is the interpretation of an EML or PML. Many companies operate on the ABI definition which is the “Bible”, however we all know how many versions, variations and interpretations of the Bible there are and the same can be said for interpretations of Estimate Maximum Loss. Some companies strictly adhere to the principal that once there is internal communication the EML is 100%. Others will take into account the location, water supplies, fire brigade and fire fighting capabilities, any compartmentation, fire suppression systems and may arrive at an EML of 20% for the same building. Some organisations are demanding of addressable automatic fire alarm systems connected to central monitoring stations as a basic requirement, others may be more interested in staff training in the use of fire fighting equipment.
requirements of an Insurer or a particular Underwriter. As an “Outsider” claims histories are often difficult to obtain and unfortunately this information together with incident / accident records is often one of the best indicators of how an insured is operating. Possibly the biggest difficulty for any Surveyor whether in-house or independent is negotiating requirements with viable companies which are genuinely struggling to survive due to lack of cash flow and / or banking facilities, resulting from the current economic conditions.
Some Insurers view sprinkler systems as the ultimate fire protection where as others see a potential burst pipe claim.
The Injuries Board announced recently that EL claims were down by 10%, however unemployment rates in the sectors which would traditionally have generated a high number of EL claims are many times greater than the percentage reduction.
Consequently the more information which is included on a survey request the more a survey can be tailored to the needs and
In the foreseeable future, management of the risk improvement programme and the provision of cost effective solutions to
control exposures will become more important as the recession bites deeper. The sad thing is much of the recession is due to perception and for a population which has listened to doom and gloom for the past two years it is unsurprising that people are holding onto what they have. However if you think it is time to switch off the lights and close the door to Ireland Inc. log onto www.youtube.com/ watch?v=eA6iBKc0O0E and watch Ireland by the Numbers - you’ll see just why Nicolas and Ankela are so scared of us! Finally “if you are what you wear” I think its time I got rid of that brown raincoat!
Ray is a past chairman of AIRM and an “independent” Surveyor with Green Risk Management. www.greenrisk.ie 45
risk manager magazine spring 2011