Best's Review


From the Editor's Desk
Power of the Pen

Underwriters need more than just technical prowess to excel. Also: Auto insurance data shows how top carriers have changed over the decades and an emerging three-way battle for the top spot in private passenger auto.
  • Patricia Vowinkel
  • October 2019
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At the Emerging Leaders Conference earlier this year, Stanley Galanski, the CEO of Navigators, now a unit of Hartford Financial, spoke about how the specialty insurer got into the D&O business.

He had the chance to hire a top-notch team of underwriters.

“I had the opportunity to hire a really slick D&O team that focused on small-cap tech business, had a great track record, and as luck would have it, I had the opportunity to do some due diligence on them nine months before when I was at my prior company,” Galanski said.

Why did he move into that business? “Because we believed in that team.”

October is Insurance Underwriters Awareness Month. Underwriters wield the pen, making critical decisions about what business to write and at what price. With the rise of new technologies and artificial intelligence, many wonder what the role of the underwriter will be in coming years.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its employment outlook, projects a 5% decline in insurance underwriters between 2018 and 2028. Clearly people will still be needed, despite concerns about technology.

In “The Write Stuff Best's Review looks at underwriting excellence and what separates the good from the great.

The article also points out critical differences between the London market and the United States.

“In the States, at large carriers, in particular, the underwriting governance and authority tends to be held more centrally, not at the front lines,” said Dave Seeley, consultant with Russell Reynolds Associates.

Best's Review also takes a look at new approaches and trends in insurance underwriting. The industry has been exploring the possibilities of things like big data, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence for some time. These are now moving beyond the theoretical stage and are being implemented in insurance underwriting.

In “Top Trends in Underwriting,” Best's Review examines these developments. “All carriers are looking at this. How can we bring more innovation to the underwriting field?” asked MetLife's Chris Smith, executive vice president and global head of operations.

Data can appear as just numbers on a spreadsheet. But it often has a good story to tell. AM Best pulled market share data about the U.S. private passenger auto insurance business dating back to the 1970s.

Driving Distribution” looks at the top insurers over the decades and factors driving change.

Race to the Top” looks at the three-way battle for the top spot in private passenger auto. State Farm has held the spot for many years, but other competitors are starting to close the gap.

Best's Review's coverage of life insurance features an interview with Jamie Kalamarides, president of Prudential Group Insurance, in which he discusses open multiple employer plans and why they matter.

To read these and other features, go to


Patricia Vowinkel, Executive Editor,

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