Underwriting with a 360 Approach

The underwriting department is an important linchpin in the coverage process. The risk attributes of each client are carefully reviewed and premiums are determined based on comprehensive evaluations by the underwriters. At Canal, the underwriting teams are organized by client size – Express with 1-4 units, Mid-Fleet with 5-15 units and Fleet with 16 or more units.

“Regardless the scope of business, Canal uses multiple data sources to ensure each client receives a thorough and accurate review,” explains Katie Limback, senior fleet underwriter. “While we certainly look at individual drivers, we’re particularly interested in the overall safety culture of an organization.” Canal reviews the “typical” data most underwriters review – but augments that with additional information to capture a truly comprehensive picture. This includes DOT inspection details, trending of past safety performance, a thorough analysis of a client’s safety program, collaboration with the claims and risk management departments who may have first-hand knowledge about an insured or prospect, to name a few.

Throughout the life of an account – underwriting, risk management and claims maintain an ongoing dialogue. They discuss safety programs, including personnel, equipment, performance incentives and disciplinary programs. While other carriers may rely on third-party assessments, Canal’s in-house risk management department provides an unfettered view of what’s really going on. Discussions include large and complex losses to make sure that claims are resolved fairly and quickly in addition to identifying safety training programs that could prevent or minimize future claims. Such an extensive review from multiple angles assures the client that they’re fairly assessed and informed on claims resolutions and safety recommendations.

“The underwriting process has certainly evolved,” adds DeNan Porterfield, who boasts more than 40 years’ experience as a Canal underwriter and currently serves Mid-Fleet clients. “There are more layers and more detail than ever before – and that’s a great thing for everyone involved. We’re no longer limited to a few snapshots, like past loss experience or hiring practices. Now we can capture patterns over a long period of time and from a variety of perspectives. That leads to the client being sufficiently protected with fair premiums that are more stable.”

In addition to quality quotes, Mischa Sprouse believes clients benefit from the partnership Canal establishes with its select group of appointed agents. In the last 14 years, Sprouse has worked in all three underwriting business units, and currently services Express accounts. She notes that agents feel confident they are delivering adequate coverage and fair premiums. “Systems and processes may change over the years, but what I’ve seen during my time at Canal is a real dedication to going above-and-beyond and exceeding our service commitments.”

And perhaps Canal’s greatest differentiator? Limback says it is being a transportation-specific carrier. As she explains, “We know the exposure. We understand the claims. We know how to price the business. We respond swiftly. We’re not dabbling in transportation – it’s all that we do.”