A UMA, in its truest form, is an autonomous business but operating in partnership and with the support of a licensed insurer. This UMA has core skills that concern underwriting and pricing risk, claims management, superior technical competence and the ability to build appropriate insurance products and services.
A UMA, by its nature, has trust as a key foundation to its offering. This trust flows from the support of reinsurers to the insurer, through the UMA to the advisory intermediary and on to the customer. The UMA and members of SAUMA understand this.
The modern relationship with an intermediary is not about the old-style lunch and golf but rather a trusting relationship with the UMA. This trust is reflected in the support provided to the intermediary and the intermediary’s customer. Knowledgeable UMAs support the intermediary with guidance, high-quality product, excellent service and focused expert knowledge. The informed intermediary will use UMA members of SAUMA as preferred markets, knowing that in doing so their customer will receive the benefit and the intermediary business itself will gain business due to a quality offering.
Change is coming
Challenges to this relationship abound into the future, however, with looming and rather threatening legislative changes, technology and artificial intelligence replacing swathes of industry norms and data and information requirements becoming the underpinning enabler to any future success and sustainability.
While these challenges will alter future market relationships, all is not lost. Realignment will be necessary, and clarity of purpose will become the guiding mantra. Legislative changes will set the rules of the game and licensing requirements linked to accreditation to do certain things will need thought and strategic decision making. The intermediary focus on advice and risk management support to the insurance consumer will be a critical skill and this will need the support of the UMA in agile product development. Legislation may mean a need to separate and delineate duties, removing the duplication rife in our industry and reducing channel cost. The consumer will benefit as a result.
Technology and artificial intelligence will replace the mundane, but importantly will significantly enhance the ability to assess risk and exposures with common traits. This will enhance the quality of underwriting by the UMA. This will not replace the underwriter but rather support and ensure accurate pricing, product development and excellent service. The art of underwriting will not be lost and the advisory intermediary will be able to rely on the imagination of the UMA.
Role of data
The elixir of the future is data. And there is a universe of data out there. More structure is necessary and for the end consumer it is necessary to appreciate that this data is not proprietary to the intermediary, the UMA, an insurer or reinsurer but rather, for the sake of the consumer, must flow strongly and without constraints between industry players. Protection of data is noted.
It does not matter how we work and whether we are in an office, remote, or combination of both. What is important is to know our respective roles, focus clearly on the interest of the consumer, be sure to understand and accept our limitations, seek expert support and ensure the customer understands and accepts that an intermediary cannot predict nor guarantee everything when things go awry.