On The Tonight Show, Johnny Carson had a skit called “Carnac the Magnificent.” He held an unopened envelope to his forehead; inside was a card with a question written on it. Carson pretended to divine the question by first giving the audience the answer:

Supervisor

Then he opened the envelope and read the question, something humorous that was contrary to what you expected:

What does Clark Kent wear to keep the sun out of his eyes?

Let’s have a go at his trick. Here are three answers:

  1. New purchase, applicant will use prior mailing address until move in is complete.”
  2. Named Insureds are engaged and getting married in two months.”
  3. Water heater will be replaced prior to closing.”

Any guess what the questions are to these answers? The agents who provided the above comments on their applications were Carnac the Magnificent themselves. They anticipated the questions underwriters were going to ask, via the RPM diary:

  1. Why is the mailing address different from the risk location, on a primary occupied home?”
  2. Why are there two unmarried Named Insureds on this policy?”
  3. Why was coverage bound when the 4-point inspection indicated the water heater is 25 years old and leaking?”

RPM Diaries

We know the feeling.  You log in to your Tower Hill RPM system and see there are five new diary messages waiting for you on applications or endorsements you submitted the previous day. How can you and your staff focus on writing new business or re-underwriting your renewal book when these messages keep appearing?!?

Our shared goal is to reduce the number of times a policy is touched, either by your agency or by underwriting. For new business submissions, the Comments/Remarks section of the application is one of the most underused areas to relay additional information to your underwriters (located on the Underwriting tab).  The character limit is large, so you have plenty of space to work with.  More information is better!

For endorsements, our new Online Endorsements feature allows you to enter notes directly in the diary with the policy change.  Anticipate questions and provide as much information as possible.  A one sentence explanation can sometimes save numerous back-and-forth diary messages.

Since we’re not as crafty as Mr. Carson or his comedy writers, here are additional tips for frequently asked diary messages:

  • Mailing address changes when the risk is primary occupancy. If no information is provided, we have to assume the occupancy of the risk has changed.  Let us know why the mailing address differs from the risk location.
  • Dog breed.  “Mixed,” “mutt,” or “unknown” dog breeds are not acceptable responses.  Ask the insured to provide the specific dog breed(s).
  • Unmarried insureds.  If the couple is engaged, are domestic partners, or in some other relationship, let us know so we can accurately assess the eligibility of the risk.
  • Multiple owners.  Who are the owners and what is their relationship to each other?
  • Foreclosures.  Is the new purchase from a bank?  If so, we also need an acceptable 4-point inspection or pre-purchase home inspection to review prior to binding.
  • Wind mitigation.  You wouldn’t buy groceries and tell the cashier you’ll send them the coupon in three weeks, right?  We need the wind mitigation form (and photos) supporting the policy credits at the time of binding.
  • 4-point inspections.  Required at binding for homes built more than 30 years ago. If you don’t have it, how do you know the risk meets our eligibility guidelines?  All required photos should be submitted along with the inspection form.
  • Coverage Rejection Forms.  These forms are updated periodically.  Make sure you are using the correct version by downloading it from our RPM system (Resources -> Support Docs -> Affidavits).
  • Prior Loss History.  If a prior loss is disclosed, your underwriter is going to ask you:  what was the cause of loss, what was damaged, what repairs were completed, and what was done to prevent future losses of that nature.
  • Signed cancellation forms on policy rewrites.  If you are rewriting from one Tower Hill company to another, we need a signed cancellation (LPR) form at the time the new policy is bound.
  • Documentation to support removing an insured from a policy.  If an insured is deceased or there is a transfer of ownership due to divorce, we need either a death certificate or a copy of the new deed.

Share this information with your staff and help them anticipate questions.  And if there is any way we can better streamline our process, let us know.

In closing, as Carnac the Magnificent would say, “May a thousand camels collectively cough as the next hurricane approaches landfall!”

Brian Hunt, AIC, CPCU

About Brian Hunt, AIC, CPCU

Commercial Underwriter II
Tower Hill Insurance Group

Brian started his insurance career with State Farm in St. Paul, MN, in 1998. In addition to handling property and liability claims, he served as part of the National Catastrophe Team, following tornadoes, hurricanes, and hailstorms across the country. He made several friends named Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Ivan, Wilma, and Katrina. He moved to Florida in 2009 to manage a catastrophe office in Jacksonville, and because of a girl (now wife) his path led him to Gainesville and Tower Hill Insurance. In his free time, Brian is an Ironman triathlete and also enjoys writing about local and national history.