Richard Webb, director at Manchester Underwriting Management, is looking forward to meeting contacts at the annual Biba conference – because email will never be as good as face-to-face communication

With the return of the Biba conference at Manchester Central this year, now is a good time to reconnect and engage with brokers and underwriters alike.

We all seem to agree that only so much can be achieved with online communication. It clearly has its benefits, but there are some things in business that are better dealt with face-to-face.

As we have all begun to venture out over the past few months, it’s also clear that there are some regular issues that keep coming up relating to those people who prefer to email rather than speak directly by phone, online or in person. It almost feels like the art of communicating in-person, regardless of the medium, has gone out of fashion. Why speak to someone when you can email?

Richard webb manchester

Richard Webb

At Manchester Underwriting Management, we have always worked hard to provide great service and value to our brokers. This is easier said than done and we are all human. A huge part of this is building relationships and getting to know our brokers.

Quite often in business, we can forget there are challenges and stresses that could be solved by simply knowing each other better. The importance of having these relationships has really been revealed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

When there have been underwriting or claims issues, through to the accounting and administrative side, to be able to pick up a Microsoft Teams or Zoom call and speak to the key person can get problems sorted out far faster.

One aspect we have found to be a positive experience is meeting our insureds - either in-person or online. Dealing with the more challenging renewals can be a smoother process when, as the underwriter, we can talk directly to the end client and the broker placing the business. Those meetings allow you as an underwriter to build a clearer understanding of what the client actually does and the risks they face.

It can also demonstrate to the client the relationship between broker and underwriter. It additionally allows the client to understand the product they are buying, the benefits and, most importantly, how the insurance will respond if a claim is made. It all helps build a client’s confidence and long-term relationships.

When I started my career back in the mid-1980s, meeting insureds face-to-face was not an uncommon experience for an underwriter or claims handler. You learn the skills of communicating effectively but you can also build the relationship with the client and, importantly, strengthen the relationship with the broker.

It is important to remember to keep building these relationships with clients, brokers and insurers as the insurance industry continues to adapt and move forward from the pandemic. But it is easy to slip back to just emailing.

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