At a time when job research across industries produced by universities and consultancies often lists “insurance underwriter” among professions particularly vulnerable to automation, the chief underwriting officer of XL Catlin’s global casualty operations sees a different picture.

Executive Summary

Nancy Bewlay, who joined XL Catlin in April 2017 to take on a newly created position of global chief underwriting officer for the group's casualty insurance operations, uses adjectives like "holistic" and "collaborative" to respond to questions about the impact of technology on underwriting, describing the role of CUOs today in leading diverse teams connected by emerging technology and evolving client needs. Editor's Note. This interview took place in January, before the Mar. 5 announcement that AXA would acquirer XL Group.

In Nancy Bewlay’s view, underwriting professionals won’t simply continue to exist. She sees underwriters soaring to new heights by collaborating with other professionals and using new tech tools to transcend the boundaries of their existing knowledge.

“I often tell my veteran underwriters ‘I’d like to make you exponential, meaning that everything that you’ve learned to this point from an experience perspective, if we can then utilize technology and tools that allow you to work more efficiently, more effectively and give you a clearer answer based upon data, [then you] become exponential,” she said.

“Veteran underwriters who are fixed on using the same tools of the past limit their abilities. And there’s all this talk about, ‘Is the underwriter dead? What is the underwriter of the future? Do we need underwriters?'” she said. Going on to answer the questions being raised by consultants with her personal views, she added: “I believe we do. We do need underwriters, technical underwriters who understand coverage, who understand how to interpret claims, how to interpret legal positions…”

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