Kevin McDermott started his career as an insurance advisor at TD before becoming a broker working in the high-net-worth specialty personal insurance space. He joined Aviva in 2021 as an underwriter with the Ovation home insurance team. He has since completed his CAIB designation and is working toward his CIP.
McDermott feels “really touched and honoured” by being recognized by Acera Insurance, the Canadian Broker Network member that nominated him for the award. “I’ve been working closely with Acera,” he says. “I care about the brokers I work with and value the relationships we have, so it’s exciting to be recognized.”
Q: What is the biggest challenge for underwriters?
“Market changes, the increased frequency in CAT losses, and economic concerns, and having to be more flexible in our underwriting are all challenges. Limited capacity is also a big issue in the industry right now. Flexible underwriting and being solutions-oriented are things we can do to overcome a lot of these challenges. This includes taking the steps to work with other departments to find tailored solutions for customers in order to meet evolving needs. Looking at overall trends is also very important in our daily roles.”
Q: What is one opportunity underwriters should focus more on?
“Focusing on relationship-building. With the pandemic and the increase in technology and moving away from face-to-face interactions, this has become more important than ever. Doing things like booking more virtual meetings or in-person visits to get to know brokers personally will help to create that connection. It’s the service and the relationships we build that set us apart.”
Q: What makes for a great underwriter-broker relationship?
“Transparency and being flexible. If you can’t do something, let your broker know as soon as possible. For brokers, it’s about giving underwriters all the information up front about a risk and the customer so we can try to find a solution. If something is outside our appetite, then I will let the broker know, but I will do my best to help and find a solution. It’s about prioritizing their requests and timelines and working toward a first point resolution every time.”
Q: Why did you become an underwriter?
“I was a broker for seven years before moving into underwriting. I made the move because of the relationships I had built over the years and to take on a new challenge. It’s a very people-oriented role and industry, and it allowed me to build on my interpersonal skills. As a broker, oftentimes volume is a challenge; underwriting allowed me to focus more on the relationship aspect of the role.”