We are excited to welcome Heather Haslam, Senior Underwriter to our Business Development team (link to announcement). Heather has an extensive background in life insurance underwriting and we are thrilled to have her as a resource for our team, as well as for our partners. We recently sat down with Heather and talked to her about her time in the insurance industry and where she sees it going.
How long have you been an underwriter in the insurance industry?
I have been in underwriting for almost 20 years; I started my training in the early 2000s at Mutual Life in Waterloo, Ontario Canada (which eventually was bought out and still operates today as Sun Life Financial). Most of my underwriting experience was with direct insurers, but I did have a small stint at a reinsurer. Prior to working at BW Underwriting Services (which was later acquired by ExamOne), I worked in various other insurance-related capacities at Sun Life (formerly Mutual Life/Clarica). I also spent the last 10 years as an outsourced underwriting specialist for a handful of other direct insurers in and around the Toronto area.
What was the impact of COVID-19 on life underwriting in general?
I think this is a tricky question given that the pandemic is still unfolding and the full repercussions will not be understood for years to come; we have completed a large volume of proper studies yet. However, I think we can all agree that the impact of COVID on underwriting will be felt for years to come. There are so many symptoms/diseases that have become long-term medical issues as a secondary to infection with COVID. Joint pain (also potentially chronic pain), heart issues, brain and lung issues, are just a few that we have heard of. We can also propose that mental health issues will creep up as a side-effect of long isolation periods, financial stresses (both personal and community-wide), medical stresses (both personal and familial). The end of the pandemic will not mean the end of increased health risks in the population. Underwriters should be aware and cognizant of COVID “long-haulers” and/or post-COVID syndrome on each case moving forward. It has certainly changed the face of the insurance applicant, application process and insurance industry as a whole.
How did ExamOne adapt as a result of COVID-19.
With the onset of the COVID-19, people took a long, hard look at what COULD happen during a pandemic (basically at the possibility of their own mortality). I think their health and the health of those around them became the forefront of concern. This in turn had people turning to look at their insurance coverage and planning for the future. ExamOne reacted quickly by creating new stringent safety and screening measures for their employees and applicants alike and making these transparent to the public. Expanded scheduling eased the stress applicants may have felt in trying to book their insurance exams.
How are you available to help our insurance carrier partners?
As part of the Data Analytics team, I am available to work with insurance carriers to implement our data solutions into their workflow. We can collaborate to determine business requirements and overall goals, and develop a solution that helps achieve those metrics. There is no one-size-fits-all, and by reviewing your applicant pool and analytics, we can work together to determine your best options.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I love to take my kids on long walks/hikes on the numerous trails and naturalization areas in my city and surrounding areas. I love road trips! So much to see and do in Southern Ontario! I LOVE to go to my cottage about 3 hours north of Toronto, as often as humanly possible. I love creating memories with my family that will last a lifetime.
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