The Commercial Underwriting New Business team works closely with the NFU Mutual Agency Network and is part of our 400-strong underwriting function. With over 295 agencies in the Agency Network across the UK, the team is clearly in demand. So, what goes on in their team – how do they work with the agencies and what do they enjoy about working for NFU Mutual? We spoke to some of this New Business team to find out.

What does your team do?
The term ‘new business’ is often associated with generating new customers, but this New Business team doesn’t generate new customers, they’re specifically for commercial underwriting and work with the agencies in the UK-wide NFU Mutual Agency Network on cases under £10,000. The agencies bring in the quotes, the New Business Team assess whether they are acceptable or not. However, the team members do have targets, as Kelly Tizzard, who works mainly with our Welsh agencies, explains. “While we do talk through the quotes with the agencies, we've got our own individual targets as a team. I've got a new business target and we've got very clear guidelines of what is expected of us each day with regards to quotes.”

You are part of a big underwriting team at NFU Mutual, how do you work with them?
As Lauren Birch, who’s based in York explains, the New Business team is quite autonomous and feels that’s the case for teams across Commercial Underwriting. “There is interaction between the other teams, but I would say predominantly each of the individual Commercial Underwriting teams work as their own function. However, we do work with other Underwriting teams when, perhaps, they need to change part of a package and the new part must be replaced by us.”

Talk us through the type of customers you work with?
Many Underwriting teams in NFU Mutual are noticing a change in the customer base. Farming and agriculture customers are still a significant and valuable part of the business but, as Lauren explains, customers from new sectors are entering the mix. “We’re seeing more property owners - that could be commercial properties, warehouses or residential lets - and also more manufacturing. And then existing customers, who we’ve worked with for some time, are diversifying, adding different businesses. That can change their needs, so we look at all customers on a case-by-case basis. Cover is always tailored to the customer’s business needs.”

How do you see the career development opportunities, what progression is there?
Liv Pratt is also based in the North and has only been with NFU Mutual for a year but has already seen her own career progress, and, as she explains, feels that’s down to the belief shown in her and others. “I started a year ago and I'm already moving towards my level three authority. And I think many of the team are encouraged to move forward. I was very much told, you're capable of doing it.

If you feel comfortable, let's do it. So, while you are pushed, it’s in a very supportive way.” Kelly adds her own development thoughts. “It’s down to you if you want to - but if you also want to stop at a certain level, that’s not seen as a negative either. We’ve all got personal development plans and NFU Mutual are really supportive in helping us develop and grow. I’ve seen a couple on the team move on to being Development Underwriters. We have access to an online learning system, I Achieve, which is there to support knowledge and development. There is a wealth of knowledge on there if you want to use it.”

How does the team work with the Agency Network?
The New Business team, by the nature of working with customers, is involved with the Agency Network. Kelly explains why the working relationship with the agencies is a close one. “We have a rapid response service, so if we need to ask questions in order to quote, we’ll speak to the Agent to gather the information we need. And I think they like that, that we are so on board with their needs straight away. It’s about building those relationships and through them, we discover how else we can help the customers.”

But, as Lauren explains, it’s not just about insurance policies and quotes, “The New Business team have developed training workshops to help the Agents. We run through what we’re looking for in their submissions, how we work day-to-day and what we do with their submissions. It helps them help us. The higher the quality of their submission, the easier it is for us to underwrite because we can assess the risk. We enjoyed delivering the workshops and it’s helped deepen our agency relationships too.”

What do you enjoy most about the team and the role?
For Kelly, it’s that the team really does feel and act like one. “We all work well together, and everybody is so helpful. We’re a national team and while we don’t all see each other on a regular basis, the help is always there, and using Teams for calls really helps. And the appreciation from the team leaders is there too. You do feel it.” Lauren also feels the people really make the team what it is. “The team that you’re in and the support you have, whether that's from the senior leadership team or your colleagues, everybody’s very supportive. And I think that makes a huge difference to the role because you could be doing something that you're finding quite challenging, or you haven't done before and you're not really sure what to do. And rather than feeling like you're just left to do it, there's people there all the time to help you and support you as much as you need.”

What makes NFU Mutual a great place to work?
Lauren, Liv and Kelly all agree that the things that make the New Business team so enjoyable and supportive are also what makes NFU Mutual a great place to work. Liv describes what this means to her. “It’s the people. I’m one of the newest in the team and I’ve been supported ever since I joined. You’re assigned a working ‘buddy’ when you start, which is great, and everyone in the team is so welcoming and generous with their technical knowledge. From colleagues to team leaders and other teams - they all make it what it is.”

Any career development tips for new starters in commercial underwriting?
Liv shares her own recent experiences. “Everyone tells you; you’re never going to know everything so don’t be afraid to ask. There’s no such thing as a silly question and I’ve certainly found everyone willing to help. So that’s my tip - ask away!” Kelly rates the buddy system as a great way to find your feet as a new starter. “Having a buddy is really useful. Yes, we have e-learning, but a buddy can really show you, so take advantage of their help. And socialise too. We all try to go into the office on the same day so when we want to go out as a team, we can.”

Lauren says, “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. If there's something that you want to do or something that you’re interested in, then just say. Whatever you’re looking to do, whether that's in the next year or next five years, don't keep it quiet, there are plenty of people around you to help you achieve your goals. Put yourself out there. Because as we’ve said before, the support is there.”

Interested in joining our Commercial Underwriting team? Take a look at our current vacancies