For over 110 years the NFU Mutual Agency Network has offered insurance advice to both farming and non-farming customers across the UK. None of this would be possible without the expertise of our Regional Underwriting teams who work with our agencies to provide the insurance cover our customers need. Within the team, there are specialists covering Motor and Personal, Commercial and High Net Worth customers. So, what exactly does their work involve? We spoke to some of our underwriters to find out.

You’re a Regional Underwriting team, so does that mean you have offices across the country?
“Yes, we do,” says Matt Denness, who works as a Motor & Personal (M&P) underwriter in our Bristol office. “In M&P, we have teams in Bristol, Glasgow and York, plus smaller Commercial teams in Chester, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We all work closely together and always help each other when we need to.” “That’s right,” adds Matthew Culhane, an underwriter in the High-Net-Worth team. “We’re one big underwriting team that works together to give our customers the services they’re looking for.”

So, if you all work together, how do your roles differ?
“In High Net Worth, it’s about using my expertise to support Agents in our UK-wide Agency Network, so they can pass on that knowledge to our customers,” says underwriter Lucy Francis. “For example, I’m really interested in art and jewellery and love getting to see our customer’s collections, hearing the stories behind it all and making sure we provided the best insurance solution for them.”

Matthew agrees. “I love cars, so working with motor insurance is ideal for me,” he says. “And dealing with High-Net-Worth clients means my job is like an episode of Top Gear every day! I enjoy being able to tell an Agent that a client's Porsche is worth that much because there are only a few of them in the country. And I know that when that information is passed onto their client the client trusts us more, because it shows we know what we’re talking about.”

As a Commercial underwriter, Lauren Birch says her role is a bit different: “You're dealing with an entity, rather than a person, so it’s not so personal. But it’s incredibly varied because each business is so different. So, you might be talking to a farmer about diversifying into a wedding venue, introducing holiday accommodation or constructing a new building. I really enjoy that kind of variety.”

“In M&P, it’s all about the range of products we offer,” says Matt. “As well as covering personal, commercial and agricultural motor policies, we also look at home, travel and pet insurance. Every day is quite different.” Nicole Hibbert, another M&P underwriter, also likes the variety of her work. “Part of my role involves policy validation and checking any concerns with policy details. I enjoy being able to help our agencies across the UK iron out any concerns.”

“As a senior M&P underwriter, my role is different. I get to see the complex and higher-level referrals that have been escalated by my team,” says Luke. “We’re often the gateway to the whole business account, so we collaborate with lots of different areas of the business, including the Commercial and High Net Worth teams.”

It sounds like there are lots of different elements. So, what do you enjoy most?
“For me, the best thing is being able to make decisions for yourself,” says Matt. “We have the autonomy to advise whether an item can be covered.” Lauren says it’s the same in Commercial: “I appreciate the trust we’re given by the company and particularly enjoy being able to manage my own workload.”

“I really enjoy the variety,” says Nicola. “The cases you’re dealing with vary so much. And we have different work streams, so you could spend a day on the phones, then a day doing live chat and a day on work actions or renewals. It’s a really refreshing that no two days are the same.”

“It’s the same in High Net Worth,” adds Matthew. “You manage your own workload; working on policy renewals as well as project work – maybe looking at pricing issues, doing some research or presenting your findings. It’s in-depth, but varied, and very rewarding work.”

For Nicola, the people and the company culture are also important. “I like knowing that my colleagues and managers care about our customers and the team. We all want to help and support each other,” she says. “And my manager always encourages me to develop my skills. It makes me feel valued – like being part of a family. Working for a Mutual is very different to working in a big corporation. We’re aiming for sustainable, profitable growth, and with no shareholders to answer to, we can concentrate on providing excellent customer service. This is a business that really cares about people, whether they’re customers, clients or colleagues.”

Matthew agrees: “I previously worked in a big corporation where the emphasis was on profit. So, when I joined NFU Mutual it felt very different,” he says. “The support I receive here is excellent, and although it’s fast paced, it’s a far more customer-centric environment, which really changes your outlook. Every decision we take is based on whether it’s good for the business, rather than if it’s good for profit. And that feels right to me.”

Do those differences mean you look for people with different skills in each of your teams?
“Certainly, in M&P, we look for people with the right attitude,” says Luke. “It’s all about their behaviours and how they deal with customers.” And Matt backs this up: “We’re attracting people with more customer services skills than ever before. We’ve got an extensive training programme that teaches people about our business and gives them the underwriting skills they need to support our agencies. In fact, an underwriting career is a great stepping-stone into other roles at NFU Mutual.”

“In High Net Worth it’s slightly different,” says Matthew. “As well as great customer service skills, you need to understand underwriting at a reasonably high level. You also need to be good with details, because our clients want someone who really looks into the finer details to ensure they receive the best outcome. It’s a different type of mind-set and it takes time to get it right. But with existing customer service skills, training and support, it works.”

So, what makes working here so great?
“For me, it’s the variety of work and the teamwork,” says Matt. “I never know who I’m going to speak to each day. But I know that I can ask my colleagues any questions and they’ll always be prepared to help me.”

“I started my career here, left to be a broker and came back,” says Lucy. “When I was a broker, I felt really isolated with no support, but here, everyone works so well together. That makes a massive difference”

Luke had a similar experience and summing it up, says: “I started here and left too. But I soon realised I’d made a mistake and came back. The people and the culture at NFU Mutual really make you feel valued.”