One of the most (or perhaps the ONLY) appealing features of my job is (or perhaps WAS) the potential for production bonuses.
In it’s original form, bonuses were simply paid out in flat increments based on how much premium you had written for a month.
They later revised the structure to pay bonus based on how much premium you RETAINED for the month. This revised system wasn’t inherently bad. You bind a policy, the company gets a cut of the money, and you give a pinch of that cut to the retail agent. So your cut minus the pinch is what you retained for the company.
In order to be eligible for a bonus, we were required to retain X amount for the company. Anything OVER that amount, I, as the underwriter, would get 10% of.
At some point, though, it was determined by “the family,” that underwriters were collecting too much on bonuses.
So a quota was put in place. Now, in addition to retaining X amount of dollars for the company, you also have to quote at least 200 submissions each month.
After it was discovered that we were willing to go the extra mile to get our bonus, it was determined that they needed to make it even MORE difficult to obtain a bonus.
So the bonus structure was revised: They began subtracting the premium returned on cancellations and endorsements (i.e. changes made to a policy midterm) from your total retained amount (X), which made it harder to retain anything over X.
At this point, people started to complain. Complaints were met with the typical canned response:
“If you can find a better job than this, with your qualifications, go right ahead,”
followed by ANOTHER quota: Not only do we have to quote 200 each month, but we also have to have worked a cumulative total (both quoting, and declining) of 300 quotes.
So obviously, given the obstacles put before us, the underwriter had to work feverishly fast to still qualify, which means he/she wasn’t doing as thorough a job in underwriting, which means you are more likely to make mistakes.
So they put the “claw back” system in place: Any mistake found on a policy, and that policy’s premium was pulled from your numbers, as if you had never quoted it in the first place.
The problem was that most of the mistakes which would result in a claw back are mistakes that would be made by the processing department, after we had already done our part. So we essentially pay the price for the mistakes of others.
“Hey, if you aren’t happy with it, go somewhere else.”