Some jobs are bad. And some jobs are BAD.

Month: July, 2011


Salaried employees are required to arrive at work, prepared to work at their desk, at the time that their shift begins.  This means you are expected to arrive at work several minutes prior to when your shift begins, for the purpose of booting up your computer, loading up the programs, etc.

Employees are allotted one hour for lunch, and two 15 minute breaks per day, and a designated time determined by management.

Employees are NOT to take their breaks, or lunch hour, at ANY other time.  Doing so will result in disciplinary action.

How do they control for this, you might ask?  Simple.  They have a time clock.  And not just any time clock.  A time clock on which you input your social security number, and then scan your thumbprint.

Salaried employees.  Being required to clock in and out.   With their thumbprint.



The Windows

We work in a 10-story building, and my department works on the 8th floor.  Sporadically, throughout the year, we are instructed that all blinds are to be shut completely.  This is done for 2 reasons:  1) In the summer, letting the daylight in causes the air conditioner to work harder.  2) It encourages employees to get up, periodically, and look out the window (God forbid), which means they aren’t in their seat working.

Since they told us about reason number 1, many of us have taken note of the temperature of the black blinds, which are now absorbing all of that sun light, and acting as radiators for our office.  The office is hotter, and the air conditioning doesn’t stop, now.

But on the flip side, now we’re not distracted by goings on outside, which gives us more time to sit in our chairs and work without stretching your legs for 2 minutes.

Even dogs at the pound are put in cages they can see out of.


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.

Not bad!

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.”

What to do in the event of a blackout.

If a blackout occurs before lunch time, you take your lunch hour, even if you’ve only been a work for a short time. That means, if you had breakfast at 7:30am, and arrive at work at 9am, and the power goes out at 9:15, you’re taking your lunch hour at 9:15am.

“But I’m still full from breakfast.”

“You take your lunch when we say.”

If your lunch hour has already passed, and a blackout occurs, you are instructed to sit quietly, facing your computer screen. No talking.

Concerning beverages.

Our office doesn’t allow its employees to have beverages at their desk, as potential spills require them to replace a square of their super-expensive peel-and-stick carpet.

There are two exceptions to this rule: You can have water, or coffee, and it must be contained in a sealed thermos.

“Can we have tea?”


“But we can have coffee?”


“Isn’t coffee just as likely to stain carpet as tea?”

“…You can’t have tea.”


I know we’re living in a crap economy. And I’ll be honest, my employer pays me a decent amount. But someone could pay me a decent amount to crap on my head every day, and it would still eventually begin to suck, despite the pay.

So let’s talk about my job.

An underwriter basically acts as an intermediary between an insurance carrier (i.e. Travelers, AIG, Progressive, etc) and a retail agent (who works on behalf of an individual who needs insurance).  An underwriter is given the authority, by the insurance carriers he/she represents, to price insurance for an individual based on risk factors.  If you’ve seen the Ben Stiller film “Along Came Polly,” this is a fairly close (although embellished for film) representation representation of the job.

I work as an underwriter for a very large underwriting wholesale broker.  I won’t tell you which one it is, where it’s located, and I won’t give you the name.  Not that it matters;  everyone hates working here.

I will say that it is a very large insurance wholesale broker; one of the top 10 in the nation.