Meet Waika Embry
I got into the insurance industry intentionally, not at all by accident. I graduated from the University of Georgia as an Insurance major, and was hired from a career fair right out of college. In my first year of college, I took an “Intro to Insurance” course, and was taken by how much balance there was between analytical and people skills. To me, this felt like the best of both worlds. In addition, I could see that the jobs in the industry range widely, and that I could go into whatever I wanted to, based on my interests.
I’ve always been on the property side of insurance. I work in a market-facing role with wholesale brokers in Excess and Surplus (E&S) properties. I joined Arch in 2013 and have stayed here because of all the opportunities for growth and expansion. The leadership supports me, and I get pulled into interesting projects that help me progress in my career. While we have grown a lot with acquisitions and expanding in different markets, there is still such an open relationship with senior leadership.
We Want to Say “Yes” More Often
Arch wants to be a player in the game. An example is the state of Florida during hurricane season. Arch has developed a strong team and strategy to handle losses and stay in the business. We have consistently handled the portfolio well, managing our aggregates to provide stability at the underwriting level, so that when large events happen we can follow the cycle of pricing and handle it. We have also improved the rating system so that underwriters can look at more accounts with better accuracy and speed, allowing us more opportunities to say “yes.”
“Pursuing Better Together is a reminder that creating and managing our image is something we all do every day.”
There is a huge benefit to setting ourselves up this way: it makes it easier to do our jobs, and allows us to be stable instead of reactive, and consistently be in the game.
Everybody needs insurance, but we tend not to think about it until we experience a loss and need customer service. Arch stands out because of our superior claims handling, which really is an exceptional customer experience. We win deals because of our reputation for compassion and understanding what our customers are going through post-loss; customer service is something nontangible that you can sell. I give major kudos to our claims team for this; it makes my job in underwriting easier.
Learning from the Past for the Win
Sometimes we don’t get an account. I don’t think of that as a regrettable loss or a missed opportunity; all policies are written for 12 months, so I just put it in my calendar to follow up in 11 months and try again.
The support for our brokers is unparalleled: We have dedicated financial resources that provide them with better data, and help our underwriters provide better solutions, resulting in us winning more. Being solutions-focused means finding a solution even if we can’t give brokers exactly what they want, and keeping the conversation open so that it’s never just a “no.” Working with brokers in this intentional way is a different, and deeper, level of customer service.
Delivering “Rising Star” Customer Experience
Pursuing Better Together is a reminder that creating and managing our image is something we all do every day, in how we do our work and treat our customers. No single market-facing or strategy development person is solely responsible for this: we are all important in the supply chain, no matter our role.
I am a 2021 recipient of the Insurance Business America “Rising Star” Award, and I was shocked when I learned about it. I don’t think of my work alone as unique; I work as part of a collective to provide amazing customer service to our clients. At this stage of my career it is an honor to receive this accolade, and it is incredibly motivating, driving me to work even more creatively to provide solutions and get accounts.
Using Tech and Talent to Go and Grow
The biggest opportunity we have right now is leveraging technology and talent to help us in everything we want to do, and need to do. There’s a lot of business coming into our space, and every year the submission cap is in the double digits, requiring more touchpoints with our clients to build relationships and provide more. The growth opportunities here are in staffing and in utilizing technology to help underwriters make stronger decisions. Both will help us take on new work and deepen our relationships.
Insurance is always changing. In my time, the main change has been speed of service: before, you would get a couple of weeks to work on something; now, the demand is such that you are asked to complete it in days. I expect this to continue, with people expecting instant responses; the way we can meet this need will be with technology. Another change I expect to see is the role of the underwriter. Technology will move this role from being transactional to becoming more portfolio-driven. Technology has a role in helping figure out how to do what we do quickly and efficiently. The world is going to be a different place, and Arch is going to be there to meet the needs of the future.
VP, E&S Property
Arch Insurance | Alpharetta, Ga.