Swiss Re's Underwriting Watch for 2019 is the first report on L&H Underwriting to cover the South African market.

At Swiss Re, we regularly conduct market wide surveys in order to stimulate industry debate on how we can improve the customer experience as well as share a reliable snapshot of what is happening in the underwriting space to gain some valuable insights to help you create a great customer experience.

Let's look at some of the findings:

  1. Acceptance rates
  2. Speed
  3. Automation
  4. Take up rates

Acceptance rate

The great news is that in South Africa, we accept over 70% of applications at standard rates, with only a small proportion declined and the remaining accepted with loadings or exclusions.

Although the standard rates pool includes some borderline cases the reality is that after all the underwriting and time that it takes, we wind up accepting the most of applicants at standard rates. This shows that there is an opportunity to be smarter on how we can on-board these cases quicker.

Turnaround time

The survey results showed that it takes 168 hours (7 days) from the date of initial underwriting to when we complete the underwriting process for 43% of the applicants. By comparison, our UK counterparts complete the process in 24 hours for 72% of the applicants. (UK Underwriting Watch).  Perhaps the UK is more advanced in terms of underwriting rules engines, but our industry is highly competitive, and customers expect us to be smarter, faster, simpler and cheaper so there is a need to focus.


Survey results showed that our Straight Through Process (STP) rate is still way below international standards and we are manually underwriting almost 80% of applications. This means that our customers get to wait for a long time to buy our products even if we end up accepting most of them at standard rates!  If we can find ways to automate most of the simpler cases, we will free up underwriters to focus more on complex cases which will improve the customer experience and reduce costs. With limited underwriting resources, and pressure to work faster it is imperative that we harness the power of technology and talent to the benefit of our customers.  

At Swiss Re, we believe that automation is an integral part in the future of underwriting and unlocking this will free up underwriting skills to focus more on complex cases to maximize the value of underwriting by working more effectively and efficiently. Here is what Swiss Re is doing in this space.

Take up rates

The survey showed the number of cases that did not proceed, the none take up, rate is 16% overall. We always focus on retention after policy inception, but this shows that more need to be done to ease up the underwriting process especially to the large majority of South Africans who need coverage.

We would like to thank all the contributors to our first South Africa Underwriting Watch. The contributors have derived great value from the benchmarking and insights that the survey provides, and we thank you for the thought-provoking debate and positive feedback.

For a copy of the results please contact