There seems to be a bidding war going on, of which experienced underwriters are deifnitely the beneficiary. Life underwriters must walk the delicate line between commercial flexibility on the one hand and prudence on the other. This is not always done successfully and once a reputation with reinsurers is gone - it is very hard to recover. For those that continue to walk this line, the rewards seem to be getting better and better. Senior underwriters are picking up packages of $100k to 120k.
It also seems that companies have forgotten at least temporarily how to train new underwriters. It does take time - but it can be done. This may be because many operations areas are no longer led by senior underwriters who were able to undertake training themselves.
Also, the environment has got tougher. An Australian consultant recently estimated that there were more than 130 underwriting positions vacant in Sydney. I personally know of three underwriters that have made that journey - and taken the money and lifestyle on offer. Although housing costs are a negative the lure of the bright lights has definitely got something about it for many of these folk.
At this price serious investment in underwriting skills development and automating basic underwriting functions makes a lot of sense. The time to start investigating these options is before you have several underwriters leave in quick succession - creating a big, expensive hole in your operational capability. If you want to discuss your underwriting strategy, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.