New and Improved Life Underwriting Manual
June  2014

​​​​​​​As SCOR has worked through the integration of the Charlotte and Kansas City operations, major issues needed to be addressed involved the life underwriting manuals. Would ratings in SCOR’s existing manual prevail, or would the new company defer to opinions in The Guide from Generali? How would the new underwriting manual feel? We ultimately decided the best approach would be to take the best components and features of both manuals, using this review as an opportunity to assess any rating differences and their causes.

Better Access, Currency and Relevance of Content

The revised life underwriting manual for clients in the Americas is called SOLEM, the brand name used by SCOR underwriting manuals across global markets. As users become acquainted with the new underwriting manual (and SCOR’s SOLEM brand), several features should become evident quickly.

User Friendly: The #1 reason underwriters use the manual is to search for ratings. Search functions are improved, and once client underwriters select a particular impairment, they are taken immediately to the ratings, presented in a consistent format across impairments. Other information, under tabs, is available related to the topic, but the driver is the impairment and its associated rating. Additionally, ratings updates will be made in real time.

Enhanced Financial Chapter: The section on financial underwriting has been improved in both content depth and breadth. This is of particular interest to the Canadian market, but with the changes in estate tax law in the US we can certainly see value in this section for our US clients. Figure 1.PNG

Reinforces the Focus on the Americas: We have designed the new manual to be a single primary source for every client of SCOR Global Life Americas. Companies can now access ratings not only for the US mortality-based products but also some of the products supported by, for example, SCOR Canada or Brazil (e.g., Disability or Critical Illness).

Competitive Ratings: The acquisition of The Guide presented an opportunity for our larger and more experienced underwriting and medical staff to approach the manual with a fresh perspective. We reviewed all major impairments to evaluate the currency of the ratings, given the latest information and medical developments available. As a result we have been able to offer the most competitive ratings based on our vast mortality data and our expanded medical and nonmedical knowledge.

A Truly Global Effort: While the medical and underwriting staff in the US led the project to update the manual, we received valuable input from a number of colleagues in other SCOR Global Life offices, including staff in Canada, Latin America and Europe. Tapping into this cross-border talent helped assure the production of a best-in-class manual.

Access to Additional Information: The user can immediately access ratings for an impairment simply by typing the condition in a search field or choosing it from a drop-down list. While the rating is the primary driver for any underwriting manual use, we also have included background information that provides more detail on the condition and the risk implications. SOLEM uses tabs to allow a client underwriter to conduct further research on the topic while remaining one click away from the ratings.

A Refreshed Look and Feel

Content is of paramount importance, but the delivery of that information must be intuitive and easy to follow. We examined the underlying technology and user appearance of both manuals with a goal of creating a system that is both readable for the user and flexible enough to be revised as needs arise.

For former users of SCOR’s RS Guide, the look will appear familiar. However, we have incorporated client suggestions and realigned some of the content to make it easier to view in a smaller window when comparing ratings or working on a complex case. In addition, we have eliminated much of the white space, allowing the user to have more information on-screen at any point to reduce scrolling.

Former users of The Guide will find the look and feel a bit different. We are continuing a series of online demonstrations to help former users of The Guide navigate the new manual, and expect that once these clients become familiar with the new layout, they will appreciate the functionality.

The key area where client underwriters may see some material change is in some of the ratings. While many ratings remain the same, others for the most popular impairments have changed in the client’s favor based on new insights gained from our growth in expertise.


There’s a joke in the industry: If you ask a life insurance specialist what one plus one equals, the answer will depend on whom you ask. The insurance accountant will confidently reply, “Two, of course!” The actuary will predicate a long reply with “Well, that depends…” Meanwhile the underwriter will quickly answer, “Three!”

The underwriter’s justification is that experience demonstrates that conditions compound each other, creating an effect greater than the two in isolation.

That’s the view we have taken about the new manual: we have achieved a “three” from two separate manuals. We are excited to share the new guide with you and look forward to your feedback.