Insurance underwriters examine insurance applications to evaluate the degree of risk involved and to determine if the application should be accepted. They write the insurance policies that cover the risk. An insurance underwriter also establishes premiums and other charges. Underwriters also analyze group contracts to make sure the risk is not excessive. Insurance underwriters are the primary link between the insurance carrier and the insurance agent.
An insurance company can loose business if the insurance underwriter appraises risk too conservatively. The company might have to pay excessive claims if the underwriters actions are too liberal.
Insurance underwriters have specializations such as commercial account underwriters, mortgage underwriters, property/casualty underwriters, health underwriters and life insurance underwriters.
Those in the insurance underwriting field utilize computer applications known as "smart systems" to manage risk more accurately and effectively. The systems evaluate and rate insurance applications, recommend an applicant be accepted or denied and make appropriate adjustments to the premium rate in accordance with the risk.
- Study documents to determine the degree of risk from elements such as the applicants financial situation and the value and condition of property
- Reject excessive risks
- Assess the possibility of losses due to catastrophe or excessive insurance
- Lower the value of the insurance policy when the risk is substandard
- Apply rating to make sure safe, profitable distribution of risks
- Gather information
- Authorize reinsurance of policy when risk is high
- Examine company records in order to determine the amount of insurance in force on single risk or group of closely related risks
Most workers involved in insurance underwriting are based in company headquarters or a regional branch office. Underwriters may occasionally be asked to travel in order to attend meetings. Insurance underwriters usually work a 40 hour week, however some work overtime due to downsizing at insurance companies. Occasionally they accompany insurance sales agents to make presentations to potential clients.
Underwriters use the Internet to access information. Strong computer skills, ability to pay attention to detail and good analyzing abilities are important. An underwriter should also have good interpersonal and communication skills.
Employment for underwriters is forecasted to grow by 6 percent form 2006 to 2016 which is slower than average for all occupations. Those with insurance related experience, a finance background and good computer and communications skills have the best opportunities for advancement. In addition, underwriters are needed in the area of product development.
Experienced insurance underwriters have opportunities to advance into senior underwriter or underwriting management jobs. Over sixty percent of the underwriters are employed by insurance carriers. Most of the other underwriting jobs are provided by insurance agencies or by organizations that provide insurance services to insurance companies and policyholders.
A small number of insurance underwriters are employed by mortgage companies, banks and real estate firms. In addition, the median annual earnings in 2006 for insurance underwriters was $52,350.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
There are no formal education requirements for the job. However, typically a bachelor's degree in finance or business administration or other subjects is preferred or a professional designation. Important classes to take for insurance underwriters are economics, business, accounting, statistics, business law and mathematics. Computer classes are also helpful.
Most underwriters begin their careers as trainees. Some of the large insurers provide work-study programs that take from a few months to a year to complete. The computer programs utilized by underwriters to assess risk are continually being improved, thus on-the-job computer training can continue throughout an insurance underwriter's career.
The Insurance Institute of America provides a training program designed for beginning underwriters. The organization also provides the Associate in Commercial Underwriting for people interested in underwriting business insurance policies. The organization also offers an associate in Personal Insurance Designation.
- American Institute for CPU
- Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Society
- National Association of Health Underwriters
The major job providers are insurance carriers. Insurance agencies are significant job providers.
Schools for Insurance Underwriters are listed in the Browse Schools Section.